Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Parsley: A Cook’s Best Friend

I’m pressed for time today, so won’t recite a recipe - only a little philosophy.
I’ve long believed that you can fix almost any cooking disaster with one of two strategically placed elements - a huge dollop of freshly whipped cream, or a clutch of parsley. Today, a few words about the latter.
Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as a good source of iron and folate. Some people feel that it’s not worthwhile drying parsley because it soon loses its color and flavor. I disagree. Dried parsley keeps well in a sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place such as a kitchen cupboard that is not directly above or adjacent to the stove. Cover and store in a cool, dark place. Home-dried parsley flakes keep at least three months. Unless I intend to add it to the preparations for soup stock, I never freeze it, because it becomes as limp as a rag. 
Limp parsley? Dry it!
When I buy fresh parsley, I try to keep an eye on it. Often, I keep it in the fridge, but I believe the very best place is in a vase or small pitcher on the kitchen counter, so it’s readily available. When it starts losing its color, I pinch off the yellowing leaves and lay it in a single thickness on a paper towel in the microwave, heating it (including stems) on “high” for 2 - 3 min. Checking it for dryness, I may reheat it further. Then I rub each floweret to separate it from the stems, which I save to add to simmering soup stock. I later strain this stock, which contains many vegetable trimmings. 
 Clean parsley grinder blades
Freeze stems for soup stock
Next, I run the dried flowerets through an herb or parsley grinder - a handy gizmo to keep in the kitchen drawer. In a matter of moments, it produces professional-quality parsley flakes. It comes apart for easy rinsing, and takes up almost no space. Parsley grinders are a little hard to find in kitchen supply stores, so check the Internet. There are several brands - all of them good. Expect to pay roughly $15 for yours. Click once on each photo to expand it!
This is the fun part: Professional flakes in moments!

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