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Herbal Essence

Poor HIF’s Table has been sadly neglected for way too long. With Thankgsiving and all the holiday cooking fast on the horizon though, be watching for more posts.

The great thing about an herb garden is that, for the most part, you can almost neglect it. I don’t have good luck with fussy flowers, but even someone with a black thumb like me can grow herbs. The herb garden I have today is not nearly as nice as the one at my other house, but I do have good supply of  the quartet of herbs Simon and Garfunkle made famous–parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

If you’ve never tried cooking with fresh herbs, please give it a try. They are readily available in almost every grocery store now are a far superior to the dusty, dried versions in jars.Thanksgiving is a medley of savory, traditional flavors and everything you make (except dessert) will be better with fresh herbs.

rosemaryThis is rosemary. It’s probably the easiest herb to grow. My two bushes are prolific and only get bigger year after year. Rosemary and poultry are natural companions. Try this: carefully insert your fingers between the skin and breast of your turkey. Slowly work your fingers to loosen the skin, going back as far as you can. Now insert a few tender sprigs of rosemary under loosened skin. Not only is it pretty, it infuses the meat with a wonderful flavor.

thyme

This is thyme. Thyme doesn’t flourish in my present garden like it did in my old one. You’ll see this wonderful ancient herb spilling out of beds and around rock walls all over Europe. Hold the stem and just scrape the tiny leaves off with your fingers. Stir it into your gravy or throw some into the cavity of your turkey along with a couple of lemon quarters.

sage

Sage is a flavor that many of you may associate with sausage. For me, that’s what makes it a perfect addition to dressing, because I use sausage in my dressing as well. Sage has a great earthy flavor. When you’re using sage, start with a little and taste as you go. It can get overpowering.

parsley

The last herb in the quartet is parsely. If you just think of parsely as a tasteless garnish, I hope you’ll give it another chance. This Italian flat leaf parsely adds a bright flavor to any of your savory dishes. You can use it in almost any of your Thanksgiving favorites.

I know that the little packets of fresh herbs in the grocery are expensive and don’t last long. But try splurging a little for the holidays. Or find a friend with an herb garden. If they have as much as I do, they’ll be happy to share.

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Caesar Salad and A New Favorite Product

The first time I ever had a Caesar Salad was on a business trip to Minneapolis. It was made tableside with great fanfare and I loved it.

I’ve been making Caesars ever since, but something just wasn’t right. It took a trip to Cafe Nonna in Nashville for me to figure it out–I was trying to do too much. I was using too much garlic, too much cheese and too much oil.

I came home, scaled back and started over.

Like any salad dressing recipe, the amounts are iffy, so taste as you go.

Dressing ingredients:

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 lemon

olive oil

kosher salt

dijon mustard

1 egg boiled for 3 minutes

Salad ingredients

Romaine lettuce

sundried tomatoes (I know–it’s not what the purists would include but I think they’re great)

pine nuts (again, not traditional, but a good addition)

croutons

finely grated parmesean

anchovy fillets (up to you)

In the bottom of the same bowl you’ll be mixing the salad in, add garlic, juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Let that stand a few minutes so the garlic will soften.

Whisk in about twice as much olive oil as there is lemon juice. The dressing should thicken up a bit.

Add in about a half tablespoon of mustard.

Taste everything. Is there too much acid? Too much oil? Play with the flavors until they suit you.

Now bring a small pan of water to a boil and drop the egg in. Cook for three minutes. Rinse the egg in cold water for a bit so you can handle it. Break it open and add the yolk to the dressing. Whisk everything together and give a final taste. Adjust with more lemon, oil or salt if necessary.

Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pine nuts and croutons and toss.

Serve in chilled bowls. Add anchovy filets last–lay on top.

FAVORITE NEW PRODUCT

I found these in the produce section at Publix a few months ago and have been using them ever since. They’re perfect for sprinking on salads and resealable containers are, in my opinion, just about the best invention ever.

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Come in. Sit down.

Hello and welcome to Here In Franklin’s Table.

Would you like a glass of wine? Red or white?

A beer? Let’s see…I’ve got some Harpoon IPA, Budweiser…oh, and there’s some Sierra Neveda Pale Ale too.

Please, just don’t ask for iced tea because despite my Southerness, I don’t drink it and hardly ever make it.

If you found your way here from my other blog, welcome. If you stumbled  in, glad to meet you.

This is where you’ll find the occasional recipe…shopping tips…commentary on the state of food and whatever else comes to mind. The food in the header all came from the local farmer’s market, except for the herbs, which came from my own backyard.  The squash and sage are in my oven right now and smell delicious. Here’s the recipe.

Wait, before I give you the recipe, you should know that I’m not a real measurer, so amounts tend to be approximate. But here’s a good rule of thumb…start with a little and add as you go. Remember, you can always add, but you can never take away.

Here’s what I used:

Six young yellow squash

2-3 tablespoons butter

About 1/2 cup of finely grated reggianito Argentinian cheese–now I’m just showing off here–any parmesean-type will do, EXCEPT that powder in the green can

About 1/2 cup of finely grated cheddar

1 heaping wooden spoonful each of sour cream and Hellman’s mayo

2-3 Tablespoons fresh chopped sage

2-3 Tablespoons chopped onion

A few dashes red pepper to taste

Kosher salt to taste

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Slice up the  squash–if they’re young, you don’t have to bother with peeling them. Simmer them in a covered pot until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Put the squash in a good-sized bowl. Add butter and stir.

Add other ingredients, a little at a time. Mix all and taste before adding egg. Adjust as necessary. Pour into 9×9 dish. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until set.

This blog is a work in progress and if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see, please let me know. If I can make it, I’ll tell you. If I can’t, I’ll try to steer you in the right direction. 

Ok…squash is almost done. Time to get the chicken on the grill.

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