Prepare my blue cheese warm salad dressing and use it to dress your favourite pasta. You might want to try substituting homemade spaetzle (it is made in minutes). Drizzle the spaetzle with sage butter.
Crush a handful of homemade candied walnuts from your pantry jar and sprinkle over the pasta just when ready to eat. You also could finely chop candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar and sprinkle over warm blue cheese dressing on a salad or over pasta, along with the crispy sage leaves.
If you love sage and happen to grow it in your own garden, gently rinse a few generous size leaves and pat dry. Allow it to rest on white kitchen paper towel to evaporate any leftover moisture.
Then what to do with the earthy full-flavoured pungent sage? You could quickly pan-fry it in sizzling unsalted butter for just seconds to crisp it, let it dry on a white kitchen paper towel, sprinkle with salt and crumble over the dressing.
Along with the homemade candied walnuts this is wickedly delicious served over your pasta dish. But be warned, sage is powerful and can overtake and dominate other flavours, so use sparingly.
Or you could batter dip your whole sage leaves using my light, most delicious Chinese batter, or use your favourite beer batter (keep the batters quite liquid and rest, refrigerated, about an hour), let most of the batter drip off each sage leaf, and deep-fry the fresh, individual sage leaves in hot Mazola Corn Oil. You could even batter and deep-fry the sage flowers. Salt immediately.
Deep-fried sage leaves make a curious hors d’ouvres conversation piece. Serve along with deep-fried, battered and stuffed zucchini flowers on a buffet table.
Defrock the zucchini flower stamen and remove the stem. One suggestion for stuffing the zucchini flowers: some sage-seasoned fresh homemade coarse breadcrumbs mixed with a mashed cognac marinated black mission fig from your marinating jar. Add a small drop of Petite Maison brand white truffle mustard and/or a pinch of my watercress pesto. Shape a tiny breadcrumb ball and flatten it. Insert into the flower and close around the filling. Pinch the flower open end shut.
You could substitute a little WildlyDelicious Beet and Red Onion Marmalade mixed with the fresh coarse breadcrumbs if you don’t have the figs.
But bear in mind, it’s a love/hate relationship with sage. For some, it’s an acquired taste, as with olives and anchovies.
You could use sage or sage, rosemary and thyme, cautiously seasoned flour and fresh coarse homemade breadcrumbs to coat rice balls or even breaded, pounded schnitzel.
A thought just occurred to me to share: In my incredible dill bread recipe, you might like to replace the dill with a little tri-mix of sage, rosemary and thyme, for a unique homemade bread experience. And if you make your own focaccia, definitely try this mix.
Making fresh breadcrumbs only takes seconds. I highly recommend not using store-bought breadcrumbs. They are mostly too fine and too dry. They are okay in a pinch for some uses, but not here in this grouping.
You can make a batch of your own various breads (stale leftover black-olive bread makes wonderful crumbs) into fresh coarse breadcrumbs, freeze them and they will keep for ages. Defrost on a sheet pan, spread out to dry a little before using. For certain uses, you can even oven-toast the breadcrumbs spread out on a sheet pan before using.
You can save the sizzled in butter, pan-fried, not battered, sage leaves. Just let them dry completely, spread out on white kitchen paper towel; crush by putting the dried leaves in a brown paper bag, and store in an airtight glass jar in your pantry.
Use sparingly when preparing roast chicken or other poultry, or game. If you enjoy rabbit, it will stand up to the intense sage, rosemary and thyme mix. You could even make a fresh coarse breadcrumb stuffing and fill the rabbit cavity. There are all sorts of stuffing recipes or create your own.
The sage marries well with rosemary and thyme, a powerful combination that for some is an acquired taste and is best enjoyed by those who love full-flavoured dishes with that extra special je ne sais quoi conversation starter.
This combination is not for the faint of heart but used sparingly can create a mouth-watering dish. All three elements can be used together, fresh or dried.
Dried, crushed, these three can be added in equal small amounts to dredging flours, or to coarse fresh homemade breadcrumbs, just when ready to use in any recipe. Perhaps try it on your private hunter’s venison steaks to make him proud of his efforts. You could even prepare a savoury polenta using this mix.
If you imbibe, and if you are using beer batter, you might enjoy Stella Artois or Molson Export Ale. They both have a gentle bite that for some might enhance the gourmet flavours of the meal. A Chianti, perhaps for a wine drinker. For myself, not being a drinker as such, a couple of ounces of beer is plenty, and indeed does enhance the herb flavours.
Dried, the herbs will keep for ages in your pantry. I like to sterilize my little glass storage jars, and their lids, too, just before using. Simply boil a kettle of water, place the little glass jars and their lids into a large clean pot or glass bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Sterilize small tongs to lift the jars out of the water. Air dry the hot glasses under a lightweight, clean tea towel, upside down on a baking rack, so the moisture can evaporate completely, before each new use. It helps stored items stay fresh and last longer.
This is the sort of recipe that appeals to a busy Realtor who loves to cook and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen. One of the benefits of telecommuting and working from home is that it’s another opportunity to multi-task (in the kitchen), perhaps while thinking about and note-planning your next ad campaign using Post-it notes to recapture later. Not a minute of time wasted, even in my kitchen.
If you love to cook for your family, for a special loved one, or even just for yourself if you live alone, then just do it. The secret is in being organized.
We are all allotted the same 24 hours in a day. You might discover hidden talents you didn’t know you had. Recipes are just meant to be guidelines that you can change up to create your own. A little like an artist, creating special treats, a bit at a time. You might surprise yourself.
Savoury faux Dutch olibollen or South African puff puff (with sage, rosemary and thyme)
There’s a Dutch influence in South Africa. And similar treats are offered there. Typically, both are made with yeast dough. These treats are a cross between fritters and doughnuts, sort of.
I use my wonderful light Chinese batter and slice apples in half vertically, core and cut each half into three equal wedges. Dip the apples into the rested refrigerated batter that is medium thick, a little like pancake batter consistency.
But here’s the special secret: use the minced, dried sage, rosemary and thyme mix in equal parts. Just a slight dusting in the batter is sufficient since the sage and rosemary are particularly powerful. The thyme is a moderate strength. You might even add a sprinkle of nutmeg.
If you have a candied citrus rind sugar jar in your pantry, mince a little mixed rind and add to the batter.
The mixture of the sweet tart apple and candied citrus on the palate with herbs in the batter is quite a worthy taste bud sensation.
Deep fry using Mazola Corn Oil that is quite hot, but not smoking. Only deep fry a half dozen at a time. More will cause the hot oil to drop in temperature.
The treats are ready when the batter puffs and turns golden in a just a couple of minutes. Rotate so all sides turn equally golden. Remove with a spider and drain on white kitchen paper towel. While hot, dust with salt.
Some people like to sift icing sugar on when cooled. A mix of savoury and sweet, whatever suits your taste. You could even drizzle a little second season maple syrup over each one, when ready to enjoy, or a little congealed cognac figgy jus from your black mission fig marinating jar.
If you want to enhance the savoury sensation, perhaps dip in my Spectacular barbecue serving sauce recipe instead. Or even serve with my very tasty tomato butter.
This beyond-easy treat is quickly made and is often served on New Year’s Eve. Various versions are served in countries all over the world. The house smells wonderful and inviting.
Have you ever noticed that you prefer to chew savouries on one particular side of your mouth and sweets on the other, discovering changing sides enhances either? Our taste buds have absolute variables supporting that first we eat with our eyes, followed by our sense of smell, before our taste buds activate. That confirms that presentation counts.
Take food presentation into account if you are preparing plates for chemo patients, or even for the elderly. Discover what appeals most, often a selection of small choices, and don’t be disappointed when your efforts are rejected. By making a tray or plate attractive, you might make eating more opportunistic. Caring shows on the plate and can speak wordless volumes.
Note: You might like to use the crisped sage leaves floating on the soup plate: roasted acorn squash soup with roasted ready-cooked chestnuts.
© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks “Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience”