As a member of the allium family, chives (Allium schienoprasum) possess the same characteristic flavors and aromas of its cousins, garlic and onion, only milder.
Chives are a prolific and hardy herb to grow, even in the first year. One of the more attractive culinary herbs, chives are early risers. The chive "bush" growing in my own herb garden is the first to make an appearance in spring and the last to submit to winter's cruel hand.
The species name of the common variety is from the Greek to mean "rush" or "leek." The slender stalks are often found simmering in sour cream atop a baked potato, or in egg and cheese dishes. But, the flowers are delightfully edible and make a wonderful addition to soups, vinegars, salads and breads. They also blend very nicely with most other herbs. In fact, chives impart their delicate flavor to the classic French fines herbes, a combination of chervil, parsley, tarragon and snipped chives.
Many of you no doubt are already able to take advantage of chives in your cooking. But, it won't be long before we in the colder climates will be admiring their pink pom-poms and long, graceful stems. The following recipes are offered to help you celebrate the arrival of chives in your garden, the signal of another growing season long awaited.
Chive Blossom Vinegar
1 quart white vinegar
6-8 chive stalks
1/2 cup whole chive blossoms
Place chive stalks and blossoms in a clean, dry wine bottle. Pour the vinegar over the herbs and cork. Store in a cool, dry place for 2-3 weeks, gently shaking once each day. Strain, recork and store at room temperature. Note: The color fades after 10-12 months.
Chive Blossom Bread
1 package active dry yeast
2 tbls margarine or butter
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup chive blossoms
1 cup cool water
1 egg white, slightly beaten
Proof yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Toss the flours and chive blossoms together in another bowl. To the yeast solution add the butter or margarine and honey; blend well. Gradually add the flour/blossom mixture, alternating with the cool water, mixing each addition well.
Knead the dough until smooth on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a single ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to coat evenly. Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down and knead an additional 10 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal halves and shape into round loaves. Cover each and allow to rise a second time. Brush each loaf with the beaten egg white and bake in a preheated 400'F oven for 45-55 minutes.
Lemon Thyme & Chive Blossom Butter
Excellent with fresh bread, grilled vegetables, chicken or fish.
1 cup salted butter
2 tbls chive blossoms
2 tbls lemon thyme, minced
2 tbls chive stalks, chopped
Wash and pat dry the chive blossoms. Gently pull the blossoms apart and add to the butter. Add the minced lemon thyme, chopped chives and blend well. The flavor of this butter will be enhanced if allowed to stand in the refrigerator for a day.
"He who bears Chives on his breath is safe from being kissed to death."
~ Marcus Valerius Martialis