Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Herbs- Thyme

Hi peeps!

Everythyme ( «~ lol!!!) I hear the words Rosemary, Sage and Thyme I always think of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fare. But that's just coz I'm nuts that way. We cook with herbs and spices every day and I reckon its always a good idea to get the facts on food. As the title of today's blog suggests; we are learning all about Thyme today. Check out these interesting facts and then join me for two amazing Thyme Recipes.....

History:
Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs". In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.

Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. The fresh form is more flavourful, but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. While summer-seasonal, fresh greenhouse thyme is often available year round.

Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced 1⁄2 to 1" apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon. Dried thyme is widely used in Armenia (called Urc) in teas.

Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used (e.g. in a bouquet garni), or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually when a recipe specifies "bunch" or "sprig", it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme.

Leaves may be removed from stems either by scraping with the back of a knife, or by pulling through the fingers or tines of a fork.

Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. Substitution is often more complicated than that because recipes can specify sprigs, and sprigs can vary in yield of leaves.

Medicinal Uses:
Oil of thyme, the essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), contains 20–54% thymol. Thyme essential oil also contains a range of additional compounds, such as p-Cymene, myrcene, borneol and linalool. Thymol, an antiseptic, is the main active ingredient in various commercially produced mouthwashes such as Listerine. Before the advent of modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages. Thymol has also been shown to be effective against various fungi that commonly infect toenails. Thymol can also be found as the active ingredient in some all-natural, alcohol-free hand sanitizers.

A tea made by infusing the herb in water can be used for coughs and bronchitis.

One study by Leeds Metropolitan University found that thyme may be beneficial in the treatment of acne.

And there we have it! Now enough with the facts n shizz; let's get cooking!!!!

Thyme Pecan Toffee Brittle
Thyme may seem like an unusual candy ingredient, but it adds a special flavor to this Thyme Pecan Toffee. The herb brings a fresh, slightly earthy taste to the rich, buttery toffee, and the addition of crunchy toasted pecans and tart dried cranberries balances it out. The flavor is noticeable but not overpowering, so you don't need to worry about this candy tasting too much like a salad!

Ingredients:
8 ounces (1 cup) butter
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Preparation:

1. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, water and corn syrup in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization, then insert a candy thermometer.

3. Continue to cook the candy, stirring frequently, until it reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 C). If the candy appears to separate (with a layer of melted butter on top) stir vigorously to make it come back together again. Watch the candy as it approaches 300, since it cooks quickly and can scorch at high temperatures.

4. Once the candy reaches 300 degrees, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda—it will foam up quite a bit. Add the salt, thyme, cranberries, and pecans, and stir until they're fully incorporated.

5. Quickly scrape the candy out onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread it into a very thin layer using a spatula. Let it cool for a minute or two, until it is just starting to set around the edges but is still warm and pliable. Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray, and carefully begin pulling the candy so that it stretches into a thin layer, trying not to stretch too many holes in it. Pulling it this way will give it more of a crispy, brittle quality.

6. Once you have stretched the toffee as much as possible, let it cool completely at room temperature. Once cool, break it into small pieces by hand. Store Thyme Pecan Brittle in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month. In humid conditions it will turn quite gooey and sticky.

Now for something to warm wintery bones...

Bacon, Thyme and Parsnip Soup

Ingredients:
3 rindless bacon rashers, finely chopped
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1L (4 cups) salt-reduced vegetable stock
250ml (1 cup) water
6 (about 1kg) parsnips, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
80ml (1/3 cup) thickened cream
Fresh thyme leaves, to serve
8 x 1.5cm-thick slices sourdough baguette (French breadstick), toasted

Method

Step 1

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon, onion, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.

Step 2

Add the stock and water to the pan. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the parsnip and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until parsnip is tender. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Step 3

Place half the mixture in the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Step 4

Ladle the soup among serving bowls and drizzle over the cream. Sprinkle with extra thyme and season with pepper. Serve with the toasted bread.


Two gorgeous thyme recipes just for you. Now you can heat your wintery bones with some delish soup and then watch a movie under a blankie while snacking on your thyme toffee :-D.

Have a great thyme today peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

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