Spicy ABCs

22.07.2010 | Text: Alla zakonova

Mastering the combinations of herbs, knowing classic bouquets and understanding the basic principles of their compatibility with different dishes is the ultimate culinary art. Summer is the best time for field research


Europeans mainly use small amounts of dried herbs in traditional combinations: 4 6 kinds of herbs with 1 2 classic spices. In Eastern countries, people give a preference to fresh herbs in large quantities. Regardless of how these herbs are used, the main thing in all dishes is that they are easily digestible

Bouquet garni (This is the French term for bouquet garnish, known in the UK as an herb bundle). This is a classic mixture of herbs in French cuisine that are used to prepare soups, stocks and different stews. The herbs are boiled together with other ingredients and then are removed prior to consumption. Though there are no generic recipes for bouquet garni, most of them include parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Depending on the recipe, bouquet garni may include basil, burnet, chervil, rosemary, peppercorns, savory and tarragon. In some recipes, carrots, celery (leaves or stems), celeriac, leeks, onions and parsley roots are also included in the bouquet.

In others, the bouquet is not bound by a string. Instead, its ingredients are packed into a small sachet, a net or even a tea strainer. Traditionally, the herbs are wrapped in leek leaves, though a coffee filter and butchers twine can be used instead of leek leaves.

Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs from Southern France that was included in the annals of international cuisine back in the 1970s. The standard mixture typically contains savory, fennel, basil, and thyme flowers, as well as other herbs. Herbes de Provence are a universal spice used to flavor meat, poultry and vegetables. These herbs are optimal as a spice for fatty dishes and fresh salt-free dietary dishes.

Fines herbes is a combination of herbs that is the mainstay of Mediterranean cuisine. The trradional ingredients are estragon, fresh parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil. These fine herbs are not the pungent and resinous herbs combined in a bouquet garni, which, unlike fines herbes, give their flavor after simmering. Marjoram, cress, cicely or lemon balm may be added to fines herbes. The marjoram may be dried. Fines herbes are best combined with chicken, fish, soups and omelettes. The perfect dish opening the palette of scents and tastes of this mixture is an omelette with asparagus and goat cheese.

Battuto is a popular Italian seasoning with a finely chopped mixture of herbs and vegetables, including onions, carrots, celery, parsley and basil. Battuto is used to add flavor to a variety of Italian meat sauces. Rosemary, sage and garlic are added to rabbit or foul meat. For mutton, add only rosemary and garlic. When preparing fillet of pork, rosemary is substituted with lemon zest.

Gremolata (or gremolada) is a chopped herb condiment typically consisting of garlic, parsley and lemon zest. It is a traditional accompaniment to the Italian braised veal shank dish Ossobuco alla milanese. Although it is typically added to veal dishes, the citrus element of gremolata makes it an appropriate supplement to seafood dishes.

Pizzaiola is a classic mixture of garlic, parsley and oregano from Naples. Pizzaiola is the basis for the famous salsa di pomodoro alia pizzaiola sauce and also a perfect supplement to chicken or beef, roasted on the open fire, and all varieties of fish dishes.

Persillade is a sauce or seasoning mixture of parsley (French persil) chopped together with seasonings, including garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar. In its simplest form with only parsley and garlic, persillade is a common ingredient in many dishes and an integral part of a saut? chef´s mise en place. Dishes prepared with this mixture are usually accompanied by the name of this spice, for example mutton persille.

Khmeli suneli (literally dried spices) is a traditional Georgian mixture of spicy herbs. It is popular in Georgia and across the Caucasus region. Khmeli suneli consists of equal portions of coriander, dill, basil, bay leaves, marjoram, fenugreek, parsley, safflower or saffron, black pepper, celery, thyme, hyssop, mint, and hot pepper. This mixture is an ingredient in traditional Georgian dishes and sauces, such as satsivi, adjika and kharcho soup.

WHAT goes with WHAT

For roasted pork garlic, onions, marjoram, basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, caraway thyme, coriander, lemon balm, wormseed and hyssop.

For beef steaks and grilled meat savory, horseradish, sage, basil, rosemary, garden cress and tarragon.

For ragu garlic, onions, basil, savory, tarragon, juniper, cloves and garden cress.

For fried fish basil, garlic, savory, borage, fennel, parsley, thyme, melissa, dill, coriander and garden cress.

For boiled and stewed fish onions, garlic, dill, cloves, parsley, basil, savory, fennel, rosemary and lemon balm.

For duck marjoram, sage, milfoil, thyme, rosemary, savory and tarragon.

For goose marjoram, sage, tarragon, rosemary, thyme and savory.

For turkey marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme and tarragon.

For chicken marjoram, rosemary and thyme.

For vegetables anise, basil, savory, borage, tarragon, coriander, marjoram, melissa, parsley, sage, sorrel, rue and all varieties of onions.

For rice tarragon, garlic, sea parsley, parsley, marjoram, oregano, coriander, purslane and beaked parsley.

For mushrooms onions, garlic, chives, cayenne pepper, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, caraway thyme, basil, thyme and parsley.


Under the cuckoos nest A countryside restaurant in the downtown Kyiv

At the turn of the 20th century, the woody hills of the Dnipro River along Parkova Alleya (Park Lane) were called Kukushkinas Villas, either after the owners name one Mme. Kukushkina or due to the vast number of cuckoo birds in the surrounding woods. This romantic area was inhabited by vagabonds, thieves and ladies of the night, who lived in shelter of tree branches. In the middle of the past century, the woods were cleared out, a lane was paved and summer cafes were opened. Perhaps, in the memory of the former dwellers of this place, Kyivans began jokingly calling these establishments kukushkas. The menus included shashlyk (shish kebab), lulia kebab, tapaka, Georgian wine and Armenian cognac. The regulars of these places was quite mixed: shady fraudsters, students, KGB officers, engineers of secret plants, writers, actors and musicians. Fisticuffs between drunken visitors were quite common, though as a rule they were often settled by raising a shot of reconciliation.


The renovated restaurant-club Zozulya (Ukrainian for cuckoo bird) and inherited the best elements aspects from its distant predecessors, including location in the greenest zone of old Kyiv, popular dishes of Caucasian cuisine cooked on an open barbecue grill, the specific flavor of food in the open air and in a hearty atmosphere of large companies of visitors.

All of this blends well with the high quality of cuisine and service. The restaurants chef Dmytro Myretskiy says the hits of the season include dishes on a barbecue shashlyk, kebabs, grilled vegetables, mutton and pita bread stuffed with cheese and greens. Every Saturday, Myretskiy cooks a real Uzbeki pilaw right in front of the restaurants visitors.

On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, there is karaoke with a live band from 10 pm. On weekends, from 1 pm to 7 pm, Zozulya offers big family lunches. The adults enjoy food and chit-chat, while their children are entertained at the mini-zoo, on the local playground or the little chefs school.

Restaurant club Zozulya, Kyiv, 16 Petrovska Lane

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