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Cooking with Classic French Herbs

Cooking with Classic French Herbs
Provençal cooks are masters at infusing foods with vibrant flavors. Among their secrets is a blend of dried herbs known as herbes de Provence. This fragrant amalgam typically includes thyme, marjoram, savory, oregano, basil, rosemary, fennel seed and lavender flowers, although the number of herbs and proportions vary. (In Provence, home cooks and herb purveyors carefully protect their recipes.) This seasoning pairs deliciously with fish, poultry, meats and vegetables, lending a distinctively earthy taste. Because dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor than fresh ones and can withstand longer cooking, they can be added early in the process.

Another French favorite is bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs added to soups, stews and other dishes at the start of cooking. A bouquet garni includes parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Often the herbs are tied in cheesecloth so the bundle is easy to remove and discard before serving the finished dish.

Fines herbes, a mixture of very finely chopped fresh herbs, traditionally features chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon, although marjoram, savory, burnet or watercress may also be included in the mix. The flavor of fresh herbs dissipates rapidly, so they should be stirred into a cooked dish just before serving.

Here you'll find recipes that incorporate these classic French herb blends. Whether fresh or dried, they'll enliven foods with their aroma and flavor.