by Melissa Dale & Emmanuelle Lipsky
The benefits of
aromatherapy are all around us - in flower and herb gardens, in scented
candles and in the perfumes and shampoos we use daily. Chances are
you have already taken advantage of at least some aspects of aromatherapy.
Even a walk through a rose garden or brushing up against a rosemary
bush can be therapeutic. Now, thanks to Melissa Dale and Emmanuelle
Lipsky and their book, Aromatherapy
in the Kitchen the benefits of aromatherapy can be used
in a whole new realm-the kitchen.
Taste and aroma
are intrinsically linked. Aromatics in food account for the vast majority
of what we consider "taste." Without aroma, the flavor of foods would
lack sophistication and uniqueness. We would be limited to the four
basic tastes our tongue can detect-sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Anyone
who has a cold knows how bland food tastes without your sense of smell.
Since the aromas of herbs and flowers can positively affect the body
and emotions in so many ways, why not use them to our full advantage?
fragrant herbs, flowers and other aromatics to influence overall wellness
through inhalation. By releasing the healing essences of flowers and
other aromatic plants, we can positively affect our mood, emotions
and physical health. Although the term "aromatherapy" is relatively
new, scent therapy has been practiced for thousands of years, as far
back as the Egyptians.
with herbs is nothing new, we wanted to bring the full sensory benefits
of herbs, flowers and other essences into the kitchen in order to turn
simple cooking into a complete aesthetic experience for the mind, body
and spirit. Food preparation and feasting can and should involve all
of our senses, so we decided to create a cuisine designed to influence
mood using the principles of aromatherapy. Although traditional aromatherapy
uses essential oils, we like to broaden this to include the practice
of extracting essential oils directly into food through the preparation
and cooking processes. The roots, leaves, stems, bark, flowers, seeds
and fruit peels of whole aromatic plants contain the same essences
used to make essential oils, and although less concentrated, they have
the same therapeutic qualities.
The key to using
aromatherapy in your cooking is to let the effects of the ingredients
work on you as you work with them. If you have planned a romantic evening,
take advantage of the natural aphrodisiacs that will enhance your table
- and your evening. If you need some energy, choose uplifting ingredients
with invigorating scents to spark your spirit as you cook.
a great way to get the most out of your herbs and flowers, and we use
them in quite a few of our recipes. An infusion is a liquid like water
or oil that is imbued with additional flavor and scent from aromatic
plants. By steeping flowers and herbs in the liquid, aspects of the
plants are extracted and stay in the liquid.
Infused oils are
very simple to make and are great to have on hand. Gather several small
jars with lids to hold your oils. A lazy afternoon is the perfect time
to prepare a variety of infused oils, and it only takes a few hours.
Place a couple of large handfuls of your fresh or dried herb of flowers
in a small saucepan. Select a vegetable oil with a natural flavor,
such as canola, grapeseed or corn. Pour enough oil into the pan to
cover the herbs or flowers. Heat over a very low heat for 20 to 30
minutes. The oil should have the distinct aroma and flavor of your
herb or flower, and often carries a faint hue of the herbs used, which
is a visual plus. Let the oil cool, strain it in to a jar, close tightly
and store in a cool, dark place. There are infinite uses for these
oils including drizzling a little saffron oil over steamed asparagus,
tossing fresh pasta with basil oil and adding some cracked pepper and
fresh herbs to an infused oil for dipping bread.
"compound butters," herb butters have been a staple in the culinary
world for hundreds of years. In this health-conscious era, butter is
almost akin to profanity, but we find that the use of butter has an
appropriate place in our lives when used in moderation. To make an
herb butter, simply let a stick of butter soften at room temperature,
work in your herb and maybe some shallots or crushed garlic, then roll
it into a log on a piece of waxed paper. Seal it in a plastic bag and
refrigerate until ready to use. Use herb butters on a piece of grilled
chicken, baked potatoes or on steamed vegetables.
In order to get
optimal results when cooking with herbs, it is always best to use fresh
herbs. If fresh is not available, dried herbs may be substituted, but
keep in mind that the quantity must be altered, as will be the results.
Dried herbs impart a stronger taste in dishes, so in general, use about
one-third the measure that is called for in our recipes if you choose
to use dried herbs instead of fresh.
are harder to come by than herbs, however, so we generally call for
dried flowers in our recipes unless otherwise stated. For suppliers
of dried flowers and herbs, visit a local health food store. Of course,
if you have a green thumb, by all means, cultivate your own culinary
herb and flower garden.
The romantic "dinner
for two" is a well-worn cliché, and for a good reason - it works. Creating
an intimate evening can be even better if you incorporate some of the
wonderful and natural herbs and essences that are renowned aphrodisiacs.
From the spicy energy of ginger to the tranquility of lavender, you
will find using these scents in the kitchen will enhance your dinner
creations through the aromas they impart.
This very simple
preparation pairs the ever-sultry shrimp with the sensuously spicy
ginger to make a great start to a fabulous evening of romantic dining.
Go ahead and get your hands a little messy with this fun and tantalizing
dish. A loaf of crusty French bread makes a great accompaniment to
soak up all of the delicious sauce.
|1 lb raw shrimp,
|1 stick (1/2
|1 Tbsp Minced
|1 garlic clove,
|2 Tbsp fresh
|salt and pepper
Preheat oven to
400°F. Place shrimp in baking dish. Melt butter in a small saucepan.
Add ginger and herbs and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Pour over shrimp and bake in oven for 5 minutes. The shrimp should
be pink and opaque. Remove the shrimp to a serving bowl, and drain
the sauce into another bowl for dipping. Have ready a bowl for the
shells, and a couple of small bowls with some water and lemon for cleansing
your hands as you dive into this peel-and-eat appetizer!
Even those of
us who love to cook can sometimes approach the kitchen with a groan.
After a long, hard day at work, it can be difficult to get motivated
and prepare a sensational meal. On these days, or any other day that
you could use a little lift, turn to recipes that use herbs that are
naturally invigorating. Rosemary immediately comes to mind, as do the
essences of citrus fruits.
with Cinnamon and Cumin
Your taste buds
will surely come alive with the wonderful flavors in this dish. Let
the spicy aromas work their magic to invigorate the senses and stimulate
|4 6-8 ounce
|¼ cup orange
|1 Tbsp lemon
|2 Tbsp grated
|¾ tsp cumin
|¼ tsp cinnamon
|2 Tbsp brown
|salt and pepper
and lemon juice and pour over salmon in a marinating dish. Refrigerate
for up to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine sugar, orange zest,
cumin, cinnamon, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Remove fish from
marinating dish and place in an oiled backing dish. Rub the sugar mixture
over both sides of the salmon and bake in the oven for approximately
10-15 minutes, until the salmon is just opaque.
These days it
seems like we are always fighting to get everything done yesterday,
whether at home or at work. Life can be demanding. Sometimes you have
to slow things down, turn off the cell phone and pager, and treat yourself,
family and friends to a relaxing evening of great food and an atmosphere
designed to offer some stress relief through the use of aromatherapy.
a la Chamomile Checca
The addition of
chamomile in this twist on the classic pasta a la checca might strike
you as a bit strange-it did to us, but we tried it and it is fabulous.
As always, working with chamomile is soothing to the soul.
|8 ounces of
homemade-style tomato linguine
|½ cup chamomile
sliced into wedges
|6 plum tomatoes,
seeded and diced
|1 cup sliced
|salt and pepper
|½ cup minced
Cook the pasta
in a large pot of salted boiling water until just al dente. Drain and
rinse with warm water. Wipe out the pot with a paper towel and return
to the stove. Heat the chamomile oil over medium heat, and cook the
shallots until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and mushrooms,
season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Return the pasta
to the pot and stir until coated with the oil and heated through. Divide
the pasta into serving bowls and sprinkle with the basil.
in the kitchen can include all of the senses, not just taste and scent.
Creating an overall ambience for your dining experience means considering
other sensory details to se the ideal mood. As you start to think about
cooking with herbs and flowers to release the aromas that stimulate
particular emotional responses, you might also consider what atmosphere
best complements that desired mood. Whether it is a romantic dinner
for two or a festive occasion with many guests, we have a few pointers.
First and foremost,
beware of scented candles. Although they offer a pleasant fragrance,
those fragrances are often synthetic. These candles may clash with
the scents of the food. Use unscented candles if you are not sure.
You have worked hard to promote natural scents through your cooking,
so do not spoil it.
Even though we
do not advocate the use of scented candles, that does not mean you
should not enhance the aromas that will be wafting out of your kitchen.
For example, you can use a fresh herb or flower you are cooking with
to add visual and aromatic appeal to your dining area. Fresh herbs
and flowers are pretty and can be placed around a room in all sorts
of ways - be creative.
can also be used to perfume your room. Simply put a few drops of your
chosen oil on a couple of pretty cloths and place them under a centerpiece,
tuck them behind or under seat cushions or hang them in front of an
open window to take advantage of a sultry breeze. You can also bring
scents to the table by selecting your table napkins a day in advance
and placing them in a shoebox or airtight bag with a few drops of essential
oil. Just remember that essential oils are concentrated aromas, and
a few drops go a long way.
About the Authors:
fanatics Melissa Dale and Emmanuelle Lipsky have been sharing a
passion for life, friendship, and all things culinary for over twenty
years. They are essentially home cooks, but have built upon their
culinary foundations through numerous cooking courses, including
the Pro Chef I program at the Epicurean School of Culinary Arts
in Los Angeles. They have also become increasingly interested in
the practice of Aromatherapy, incorporating the therapeutic benefits
of plant essences into their daily lives. The fusion of these two
interests was the impetus for their latest writing effort.
Their new book,
the well received 'Aromatherapy
in the Kitchen', is a collection of over 85 delicious and healthy
aroma-based recipes. Consider them fragrant foods for the body,
mind, and soul. You can purchase their book online here.
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