Ever thought of adding fresh oregano to your cocktails? How about tossing a tablespoon of the fragrant leaves in an omelet? Oregano is a powerfully pungent herb but used in moderate quantities it lends a unique aromatic combination of earthy, floral, and spicy tones to both cocktails and savory dishes.
Most of the dried you buy in the store is a combination of Italian oreganos so you probably won't duplicate that mixture exactly but you can create delicious blends from your own dried herbs.
To dry fresh oregano trim the plant in the morning (this is when the leaves are the most fragrant) Wash well, drain. Then wrap them in a towel to remove most of the moisture. Transfer to drying racks for a couple of days.
Then, cover them loosely with tissue paper to keep dust off for the next two to three weeks, while they completely dry. When they crumble between your fingers, they're ready to be stored in glass jars or sealed in paper bags with holes punched in them. Keep in a cool dark place, if possible and try to use within one year.
Keep in mind that dried herbs produce a more intense flavor, so reduce the amount that you would use fresh by 1/2 or even 3/4 in some recipes.
There are at least three to four dozen species of this perennial. Here, I'm going to chat about Cuban Oregano. Mexican, Italian and hot and spicy are also growing in my own little farmer's market.
As soon as your fingers stroke the thick fuzzy leaves, the aromatic oils waft through the air. At first touch, its succulent suede textured leaves cause you to think it's ornamental, rather than edible. But do not hesitate to dress up an omelette, sausage, or pork tenderloin with this floral, earthy herb. Some describe it as having an intense lemon lime taste. It pairs deliciously with other strong herbs such as, sage, rosemary, bay, and marjoram.
It's a member of the mint family, which is interesting, considering it doesn't smell like your typical mint. Cuban oregano originated in Southern and Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia. Like most herbs, it does not survive the cold. So once temperatures stay below 50 to 55 degrees, plan to trim it completely back for oils and vinegars, or to use as a dried spice. You can also keep it in a flower pot inside by a sunny window until spring.
This bold culinary character also has a property in it that helps neutralize spice or capsicum.
You may not have thought of oregano as a cocktail ingredient but it pairs perfectly with stone fruits, like nectarines. Here's a cocktail for you to enjoy while you're cooking the delicious pork tenderloin recipe below:
Spicy Sweet And Green Cocktail
Servings - 1
1 nectarine (1/2 to muddle and 1/2 sliced in 1/4 inch wedges)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
5 fresh Cuban oregano leaves plus a fresh stem of leaves for garnish
2 ounces mango rum
2 ounces original spiced rum
2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar in a paper or glass plate to rim top of glass
splash of club soda
Place half of nectarine, brown sugar and oregano leaves in a martini shaker. Muddle, to extract as much juice as possible. Add both rums. Shake. Take one nectarine wedge and slide along rim of 12 ounce glass. Rotate rim of glass in brown sugar to coat. Add ice and nectarine wedges to the glass. Pour liquid over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with fresh oregano.
Is your first thought for using oregano to toss it in spaghetti or sprinkle on pizza? Here's a scrumptious new take on how to use Cuban oregano:
This Brandy Plum Pork Tenderloin is sweet, tender and full of flavor from the brandy and plum sauce. Pair fresh sage, Cuban oregano, caramelized onions, my secret ingredient added at the end, and then pile it all onto an individual corn cake, and you have an amazing palate pleaser!
Brandy Plum Pork Tenderloin Served On Buttermilk Corn Cakes
Prep Time - 45 minutes to 1 hour
Cook Time - approximately 1 1/2 hours
Total Time - 1 1/4 - 2 1/2 hours
Servings - 6 (if each person eats 2)
Ingredients For Pork
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion
1 cup bell pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound pork tenderloin cut in 1/2" slices
2 ounces brandy
1/2 cup plum sauce (a Chinese style cooking and dipping sauce found in Asian grocery store or in Oriental section of regular market)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 tablespoon dark pomegranate balsamic vinegar
Ingredients For Buttermilk Corn Cakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup self rising corn meal mix
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces of Greek vanilla yogurt (I used Chobani)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 to 2 tablespoons of butter and canola oil for frying cakes
Directions For Pork Tenderloin
You need to scroll down and make the corn cakes before the pork OR you can make them 1 or 2 days before, rather than doing it all in the same night.
Salt and pepper each side of the pork slices.
Heat oil in a deep 12 inch skillet or stir fry pan. Add onions and peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add ginger and sesame oil. Cook for another 6 or 7 minutes, until they are soft.
When you add the ginger, shove the peppers and onions to one side of the pan and place the pork slices into the skillet in a single layer. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side. Stir meat and vegetables together.
Pour in brandy and allow to evaporate for 2 or 3 minutes. Add plum sauce and herbs. Allow sauce to just heat through and herbs to blend with everything. Then right before removing from heat, pour in balsamic vinegar.
Directions For Corn Cakes
This may seem a bit long and complicated for a corn muffin recipe but they're the most moist, tender, and flavorful ones I've ever tasted! You can transform your own corn muffin into a corn cake if you prefer.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine; set aside.
Whisk eggs in second medium bowl until well combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar to eggs; whisk vigorously until thick and homogeneous, about 30 seconds; add melted butter in 3 additions, whisking to combine after each.
Blend yogurt and sour cream together. Add half of that to the egg mixture, along with half of the milk. Whisk to combine. Whisk in remaining sour cream and milk until blended. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix gently with rubber spatula until batter is just combined and evenly moistened. Do not over mix.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon each, of butter and oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add additional grease to pan as necessary.
Using a medium ice cream scoop or spoon, pour batter into pan to make approximately 2 inch cakes. They don't have to be perfect. Just make them about the same size as the pork slices or slightly larger. Cook until fluffy and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
This recipe makes approximately 48 corn cakes or 24 regular muffins. You need about 12 for this meal. You can do half muffins and half cakes. Leftovers corn cakes do make scrumptious pancakes with melted butter and warm maple syrup! You can also freeze either one in freezer Ziploc bags for 1 to 2 months.
Whether you dress up breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktail hour with Cuban oregano, I hope this article has given you ideas to try, and the inspiration to experiment in your own kitchen with the fresh flavor of herbs.
Check out the oregano video on my, Quick Tip Herb
Gardening Video board on Pinterest