Monday, February 23, 2009

Volume XVIII, Issue 1, March 2009

Volume XVIII, Issue 1, March 2009


The Charlotte Herb Guild Newsletter

March Meeting: PIZZA NIGHT

featuring Brian Rollins from Good Wood Pizza

March meeting or party? Brian is a traveling pizza man with a pizza oven on wheels. He will bring the oven, equipment, a big bowl of dough and expertise to our meeting. We'll supply the sauce, cheese, toppings and, of course, the herbs. Pizzas will be baked outside in his oven on wheels. Brian owns Riverbend Nursery in Lincolnton, NC. Visit his website at for more information about pizza ovens and his nursery!

RSVP to Patti Harlan

This is a great meeting to bring a guest!

DATE: March 10, 2009, 7:00pm

LOCATION: Garden Council House

1820 East Seventh Street

Charlotte, NC 28204


Reminder: Bring or send in your Annual CHG dues by March 10!

Minutes of the February Meeting

Charlotte Herb Guild

February 10, 2009

In lieu of a formal meeting, the Executive Board hosted a tea for members on February 10th. Tea Party Chair Judy Powell used the theme Celebrating Mother Nature and decorated white tablecloths with sage green burlap overlays, votive candles, paperwhite bulbs, and gorgeous wreaths, which framed the cake stands. Judy crafted the wreaths from natural materials and beaded wire twisted into heart-shapes. Crafted hearts adorned each linen napkin as well.

Mary Beth thanked the many individuals whose time and talents contributed to the event: Tea Party Chair Judy Powell, Past Tea Party Chair Jane Ireton, and Executive Board Members Lara Barnett (Vice President), Leslie Belcher (Programs), Dana DeBellis (Newsletter), Brenda Dills (Programs), Patti Harlan (Newsletter), Dixie Kelly (Treasurer), Pat Lookabill (Recording Secretary), Dixie Spivey (Membership), and Cathy Tolman (Past President).

She also thanked the committee chairs who served this last year: Ann Baldwin (Garden Council), Lara Barnett (Farmers Markets), Madge Eggena (Website/Publicity), Linda Ferguson (Hospitality), Jane Ireton (Hezekiah Alexander Garden), Holly Jeffries (Farmers Markets), Mary Ann Nagel (Historian and Hezekiah Alexander Garden), Judy Powell (Tea Party), Joan Smith (Cookbooks), Jan Sundberg (Correspondence), Cathy Tolman (Garden Council and Tussie-Mussies), and Jennifer Warner (Cookbooks).

Everyone present took home a paperwhite bulb, ready for forcing.

Tips for care: choose a container without a drainage hole. Glass and pottery work well. Fill the container one-half to three-quarters full of pea gravel or small stones. Place the bulb on top of the stones. Add water, but do not let the bulbs sit in water or they will decay. Although not necessary, you can let the bulbs root in a cool, dark place for two weeks; then move them to a warmer, sunnier spot. Continue to water, but remember that they don’t like their bottoms wet! Fertilizer is not necessary, but some people add a mixture of 7 parts water to 1 part of gin or vodka to stunt the growth of the foliage. If the room is cool, it will take longer for the bulbs to flower, but they will flower longer in a cool location. Typically, the bulbs will bloom about 6 weeks after planting. Good luck!

Recipes from the Annual Tea

The evening’s teas were from Harney and Sons

Spiced Plum: “An herbal infusion with the delightful essence of cinnamon and plums.”

African Autumn: “A delicious blend of herbal Rooibos and Cranberry and Oranges.”

Lemon Herbal: “An infusion of lemongrass, with the addition of lemon rind and lemon flavor.”

Dill Chicken Salad in Tomato Fillo Shells

Dixie Spivey

Dixie modified Marsha Capps’ recipe in The Charlotte Herb Guild Cooks Again, page 94, by toasting the pecans before adding them to the chicken salad.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toast 1 cup pecans for about 5 minutes, watching carefully. Cool before adding to the chicken salad. Serve in prepared Athens tomato fillo shells.

Cranberry Feta Pinwheels with Herbs

Mary Beth Collins

Yield: 32 to 40 appetizers

1 carton (8 ounces) whipped cream cheese, softened

1 cup (8 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup chopped chives

1 package (6 ounces) dried cranberries

4 flour tortillas (10 inches)

In a food processor or mixer, combine the cream cheese, feta cheese and chives. Stir in cranberries by hand. Spread about ½ cup mixture over each tortilla and roll up tightly. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut each roll-up into 8 to 10 slices.

Chili Cheese

Dixie Kelly

Yield: About 70 pieces

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

10 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh basil

1 can (8 ounces) green chilies, drained

12 ounces cottage cheese

16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. And prepare a 9 by 13-inch pan or an 11 by 15 inch jelly roll pan. Melt butter and then cool. Beat eggs and add butter and dry ingredients. Fold in chilies and cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes more. Can be frozen and reheated at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cut into 1½-inch squares.

Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Pinwheels

Mary Beth Collins

Yield: 32 to 40 appetizers

1 carton (8 ounces whipped cream cheese, softened

7 to 8 ounces goat cheese with herbs, cut up

1/3 cup chopped chives

Sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped, to taste

4 flour tortillas (10 inches)

In a food processor or mixer, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese and chives. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes by hand. Spread about ½ cup mixture over each tortilla and roll up tightly. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut each roll-up into 8 to 10 slices. For aesthetic reasons, discard or nibble on first and last slices.

Cucumber and Dill Hearts

Leslie Belcher

“The cucumber sandwich is the aristocrat of the tea table; cool, gracious and impeccable. By virtue of its utter simplicity and symbolic status, the cucumber sandwich is also one of the few foods to rise from the merely culinary world to dizzy literary heights.” From The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea by Helen Simpson

Cucumber (not waxed)



Dill, chopped finely


Thin-sliced white or wheat bread


Run a fork down the length of a washed cucumber, pressing firmly to create a decorative border. Repeat while turning the cucumber so that all sides are scribed. Thinly slice a cucumber into transparencies using a mandoline slicer. Sprinkle these see-through discs with a little vinegar, dill and salt. Place in a colander for 30-60 minutes allowing the moisture to drain out.

Cut the bread into heart shapes using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Cover a slice of lightly buttered thin bread with two layers of cucumber, and top with another slice of bread. Apply firm but delicate pressure with the palm of the hand.

Place these on a serving plate, and cover with a lightly dampened cloth until tea is served.

Spiced Pecans

Dana DeBellis

Dana made Virginia Frazier’s recipe from The Charlotte Herb Guild Cooks Again, page 287 and served them in glass flower pots that she decorated with wire and beads.

Egg Salad Sandwiches

Leslie Belcher

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home,

Yield: Serves 8

12 extra-large eggs

1/3 cup good mayonnaise

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 slices 7-grain bread or round French bread (boule)

Place the eggs in a large pot and cover them with cool tap water. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to sit in the water for another 5 minutes. Drain, then fill the pot with cold water. To peel the eggs, tap each end on a board, then roll the egg between your hand and the board to crackle the shell. Peel under running tap water and allow the eggs to cool to room temperature.

Place the eggs in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse the processor 10 to 12 times to break up, but not puree, the eggs. Transfer the chopped eggs to a bowl and add the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, salt, and pepper. Combine lightly with a fork.

Toast or grill the bread. Spread on the egg salad, then garnish with a sprig of dill. Serve at room temperature.

Orange Chocolate Tea Bread

Judy Powell

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, divided

2 tablespoons orange liqueur (Grand Marnier), divided

¾ cup half and half

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon water

¼ teaspoon dried ground Orange Balsam thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Beat in 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1 tablespoon of liqueur. Pour in half and half and beat to combine. (This may curdle, but that's okay.) In another bowl, stir and toss together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and gently beat just to combine. Stir in nuts and 4 ounces chopped chocolate. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 1 hour, until top is golden. Cool in pan on rack. Invert onto serving platter and cool completely.

When bread is cool, combine remaining chocolate with water and the remaining tablespoon of orange liqueur in heavy saucepan. Place over low heat and melt, stirring constantly. Add ¼ teaspoon Orange Balsam thyme and 1 teaspoon orange zest. Spread evenly over top and chill to set.


Cathy Tolman

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons culinary quality lavender
2 bars (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cacao), broken into ¼-inch pieces

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or bittersweet chocolate, melted

In a small saucepan, heat the cream gently with dried lavender flowers. Remove from heat, stir and let stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain.

Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter. In a medium sized skillet, bring ½-inch water to a slow simmer. Set the saucepan in the skillet over low heat. Stir mixture just until chocolate has completely melted. Remove from heat. Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

For the coating: If using cocoa, pour the cocoa into a pie plate. Line an airtight container with wax paper. Dip a melon baller or small spoon in hot water and quickly scrape across the surface of the chilled truffle mixture to form a rough 1-inch ball. Drop the ball into the cocoa. Repeat with the remaining truffle mixture. Gently shake the pie plate to coat the truffles evenly. Transfer truffles to the prepared container, separating layers with additional wax paper. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.

If using bittersweet chocolate, melt the chocolate (same quality) in a small but deep container and carefully coated the chilled truffles using two forks. Allow to cool on waxed paper and become firm at room temperature and then store in the waxed paper-lined container in the refrigerator.

Lovelight Yellow Chiffon Cupcakes

Jane Ireton

2¼ cups sifted cake flour

1½ cups sugar, divided

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup oil or soft butter

1 cup milk, divided

½ teaspoon orange oil or 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line miniature cupcake pans with paper cups. Into a mixing bowl, sift flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add oil, ½ cup milk, flavoring. Beat 1 minute. Add remaining milk, egg yolks, Beat 1 minute. Fold in very stiff meringue of egg whites, ½ cup sugar. Fill cupcake liners with about 1 tablespoon batter and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until done. Frost when cool.

Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

In the bowl on an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners sugar in three additions, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the orange juice and zest. When incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Frost the cupcakes.

Almond Tea Cookies with Almond Icing

Pat Lookabill

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon almond extract

2½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter in a medium mixing bowl; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract; beat well.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl; gradually add to cream mixture, stirring well. Roll a small amount of dough and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool and sprinkle with granulated sugar or ice with almond-flavored icing.

Almond Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoon cream cheese

1/8 teaspoon almond flavoring

½ teaspoon (or more) half and half

Combine ingredients until mixture is a good spreading consistency.

Applesauce Muffins

Brenda Dills

This is a specialty recipe of the Yellow House on Plott Creek Road, a bed and breakfast in Waynesville, NC. Reprinted with permission.

Yield: 12 muffins

½ cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoons cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoons baking soda

½ cup raisins

½ cup pecans

½ cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, egg and vanilla; mix well. Add dry ingredients, raisins, pecans, and applesauce. Pour into greased muffin tins, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Frosted Lemon Thyme Cookies

Patti Harlan

Patti made Jeanne Steiner’s recipe from The Charlotte Herb Guild Cooks Again, page 238.

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