CHIVES – Allium Schoenopras
Chives are a very easy perennial herb to grow. Chives come from a large family, which includes: onions, leeks, shallots, and garlic. The wonderfully subtle onion flavor enhances every dish they are added to. As a child growing up, I remember my mom growing and using chives. She only had three herbs in her garden: dill, parsley and chives, but she used them regularly. Chives can take over more area in your garden than you want. Their purple flowers (which are edible) bloom in spring and if left alone will make seeds that will germinate all over your garden. I either harvest the flowers for vinegar or cut the plants down to the ground to get rid of the pending seeds as well as the tough stock that supports the flowers. This eliminates having chive plants all over your garden and rejuvenates each plant with an abundance of usable leaves. There are a few tips to having healthy plants. Chives started from seeds grow very slowly. It is best to ask a neighbor if you can have some of theirs since they need dividing every 3 years or so or buy them from a reputable grower. Plant chives in full sun (minimum of 5 hours) with well-drained soil. Chives can also be grown inside in containers. Just make sure they get enough light in the winter.
Harvesting chives can begin as soon as they are high enough to snip. An omelet with fresh chives in late March is wonderful! When I cut the chives, I take a few leaves and cut them to the bottom (about ½” above the soil) rather than cutting the tips off a lot of them. The blossoms can be harvested when they are at their peak and can be used in salads, making flavored vinegar or rolling on the outside of a cheese ball. REMEMBER: 1 large chive flower has enough flavor to season a salad for 4 people. Chives can be frozen for winter use by wrapping the long leaves in aluminum foil. When ready to use them just roll back foil and snip the amount needed, replace the foil and return to the freezer. It is as easy as that.
There are also garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), which have a subtle garlic flavor (some call them society garlic) with flat leaves and white flowers that bloom in late August. They are grown and harvested the same as regular chives. Both varieties of chives can be used interchangeably in a variety of ways: In any salads, potato dishes, any number of vegetables, sour cream dips and spreads, tomatoes, chicken, fish, beef, sauces, eggs, bread, cheese and vichyssoise.
1 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons snipped chives
1/4 teaspoon basil, marjoram and thyme
Blend all ingredients until well mixed. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. Good for heated French bread, broiled meats, vegetables and baked potatoes.
Slice tomatoes and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and a little thyme. Cover generously with freshly chopped chives, basil and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and Opal Basil Vinegar. Let stand for 15 – 30 minutes. Serve. If there are any left over, they taste great on a sandwich.
5 lbs. Potatoes
11 eggs – hard cook (reserve one to slice for garnish)
1 large onion – finely chopped
6 ribs of celery – chopped
3 cups Miracle Whip (more if potatoes are dry)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup fresh snipped chives
Boil potatoes until done. Cool, peel and cube potatoes; Put them in a large bowl. Cut 10 eggs in half. Pop out egg yolks and put in a medium sized bowl and mash them with a fork. Chop up egg whites and put them in bowl with potatoes. Also add onion and celery. Add Miracle Whip to egg yolks, blending well. Add this to potatoes and mix well. Add more Miracle Whip if necessary. Garnish with the 1 sliced egg and the fresh chives.
SUPERB SWISS CHEESE PIE WITH CHIVES
1 – 9” unbaked pie shell, well chilled
1 Tablespoon soft butter
pinch each of: nutmeg, sugar, cayenne pepper
6 – 12 bacon slices
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound natural Swiss cheese, grated (1 cup)
2 Tablespoons fresh snipped chives
Optional: 1 cup sautéed mushrooms
Heat oven to 425º. Rub butter over the pie shell. Cut up bacon and fry until crispy and drain on paper towel. In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, sugar, cayenne pepper; beat just long enough to mix thoroughly. Evenly distribute bacon, cheese, chives and mushrooms on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour cream mixture over bacon, cheese, chives and mushrooms. Bake at 425º for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 300º and bake for 40 minutes longer. Serve hot with a fruit salad.
4 large, ripe tomatoes (or 5 medium tomatoes)
2 medium green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 large cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, cut in half
4 Tablespoons freshly chopped basil
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped chives
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
extra chopped chives for garnishing
Remove the core on the tomatoes and cut them in half, crosswise. Squeeze out the seeds. (You will lose some juice when you do this). Then, coarsely chop the seeded tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the food processor and process until smooth. Pour the tomato puree into a large bowl. Place the bell pepper and onion in the food processor and process until smooth. Pour the resulting puree into the bowl with the tomatoes.
Place the cucumber, garlic, basil, chives and 1/2 cup of the tomato juice in the food processor bowl and process until very smooth and creamy. (Be sure the garlic gets processed well.) Pour this mixture into the bowl holding the tomato and bell pepper puree. Add the remaining tomato juice, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Mix well. (If the soup is too thick, add more tomato juice.) Add slat and pepper to taste. (Use a light hand, the soup’s flavor intensifies as it sits in the refrigerator.)
Let the soup sit in the refrigerator at least five hours to overnight. Then, taste it to be sure the seasoning is correct. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve chilled, with chopped chives sprinkled over the top. Makes about 2 quarts.
4 large mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 cup strawberries, hulled and diced
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
Blend 1/2 of diced mangoes, ginger, vinegar, olive oil, water brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add remaining 2 mangoes, onion, strawberries, cucumber, cilantro, and chives. Adjust seasonings. Chill several hours to let flavors blend. Let rest at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and crème fraîche.