Written by Stephen Exel
Creative—and successful—hosts know two simple rules: Don't try to do it all, and don't make it
complicated. For a spring gathering, be a green goddess and let fresh herbs stand front and center in your menu.
Spin your herbal theme on favorite recipes solicited from friends and garnered from cookbooks. If a local coffee
shop or restaurant serves a snack you love, ask how to prepare it. Chances are, you'll come away with a new
recipe. Then improvise with the explosive flavors contained in a handful of cuttings. Serve a variety of savory and sweet dishes and drinks, and let guests graze as they go.
Spring into action: Make buttery
Rosemary Shortbreads in just 10
minutes using five on-hand ingredients.
The shortbreads, from a recipe
from Amavida Coffee in Rosemary
Beach, Florida, are a snazzy accompaniment
to cheddar or blue cheese,
wine jelly or onion marmalade. For
dessert, pair them with lemon curd
Yield: 5-1/2 dozen
In a large bowl, cream butter and
confectioners' sugar until light
and fluffy. Combine the flour,
rosemary and salt; gradually add
to creamed mixture and mix well.
Shape into two 8-1/4-in.
rolls; wrap each in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate overnight. Cut into
1/4-in. slices. Place 2 in. apart on
ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350° for 11-13 minutes
or until edges begin to brown.
Cool for 1 minute before removing
from pans to wire racks. Store in
an airtight container.
Nutrition Facts: 1 cookie equals 42
calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 7 mg
cholesterol, 38 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate,
trace fiber, trace protein.
Miami chef Michael Schwartz
shares his recipe for Crispy Hominy,
a bar treat served at his much-touted
restaurant, Michael's Genuine Food
& Drink. Serve these crunchy, spicy
bites in small fiber grow pots lined
with waxed paper.
Yield: 5-1/2 cups
Sort corn and rinse in cold water.
Place corn in a Dutch oven; add
water to cover by 2 in. Cover and
let stand overnight.
Drain and rinse corn, discarding
liquid. Return corn to Dutch
oven; add the onion, garlic and
bay leaves. Add 8 cups water.
Cook, uncovered, over medium
heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until
corn is tender. Add 2 tsp. salt.
Remove from the heat; let stand
for 30 minutes. Drain corn and pat
dry, discarding vegetables and
In a large bowl, combine the
paprika, sugar, garlic powder,
onion powder, chili powder, cumin
and remaining salt; set aside.
In an electric skillet or deep-fat
fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry corn in
batches for 4-5 minutes or until
browned. Add to seasoning mixture;
toss to coat. Serve with lime
Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup equals 263
calories, 11 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0
cholesterol, 526 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate,
5 g fiber, 3 g protein.
How does your garden grow? With Balsamic Herb Vinaigrette, it's pretty herbs all in a row—basil adds licorice, dill waves its feathery locks, and
musky oregano and citrusy thyme provide balance. Drizzle the dressing over spring greens, or brush it over grilled meats, baked fish or roasted new potatoes.
Yield: 2-1/4 cups
In a blender, combine the first 10
ingredients; cover and process
until blended. While processing,
gradually add the oil in a steady
stream. Cover and refrigerate
Nutrition Facts: 2 Tbsp. equals 199
calories, 19 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol,
4 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate,
trace fiber, trace protein.
Grilled chicken and purchased barbeque sauce laced with garlic combine for a portable snack that encourages easy mingling. Serve Walking Chicken BBQ in small mason jars.
Yield: 6 dinner servings, or divide
into smaller servings for snacks
In a large resealable plastic bag,
combine the barbecue sauce,
lavender, oil and garlic. Add the
chicken; seal bag and turn to coat.
Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Drain and discard marinade.
Place chicken skin side down on
grill rack. Grill, covered, over
medium heat for 20 minutes. Turn;
grill 10-15 minutes longer or until
juices run clear. Discard skin and
bones; cut into bite-size pieces.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving equals 315
calories, 20 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 88 mg
cholesterol, 243 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate,
trace fiber, 28 g protein.
Chilled Pea and Crab Soup Shooters capitalize on peak flavor by blending sweet peas with a handful of sparkly mint. Spiced-up crabmeat plays its heat against this cool, sip-able hors d'oeuvre for a mouthwatering
tug-of-war. Guess what? You win.
Yield: 2 dozen
Place the peas, broth, mint,
lime juice, cumin and salt in a
blender. Cover and process until
smooth. Add yogurt; process until
blended. Refrigerate soup for at
least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl,
prepare the curry crab by whisking
the mint, lime juice, oil, curry
paste and salt. Add crab; toss
gently to coat. Chill until serving.
To serve, pour soup into shot
glasses; garnish with crab mixture.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving equals 41
calories, 1 g fat (trace saturated fat), 22
mg cholesterol, 229 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate,
1 g fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic
Exchange: 1/2 starch.
Caution! When the herb of love releases its delicate flavor in smooth, custardy Lavender Ice Cream, someone you like may have a meltdown.
Yield: 1 pint
In a small saucepan, heat half-and-half to 175°. Remove from
the heat; add lavender. Cover
and steep for 20 minutes. Strain,
Return to the heat; stir in sugar
until dissolved. Whisk a small
amount of the hot mixture into the
egg yolks. Return all to the pan,
whisking constantly. Cook and
stir over low heat until mixture
reaches at least 160° and coats the
back of a metal spoon.
Remove from the heat. Cool
quickly by placing pan in a bowl
of ice water; stir for 2 minutes. Stir
in whipping cream. Press waxed
paper onto surface of custard.
Refrigerate for several hours or
Fill cylinder of ice cream
freezer; freeze according to the
manufacturer’s directions. When
ice cream is frozen, transfer to a
freezer container; freeze for 2-4
hours before serving.
Editor's Note: Look for dried
lavender flowers in spice shops. If
using lavender from the garden,
make sure it hasn’t been treated
Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup equals 373
calories, 23 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 279
mg cholesterol, 43 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate,
trace fiber, 5 g protein.
Muddling—or crushing—herbs releases their essential oils for an immediate flavor boost. In her book The Backyard Bartender, Nicole Aloni muddles up
the classics with her Basil Mojito and the cool-as-a-cuke 10 Thyme Smash.
In a shaker, muddle basil leaves,
syrup and lime juice. Add rum
and orange juice, and stir to blend.
Pour over ice into glass. Top with
soda water; garnish with kumquat.
In a shaker, muddle cucumber and
thyme leaves. Add other ingredients.
Shake and pour into an
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