Beautiful Food Special Edition: Homemade herbal salts

Part I.

Homemade herbal salts

Celtic sea salt tastes like the ocean, is pale green and moist in texture. Himalaya salt is pink in color, has a distinct mineral-like flavor and the grains are very hard. Fleur de sel and Maldon salt are light and flaky. Making herbal salts with them is simple since the salt grains are soft. Experiment with different kinds of salt combined with aromatic herbs, doubling or tripling the recipes below. Herbal salts keep well for months when kept in glass jars with a well-fitted lids. Continue reading

Mushrooms marinated with truffle

In the dark days of January the earthy appeal of mushrooms is undeniable. Mushrooms provide form, color and texture in the kitchen, supplying much-needed inspiration in the months of scant sunlight. When combined with aromatic herbs, mushrooms yield the most interesting compositions of the season.

The following recipe takes just a few minutes to prepare. However, the ingredients simply must marinate a day to achieve the perfect match between sautéed mushroom juices, truffle olive oil, fresh parsley and pine-like rosemary.

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Garlic infused honey


Garlic braided from LautrecWhere sweet and pungent go together, honey and garlic make for an interesting contrast of flavors. Raw garlic cloves caramelize when infused with honey. The process of blending the ingredients is a short one, while the results improve with time. Garlic infused honey is one of my cupboard essentials, discovered while experimenting in the kitchen. I like to keep a jar of it in the pantry, available for immediate use drizzled over baked cheeses,  fresh figs, or on grilled red capsicum peppers.

Honey and garlic can be prepared with raw and roasted garlic. Raw garlic makes for an intense honey. Roasted garlic is decidedly sweeter, and the honey is more subtle as a result. In both cases use the freshest garlic possible, with cloves as smooth and shiny as ivory.

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Lavender and pink pepper salt

After seeing the fields of lavender in bloom in the Provence in early summer, I started looking for reasons to use lavender in the kitchen. Creativity in cooking is often sparked by color. I believe that color has a powerful influence on taste. A jar of pink pepper corns in the cupboard inspired me to mix pink with purple in a bowl. I added fresh green leaves of rosemary to the brightly aromatic ingredients and put the bowl on a wooden tray as decoration.


I soon started to experiment with a new color composition. With the lavender fields of France in mind, I sprinkled some purple olives with the herbal mixture and left them to marinate in olive oil. I continued my taste and color studies with my beautiful bowl of herbs.

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A post scriptum on the artichoke

ArtichokesThe artichoke is such a versatile and inspiring vegetable, I feel compelled to write an additional note on how further to prepare it. As a post scriptum to the recipe for globe artichokes with flat leaf parsley and garlic, consider bringing the artichokes to the table stuffed with an aromatic soffritto, made of a lightly sautéed mixture of shallots, celery, carrots and rosemary.

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Rigatoni con pomodoro e capperi

Early morning is filled with the perfume of cooking along the streets of Naples. The smell of garlic lightly frying in olive oil travels freely through open kitchen windows. The aroma of slowly cooking tomatoes follow. The sun warms as the scent of rosemary makes its journey across the terraces and balconies of this lively southern Italian city.

The trinity formed by tomato, rosemary and garlic inevitably remind me of the many bowls of pasta shared with friends in their garden near Pozzuoli. The addition of capers and basil serve as a reminder of time spent in Giovanna’s kitchen. The following recipe is a perfect example of shared family tradition and simply prepared food authentic to its origin.

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Rosemary and pink salt


A perfect kitchen is filled with cabinets and shelves where bottles and jars are gathered together containing those special ingredients that flavor the simplest of foods. In the category of cupboard essentials I will write about my favorite combinations of ingredients. The order in which I post notes on this subject will be according to personal preference. Rosemary is predominant in the Italian kitchen and decidedly my favorite herb.

Rosemary salt has a separate and different effect upon foods when combined than when used separately. While requiring a bit of time and effort to pick the leaves carefully from the stems, it keeps its flavor for at least two months. Choose a quiet moment at the kitchen table to make the following essential cupboard ingredient. Double the amount mentioned below if you have time.

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