While more exciting herbs and spices grab the limelight, bay leaf tends to be a supporting act rather than the star of the cooking show. But it’s time to discover that bay is one hard working herb.
There’s good reason bay’s been used in (and out) of food for thousands of years. Bay-leaf us when we say, you’ll never see it in the same way again!
The distinctive green leaves of the bay laurel tree can be picked and popped straight in the pan or frozen to preserve the flavour. Use dried bay leaves, which are cheap and easy to get hold of, for a stronger taste.
Technically bay’s a herb, but it acts like a spice so treat it like one and use it with other spices. It’s a bit of an all-rounder and happy to help with any course from soups to sweets, as you’ll find out further into this blog.
Bay-ond the kitchen
It’s best known for cooking but bay’s also hailed as a stomach settler and stress reducer. And apparently it does wonders for your hair. No wonder the ancient Greeks were into it. They even awarded their athletes with wreaths of the stuff in pre-medal days.
Extract of bay is also used in essential oils and perfumes. Not everyone’s a fan though as the pong is thought to scare off creepy crawlies like cockroaches, fleas and moths. Worth a try?
Top of the stocks
For a dish that properly celebrates bay, espetada (a Portuguese barbecue fave) marinates hunks of beef with a bay and roasted garlic mix before skewering the meat onto bay branches and sizzling on a hot grill.
Pound bay leaves and fennel seeds with salt before patting onto pork chops in this easy but delish best pork chops recipe. If you need any more persuading, the mustardy cider sauce is a real winner.
If you’ve only ever fished bay leaves out of stocks and savoury dishes, putting them in a pudding might sound a bit, well, bleurgh. But trust us, bay leaf ice cream is a thing and one that’s well worth trying.
No ice cream maker? No problem. Bay leaf creams are the next best thing (again, trust us). In fact, we can think of a few other desserts that bay leaf syrup would work well with. Say, these grilled peaches with brandy and bay.