13 May, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Thyme is of the Essence...

This year, next year, some thyme. . . .

Today, for no particular reason, I’m celebrating thyme, the final herb in the quadrumvirate. Thyme is believed to be lucky in two different ways: for protection and cleansing, and to Bring About an Increase in money. Not bad for a humble herb that grows wild.

Thyme, called thymos by the Greeks, means "fumigate" or "smoke". They associated thyme with valor in battle, and the restoration of physical power. Roman soldiers were known to bathe in a decoction of thyme before going into combat, to boost strength and courage. The Sumerians used it as an antiseptic, and in Egypt, thyme was one of the herbs which was used in the mummification process.

On a more cheerful note,some people plant thyme in their gardens, saying that as it grows, their money will increase. Others take a dollar bill, fold it around thyme leaves, fold it again to make a packet, tie it up with green thread, and bury the packet in the middle of a Crossroads on the night of the Full Moon.

White witch Felicity recommends thyme as a treatment for whooping cough or as an ingredient in a dream pillow to ward off nightmares. She has also been known to use it in healing rituals.

Women who wear thyme on their person are irresistible to men, and carrying sprigs in your pocket aids in developing your psychic abilities. You can create a magical broom using thyme, to banish negativity, or burn some in a bowl to help boost your courage before confrontations.

As a cook, I value thyme for its flavour: there is nothing quite like a thyme-touched soup or stew on a cold winter day. Fresh thyme is preferable to dried, but in a pinch, any thyme is better than none at all.

Lemon and thyme cake
  •  3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 7 oz Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup good-quality lemon curd
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional, if you like things sweet)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Set aside 1 Tbsp sugar. In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after
each addition.

In a small bowl, combine the 1 Tbsp sugar, minced thyme and lemon zest.Add to egg mixture and mix in.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in lemon juice.

Pour into a greased 9x5-in. loaf pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and pierce top all over with a cake tester. Drizzle reserved lemon juice & sugar mixture over top.

Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Serve with a large dollop of the yogurt topping.