This past January, I attended this year's Food Blog South in Birmingham, an amazing food blogging conference first organized in 2011 by Jason Horn and Shaun Chavis, that just keeps getting better and better each year. One of the neatest things this time, was the presence of a number of companies that wanted to work with the food blogging community. I had the opportunity to chat with several of them and was really excited when Gourmet Garden offered to send me some of their products to try. Now, for those of you who know me, I am particular about what I will and won't eat. I was pretty dubious about what tubes of herbs would taste like, so I was happily surprised to find that they had tons of fresh herb flavor and didn't leave a weird aftertaste. I also love that you only use as much as you need at one time and then refrigerate or freeze the rest, no more bunches and bunches of cilantro in the compost pile, big $$ savings for me.
Since I had so many fun flavors to work with, I decided to have a little dinner party and put everyone to the test to get creative and come up with their own delicious creation. I didn't want anyone starving, so I baked some potato chips (side note, Ellie Krieger's recipe does NOT work, at least not in my oven) and made the first task of the night to create a tasty dip for them. When you combine 1 c of sour cream, 1/2 tsp Gourmet Garden Garlic Paste, 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs Paste, 1/4 c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and freshly cracked pepper to taste, you get the easiest dip imaginable, good not only on potato chips, but also bell peppers, cucumber sticks, pretty much anything you might like to dip in it. You could also be healthy and use Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream, but I had sour cream on hand, so that's what we used.
Next, we worked on our main course, chicken, 4 ways. I gave everyone a chicken breast and they each got to create their own quick marinade using whatever flavors they liked. We had Italian style chicken, Asian style chicken, whatever sounded good. Mine had cilantro, chunky garlic, lemon grass, ginger and chili pepper, with just a bit of fish sauce and dark soy. I put them on the stove and had them cooking as we started our side dishes. I had roasted broccoflower and kabocha squash, cooked some penne, and whipped up some mashed potatoes earlier in the day, so they were a blank canvas for the herbs. My penne was sauced with essentially the same herbs as my marinade, in a little chicken broth and topped with kabocha squash. I think Todd's salad dressing of 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar, 3 Tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp lemon grass, 1/2 tsp cilantro, salt & pepper to taste, was the hit of the night - I know that it is going to be added to my recipe collection!
Of course, what's a dinner party without dessert? I went with one of my favorites, cobbler adapted from Virginia Willis' recipe. Knowing that strawberries and basil make a pretty good combo, I added basil to the berries and also whipped it into the cream at the very end. While I got some odd looks over the green flecked whipped cream, everyone agreed that it really made the cobbler that much more flavorful.
If you would like to try Gourmet Garden herbs, you can find them at most grocery stores, or you can win your very own Gourmet Garden cooler full and have a party to see what delectable delights you can create!
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While Gourmet Garden did send me their products to try and are providing a giveaway for my readers, I was not otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.