Our chef patron John is a dab hand at gardening as well as cooking. At this time of year his kitchen garden here at the hotel is at its best. He particularly loves his herbs and veggies, so here is his handy herb guide to help you select the ones you need when cooking. Or if you’re growing your own plants this year, the below should assist you with ideas for how to use them in your dishes.
The whole plant is edible. The leaves and ripe seeds have two distinct flavours. The seeds are warmly aromatic and the leaves have an earthy pungency. Coriander seeds are used regularly in Garam Masala (a mixture of spices) and in curries. Use ground seed in tomato chutney, ratatouille, frankfurters, curries, and, also, in apple pies, cakes, biscuits and marmalades. Add whole seeds to soups, sauces and vegetable dishes. Add fresh lower leaves to curries, stews, salads, and sauces and as a garnish. Delicious in salads, vegetables and poultry dishes. A bunch of coriander leaves with vinaigrette dressing goes particularly well with hard boiled eggs.
Parsley is mainly used as a garnish. Cooking with parsley enhances the flavour of other foods and herbs. In bland dishes, the best flavour is obtained by adding it just before the end of cooking.
It has needle shaped, dark green leaves are highly aromatic. This is one of the most useful culinary herbs, combining with meat, especially lamb, casseroles, tomato sauces, baked fish, rice, salads, egg dishes, apples, summer wine, cordials, vinegars and oils.
The oval lance shaped leaves of rocket have a nutty flavour. Add the leaves to all forms of salad. The younger leaves have a milder taste than the older ones, which have a definite peppery flavour. Leaves can also be added to sauces and to other vegetable dishes either raw or steamed. This herb is one of many leaves included in the Provencale salad mixture called Mesclun.
Common Thyme has thin green aromatic leaves. Used as a main ingredient of bouquet garni and in stews, salads, sauces, stocks and marinades. A sprig or two with an onion makes a great herb stuffing for chicken.