March 12, 2001
Chef Jerry Traunfeld.
Herb Farm Chef Jerry Traunfeld speaks to Woodinville Garden Club
Jerry Traunfeld, executive chef of the Herb Farm since 1990, spoke at the annual luncheon of the Woodinville Garden Club on Wednesday, March 7, held at Bear Creek Country Club.
Traunfeld, the author of "The Herb Farm Cookbook" and an authority on herbs, spoke on growing, harvesting and using herbs in cooking.
With fresh herbs on hand, Traunfeld talked about them, showed the audience how to properly snip the cuttings and passed samples through the audience for people to smell. He cautioned that you should never cut more than one-third of the plant at any time.
"You can grow herbs even in a window box," said Traunfeld. He said that in winter herbs don't usually freeze, but may die from the roots rotting in poor drainage conditions. "Herbs take a minimum of food. Give them a dressing of compost. If there is a long spell of drought, water once a week. If they are packed tightly in a container, water daily and fertilize every month.
Traunfeld gave several examples of how herbs intensify the flavor of foods. "Parsely and other herbs can coat any meat, swordish or pork tenderloin by pressing the herbs into it, add salt and pepper, coat a hot saute pan with oil and cook. It is toasty. You can infuse herbs into desserts," he said, suggesting rose geranium be used for berries.
"Everyone should have a bay laurel tree. They are a bit expensive and slow growing, but the flavor of the leaves is incredible. You can stuff the leaves under the skin of a chicken before roasting, or use them to infuse desserts such as a flavoring for custard and rice pudding or pear and apple desserts.
"Lovage, which grows to five or six feet, is part of the celery family. Young and fresh cuttings can be used with Spring greens, apples and seafood. Just one tablespoon or so, it can be overpowering.
"Take a large amount of lemon verbena and grind it up with sugar which absorbs the lemon oil. Put it in a processor with water and lemon juice, strain and freeze it for a nice sorbet.
"Lavendar grows well here. English lavendar is the best for cooking. Use the flower buds before they open. It is great with boiled new potatoes, lamb and desserts.
"Consider the weight of dish when deciding what herbs to use in cooking. Fish is very delicate. Look for chevil, lemon balsam, chives or other herb. For grilling steaks and garlicy stews look for robust herbs that will stand up like sage, thyme and rosemaray," he said.
Traunfeld took questions. When asked on how to chop basil to keep it from blackening, he suggested using a sharp stainless steel knife.
Now in its 16th year, the Woodinville Garden club was started by Vi Kono and others and has 50 members and a long waiting list. The mission of the garden club includes community involvement. The club donated $20,000 to Woodinville's Wilmot Park and continues to maintain the large pots at the park, donated a bench to the Woodinville Library and does fall and spring plantings on the library grounds, provides two horticulture scholarships, originally maintained the planter boxes on NE 175th but has turned that over to another club.
The Woodinville Garden Club's annual plant sale will be held on May 5 at Chateau Ste. Michelle. The second annual Tour of Gardens will be July 7.