I adore my herb garden. I spend a considerable amount of time nurturing the 3- by 11-foot planter bed that sits just outside the kitchen windows. My morning ritual of picking off bugs and dead leaves, running my hands through the oregano and rosemary to release their fragrant aroma, and yes, talking to the plants does not get old. In fact, I find it relaxing, and so does my dog Trixie.
I harvested plenty of herbs for for tea and cooking at the end of summer. Along the way, I learned a valuable lesson to not uproot a perfectly happy pineapple sage—or any plant for that matter—when it is hotter than hell; I dug up and turned the salvia because it looked crooked. Within minutes it wilted and stayed that way for two weeks, I was devastated. The saying, "leave well enough alone" rings so true. By the third week, it made a come back.
It is the last week in October and my herb garden is bustling with lavender, nastorium, mint, calendula, parsley, lime basil, Christmas basil, Italian basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, pineapple sage, Vietnamese coriander and the subject of this post, chives. My friend Kim Dyla who lives in Southold, N.Y. with her husband Bill on their edible 1/2 acre landscape, inspired me to make flavored vinegars from basil. Kim grows over 150 varieties of plants on her property and makes everything by scratch. The story I wrote about the Dyla's for Edible East End's Fall 2014 Issue can be read here; you may be inspired too.
Besides the infused vinegar made from Christmas and lime basil, I made chive butter (I tried my hand at making homemade butter that is fairly easy to do) and oil. Chives add a nice grassy allium flavor to any dish. Chive butter is great on steak, clams, potatoes, corn on the cob, and fish. Chive oil is a perfect match for pizza, salads, soup, eggs, and bruschetta. Chives are an underused herb, in my opinion, so turn it into something luxurious and silky to spread and pour on everything.
Recipe: Chive Butter
- 4 cups of heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh chives
- Pour the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, process for 10 minutes, or until the butter separates.
- Strain off the liquid (buttermilk) into a small bowl.
note: you can refrigerate the buttermilk for future use.
- Add the chopped chives to the bowl and use the paddle attachment to mix in.
note: if you do not want to make butter you can use 4 sticks of unsalted butter. At room temperature mash and add the chives.
- Spread the butter on plastic wrap and roll the butter into a cylinder inside the plastic wrap. Use a piece of string to tie off the ends.
- Keep in refrigerator or freeze for later use.
Recipe: Chive Oil
- 1 cup of fresh chives
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the chives and blanch for 10 seconds. Drain and transfer to paper towels to remove as much of the water as possible.
- Roughly chop the chives and transfer to a food processor or blender. With the machine running, add the oil and salt and process until smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing against the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much oil as possible.
- Transfer to a jar or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until needed.
- Bring to room temperature before using.