Sunday, November 10, 2013

Holiday Culinary Herbs Menu Suggestions

Do something different this holiday season with trying some new recipes.  Here are some suggestions to brighten your holiday dinner table.

Holiday Culinary Herbs Menu Suggestions


  • Spiced Herbed Nuts or the following:
    3 cups mixed pecans, walnuts and almonds
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1/4 teaspoon allspice
    1/2 tsp white pepper
    1 tsp Kosher salt
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the nuts in a mixing bowl and set aside. Put the butter into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. As the butter melts, add the thyme leaves, cumin, mustard, cayenne, allspice, and pepper. Allow to simmer for one minute. Pour the butter mixture over the nuts, add the salt and toss well to coat. Put the nuts onto a baking sheet in one layer. Put the pan into the preheated oven until the nuts are a golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Serve immediately or keep in a sealed container for 1 week.
    Yield: 3 cups
  • Deviled Eggs
    6 to 8 eggs, hard-boiled
    1/3 cup mayonnaise or Ranch Dressing or mix of both of these
    1 teaspoon horseradish
    1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
    1 teaspoon stone ground Dijon Mustard
    ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
    ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, black or white or both
    Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks; mash yolks with remaining ingredients.  Refill into egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.  Chill and serve. 
    Add 3 to 4 pieces fried bacon crumbled.  Add some to mixture and saving a little to top on the eggs.
    Add 3 or 4 green onions finely chopped.  Add some to mixture and saving a little to top on the eggs.
  • Meat Balls with Dipping Sauces or the following:
    1 1/2 lbs lean ground pork (can use ground turkey or a mixture of ground meats)
    2 packages Ramen noodles (Chicken, pork and/or chili flavor--can mix these)
    2 tbs. teriyaki sauce or soy sauce
    4 cloves finely chopped/minced garlic
    1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    Chicken broth
    Mix crushed noodles with the pork, sauce, garlic, and onion along with the flavor packets.  Do not add any salt because both the flavor packets and soy sauce have lots of salt already in them.  Roll into golf ball sized balls and drop into boiling chicken broth.  Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes; then bake in 450-degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes. 
    Cook some oriental rice noodles in the remaining chicken broth.  Drain it and add cooked snow peas and bean sprouts on top of the noodles and then put the meatballs on top.  Add La Choy noodles (the crunchy ones that come in a can), and then serve teriyaki sauce, garlic-chili hot sauce, sweet and sour sauce and hot Chinese mustard on the side to put on top of the meatballs.   Also the following dipping sauces are very good with this recipe. 
    It's really good and easy to fix.  You can add different vegetables if you want to.  Also rice can be substituted for the noodles.  They can be served alone as an appetizer with the sauces.  
    Dipping sauce by Tyler Florence: 1 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup sake 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (recommended: Srirachi Hot Chili Sauce) 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    Dipping Sauce by Wolfgang Puck: 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 1 cup sesame oil 2 tablespoons minced scallions or green onions Large pinch sugar
    Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Serve as dipping sauce for pot stickers.
    Yield: approximately 1 1/2 cups dipping sauce


  • Chilled Asparagus Salad With Ginger Dressing
    ¼ cup white wine vinegar
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
    1 teaspoon soy sauce
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
    1/8 teaspoon wasabi
    ½ cup canola oil
    Blend all ingredients except oil in a food process; with machine running slowly add oil.  Cover and refrigerate.
    2 pounds fresh trimmed asparagus (can use either green or white or a combination of the two.)
    Blanch the asparagus by placing them into boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your asparagus.  Remove them and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and chill in the refrigerator.
    Or steam the asparagus until it is tender crispy.   Remove them and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and chill in the refrigerator.
    Large lettuce leaves or fresh field greens
    Black & white sesame seeds, toasted for just a minute or so to release the oils
    Lettuce and/or wild greens
    Arrange the lettuce on a good size chilled platter, then put the wild greens on top of the lettuce, then arrange the asparagus on top and drizzle with the dressing.  Sprinkle with both the roasted black and white sesame seeds.  Add a little ginger to the plate for garnish.  You can also add some cherry tomatoes for color. 
    Serves 6 to 8
    This is a great dish to take to pot luck dinners or serve as an appetizer.  Everyone loves it!
  • Spinach, Dill & Strawberry Salad
    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    ¼ cup red wine vinegar
    ¼ cup sugar
    2 cloves minced garlic
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
    ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
    ¼ teaspoon onion powder
    Whisk oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, dry mustard and onion powder until blended, and then cover and chill at least 2 hours.
    2 pounds fresh spinach, torn & coarse stems discarded
    1 bunch green onions, chopped
    ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
    1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
    ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
    Toss spinach, green onions, almonds, strawberries and dill in a salad bowl and just before serving pour dressing over salad and toss. 
  • Mesclun, Fennel & Pecan Salad W/ Lemon Basil Dressing
    The Texas Hill Country Cookbook: A Taste of Provence
    By Scott Cohen: Executive Chef
    1 cup shopped pecans
    1 tbs. sugar
    1 teas. Water
    Pinch of cayenne pepper  
    Lemon Basil Dressing:
    1 bunch fresh lemon basil
    1 shallot, chopped
    6 tbs. Champagne vinegar
    2 tbs. lemon juice
    2 eggs
    ¾ cup canola oil
    ¼ EVOO
    Salt & Pepper
    1 fennel bulb
    ¼ # cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano
    4 cups mesclun
    16 cherry tomatoes, halved
     Salt & pepper to taste
    • Pecans:
      • Toss sugar, pecans, cayenne with water; toast at 350 for 20 minutes on an ungreased sheet pan; set aside;
    • Dressing:
      • In food processor, purée basil, shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and eggs. 
      • Slowly add oils to get emulsion;
      • Add salt & pepper;
    • Salad:
      • Shave fennel paper thin and keep in water until ready to use; drain and pat dry;
      • Shave cheese paper thin
      • Toss mesclun, pecans, and tomatoes with ¼ to ½ cup dressing. 
      • Plate and top with fennel and cheese;

Main Dishes:

  • Tarragon Beef Tenderloin With Béarnaise Sauce
    3 pounds beef tenderloin
    2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
    3-4 cloves finely minced garlic
    4 tablespoons finely minced fresh French tarragon or can substitute with Mexican Mint Marigold. 

    Preheat the oven to 425°.  Roll the beef in the crushed pepper, garlic and tarragon mixture.  Place in the oven for 10 minutes at 425°, then turn down heat and roast for approximately another 20 minutes depending on how you like your beef cooked.

    Béarnaise Sauce:
    1/4 cup white wine
    2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
    1 teaspoon minced fresh chervil
    1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
    1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon or Mexican mint marigold
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    Salt and pepper

    In a small non-reactive saucepan, combine the wine, vinegar, shallot and herbs over medium-high heat.  Bring to a low boil; reduce to 2 tablespoons and strain; discard the solids.  Reserve for later use.  In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the cornstarch and ¾ cup water.  Stir until thickened 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar mixture.  Remove from the heat and whisk in egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Please back over hot water and stir constantly until thickened abou5t 4 more minutes.   Do not overcook or let the mixture come close to a boil or it will curdle.  Whisk in the butter, salt and pepper.  The sauce can be allowed to cool and gently reheated in a double boiler.  Yield: 1 cup.

  • Roast Turkey With Herbal Rub
  • P.S.  Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey   I just found the following website with information about brining your turkey on The Food Network:
  • Herbed Pork With Asparagus
    This recipe calls for a pork loin, but pork tenderloin, whole of sliced, also works well.
    1 pork loin about 4 pounds or 2 to 3 pork tenderloins
    6 large cloves garlic, minced
    4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    6 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 pounds fresh asparagus
    Mix garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl, reserving 1 tablespoon of the mixture.   Rub well into the pork and put in a container or plastic bag and marinate it for a couple of hours. 
    Preheat over to 425°.  Heat a large oven proof pan with a small amount of olive oil.  When it is very hot add the pork and turn as soon as it has seared (the searing gets it nice and crunchy on the outside and at the same time, it seals in the juices).  As soon as it is seared put it into the oven for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350°.  If you are cooking the pork tenderloins, it will take about another 15 minutes to cook.  However, if you are cooking a pork loin, it will take approximately 2 hours to cook.   The temperature reading should be 155° to 160°.   Otherwise, if you cook it too much, it will dry out. 
    If you are using a sliced tenderloin, you can cook this in a large skillet on top of the stove.
    Steam your asparagus right before the roast is done and toss it with the reserved garlic mixture.  Arrange around the roast when serving.   Serves 6 to 8 people.
Side Dishes:

  • Baked Cheese Grits
    2 cups yellow grits, not quick or instant grits
    1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
    1 ½ teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons chopped garlic
    8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
    3 eggs
    1 cup milk
    Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare the grits according to the package directions.  Add the butter, salt, pepper, garlic and cheese.  Mix until the butter and cheese melt.  Beat together the eggs and milk.  Add to the grits and mix well. Pour into a square (8 x 2 inch) baking dish.  Bake for about 1 hours, or until the mixture sets.  Serve immediately.  8 servings.
    Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse
  • Sausage Stuffing
    1 16-ounce package corn bread stuffing or make homemade corn bread
    1 ½ cups canned chicken broth
    14-16 ounces sausage of your choice (I use Jimmy Dean’s sage or hot sausage)
    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.
  • Quinoa with Mint, Almonds and Cranberries


  • Mashed Potatoes With Bay
    4 pounds potatoes, Yukon Golds are good, peeled or unpeeled and cut into quarters 1 bay leaf
    Kosher salt and 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 leaf, 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.
    *Roasted Garlic
    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.
  • Green Beans With 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 French tarragon, torn  (can substitute Mexican Marigold Mint)
    1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
    Salt to taste
    Freshly ground pepper 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.
  • Scalloped Corn
    1 can or about 3 ½ cups corn drained (can use cans of just the yellow or yellow and white or Mexican corn mix—they are all very good)
    1 can or about 3 ½ cups creamed corn
    2 cups milk or half and half
    2 well beaten eggs
    ½ cup sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
    2 cloves minced garlic
    2 ½ cups cracker crumbs
    Salt & Pepper to taste
    ½ finely chopped green pepper (optional)
    ½ cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
    1 small can French’s Fried Onion Rings
    Mix the ingredients together except for the onion rings.  Put into a lighted buttered casserole dish and bake in a 350° over for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until set, much like a soufflé.  Sprinkle the onion rings over the top for the last 5 minutes of cooking. 


  • Rolls Herb and Cheese Poppers
  • Bread Linda’s Cornbread
    Martha White corn meal mix, white or yellow (Don’t use the Jiffy corn meal because it has too much sugar in it.)
    Follow the directions on the package,
    • 1 egg,
    • substitute buttermilk for milk,
    • add one 11 oz. can of whole Mexican corn, drained,
    • add one cup of shredded cheese,
    • add a couple of drops of hot sauce. 
    and mix well.
    • 2 slices bacon
    • ¼ finely chopped onion
    • 1 finely minced garlic clove (optional)
    Chop up two slices of bacon into a cast iron skillet and add ¼ cup finely chopped onion and garlic (don’t let the garlic burn); heat bacon and onion in the oven at 400°; cook until the fat is rendered out of the bacon and the onion is tender.  Don’t drain, but pour the mixture directly into the very hot cast iron skillet and cook for the given time on the package.
    You can add the following variations:
    • pork cracklings, very small pieces
    • jalapeños, bell peppers or other peppers
  • Thyme Popovers


  • Red Wine, White Wine, Champaign And Champaign Martinis
  • Herbal Teas
  • Gourmet Coffee Served with Kahlua


  • Pies Linda's Pecan Pie
    5 eggs
    2/3 cup white sugar
    1 1/3 cup white syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/3 cup melted butter
    Pecans, about 2 cups
    Mix all ingredients well and put into a large unbaked pie shell.  Cook at 400° for 10 minutes and then lower the over to 325° and cook for another 30 minutes or until it puffs.
  • Cookies 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
    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.  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.
  • Cakes Pear Upside-Down Cake


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