The Herb and Spice Cookbook

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One of my favorite bread cookbooks, Bread Winners, was written by Mel London.  I hadn’t seen this Herb and Spice Cookbook before and now I am looking forward to more of his great recipes.

The first section of the book has details of how to plan and grow your own elaborate backyard garden, or as simple as growing herbs right on your kitchen counter.  Hundreds of herb and spice recipes follow.

The history of herbs and spices goes back over 5,000 years ago.  First obtainable only by the very rich or royal families, now of course everything is at our fingertips.  One interesting fact mentioned in the book is that during the 1920’s the use of rosemary, basil, tarragon, and oregano almost disappeared, not to return until well after World War II.

This 1986 book was written along with Mel’s wife, Sheryl.  They began a serious interest in cooking with herbs and spices after a tour many years ago at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City.  On the tour, they observed fresh herbs sitting on shelves right in the middle of the kitchen area and were fascinated by how they were used in the chef’s creations.  The next day, they bought small containers and started growing their own herbs in a corner of their living room.

The recipes in the book cover hors D’oeuvres, soups, salads and dressings, main courses; grains, beans, and pasta; stuffings, vegetables, breads sauces, marinades and vinegars, and desserts.  I love all fresh herbs, but especially love rosemary and thyme.  I found rosemary recipes such as a fragrant rosemary and onion bread, baked chicken with rosemary, potatoes, and mushrooms, and marinated pork with citrus and rosemary.  Thyme recipes included linguine with thyme, saffron, and scallops; pork chops with thyme and apples; and an interesting sounding recipe for a tomato sherbet with thyme, cloves, and bay leaf.

I couldn’t resist showing you this wall of spices that was in the great Chicago kitchen of Curtis Duffy’s 3-Michelin Star restaurant, Grace, now closed but his new restaurant, Ever, will open next year.  Chef Duffy once gave Kristina black cardamom pods when she mentioned she loved the spice, during an interview she had with him before even Grace had opened.

Add and enjoy cooking a variety of herbs and spices with the wonderful and intriguing recipes in this book.  There are lots of ideas for summer cooking and grilling.  Think 4th of July coming up soon!

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