I love how using herbs and spices in a dish can transform what you’re making to taste like you are in another area of the world, or time. I love mixing the perfect blend of herbs and spices to get to a desired flavor as well. You will seldom find me buying a “spice mix” or “herb medley”, I find they are lacking in depth and tend to lose their flavor quickly. There are a few exceptions….curry is one of them, although I do find myself adding to its mix all the time; I have also just discovered Zaatar spice mix on the recommendation of my cousin Judy, and I must admit it is mighty tasty. But the one that puts me to shame is Herbes de Provence…. I buy it time and time again and I am always pleasantly pleased with it. Herbes de Provence is most commonly a blend of basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme- they are commonly found throughout the Provence region of France and in most of their regional dishes. When I use it I dream of myself in the south of France eating in a kitchen with friends. I hope to make that dream come true, but until then I will have to settle for my Seattle kitchen with the lovely flavors and aromas it creates. Herbes de Provence works great with real savory meat dishes, and fantastic with a roasted chicken, but I adore it with veggies. Especially root vegetables; I feel they really stand up well to the herb mix. So in my Seattle kitchen on a very windy overcast day I am making a Root Vegetable Stew with Herbes de Provence and Dumplings. I am dreaming that I can make something like this in a kitchen of a farm house in Provence with others to share it with and sunlight coming through the window. Hopefully that dream is not too far away, but at least I visit there when I cook at home!
Root Vegetable Stew with Herbes de Provence (feeds 6)
1 large Turnip
2 large Golden Beet
2 - 3 Parsnips
2 -3 Carrots
1 medium to large Celery Root
*(All the above peeled, and cut into bite size pieces)
1 onion, chopped small
1 quart of Stock, (Veggie or Chicken)
1 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp of Herbes de Provence
2 tbsp of butter
½ cup of cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cup of Flour
½ tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Baking Powder
1 cup of milk
First, place at least a 6 quart pot over medium heat and melt your butter in it. Toss in all the root veggies and onion that you prepared. Stir them well and let them simmer together. Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence over the veggie mixture and let simmer about 3 – 5 minutes.
Next, into your pot pour your stock and wine. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook about 10 – 15 minutes. Your veggies should be tender, and at this point you can stir in your cream. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste and continue to simmer.
Meanwhile, you will want to prepare your dumplings. In a bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in your milk until it is slightly smooth. With two spoons scoop a tiny amount of your batter into your simmering stew mixture. You will want to work quickly and spacing them apart. I like to give them a gentle but good stirring to ensure that the dumplings are separated from one another and cooking evenly.
Finally, once your dumplings have risen and are puffy your stew is ready. I like to let the stew sit off the heat at least 10 minutes before serving. This lets the stew cool slightly so that it thickens, and the flavors shine through. I like to sprinkle a bit more black pepper in serving.
NOTE: My Cousin Judy who I mentioned above has a great food blog. This is a recipe she posted using the Zaatar spice mix. I love it and I hope you will too. http://judysculinaria.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/chanterelles-in-zatar-cream-sauce/