Monday, December 20, 2010

The lovely smell of basil

For years, my husband has made a flavored salt known as "epice marie" (pronounced "peace marie").

It's a very simple thing to make. Mince your favorite fresh herbs, mix them with coarse salt, spread it into a thin layer on a dish, and let dry. It absolutely must be fresh herbs, and it should be coarse salt like kosher salt or coarse sea salt. The salt absorbs the moisture from the herbs, and the herbs dry quickly, making a flavorful seasoned salt that will perk up everything from mashed potatoes to grilled vegetables to steak. It's extremely versatile.

Usually my husband uses basil and salt, but sometimes he mixes in rosemary or thyme. It all depends on what's on hand. Traditional epice marie usually contains rosemary, garlic, and thyme, but we've found that we really like the flavor of basil, so that's what he uses.

Yesterday's batch is drying as we speak:

Seasoning salt

It fills the whole house with its scent. I love it. It's a taste of home, and I sometimes take it with me on my travels.

Once it's dry, we usually put it in a small bowl and use a pinch or two at a time. Because we use coarse sea salt, I like to take a pinch in my fingers and crush it a little finer as I'm sprinkling it on my food. We've found that it doesn't work well in a salt mill, because the salt is heavier than the herbs and will travel to the bottom, which is why we put it in a bowl. Alternatively, you can also put it in a salt pig:

Salt Pig

The salt pig is on the right. It keeps the salt covered, and then you can use the spoon to access the salt.

No comments: