It's just fun

Restaurateur touts cooking with herbs.

Restaurateur touts cooking with herbs.

May 07, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

Shellie Ralston invited members of a recent Women's Club Gourmet Cooking Class to touch the herbs in her countertop dish garden on their way to the dining room feast of food she had prepared.

"Your hands will be smelling good," she promised.

The food smelled good, too.

Fresh herbs were the focus of caterer and restaurateur Ralston's program. She used similar ingredients to make several different recipes - versatile appetizer-type treats.

"It's really not cooking, it's just fun," Ralston, who, along with her husband, John Ralston, owns The Rhubarb House, on the square in Hagerstown.


Ralston prepared several items, providing her audience with different options - based on personal taste.

"Always recycle," Ralston advised. The leaves stripped off the rosemary sprigs would be used in the marinade. Leftover salsa can be used over grilled chicken, tuna or shrimp.

Other Shellie Ralston advice included the following:

  • Keep dry herbs in cupboards where they are not exposed to light.

  • Use smaller amounts of dry herbs if fresh are not available. One teaspoon dry herbs, equals a tablespoon of fresh herbs.

  • Heat instensfies the flavor of nuts, garlic and onions.

  • To get juice from a lemon, microwave it for 10 seconds and roll it on the countertop. Then cut it in half and squeeze.

  • "Fresh is better," Ralston said. She prefers golden pineapple, a sweeter, never bitter variety.

  • Ralston rolled cheese and butter balls with clean hands. "It's a little bit messy, but mess is OK."

  • "Always garlic," Ralston said.

Ralston shamelessly plugged her downtown dining establishment in trivia quiz questions. She rewarded correct answers with prizes, handing out fish-shaped molds, star-shaped cookie cutters and lobbing a garden hat, potholders and tea towels over the heads of the 70 people in her audience.

"She's delicious," laughed Zayda Acosta of Hagerstown.

So was the food.

Pat Marsell of Chambersburg, Pa., thought so. A member of the Hagerstown Women's Club since last fall, she said she enjoyed Ralston's presentation.

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