I’ve never been particularly interested in cream cheese (with the exception of pumpkin cream cheese) but lately, I’ve been all about eating half of a whole-wheat bagel with chive cream cheese in the morning.
Fine, sometimes I’m all about eating an entire whole-wheat bagel but you know what?
There’s no one keeping score here.
This morning I was waiting for my bagel to take a spin through the toaster at the Dunkin Donuts in my building and when the barely-English-speaking toaster attendant who handed me a freshly creased paper bag asked me what chives were.
I mean, I know what chives are.
Dana knows what chives are.
The delightfully oblivious toaster master? Did not know what chives were and despite the fact that I eat them, cook with them and most recently, spread them on my bagel, I was stumped at how to answer his question.
In my pre-caffeinated state I should have just suggested that he go home and Google it but instead I think I confused him even more and it’s entirely possible that I turned him off chives for life.
So, I did what any self-respecting food writer would do: I got back to my desk and immediately looked up the definition of chives so that next time I’ll be better prepared to answer tough questions.
Chives are most commonly used as flavoring herb, and offer food a somewhat milder taste than their close cousins in the onion family.
They have a wide variety of culinary uses from soups to fish to sandwiches – more than I’d ever imagined and more than you probably know possible.
I mean, I at least hope so.
Otherwise I’m probably wasting my time here.
Six Uses for Chives
Infuse with chives
Although we typically purchase herbs from the supermarket that look like long, skinny blades of grass, chives actually produce a beautiful purple blossom.
Not only are they fun to look at but you can create fantastic vinegar infusions to use as a base for your next sauce or salad dressing.
About.com recommends that you fill a one quart jar about 1/2 full of white vinegar. Fill the jar with blossoms so that they are submerged. Cover and let steep in a dark cupboard for at least 2 weeks. The blossoms will fade to white and your next salad is in for a treat.
No, not on their own, silly.
When you’re planning your next date with your KitchenAid, skip the chocolate chips.
Chives have a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with cheddar cheese in scones, biscuits and muffins.
Chives are easy to grow. They need rich, moist soil (read: water them) and copious amounts of sunlight.
Whether you have a backyard, a balcony the size of a bathroom stall or an ample windowsill (I have none of the above, thank you very much) you can probably grow your own plants.
Now, I prefer to let someone else handle the botany and I just do the eating, but head to your local gardening shop for supplies and more instructions.
Let them stand out
As an herb, chives rarely get the attention they deserve.
They play second chair in cream cheese, omelets and salad dressings but some quiche, fritatta and pasta concoctions need no more than a generous dash of chives, sharp cheese and salt and pepper to your liking.
If your chives thrive in the summer only, stock up while they’re ripe for the picking.
Lay chives on a long baking sheet in a single layer.
Freeze for 30 minutes and label the bag. No one wants to mix up their herbs in February and wind up with funky-flavored soups and stews.
Draw them on your arm
I could not write this post without telling you about my friend Dana’s beautiful tattoo.
It might not be the best way to use the herbs you bought at the grocery store but if you read Dana’s blog, you’ve no doubt been inspired by her cooking, photographs and even her newest addition: a chive blossom on her forearm.
Six Recipes with Chives
Loaded Baked Potato Soup from In Good Taste
White Bean & Artichoke Spread from In Good Taste
Chives Omelet from Rasa Malaysia
Chive & Parsley Butter from The Perfect Pantry
Cheddar Chive Muffins from Sugarcrafter