Shepherd's Seeds


And Serious Favorites!!

I have certain tendencies in the kitchen, and one of them is a wish to make very good food.
Much of the striving to excellence began after I had encountered Herbs and Herbals, and had gown a few herbs and foods myself.

Following are some of the "Recipes" which I have found to be exceptional, and worth sharing.

Goodness knows there are many, many recipes in the world, however, you may find yourself happy to have found these.

In many places the recipes call for finely chopped fresh herbs. If you are not an ardent "chopping" person, there are "herb mincers" in the cooking stores and in seed catalogues; but chopping can become second nature, after a few tries. (I would recommend a wooden chopping board, however.)

The chicken and dumplings recipe is akin to sorcery!!
Your pallet will tell you -- you have eaten -- basically nothing,
but it was so good.
I lack the words to explain it, you'll just have to try it.

These are from Shepherd's Seeds, who no longer offer a seed catalogue. :-(
These recipes were sent to those who ordered herbs some years ago, and I think they are some of the best I have ever encountered.

If they have published a cook book, which includes these, I have not found it, and I want it! And I apologize in advance for putting these up without permission.

Chicken and Dumplings (Kitchen Sorcery)
Herbed Butters (rescued from plain-ness)
Herbed Bread Sticks ('quick and easy' -- no yeast required)
Janice's Pickled Basil Beans (if you garden, and have surplus beans --delicious!)
Stuffed Brandied Mushrooms (no comment on this one ~ :-))
Sorrel Chiffonade
Basil Preserved in Parmesan Cheese (do you love basil?)
Sweet Red Bell Pepper Soubice with SAGE --(m m m)
Golden Brown Chive Roast Potatoes ("Enchanting" -- The potato steals the spotlight!)

Old Fashioned Herbed Chicken and Dumplings

3 - 4 pounds of chicken in serving size pieces
4 whole cloves (a cook's secret here)
8 - 12 baby onions (or two large onions, peeled and cut into quarters)
4 - 6 carrots peeled and cut into quarters (or equivalent in baby carrots)
8 - 10 fresh mushrooms cleaned
2 large cloves of garlic chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sweet marjoram, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine --don't skimp here, this is a second cook's secret
Chateau Ste Michelle -- Gewurztraminer -- is our favorite for this recipe!!
1 cup sour cream (or 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup fresh plain yogurt)


1 cup biscuit mix
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
6 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Butter a deep, oven-proof casserole dish -- that can also be put on a stove-top burner

Remove excess skin and fat from chicken pieces, and place in casserole.

Stick the 4 cloves into 4 onion pieces (or into 4 of the little onions)
Add all vegetables, herbs, and seasonings, and pour the wine over all.

Cover casserole and bake in oven until the chicken is just barely tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.
Do not overcook! * * * It might ruin the sorcery between the wine, cloves and onions!

NOTE: -- Lacking a worthy casserole dish and lid,
I used a large baking dish with a turkey size oven roasting bag in it;
and I made my dumplings in the oven bag (I did all the cooking in the oven).
(For "lid off time" I propped the bag open with a couple extra carrots.)
The dumplings were perhaps not quite so tall, but very good, nevertheless.

Make Dumplings:
Combine biscuit mix with chopped parsley.
Stir in milk with a fork until well moistened.

Remove casserole from the oven, stir sour cream into the casserole, and place over medium heat on stove-top burner.

When chicken and vegetables are just bubbling, drop the dumplings from a teaspoon all around the edges of the casserole.
Simmer 10 minutes uncovered and then 10 minutes covered.

Serve immediately! (The remaining white wine comes in handy at this point!)

Compound Herb Butters

For those times when you have fresh baked bread,
home made soup without a garnish, pasta sans sauce
or protein which lacks marinade or basting sauce:

Herbed Butters can save a meal from plain-ness.

1 medium scallion, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed --fresh basil, or parsley, or cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
several drops hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Use a food processor to combine or mash together by hand the scallion and herbs.
Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, hot sauce, mustard and butter and mix together very thoroughly.
Transfer to waxed paper or plastic wrap and roll into a log about 1 inch wide and 7 inches long. Freeze until ready to slice and use.

Herbed Bread Sticks

Simple to make and delicious, you may wish to double the recipe.

1 small loaf extra thin sliced white bread
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 large clove garlic chopped fine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh summer savory or sweet marjoram (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
melted butter

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Trim the crust from the bread slices
Roll the bread slices flat with a rolling pin
Mash together the garlic, salt, and pepper
Add the herbs and blend in the softened butter
Add cheese
Spread each flattened slice with the mixture, and roll up tightly
Place on a baking sheet seam side down
Brush lightly with melted butter

Bake 12 to 15 minutes-- until lightly browned, turning them several times while baking.

Makes 20 - 24 depending on the loaf of bread

Janice's Pickled Basil Beans

3-4 pounds fresh-picked green snap beans, rinsed
8 pint or 4 quart canning jars, washed with hot soapy water and rinsed, or run through the dishwasher
5 cups mild white vinegar
5 cups water (not softened water)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup pickling salt

For each jar:
4 pepper corns
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4-6 large basil leaves (Genovesse if you are a traditionalist)

Trim the ends of the beans.
Bring to a boil the vinegar, water, sugar and salt.
In the bottom of each jar, put the pepper corns, garlic cloves and basil leaves,
then pack them with beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Fill the jars with the hot brine, leaving 1/2 inch.
Wipe the jar rims and seal.
Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (20 minutes for quarts).
Wait about 4 weeks before opening the let the flavors blend and deepen.

A couple of tricks:
1. Cut your beans to length ahead of time (to fit the jars).
2. Make some early in the growing season for Turkey Day!
3. This is also a good recipe if you substitute pearl size onions and summer savory for the garlic and basil (although you can use both small onions and garlic).

These are an excellent snack food, and you will be surprised how fast they disappear!!
I recommend that you resolve your bean surpluses in this way, and then congratulate yourself on your "wise put-up-man-ship" later in the year (as you nosh on yummy non-calorie goodies from your garden)!

Our first season -- 6 pints lasted less than 10 days.

Sorrel Chiffonade

Take several large bunches of sorrel leaves, trim out the center rib and shred the leaves.
Melt several tablespoons of butter in a deep skillet, add the shredded sorrel and slowly
cook down until the sorrel leaves seem to melt together, forming a sauce or "chiffonade."
This can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.

Use it to add a sharp, bright, lemony flavor to almost any sauce, fresh steamed vegetables,
in omelettes, or over broiled salmon.
With the addition of a little more butter, it makes a great topping for baked potatoes.

Brandied Mushrooms

Makes 20 - 24. Can be prepared and then refrigerated one day in advance of cooking.

1 pound large fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup melted butter
2½ tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup minced shallots or scallions
1 large mild Italian sausage (4-5 oz.)
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons brandy
salt and pepper

Garnish: Fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Wash the mushrooms, pat dry and remove the stems
Finely chop the stems -- Squeeze in a towel to remove excess moisture; set aside
Dip each mushroom cap in melted butter, coating all sides and the cavity well.
Place the buttered caps on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a skillet, melt margarine. Add chopped mushroom stems and scallions
Sauté until the moisture has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl.

Remove casing from sausage.
Place in skillet over moderate heat.
Crumble with a fork and sauté until browned. Drain off fat.
Add to mushroom stems.
Blend in cream cheese, bread crumbs, basil and brandy.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Fill each mushroom cap with the mixture, mounding it.

Bake mushrooms for 20 minutes, watching them carefully to prevent scorching.
[A double bottomed baking sheet and parchment might help here]
Serve at once on a platter garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Basil Preserved
Parmesan Cheese

If you have not given Basil a try, get a jar of Pesto in the supermarket, and have it
with some Fettuccine Alfredo.
Alfredo Sauce can be found on the spaghetti sauce isle, or in many boxed pasta mixes.

If you have grown basil, you likely already have a love affair with this herb!
I love Genoa Basil and Piccolo Basil, but there are many varieties and many uses;
including wrapping fish for barbecue (or wrapping fish for nesting in the campfire coals
inside aluminum foil) .. which is the purview of Lettuce Leaf Basil.

"This mixture can be used to flavor vegetable soups, or, as a quick pasta sauce
just combine it with butter, garlic and fresh parsley.
Delicious in anything you want to have a taste of basil."

1 sterilized pint jar and lid
2 cups tightly packed, washed and dried basil leaves
(half a dozen to a dozen "big" plants --for you gardeners)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

Finely mince the basil leaves (there are herb mincers available)
Mix thoroughly in a bowl with the cheese.

Put a fine layer of salt and pepper in the bottom of the jar.
add a ½-inch layer of the basil-cheese mixture ...
Press down to 1/3 inch thick.

Add another fine layer of salt and pepper and another layer of basil mixture.
continue packing the layers tightly until you have the jar full (leave 1/2 inch head space).

Top the jar with 1/4 inch of olive oil.
Seal and put in the refrigerator to use as needed. It will keep indefinitely.
Not recommended for time capsules however, if your 'fridge has those.

Sweet Red Bell Pepper Soubice

"Served under baby vegetables, with roast chicken or over grilled fish.
It's wonderful on Pizza.
Or simply spread on toast to serve as an appetizer."

1/2 cup butter
4 cups yellow onions cut into chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
4 roasted, seeded and chopped sweet red bell peppers

Melt butter. Sauté the onions in the butter very, very slowly until they are
very soft, aromatic and a deep golden-brown color.
Be patient and stir often, letting them cook down gently.

Puree the onions, sage and the roasted peppers in a blender or food processor
until very smooth. Cool. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For a thinner puree, thin with half and half and adjust seasoning.

Serves 4 to 6.

Golden Brown
Chive Roast Potatoes

6 large baking potatoes
cold water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
1/2 cup of your favorite shredded or grated cheese
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Peel potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.
Dry thoroughly and cut a thin slice off the long side of each potato
so it can sit flat.
With a sharp knife, cut vertical slits from the top almost to the bottom of
each potato, being careful not to cut it through.

Dip the cut potatoes in melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
Bake on a foil-covered baking sheet for 1½ hours, basting with the remaining butter.

The potatoes will turn a crisp golden brown and the slits will open in accordion
fashion as they bake. In the last 15 minutes (1¼ hours in) combine the chives,
cheese and bread crumbs, and stuff them into the slits in the potatoes, to form a
delicious topping. Serve immediately, and expect the diners to ignore everything
else on their plate.

Serves 6

I hope you find these as satisfying as I have. Cooking with fresh herbs is a joy,
and having a recipe or two on that score I consider to be a basic kitchen boon.
Enjoy, and Bon Appetite!

If you want to explore cooking from recipes, there is a wonderful cook book from the testing kitchens of Cooks Illustrated Magazine (and believe me they really test these recipes --sometimes many, many versions!)

The Best Recipe comes with over 550 pages of kitchen wisdom, and some amazing cullinary insights. "Over 700 exhaustively tested recipes..." ... You simply cannot go wrong with this cook book, it goes from simple to elaborately amazing with good instructions on each and every one of the entries.
If you are worried about shipping, -- it is printed on some type of light weight paper, it weighs less than any of my other cook books (well maybe not the paperback). It is reasonably priced.

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