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Penzey's calls parsley "America's favourite herb". As far as that goes, for me it depends on which parsley we're talking about. The traditional parsley most commonly found in markets -- known as curly leaf, petroselinum crispum -- is something I find usually tasteless but at least decorative and a welcome addition to garnishes and such. On the other hand, flat leaf, petroselinum hortense is something else again. It has a pungent, slightly sweet, rich taste which adds a burst of its own as well as enhancing the richness and flavour of other herbs and spices.
Parsley is an integral part of a Bouquet Garni and as such goes in at the beginning of cooking but for most other uses, because of its volatile essential oils, should be added to food in the last moments of cooking. Add it to vegetable soups, purees and salads; add it to a breading mix; stir it into pates, sauces and egg dishes. Use a parsley tisane for indigestion, but be careful to stay away from it if you're pregnant.
Herbal Skin Toner
Use any herb, depending on the effect you wish to achieve. A list of herbs and their uses follows.
1 ounce fresh herbs or 1 tbsp dried
1 1/4 cups still spring water
Put the herbs into a pitcher. Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the herbs. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and leave to infuse for two hours. Strain the infusion through a clean coffee filter paper or a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Store in a covered jar, refrigerated and use within a week.
Herbs to use: Fennel as a gentle astringent; Lavender as an antiseptic; Marigold as a cleanser; Mint as a strong astringent and spot cleanser; Nettle to cleanse, purify and tone; Parsley for cleansing and toning; Rosemary to tauten; Sage as a cooling astringent; Thyme to refresh and as an antiseptic; and Yarrow as an antiseptic.
Yields: 1 1/4 cups
Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus two hour infusion time
Parsley Face Mask
This mask will gently exfoliate the skin getting rid of dead cells and helping the renewal process. It will leave the skin feeling refreshed and is suited to all skin types.
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 tbsp cornmeal
2 - 3 tbsp plain yogurt
Put the parsley and cornmeal in a bowl and add two tablespoons of the yogurt. It should be of a consistency that is easily spreadable. If not, add up to one tablespoon of extra yogurt.
Spread this mixture over your face, being careful to avoid the eyes. Lie down and relax for fifteen minutes. Rinse the mask off using lukewarm water, pat your face dry, and apply a toner and moisturizer.