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The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook

by Georgeanne Brennan (Chronicle)

The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook



It's to our benefit that Georgeanne Brennan has a good memory. Thank goodness she remembers how delicious the cucumber salad strewn with aromatic mint was in a Greek café or how wonderful the branches of dried fennel and fresh thyme stuffed into a rockfish made that Spanish dish.

Fortunately, what fills her memory is enough to fill a book. The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook is stuffed as snugly as the rockfish with flavorful herbs which make that part of the world's cuisine famous. And, of course, those herbs—among them dill, thyme, oregano, fennel, parsley, mint and basil—are now so relied upon that they're easily available all over the world.

Brennan knows her subject well. She has a home in Provence, France, where she teaches regional cooking and has authored Potager: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style and the James Beard Award-winning The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence.

The book contains delicacies like the Provencal tart with bacon, ham and young greens that includes a full tablespoon each of fresh chervil and flat-leaf parsley. But it's not just Provencal treats that shine in the gorgeous photographed tome.

Dinner guests will certainly be dazzled by pasta with pressed purple basil leaves and blossoms. The beautiful purple leaves pressed into the pasta by a pasta machine make the pasta look like artwork, but also serve to deliver a bouquet of flavor. The dish becomes a masterpiece simply with the addition of a tad of extra-virgin olive oil, butter and a grind of black pepper.

The delicate harmony between dried apricots, peaches, pears and prunes, chiles and garlic, onion and fresh thyme makes lamb shank with dried fruit braise unforgettable. Fresh dishes, of course, show off the flavors of fresh herbs even more. Tender green and yellow snap beans lightly steamed are coated in a dazzling summer savory-Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Oranges and walnuts get kissed by a dressing made with minced lavender blossoms, honey and yogurt. Eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers are soaked in an oregano-lemon marinade before being grilled. Cilantro and fruity white wine waltz within a glorious chilled melon soup. Try a sip; just one will probably make you a convert to this resplendent cuisine.


Chilled Melon Soup with Cilantro
Lamb Shank and Dried Fruit Braise

Previously featured:

Anne Willan: From My Château Kitchen

Plenty: A Collection of Sarah McLachlan's Favourite Recipes

Simple French Desserts

American Home Cooking: Over 300 Recipes Celebrating Our Rich Tradition of Home Cooking

Stacks: The Art of Vertical Food

Asian Wraps: Deliciously Easy Hand Held Bundles to Stuff, Wrap & Relish

Great Kitchens: At Home With America's Top Chefs

Essentials of Cooking

City Tavern Cookbook: 200 Years of Classic Recipes From America's First Gourmet Restaurant

The Cake Mix Doctor

(Updated: 12/04/08 SB)

Cookbook Book Reviews Recipes Gayot

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