Cooking Experiment: Using Herbs

I have a garden, but I’m not great at it. This is the third year I’ve grown things, but keeping up with my herbs throughout the summer and making sure they thrive is not my strong suit.

This year is gonna be different.

I have basil, cilantro, thyme, parsley, dill, and tarragon (mint and rosemary didn’t need trimming).

I was a good gardener yesterday and trimmed all of my herbs, to make sure they don’t overgrow and then tap out because they weren’t pruned (may or may not have happened in seasons past). However, I didn’t really know what to do with all these random herbs. So I decided to make a very herb-heavy dinner of Chicken and Potatoes.

I chopped up everything except the basil and cilantro, and added an herb package that Erik had bought at the store with paprika, dried garlic flakes, coarse ground pepper, and dried rosemary. I threw everything into a bowl and coated the potatoes with a little olive oil and some chopped and sauteed shallots.

I butterflied some chicken breasts, and coated them with olive oil and the herb mixture. After 15 minutes of baking, I took the chicken out and flipped them over, then coated them with a mixture of sour cream, a little dijon, and lots of chopped dill. I tried to copy the creme fraishe sauce from one of my favorite restaurants in Sacramento, Cafe Rolle, and it tasted just like it! So exciting. It added that sauce factor that roasted chicken breast and potatoes often lacks. I also steamed some broccoli and topped them with some caramelized red onions.

I’ve been all about webinars lately, and I recently watched a two day course on food photography by Penny De Losantos. Very interesting, and I’ll now think about a lot of different factors when I approach photographing food. Penny is a bit of a cultural anthropologist/photojournalist, and she talks a lot about her travels to distant locations, and how she almost always starts off her story at the local market. She says the US is not the place to tell a story through their farmer’s markets, because everything is clean and nice and covered in white tents. It reminded me of all the traveling I’ve done in Europe, specifically in Turkey where I was so inspired by the outdoor markets. It made me look back at my old blog to check out how I approached picture taking in Istanbul. Funnily enough, with all the amazing assignments around the world she’s done, Penny answered Turkey as her top choice when asked what place she’d love to explore that she hasn’t already.

The first four photos I took in the same tradition I have previously, but the last one I was really trying to channel Penny. It’s difficult to do when most of my food photos are just me, and there isn’t a tablescape or people gathering around the table to eat, so I can’t factor in the human element or tell much of a story. Maybe I’ll have to have quasi dinner parties at some point.

Any suggestions on how to use your herb trimmings for quick and easy meals or snacks?

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