Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis

Most of the cannabis edibles I’ve ever consumed were of the “$5 brownie” variety that I scored from some vendor on a lazy day in the park. These did the job, but are now woefully inadequate after “Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis.”

This new cookbook – penned by cannabis chefs Laurie Wolf and Melissa Parks, whose website TheStonersCookbook.com gets 25 million visitors each week – goes beyond brownies to introduce the reader to a mind-blowing range of culinary cannabis possibilities.

From cannabis kielbasa to cannabis banh mi sandwiches to cannabis smoothies and beverages, Herb delivers with more than 100 cannabis-infused recipes that are magnificently photographed and detailed with simple, easy-to-follow instructions.

Herb is not a gimmicky stoner book. It’s a true gourmet coffee-table cookbook that holds its own with high-end releases like the “Chez Panisse Cookbook” or the “Zuni Cafe Cookbook.”

Each of the recipes features a high gourmet value and low level of difficulty. Most of the recipes in Herb do not require any special cooking equipment. The most esoteric items required to make these recipes are a cheesecloth (a few dollars at your local grocery store) and a food processor that has a feed tube (readily available at any home furnishing or kitchen store). You can also pick recipes that don’t require these items, as Herb is intended for all readers regardless of expertise.

Some of the recipes in Herb are astonishingly simple and clever cannabis cooking hacks, like the one that turns standard, store-bought frozen pot stickers into delicious ‘pot’ pot stickers in just minutes.

Others are five-star masterpieces of the fine dining variety, like the cannabis seared sirloin with savory bread pudding. Every single recipe in Herb is accompanied with a breathtaking high-res photo of the dish, so you can nail the presentation like a pro.

The Secret Ingredient

But be aware that you are not going to just grab a copy of Herb and be eating a homemade cannabis chorizo goat cheese quesadilla an hour later.
Each recipe requires you to prepare some version of cannabis oil or canna butter, with prep times varying from three to five hours. And that’s before you even start cooking the dish itself.

You cannot rush through the process of preparing these cannabis oils and butters, the book stresses a “slow and low” ethic of lengthy prep times using low heat so you don’t cook the THC out of your cannabis concoctions.

Similarly, the book starts with 35 pages of pharmacological guidelines and medical considerations. Herb really is intended for medicinal marijuana users, and its recipes emphasize therapy over just getting high.

The book does not contain much guidance on different strains of cannabis, that’s a decision left to the reader. You have to know for yourself which strains you prefer to use and consume edibly. That said, Herb does give different recipe measurements for whether you’re using cannabis flowers (buds) or leaf (shake), and dosing considerations are addressed.

The revelation in Herb is that all of these cannabis recipes are derived from a few “basic building blocks” — the aforementioned oils and canna butters. Once you know how to make these, the versatility and range of cannabis dishes you’re equipped to prepare is amazing.
Herb has an entire chapter on cannabis pizzas and pasta dishes, running the range from classy (cannabis avocado crab pasta) to comfort food (cannabis macaroni and cheese).

There is a beverage chapter, with recipes for cannabis hot chocolate and cannabis smoothies.

And for fans of those $5 brownies sold the park, there is a brownie recipe (triple bomb brownies) that takes this old standby to a much higher culinary level.

Herb contains standard-portioned recipes, but gives you the skill set to alter these recipes for desired results. After all, the potency and terpene qualities of the cannabis you use to prepare these recipes may be all over the place. Be prepared for your first batch of baked goodies to come out a little awkward, but Herb teaches you the nuances of perfecting each dish.

My initial results were fantastic, but the book also taught me strategies for improvements. I made the canna oil for a Thai shrimp salad and canna butter for a tomahawk ribeye steak and cannabis caramel apples for dessert. The prep time involved was substantial. But the dishes worked as advertised with a very noticeable, physically relaxing CBD high, and the book had advice for getting different therapeutic results.

It should also be noted that Thai shrimp salad, tomahawk ribeye steak and homemade caramel are all dishes that are normally completely beyond my meager level of culinary skill.

The real fun with Herb is in the gift-giving possibilities. I’m already plotting the post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwiches I’m going to whip up for my friends (turkey, havarti and caramelized onion cannabis sandwich) and the batches of Christmas cookies I’m going to serve at holiday parties (cannabis sugar cookies, cannabis peanut butter thumbprint cookies).

Herb is a wonderfully inventive high-end cookbook that not only teaches recipes to beginner-level cooks, but teaches skills and tactics for improving or altering the recipes.

As a beginning cannabis chef, there is one very valuable lesson I learned from preparing the dishes in Herb: one should not snack on the ingredients while preparing the food!

I did a number on myself by snacking on the infused items during the prep process, and boy did I learn my lesson. That was a rough lesson, but there were plenty of other wonderful lessons in Herb that make this volume a must-have item for any cannabis user’s bookshelf.