By Jordan Danz
Greetings to you all from my new kitchen! My new kitchen in my new house! I’ll come right out and say it, the kitchen was a huge part of our decision to buy this house. It’s large with tons of counter space, beautiful granite counter tops, new stainless steel appliances and ample storage. As someone who spends a large amount of time in the kitchen, I needed to make sure I would be comfortable in it. I could not be happier. The house as a whole is wonderful, but the kitchen is my solace.
Right outside the kitchen door in the backyard is a raised bed that is perfect for herbs. I planted a wide variety of fresh herbs that I can use in all my cooking. There is something special about cooking with food you have grown yourself, a greater sense of pride and respect for the food. You know exactly how the food was grown and what products were used (or not used) on it. I find that herbs from my garden are far more fragrant and flavorful than the packaged and refrigerated herbs from the grocery store.
Fresh herbs can take a dish to the next level. They are that small addition that can be the difference between a good dish and a great dish. There are so many varieties and flavors of herbs that you can try several different herbs in the same dish and change the entire flavor profile. For this issue I wanted to use an herb from my garden to show how one herb can accent and balance the strong flavor of another food. Tarragon, with its delicate anise flavor, can balance and mellow out the sharp, pungent and funky flavor of blue cheese.
Tarragon Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 pound of good blue cheese (splurge on a good one; I used a creamy Gorgonzola)
1/4 cup of half and half or milk
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of finely chopped tarragon
salt and pepper
In a large bowl break up the blue cheese into chunks with your hands. I like my dressing chunkier so I made the chunks a bit bigger, but do whatever you prefer. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a spoon until combined. If you want it smooth, use a hand mixer to make it nice and smooth. If you want it chunkier, just use the spoon and try not to break up the chunks too much. Cover the mixture and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour (the longer the better). Serve on your favorite salad. It makes a great dressing for a classic Iceberg Wedge Salad topped with bacon, tomato, avocado and chives — from the garden, of course.
Jordan is a home cook based in Minneapolis. He enjoys cooking, eating and spending time at his local food co-ops and farmers’ markets finding new flavors and ingredients to experiment with. His passion for fresh local ingredients inspires his belief that food has the power to bring people together.