Bay Leaf: That green headband around Ceasar's head was bay, and it has a long and glorious culinary history in Mediterranean countries.
Bay can be bitter when fresh, so let it dry for a few days if you pluck it green from the tree. After drying, it keeps nicely in an airtight jar. It gives up its flavor slowly, which is why you add it to the beginning of slow-cooked soups and stews. It has a slightly musty aroma with shades of nutmeg that can overpower a dish, so only use half a leaf for each serving. Don't forget to pull them out before serving!

Coriander: Coriander is used in both sweet and savory cooking, adding a mix of lemon and sage-like flavors to any dish. In addition to its culinary flair, coriander has been considered to be an aphrodisiac by the ancients. Whether or not you will find love, coriander seeds add a sweet, fruity note a recipe and are thought to be good for both your mental powers and your digestion.

Garlic: Garlic is in the same family as onions and leeks, and purportedly provided ancient Roman soldiers the courage to battle the barbarians. Whether or not it gives you courage, it is known to lower blood pressure, which is great for your heart and helps prevent stroke. In addition, it has a long history as a digestive aid, so don't be shy with this wonderful herb, no matter what it does to your breath!

Rosemary: This piney herb adds great flavor to many meats, but the surprise is how good it is for you. It has anti-inflammatory chemicals, making it useful in the treatment of liver and heart disease as well as asthma. It seems to have some potent anti-tumor properties and has been researched for its use against breast, colon and skin cancer. Although still being researched, it may be a useful tonic for the brain and has been used since ancient times as a memory enhancer. Although it is just fine in foods, you should avoid strong tinctures of rosemary if you are pregnant.

Thyme: This aromatic herb has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and contains thymol, a well-known antiseptic (you might be gargling with it). It's good for the digestion and is supposed to have some aphrodisiac qualities, although that just may be be due to the well-known connection between love and good food.

Goat Cheese with Bell Pepper Dressing

prep time: 10
cook time: 70


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chilled goat cheese (such as Montrachet), cut into 8 slices
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Baguette slices, toasted


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add all bell peppers and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic, rosemary, coriander, fennel, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and remaining

3 tablespoons olive oil. Simmer mixture 5 minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt. Cool to room temperature.

Arrange goat cheese on platter. Spoon dressing over. Let stand at room temperature

1 hour. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve with baguette slices.