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Recipe's
Basil

Tomato with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients
2 lbs. plum tomatoes,
sliced 2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/3 c. fresh basil (chopped)
1/8 c. olive oil (extra-virgin)
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
This is ideal as a started or accompaniment salad in Summer, ideally when the Basil is fresh. Mix all ingredients (not tomatoes) and then pour mixture over tomatoes.
Season with salt & pepper. Allow to marinate for at least a half hour. Serve at room temperature.

Basil is one of the most widely-used herbs in the world and is synonymous with Mediterranean cooking
Basil is the ultimate compliment to tomatoes, and also pairs beautifully with onions, garlic and olives. It stimulates the appetite and helps curb flatulence, perhaps another reason why it works so well with garlic. Most other herbs tend to overpower basil's flavour and aroma, but oregano is one that is most often used in conjunction with basil

Uses
Its warm, spicy flavour enhances the taste of soups, casseroles and pastas, and is an essential ingredient for cooking tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes. Even when used as a torn leaf tossed into a fresh salad, Basil adds extra bite. For the most intense flavour, basil should be added at the end of the cooking process as prolonged heat will cause basil's volatile oils to dissipate.

Growing Basil - in a container
An easy enough herb to grow in Summer, Basil likes warm full sunlight with plenty of water.

Basil is ideally suited to container growing in normal potting compost (with John Innis). Water regularly and feed twice a month with liquid plant food (or tomato feed, alternatively slow release fertiliser every 6 months).

Ensure there are drainage holes and materials at the base of the pot and place on a saucer, if you have very small pebbles or broken crockery (3-5mm's) to place between the base of the pot and saucer for ventilation.

Maintenance Outside - As the season progresses, move your basil pot around the balcony/patio to the sunniest and most protected position. It can last until November but remember to bring it indoors at the end of September, and place in a sunny window ideally near a radiator. Plenty of Water year round, but do not drown the herb.

Maintenance Inside - As our summers varies in temperature and rainfall, we recommend to keep Basil inside in a sunny window position. If you are going away for a week where the Basil won't be watered - leave it outside and water from the base to ensure the saucer is full and the basil container is not sitting in the water, a few mm's above it.

Chives

Baked Potatoes With Brie & Chives

4 Large already baked potatoes
2 ounces brie cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon minced chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg to taste

Instructions Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice 1/2-inch lengthways off each baked potato. Taking care not to pierce the skin, scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell. In a medium-size bowl, mash the potato flesh until smooth. Add the Brie, butter, egg yolk, chives, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Stuff each potato shell with the mixture, mounding it in the centre; transfer to a shallow baking dish.

Bake the potatoes, uncovered, until the cheese has melted and the stuffing is heated through, 12 to 15 minutes. Put under the grill five inches from the flame, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings

Chives, still a common herb often found growing wild, had economic importance throughout Asia and many Mediterranean countries. Odd as it seems now, the early Dutch settlers in this country intentionally planted chives in the meadows so cows would give chive-flavoured milk.

With its mild onion flavour, fresh, bright green colour and leafy shape, this well-known member of the onion family needs little introduction. Unlike regular onions, Chives do not leave a sour after taste. An extremely versatile herb that is delicately flavoured, its leaves are used in a variety of dishes.

Uses
Chives should be used fresh, otherwise they loose almost all their flavour. When used with cooked foods, add them after cooking. They can be dried, but their is little point because they then have no flavour, they can only garnish. Chives can be used to add flavour to a huge range of food, probably best known for adding to baked potatoes with butter. Other uses foods it goes well with include mixed vegetables, egg dishes, salads and dressings, broiled poultry, stews, casseroles and baked fish.

Growing Chives
This herb is ideally suited to container culture and will grow happily in potting compost. Attention throughout the year is minimal. Water if the compost is drying out, and feed with liquid plant food (tomato feed) monthly throughout the growing season. Container grown plants are more likely to affected by severe frosts, so move the containers close to the house walls in winter.

Rosemary

Roast rack of Rosemary and Thyme Spring Lamb

1 full rack of Spring lamb (8 chops)
Olive oil, as needed
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup red wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Lightly brush the rack with olive oil. Then, sprinkle both sides with half of the rosemary and thyme, and salt and pepper. Place the rack in a roasting pan, preferably with a grate on the bottom, and then into a preheated 375-degree oven.
When the roast is finished, place it on a serving plate and cover it with aluminium foil. Roasts need to rest after cooking so the meat will reabsorb its juices. If you cut them immediately after cooking, all of the juices will run out. The foil will keep it warm while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, place the roasting pan on top of the stove and turn the burner on high. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan, scraping the browned bits off the bottom. Add the remaining rosemary and thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper. Reduce the sauce to at least half, add the butter at the end, and then strain it. Carve the roast into individual chops and pour the sauce over them.

 

A herb known for its digestive attributes, rosemary is popularly used with all types of meat, especially grilled steaks and meat on spits.

Actually a member of the mint family, it is an evergreen shrub also related to basil, marjoram and oregano."
The small, gray-green leaves look similar to small pine needles and have a bittersweet, lemony, slightly piney flavour. Rosemary is a very versatile herb, with both savoury and sweet culinary uses, Martha Saturate even suggests using Rosemary for Topiary (shaping plants into cone's, spheres etc...). Rosemary also contains chemicals called quinones, which have been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit carcinogens. Thus, this herb is ranked high on the list of cancer-prevention and reduction foods.

Uses
Chefs around the world have found that rosemary enhances most fish, rabbit, chicken and potato dishes, as well as nearly all Mediterranean vegetables. As a result, it is popular ingredient for moussaka recipe's. In addition, rosemary is commonly used in flavouring oils and vinegar's.
Dried rosemary leaves should be crushed with a mortar and pestle before adding to any recipe as the leaves can be sharp in the mouth when left whole. Use fresh sprigs as skewers for shish-kA-bobs or fish. Toss sprigs on the BBQ coals to add flavour to all grilled foods.

Growing Rosemary - in a container
I have found that rosemary is the easiest plant to grow in a container, and the hardest to kill. Simply repot the Rosemary in a larger container (allow 5cms from the herb to the container edge) and watch it grow. Because it is in a container its growth will be restrained, but it will require trimming down after the Summer or it can become very woody. Water with Liquid Plant feed (tomato feed) every month, and water regularly in Summer when dry.

Thyme

Chicken Breasts Roasted With Honey, Pine Nuts and Thyme

Ingredients
3 tablespoons honey
4-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon Thyme
3/4 Oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
4-1/2 tablespoons pine nuts, somewhat finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 split chicken breasts on the bone, each about 3/4 pound (4-1/2 pounds total), excess skin trimmed
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

Rinse chicken, and pat dry. In a small bowl combine salt, sugar and spices. Coat chicken evenly with seasoning, sprinkling a little in cavity, and rubbing the rest into skin. Set chicken uncovered on a rack above a plate.
Let chicken stand for 48 hours in refrigerator, preferably on top shelf for maximum air circulation. Heat oven to 500 degrees F. In a small roasting pan, place chicken breast side down on a rack. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 450 degrees F, turn bird breast side up, and roast 15 minutes more. Reduce heat to 425 degrees F, baste chicken with released juices, and cook 30 minutes more, or until temperature at leg reads 160 degrees F. Remove chicken from oven, and let stand 15 minutes before carving.
Yield: 4 servings


Thyme deserves a place in all gardens. Its foliage is attractive, the long-lasting flowers are very pretty and it is a compact easy-care plant.

A native of Southern Europe, thyme is now grown the world over from Africa to Russia - it proves it's versatility and it certainly deserves a place in your garden.

Uses
The Universal herb, thyme can be incorporated into recipe's for all food categories using any cooking method. Closely associated with Mediterranean cooking, thyme goes especially well with Mediterranean vegetables recipe's calling for tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, onion and garlic. Needless to say, thyme is an essential ingredient for bouquet garnis, pates and terrines. For a slightly different variation try lemon thyme. Combining the flavours of thyme and lemon, it is ideal for fish, and other lighter meat.

Growing Thyme - in a container
Thyme is an excellent plant for growing in containers and requires no particular attention. Water to keep the compost moist, and feed with liquid plant food every two weeks from April to August.
To Plant Thyme in the ground, visit www.gardini.ie/herbs for more information.

Mint

Pimms

There are many different types of mint, each looking and tasting slightly different. It grows wild in the Mediterranean area, and the herb's rampant growth makes it appear to have been naturalised everywhere. The problem is not of growing it, but of keeping it's growth in check.
It pays to cut the top leaves first, because this will encourage the plant to shoot out again further down the stem.

Uses
One of mints special qualities is that it helps the digestion, while giving a sense of well being and relaxation. Used raw, mint is the perfect base for numerous cold and refreshing drinks - see our famous Pimms recipe beside.
This herb is used in numerous recipes, in iced tea, fruit salads, with peas, new potatoes, in mint jelly and sauce just to name a few. Mint sauce for lamb is made in less than a minute by putting a dessertspoon of dried mint into a small jug with sugar, vinegar and hot water, stir and let settle

Growing Mint - in a container
Mint is a perennial plant and will disappear in the winter. You can extend the growing time by taking your mint indoors. Mint has no specific sun requirement, so it is easier to grow than many other herbs. Partial shade is OK as long as the soil is rich, moist, and well drained.
To plant Mint in the ground, visit www.gardini.ie/herbs for more information.


Gardini's Top Tips for Growing Herbs in containers.

Choose plants that thrive in limited space and give them well-draining potting soil. Don't forget to add drainage holes in the bottom of the flower pot if not already there.

Don't neglect watering. Water at least every 2 days in summer (ensuring you don't over water) and use tomato feed every 2 months.

Turn the pots occasionally for balanced growth. If you don't turn regularly, your potted plants will lean towards the light and eventually not stand upright.

Plant as you wish. Grow one item to a pot at a time, or mix a few compatible ones together. Both methods work, the latter looking more attractive.

When picking herbs for culinary use, cut them first thing in the morning, so that they retain their oils and moisture.