Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Got Chives?

The chives are in full bloom here in the District of Columbia.

It is a highly conspicuous display from an otherwise inconscpicuous plant. Chives consist of stems, impossibly long and narrow and hollow stems. But once each season they terminate in this bombastic, purplish pom pom of a flower.

Bumble bees love to come sit and meditate on the chive flowers. I can't help stopping to admire them on my way out the door.

Chives may be one of the most poorly utilized of garden herbs. We remember them more for those stubby little pieces of tube that fall almost weightless out of a bottle that sits so seldom opened on the herb rack, sometimess tossed ignominiously into a bowl of cream cheese for a quick spread or dumped into an egg casserole as an afterthought.

Chives are, like onions, leeks and garlic, an allium or, more precisely, allium shoenoprasum, a relative of the lily. Chives are perennial, meaning they return in the garden year after year without any care at all. We have wild onions that look just like chives and pop up in clusters in the middle of our lawn every spring. It's a great convenience to be able to harvest something so fresh and flavorful so early in the year, when everyone else is still complaining they have nothing to eat but old Brussels sprouts.

Truth be told, I don't have a favorite recipe for chives. I use them just like everyone else: in dips or spreads, in omelets or other egg dishes. So I am making a proposal: Do any of you readers have a favorite chive recipe? Or, even better, a favorite recipe for chive blossoms?

Send it here to Recipe Central at the Slow Cook and we will be sure to share it.


Kevin said...

I use garlic chives in a shrimp souffle I make.

Ed Bruske said...

Ah yes. Garlic chives. A slightly different beast. The foliage looks more like garlic stem, meaning creased into a triangle rather than the familiar tube of the chive. We have some in our garden. I use it when I want a bit more of an aggressive garlic flavor.

Thanks, Kevin. Now I'll be wondering how to make that shrimp souffle...

Christa said...

I experimented with chive blossoms last year and made chive blossom vinegar. It didn't have a very strong chive taste (maybe I needed to let it steep longer), but the color was amazing!

Ed Bruske said...

Great idea, Christa. I wonder if that concept would translate to chive blossom oil as well...

Nice photos you took, by the way. Makes a very nice display, the chive vinegar.