Celebrate the “2014 Herb of the Year” with a tasting & wreath making party as you learn about the Artemisias, especially French Tarragon, and its many uses in both savory and sweet dishes as well as in the garden and beyond plus Sweet Annie, a great everlasting herb for crafting!
The Artemisias are the largest group of plants with silver color. Their foliage may be finely cut or lance shaped, feathery or needle-like, and silky, wooly, downy or velvety. The aromas range from mild to pungent and may be piquant, citrusy or appealingly bitter. Flower color also varies from white to yellow, light green or reddish brown. For more information see the earlier post on “2014 Herb of the Year”
French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa) is the only truly culinary Artemisia with wispy looking grey-green leaves which seldom flower, never set seed, but smell and taste of anise/licorice. It is the “piece de resistance of all culinary herbs”, is part of the quartet of fines herbes along with chervil, chives and parsley and is used for vinegars, salads, soups and mustards.
- Called the "King of Herbs" by the French
- Native to Siberia and the Caspian Sea area, brought to Spain and reached France in the 14th century where it gained prominence throughout Europe
- Mid-green, narrow, aromatic leaves
- Needs a warm summer, a mild winter and good soil that isn’t too wet or dry in full sun or partial shade
- Good companion to most vegetables
- Famous for how it flavors vinegars
- Enhances fish, pork, beef, poultry, game, potatoes and most mainstream vegetables, goes well with lemons and oranges
- Can be used in place of salt for people on salt-restricted diets.
- Use it sparingly, since its flavor is strong and can dominate or overshadow other flavors
- Best to add it at the end, as heat tends to decrease its flavor
- The essential oil is used in perfumery, soaps and cosmetics
- A versatile herb that appears to contain preventative substances for some viruses, settles upset stomachs, eliminates worms in children, numbs a toothache and could help with insomnia
LANGUAGE OF HERBS
- lasting involvement
CHIVE & TARRAGON SALAD: In a food processor,
SHRIMP WALDORF SALAD: Combine 1c mayonnaise, 2tsp Dijon mustard, 2/3c buttermilk, 4tsp lemon juice, 1tsp honey, 2tsp minced fresh tarragon, salt and pepper and whisk together. Place 1 1/2lb chopped cooked shrimp in a large bowl along with 2 diced crisp apples, 2 thinly sliced celery stalks and 2c seedless red grapes, cut in half. Add dressing, mix and then sprinkle with 1/2c toasted slivered almonds and 2Tbs chopped green onion.
CUCUMBER-ORANGE SALAD: Combine 1 peeled and thinly sliced cucumber, 1(11oz) drained can of Mandarin oranges and 1 thinly sliced Vidalia onion. Stir together 2tsp sugar and 1/3c tarragon vinegar until the sugar dissolves then pour over the cucumber salad and toss well. Add 1tsp chopped fresh tarragon and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Chill before serving.
ASPARAGUS PINWHEELS: Cream together 1-8oz cream cheese, 2tsp fresh tarragon, 1/4c grated Parmesan and 1/2tsp salt, then add 1 can asparagus spears, drained, and combine well. Spread onto flour tortillas, add steamed fresh asparagus spears, roll up, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Cut wraps into 1” diagonal sections
TARRAGON EGG SALAD SANDWICHES: Hard boil 6-8 eggs, shell and cool. Chop the eggs and combine with 1tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon, 1/4c mayonnaise, 2tsp Dijon mustard, and 1tsp seasoned salt. Spread wheat bread with egg mixture and top with white bread another layer of egg mixture and then wheat bread. Trim crusts and slice into fingers. Sprinkle cut sides with additional finely chopped fresh tarragon.
TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD CROISSANTS: Combine 2c diced cooked chicken breast, 1c thinly sliced celery, 1c seedless grapes cut in half and 1/2c raisins. Combine 1/2c yogurt, 1/4c mayonnaise, 2Tbs sliced green onions, 2Tbs minced fresh tarragon, salt and pepper and then mix gently with the chicken mixture. Serve mini croissants.
BERRY-TARRAGON THUMBPRINTS: Mix 1c butter, 1/2c powdered sugar, 1tsp cinnamon and 1tsp vanilla until fluffy then add 1/8 tsp salt and 2 1/4c flour. Refrigerate for an hour. Roll dough into balls then place on greased cookie sheet and press centers with your thumb to make an indentation and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 mins. Cool and then fill with Berry-Tarragon Jam.
BERRY-TARRAGON JAM: Combine 4c sugar and 5c mashed strawberries and bring to a boil. Add 1/2c finely chopped tarragon leaves, then simmer and stir often until thick. Refrigerate.
CHOCOLATE TARRAGON TRUFFLES: Place 14oz semisweet chocolate chips in bowl. Bring 1c heavy cream to scalding point and add to chocolate and allow to set 1-2 mins before stirring, then gently whisk until smooth. Stir in 1/3c chopped fresh tarragon and 1/8tsp fine sea salt. Pour into small bowl, cover and refrigerate several hours. Use melon baller to make truffles, and then roll in unsweetened cocoa powder.
BERRY-TARRAGON CRUMBLE BARS: Mix together the 1 1/2c flour, 1/2c sugar, 1/2tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp salt and zest of half a lemon. Add 1/2c butter and 1egg to the flour mixture until crumbly. Press half the crumble dough in a greased 8”x8” pan. Cover with the combination of 1/4c sugar, 2tsp cornstarch, juice of half a lemon, 2c fresh blueberries and 1Tbs chopped fresh tarragon and then with the other half of the crumble dough and pat down. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Cool before cutting into bars.
Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua) is an annual Artemisia which self-seeds with delicate foliage and a warm citrus aroma. It is favored by everlasting flower arrangers for wreath bases and should be cut while still bright green.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels
without knowing it.”
I Corinthians 10:31