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Cooking With Fresh Herbs

Cooking with fresh herbs is a joy I can’t live without. I love growing my own and using them for entrees, special sauces, and to enhance all sorts of dishes. A general rule of thumb: triple the amount of fresh herbs if a recipe calls for dried. For example, one teaspoon of dried thyme would translate to three teaspoons or a Tablespoon of fresh thyme. But let your individual taste be the final judge, and enjoy summer’s bounty all the more.

RED CABBAGE WITH MUSHROOM, CASHEW, AND WILD RICE STUFFING
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1 medium-size red cabbage
1-1/3 cups cashews
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-1/4 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
Grated zest of a small lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/3 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350°. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add vinegar. Cut off 1-1/2 inches from base of cabbage and discard. Carefully peel away about 8 outer leaves. Plunge them into boiling water several minutes. Drain under cold water and pat dry. Cut away the thick part of the leaves near the base end to make them easier to work with.

Spread cashews on a baking dish and roast in the oven 6 to 8 minutes. Coarsely chop them by hand. Cut remaining cabbage in half and save one half for another recipe. Cut out the core of the second half, discard, and thinly shred cabbage. Heat olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan or wok. Add onion, thyme, and rosemary, and gently fry until onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and shredded cabbage and stir-fry for five minutes. Stir in rice, nuts, and garlic, and fry an additional two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and one cup of the stock.

Lightly butter a round 8- or 9-inch casserole dish and arrange blanched cabbage leaves around the edge. Overlap them so no gaps show. Pile stuffing in the center and pack well. Dot with remaining butter and fold over tops of the leaves. Pour remaining stock around edges. Tightly cover dish and bake for 45 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve garnished with whole parsley leaves. Serves 6.

SAUTÉED SUMMER SQUASH
Small green and yellow summer squash, 2 each
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, cut into long slivers
8 rosemary sprigs (strip leaves from stalks and discard stalks)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Rosemary sprigs to garnish

Cut squash into 1/2-inch diagonal slices. Heat oil in a heavy nonstick skillet. Add squash in a single layer and fry over medium to high heat about 3 minutes or until the underside is flecked with brown spots. Turn carefully and add garlic and rosemary, frying 2 to 3 minutes more. Take care that garlic doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Garnish with additional rosemary sprigs. Serves 4.

MUSHROOM PATE
1-1/2 pounds button mushrooms, wiped clean with a paper towel, not washed
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
3/4 cup snipped chives
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 375°. Coarsely chop mushrooms and snip chives. Sauté in butter until softened. Add mustard, garlic, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Add cheeses and place ingredients in food processor. Process to a puree, then slowly add egg whites one at a time while processor is running. Put mixture in well-oiled loaf pan and place into a larger pan to create a water bath with water in larger pan coming halfway up the sides. Cover both pans with sheet of foil. Bake for 1 hour or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Unmold after cooling and serve with toast points. Makes 3 cups.

Coming Next Month: Banana Recipes

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