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Saturday, February 24, 2018

California Gourmet: Wild Tarragon Recipes 2

Wild tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus): fresh garden herbs can be used in many recipes

Last month we discussed the flavorful aspects of Wild tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and suggested some simple ways to use it in your cooking (http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2018/01/california-gourmet-wild-tarragon.html).  This month we’d like to share some additional recipes – ones that may inspire you to grow Wild tarragon in your own garden.

We were surprised to learn that tarragon is a commonly used beverage flavor in Russia and the former Soviet-block countries.  The tarragon is usually paired with citrus or other, slightly tart, fruits.  We’ve included several simple recipes that you may want to try, with or without added alcohol. They are particularly refreshing on a hot day – and you can make the syrup ahead and store in your refrigerator for weeks to months.

And while many cooks use tarragon to season meats and vegetables, Wild tarragon also adds a pleasant flavor to breads and other baked goods. It is often paired with potatoes or citrus fruit – excellent combinations to bring out the best of the complex flavors. We hope that the recipes below will inspire you to use Wild tarragon more creatively in your own kitchen.

Tarragon-Citrus syrup can be used in many ways.
Tarragon-Citrus Syrup

2 sprigs (about 6-8 inches in total) fresh tarragon
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
1 cup lemon (or blood orange) or ½ cup lime (or tangerine) juice; freshly squeezed is best)
1 drop green, yellow or orange food coloring (if desired)


Blanch tarragon sprigs by immersing for 2-3 seconds in simmering water, then rapidly rinsing in ice-cold water.  Finely chop the tarragon (leaves and stems).

Mix sugar and water in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.   Remove from heat.   Pour syrup into a heat-proof glass or pyrex bowl.

Add citrus juice and chopped tarragon to the syrup.  Cover the bowl and let steep for 6-8 hours.  Strain the syrup through a fine sieve or several layers of cheese cloth to remove tarragon.  Add food coloring (optional) and store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator.   It can be stored for up to 6 weeks.

To make a traditional beverage, combine ¼ cup syrup, 1 quart (unflavored) sparkling water and ice.  Mix and serve.   You can also add several Tablespoons of this flavoring to a gin & tonic or vodka & tonic (to taste).  Or use this interesting syrup over fruit, cake or ice cream (yum!) or add to plain yoghurt.   For more ideas on using flavored syrups see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2015/03/california-gourmet-berry-dream-bar.html  

 Strawberry-Tarragon Syrup


8 oz. fresh (or frozen) strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ to ½ cup white sugar
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
¾ cup white wine vinegar

Place strawberries and sugar in a glass or other non-reactive mixing bowls.  Stir.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for several hours, stirring occasionally.

Wash tarragon in cool water; pat dry.  Bruise tarragon by hitting with the dull side of a heavy knife or cleaver.  Place tarragon and vinegar in a glass jar, being sure that vinegar entirely covers the tarragon (push down if needed).  Cover with a plastic lid (or layer of plastic wrap and then a metal lid).  Seal lid and let stand at room temperature to steep.

Strain the strawberries from the strawberry juice using a fine sieve.  Use the strawberries for another recipe.   Pour the strawberry juice into the jar with the vinegar and tarragon.  Make sure that tarragon is completely covered. 

Tightly seal the jar and place in the refrigerator to steep.  Check for taste after 1-2 days and daily thereafter for up to a week.  When tarragon flavor is to taste, strain out the tarragon using a fine sieve or several layers of cheese cloth.  Return the syrup to a clean jar, cap and refrigerate (can be stored several weeks in refrigerator).

To make a delicious beverage, combine 1 oz. syrup, 5 oz. sparkling water, 1 ½ oz. vodka or tequila (optional) and ice.  Stir and enjoy.   This pretty syrup would also be delish over fruits.

Tarragon adds a complementary flavor to tattie scones
Tattie scones are traditional fare for hearty Scottish breakfasts.  They are also eaten in Ireland and the rest of the British Isles – and not just for breakfast.  They make a unique bread for a light lunch with cheese and fresh fruits.  They are also nice to accompany a dinner of fish or fowl.   And they are a great way to use up extra mashed potatoes!
Many recipes include both mashed and grated potatoes.  Some use milk or eggs to moisten and bind the mixture.  Our recipe is a very simple one, embellished with the flavor of tarragon.  You might also consider adding other fresh herbs like chives or basil.  These scones can be cooked on a stovetop griddle or baked in the oven.
Making Tarragon Tattie Scones
Tarragon Tattie Scones

1 cup mashed potatoes (warm or room temperature) 2 Tbsp melted butter
½ cup flour
2 sprigs (about 10 inches total) fresh Wild tarragon (2 Tbsp. minced tarragon)
Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400° F (if baking in oven).  Wash tarragon in cool water; pat dry. Remove leaves from large stems (discard – they are too big). Mince tarragon leaves and small stems into small pieces with a knife or scissors (see above).

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix until completely blended.  If dough is too sticky to roll, add a Tablespoon more flour, as needed.  Turn the dough out onto a flour board or cloth.  Either divide dough into 3 balls, then roll each ball out to a ¼ inch thick circle.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges.  Or, roll out the entire dough to ¼ inch thickness, cut into 5- or 6-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or jar lid. Score each round with a cross, using a knife and cutting almost through the dough. This latter method is more traditional – and takes just a little more effort.

Bake the scones on a greased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, or until risen and golden brown.  If cooking on a griddle, pre-heat the griddle, then sprinkle lightly with flour.  Cook scones about 5 minutes, then flip, to cook both sides to a golden brown.

Eat the scones warm, right from the oven (best).  They can also be re-heated.  Scones can also be frozen, either after baking or unbaked, separated by waxed paper to keep them from sticking.

The last recipe has a secret ingredient that will keep your guests guessing for a long while.  The ‘secret’ is, of course, Wild tarragon.  We’ve tried this recipe both with and without the tarragon; it really is much better with.

Citrus Surprise Coffee Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (can substitute cardamom if desired)
1 tsp Wild Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), dried and finely ground
5 Tbsp butter (best) or margarine
1 large egg
Zest from 1 orange or 2 tangerines (about 1 Tbsp)
½ cup milk
¼ cup orange or tangerine juice

1 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon (can substitute cardamom if desired)
1 cup chopped nuts (if desired)

Preheat oven to 375° F.   Mix together topping ingredients in a bowl.  Mixture should be crumbly.

To make the batter, first sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices.   Cream butter in a mixer bowl.  Add egg and zest and mix well.    Add dry ingredients, alternating with the milk & juice.  

Spoon ½ of the batter into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish or cake pan. Flour your hands, then pat the dough to spread evening in the pan.   Sprinkle on ½ of topping mixture.  Spoon in rest of batter, smooth it, then top with the remaining topping mixture.   Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven.  Let cool at least 5-10 minutes.    Slice and devour!    Good warm or cool.


We encourage you to send us your questions, comments and recipes (either comment below or e-mail to us at : mothernaturesbackyard10@gmail.com


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