Monday, November 11, 2013

"Holiday Culinary Herb" program at the South Texas Botanical Gardens in Corpus Christi, Texas

Hey Herbies!

The Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group presented the "Holiday Culinary Herb" program at the South Texas Botanical Gardens in Corpus Christi, Texas on Saturday, November 2 from 10:00 until noon!  We had a very good program with a good attendance and lots of positive feedback! 


Saturday, November 2, 10-noon

This cooking workshop teaches people how to use herbs in their holiday cooking and includes samples of delicious new treats to wow your family and holiday guests.

This was our lineup for the program! 

Holiday Culinary Herbs

Introduction about our Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group by Linda T. Collins.

Cindy Meredith proprietor of the Herb Cottage in Hallettsville, Texas presented Herb Vinegars and Herb Harvesting programs. For more information check on the following website for Cindy’s article on Herb Vinegars:

Photo courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs

Chef Kevin Argetsinger and his assistant-wife Tammy Clark presented the program Talk Turkey Brining along with providing samples of a brined turkey and cranberry chutney.  Wonderful!  For a juicier and tastier turkey, be sure to brine before cooking using a wet brine!  Kevin discussed how to use a wet brine for animals that fly a/k/a poultry and how to use a dry brine for four-legged animals that walk a/k/a meat.  I think that after hearing his program and tasting his brined turkey that many of us will be brining our turkeys for Thanksgiving this year! 

Kevin’s Brine for Poultry

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 gallon of water
You can also add citrus and spices to the brine.  You can either cut the recipe to handle smaller amounts or double/triple it to handle large turkeys. You need enough water to cover the meat.  A turkey can be in the brine for up to 4 days as long as it is kept cold, not over 30°.

If you don’t want to make a whole turkey, you can brine just turkey breasts!  After you remove your turkey breasts from the brine, it will only continue to get better if you make Herb Butter-Roasted Turkey Breasts.  Or you can use the herb butter on a full size turkey too but be sure to adjust your cooking time! 

Herb Butter-Roasted Turkey Breasts

  • 2 skin-on, bone-in turkey breasts (3 1/2–4 pounds)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme + 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano + 2 sprigs of oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary + 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh Mexican Mint Marigold + 2 sprigs of Mexican Mint Marigold
  • 1 or 2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled, crushed
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Put butter into a bowl and blend remaining ingredients to make an herb butter. Gently loosen skin from turkey breasts and rub butter under skin and all over outside of breasts.

Scatter thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and garlic over a large rimmed baking sheet and arrange turkey breasts, skin side up, on top. Roast turkey breasts, turning halfway through, until skin is crisp and golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breasts registers 160°F (for optimal moistness, you will want to cook the white meat of the turkey breasts to a lower internal temperature than you would if cooking a whole bird), 45–55 minutes.

Transfer turkey breasts to a platter and let rest 10 minutes before carving.  Serve turkey breasts with pan drippings alongside.

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

We all know that stuffing is a must with turkey.  This Sausage Stuffing is one of my favorite stuffing recipes that everyone loves.

Sausage Stuffing

·        1 16-ounce package corn bread stuffing

·        1 ½ cups canned chicken broth

·        14 ounces sausage of your choice

·        8 tablespoons butter

·        1 ½ cups chopped sweet yellow onion

·        ¾ cup chopped celery

·        ¾ cup chopped leeks

·        ¾ cup chopped fennel bulb

·        4 garlic cloves, chopped

·        ¾ cup nuts of your choice or can add and/or substitute with chopped water chestnuts

·        ½ cup raisins or dried currants or dried cranberries

·        Salt and Pepper

·        2 large eggs beaten

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Mix corn bread stuffing and chicken broth in a large bowl. Set aside. In a large heavy skillet brown sausage until cooked. Drain and transfer sausage to the bowl with the stuffing. Drain off fat in skillet. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, leeks, fennel and garlic to skillet and cook until tender. Transfer to bowl with the stuffing. Mix in nuts and fruit and season mixture with salt and pepper. Then add beaten eggs and mix. Be sure not to have the mixture to hot when you add eggs or the eggs will cook. Transfer beaten mixture to the baking dish. Cover dish and bake about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp.

When it comes to mashed potatoes for the holidays, try something different.  One of my granddaughters told me that the Mashed Potatoes With Roasted Garlic and Bay that I made last Thanksgiving were the best she ever had.  I must say I agree. 

Mashed Potatoes With Roasted Garlic and Bay

  • 4 pounds potatoes, Yukon Golds are good, peeled, cut into quarters
  • 3 fresh bay leaves or one dried bay leaf
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • *Roasted Garlic to taste (optional)

Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay, 2 tablespoons salt, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain them well and remove the bay leaf. Meanwhile, heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan.
*Put the potatoes, along with the roasted garlic, through a ricer or food mill into a bowl. Add the hot cream and season with salt and pepper. Mix together with a spoon and add the chives.

*If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, you can use a mixer.


  • Whole heads of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh herbs of your choice (can use oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, chives)

Preheat over to 350°. Cut just the very top part of the garlic off. Place into a piece of foil and drizzle the olive oil over it, add some salt and pepper and herbs and seal tightly. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and serve on crusty bread as a spread. Very good with Italian dishes.

Photo courtesy of Epicurious
Do you every get tired of the Holiday Green Bean Casserole that everyone serves?  Try something different this year with Fresh Green Beans With Fresh Herbs!

Fresh Green Beans With Fresh Herbs
4 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or a mix of these
¼ cup freshly chopped onion
2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 cup fresh Mexican Marigold Mint
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Freshly ground pepper & Salt to taste
1 pound fresh green beans, snapped and blanched

Sauté onion and celery until tender, then add the garlic, the herbs, salt and pepper and sauté a few more minutes. Gently stir in the beans and continue cooking. (I like my beans crisp for a better flavor and color, but you can cook them to your liking.) If needed, you can add more salt and pepper before serving. Fresh parsley can be added as a garnish.

Photo courtesy of Epicurious, John Kernick, Gourmet

Pat Baugh presented demonstrations and tastings for Baked Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad with Mint, Almonds and Cranberries.  Both were delicious! 

This was sooo good!! DH loves it and he is not usually too fond of squash. I used Splenda brown sugar mix and cut that in half; also cut the butter in half and it was still delicious without the anise seed, had none. Loved the combination of cardamom, brown sugar and lemon and of course the butter just topped it off perfectly. I will be making this again!! Thanks for sharing it!

Quinoa Salad with Mint, Almonds and Cranberries

Are you tired of eating your leftover Thanksgiving meal? If you are, try this recipe. It is healthy and delicious. The combination of the minty mint and the sweet cranberries are so refreshing, just like a dip in the pool.

Ruth Hoese could not attend the program, but sent her wonderful Cranberry Chutney which was loved by all.  Here is the recipe! 

Cranberry Chutney

Makes about 2 1/2 cups. This can be made with Splenda or half Splenda and half sugar.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 12 ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup vinegar  I used 1/2 rice wine vinegar and 1/2 apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raisins, golden are prettier
  • 1/2 cup peeled diced apples (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice,
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (or to taste if you think that would be too strong, if not available use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

I did not have allspice for this batch- I used ground cloves-1/2 tsp; and 1/8 tsp Chinese 5 spices, and a pinch of nutmeg)

1 small orange or tangerine put through food processor (optional)

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients; return to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until apples are tender. Pour into medium glass mixing bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on sauce.

Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

I always use this recipe as a starting point and change it each year.  Be sure to use small amounts of your spices first and add or delete to your taste.  I also cook quite a bit longer than 15 minutes- until it reaches the consistency you see in the sample.

Alternatives idea in this could be:

  • red wine
  • orange vinegar
  • a touch of vanilla
Photo courtesy of

For dessert we had Rosemary Cookies prepared by Mary Ann Davis.  Not one was left over!  They were wonderful.

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
8 Tablespoons Butter (1 stick of butter)

½ Tablespoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped (1 ½ teaspoons)
¼ Cup superfine sugar
1 ¼ Cups all-purpose flour
Sugar (can use red and green colored sugar)
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Work in the flour and rosemary to make soft dough; shape into a ball. Roll out on a floured surface until ¼ inch thick, cut into rounds with a 2” fluted cutter, or cut into any shape that you like. Bake on a greased baking sheet in a 325° oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shortbread changes color. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with sugar. Makes about 12 cookies.
Recipe from A Collection of Recipes complied by the Aransas/San Patricio County Master Gardener Association April 1999.


Photo courtsey of ? but thank you very much! 

Thank you everyone that helped with this program and a big thank you to our busy Chef Kevin for taking the time to give us a wonderful presentation.  Also thank you for those of you that attended and for the Botanical Gardens for inviting us to give this great presentation.

Now go out there and cook with fresh herbs to surprise your family and friends!  They will turn an ordinary meal into a dynamite meal!

Happy Holidays!

P.S.  I just found the following website with information about brining your turkey on The Food Network:

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