The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor
by Jerry Traunfeld
William Morrow Cookbooks, 2012
I was a little leery of delving into a chef-inspired cookbook. I'm more of a down-to-earth and simple cook. I imagined this book would contain fancy creations that were hard to replicate and contained a million ingredients making it expensive and time-consuming. And something my husband would turn his nose up at.
How wrong I was. These recipes look fancy but are oh so easy to do. In my experience, I have gravitated toward a lot of dried herbs in my cooking, besides chives and a few sprigs of mint. Chef Traunfeld explains how much the fresh herbs turn cooking up a few notches. His usage of fresh herbs, he says, "makes it easy to get amazing results with very little effort."
He also makes the case for growing your very own herb garden and gives lots of tips on choosing the spot and choosing the plants. He notes, "As much as teaching how to cook with herbs, I strive to encourage more people to grow them." It is easy to do, he says, because most herbs like sunny spots, so you can grow them in one spot. Growing indoors works too. Luckily, I had a rosemary plant on my counter so that I could choose the Popcorn Chickpeas recipe to try. How easy and yet how delicious. It is my new favorite snack and if I have a party anytime soon, I can impress guests with my new skills at making an appetizer.
As cooks, we all long to impress, and this book makes that easy to do. The recipes are clear, simple. As he invented dishes at the restaurants, at the back of his mind was "how I can translate the same techniques into no-fuss home recipes. I've collected the best of those recipes, added some favorite versions of familiar classics that I've enlivened with herbs...and organized them according to the occasion, whether a workday supper for the family, a special dinner for two or four, or a feast..."
Jerry Traunfeld served as the executive chef of The Herbfarm restaurant in Woodinville, Washington from July 1990 to November 2007. Traunfeld is an award-winning chef and author of The Herbfarm Cookbook, as well as this title. In 2008, he opened his own restaurant in Seattle, named Poppy, named after his mother. He stated, "Food will still be inspired by herbs, and will delve deep into spices. Rather than the rarefied Herbfarm style, it'll be food we can eat on an everyday basis." In 2015 he opened another restaurant, Lionhead. He retired Poppy in 2019, and sold Lionhead at that time also, to move to Palm Springs to explore the arts.
Though he is retired, his book leaves behind a treasure treat for all herb lovers. A big thumbs up and I'll be making more of his recipes soon.