ISO dried tarragon

summary: is dried tarragon that uncommon?? tasting tarragon for the first time; memories of Sunset Books’ Dinner Party Cookbook

While it’s true that fresh garden tarragon is superior to dried, I think supermarket fresh tarragon is taste-free. So in the winter, I use dried. If I can get it….

tarragon ©ejm 1998 We went out for a little break yesterday and ended up riding 10 km on our bikes going on a wild goose chase to various supermarkets in the general vicinity.

We! Could! Not! Find! Dried! Tarragon!

Well, that’s not entirely true. We did find some in Kensington Market on the weekend, but rejected it because it was grossly overpriced. $3.00 for a little tiny amount in a little envelope?! Are they kidding?

Tarragon grows well here in Toronto (except in our shady garden…). :lalala: Of course, we use fresh in the summer when we can get it from various gardens. And in the fall, I dry whatever decent fresh tarragon I can find. But here it is April – a rather chilly April – and we’ve run out of dried tarragon. (I think I used the last of it in Easter’s beet and horseradish salad.)

The chives have emerged in the garden but I can’t tell yet whether our tarragon survived the winter.

I googled and learned that I am not alone in my dismay that dried tarragon is so hard to find. This is a review of one of the big supermarkets in downtown Toronto:

For all the bells and whistles that this place has, I can never find the specialty items that I want for baking, cooking etc. Once, I was searching for Lady Fingers to make a Tiramisu. They had none! Bucatini (like a thicker hollow spaghetti) none. Dried Tarragon leaves… none. […]

– Jenny N, on yelp.ca, 17 March 2013

What gives? Is dried tarragon really not used anymore?

I still remember clearly the first time I tasted tarragon and how amazingly wonderful it was. It was DRIED tarragon, not fresh. This was in the days when the only flavourings we used were salt and pepper and parsley (dried if it was winter) and in the summer, when we were being adventurous, we’d cut fresh chives into potato salad.

The Dinner Party Cookbook For a dinner party that we children were NOT invited to, Mum had made veal birds from Sunset Books’ “Dinner Party Cookbook”. How I loved leafing through that book!! I have the book now and still love leafing through it. It’s an amazing look at how far we have all come since 1962 when the Sunset Staff put the book together. I love the black and white photographs and various dinner party suggestions. My favourite titles in the very long list of titles are “Candlelight Dinner” (but not the dinner – one of the dishes is the dreaded tomato aspic), “Springtime Buffet”, “A South American Soup Party”, “Casserole Dinner for a Crowd”, “Polynesian Buffet”, “Teen-agers’ Buffet”, “Fritter Buffet” and “A Venison Dinner for Gourmets”. I have very fond memories of my 16th birthday party when I asked Mum to make the “Barbecue Buffet”.

I don’t remember everything that Mum made for that particular dinner party but I do remember the effort that went into making those veal birds! How excited I was to get to eat one of the “birds” and how disappointed I was that I couldn’t have another because there wouldn’t be enough for the Dinner.

I would be surprised to learn that Mum actually made the noodles or anything with sardines. She must have substituted something else! The veal birds, wine(!!), and Baba au Rhum were already plenty adventurous enough. :-)

Sardine Pâté with Italian Bread Sticks
Veal Birds with Herb Sauce
Calabrian Noodles
Asparagus Salad
Baba au Rhum with Strawberries

This Dinner for Ten, served buffet style, starts with sardine pâté, radishes, and thin crisp bread sticks. Veal birds in a full-flavored herb sauce are served with mild cheese-blended Calabrian noodles. Fresh asparagus is a delicious addition to the meal, but if it isn’t in season, substitute any green vegetables of your choice. Serve the Baba au Rhum with either fresh or frozen strawberries. […]

In the skillet in which you’ve browned the veal rolls, add butter, flour, wine, consommé, parsley, chives, mushrooms, tarragon and thyme. Simmer until thickened, and pour over the veal rolls. Bake […] until hot and tender – about 25 -30 minutes.

-Dinner for Ten, The Dinner Party Cookbook, Sunset Books, p. 161

Hmmmm, should we try these? Maybe. But only if we can find some dried tarragon. :stomp: (I think we’ll have to do some judicious alterations as well; the recipe calls for 1 small clove of garlic and a tablespoon of dried tarragon for 4 lbs of ground veal!)

 

 

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  • barbara

    I remember getting to eat one of those veal birds. I’ve always been a bit afraid of ever having another one since it might mar the memory of that wonderful flavour.

    Me too, Barbara! Especially after I looked at the recipe – it doesn’t look anything like I remember! I wonder if Mum decided not to use the sauce and just rolled the “birds” in tarragon. I have zero recollection of any sauce. But I still love the flavour of dried tarragon; it’s completely different from fresh tarragon but has the same wonderful wild flavour that I remember from the first tasting. – Elizabeth

  • You’d shoot me if I told you I have two tarragon growing in the garden now, wouldn’t you … I better go hide.

    The good old days had their limits.

    No, no, Tanna! I would just look in envy at you with large tear-filled eyes. (I haven’t checked to see if the tarragon has miraculously sprouted yet.) – Elizabeth