Meet Herb

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.

  • Yields: one use
  • Preparation Time: just a few minutes

Parsleyed Calf’s Liver

Parsleyed Calf's Liver
Calf's liver has an especially delicate flavour and lends itself well to this dish. For a change of pace, try lamb's liver or pork liver.
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 large thin slices calf's liver, about 100g (4oz) each
  • 25gr (1oz) butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 1 - 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Spread the flour out on a large flat plate and season with salt and pepper. Dip the liver slices in the seasoned flour to coat thoroughly.

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and add two of the liver slices. Fry over moderate heat two minutes on each side so that the liver is still slightly pink inside. Transfer the slices to a heated plate and repeat the process with the remaining liver slices. Remove to plate.

Add the garlic and shallot to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring often and adding a little more butter as necessary for about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the vinegar and wine and stir in the pan for 1 - 2 minutes more. Stir in the parsley and pour the mixture over the liver. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: Approx 20 minutes

Peas with Lettuce, Parsley and Chervil

This dish is a typical French way of serving peas. It makes a perfect, light side dish for most meat and fish dishes.
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled peas
  • 1 small lettuce or 2 1/2 cups shredded lettuce leaves
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chervil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, add 3 tbsp water, and mix well. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. There should be very little liquid left in the pan at the end of cooking. Serve the peas with any juices that are left.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1/2 hour

Well, that's it for another month. Keep those suggestions coming in. I'm doing my best to keep up with all your questions!