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What's Cooking? - Posted May 26, 2017 noon
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Photos by Shannon Richardson

Herb Life

The best chefs in Amarillo and around the country have a secret. It’s not a particularly well-hidden secret, but it’s the kind of small detail that can take a dish from something people quickly forget to something they won’t stop talking about. It’s the ingredient that makes the difference between simply appreciating a meal … and begging for the recipe. The secret? Fresh herbs.

“We use a ton of cilantro and parsley and dill,” says T Price, who caters and operates a home bakery called Real Food Company with her husband, Andy. “You can almost get them all year long, plus you can grow those easily in a pot. They’re not real fussy, and then you always have something fresh.” She shares with us her favorite herb-infused butters and dips, a delicious vinaigrette-marinated feta cheese, and an ingenious method for freezing fresh herbs for use during the winter months.


Herb Dip
2 cloves garlic
1 cup packed mixed herbs
2 fat squirts honey
Juice of 1 lime
1 ½ cups Greek yogurt, silken tofu, or sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, blender or Ninja, process garlic, mixed herbs (dill, cilantro, parsley, basil are our favorites), honey, and lime juice until mixed; add Greek yogurt, silken tofu, or sour cream and pulse a few times to blend; add salt and pepper to taste.

This is great as a dip or sauce for vegetables, fish, chicken, tacos, falafel, and so on.


Herb Marinated Feta
Juice of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped herbs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cracked red pepper
6 to 8 ounces cubed feta cheese

Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, honey, olive oil, herbs (cilantro, mint, parsley), salt, pepper, and cracked red pepper. Pour over cubed feta cheese; toss gently and refrigerate a couple of hours. Let come to room temperature before serving with crackers or flatbread.


Herb Pesto
You get to decide what’s in your pesto, which is so much better than store-bought. Just start with a basic formula:

¼ cup toasted nuts
¼ cup firm grated cheese
¼ cup olive oil
1 to 1 ½ cups herbs
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vinegar or citrus juice
Salt to taste

Combine in food processor and pulse together, adding a little more oil if necessary to get the consistency you like. Keep in a jar, covered with olive oil, in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to use.

Favorite combinations:
Pepitas, Romano, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime juice
Walnuts, parmesan, basil, and red wine vinegar
Tarragon, parsley, pistachio, asiago, and balsamic vinegar

Pesto is good on so many things. Toss with hot or cold pasta, serve with eggs, on bread, or on meat. Don’t be afraid to experiment!


Herbed Salt
The combinations are endless here; this is a great way to preserve herbs.

2 cloves garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons parsley
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Chop together garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, parsley and sea salt until all the same size; spread on a plate and let dry overnight, uncovered. Store in a jar.

Herb Butter
1 stick softened butter
¼ cup finely chopped mixed herbs
½ teaspoon each coarse sea salt and ground black pepper

In a bowl combine butter, mixed herbs, sea salt and ground black pepper. Transfer onto piece of waxed or parchment paper, shape into a log, and seal ends by twisting, or pack into a ramekin and cover with plastic. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least an hour. Keep in refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or freeze for a couple of months.

Herb combinations:
Garlic, basil, parsley (great for garlic toast)
Tarragon, dill, lemon zest (good on fish)
Garlic, cilantro, lime zest, jalapeño (favorite for chicken)


Herbs Preserved in Oil
Fill ice trays with herbs, cover with preferred oil, freeze, pop out and store in freezer bags. Add frozen right into sauces and soups.

Meet the Cooks: Andy and T Price of Real Food Company

Amarilloans Andy and T Price first met more than two decades ago when both were pursuing careers in local film production. She was a freelance make-up artist and he worked in lighting. “We were traveling a lot when I got pregnant with our daughter,” T explains. “We wanted to find a business that would keep us here locally.”

So in 1995, they opened a coffee business inside Northwest Texas Hospital, which eventually grew into their Coffee Cartel cafe. Desserts came next, and they began selling their delightful pastries at restaurants like BL Bistro, Crush, and 575 Pizzeria. In 2009, Andy and T expanded to crepes, which they served inside Kitchen Gallery and then Blue Sage Art Gallery.

Then, in 2012, the Prices opened Real Food Cafe, a beloved Sixth Street restaurant that focused on high-quality food served with organic sauces, dressings and desserts. “We’re self-taught home cooks,” T says. “We’ve always loved cooking together and trying new things together. We love what we do and we want to keep it fun and fresh.”

Around this time last year, however, they closed the cafe to open up space in their busy lives for other opportunities that revolved around their “real food” philosophy. After taking a little time off, they’ve embraced those opportunities. “We are loving the diversity of our lifestyle now,” she says.

Together, the husband and wife have stayed busy catering private dinner parties, baking at home, and partnering with their daughter, Andrea Price, organizing yoga, food and nature retreats in Taos. “We cook all the meals for participants,” says T.

But most of their time revolves around the Price’s home bakery, which they have named Real Food (look for “Real Food Company” on Facebook). In recent years, the state of Texas has loosened its “Cottage Food Law” restrictions, allowing home bakers to sell their products at farmer’s markets and other locations. Andy and T gained a huge following last year after setting up a booth in the inaugural season of the Amarillo Community Market, and will begin serving their delicious goods again when the market reopens on June 10. (It’s in operation from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but if last year was any indication, many of the products at the Real Food booth – including its homemade granola and chocolate-coconut macaroons – will sell out quickly.)

The Prices also spend time baking custom orders for business clients. “What we love is getting a corporate order for 25 of the same thing,” she says. That may include everything from walnut bars to espresso brownies. “We have one client who orders 50 of our flourless chocolate souffle cakes. They’re wonderful as gifts.”

When T is not baking cakes and brownies, she’s freezing fresh summer herbs for use out of season, as detailed in this issue. “You can pack the ice cubes full of whatever herbs you want, even a combination of them, and then cover them in olive oil and freeze it,” she says. “Then you’ve got two tablespoons of rosemary or basil to toss into something. Throw it in a stew in winter or finish off a nice sauce with it. It’s awesome.”

by Jason Boyett

Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.
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