Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This is my little bay tree that overwinters in the basement window. My Italian lady friend (who can grow anything!) has a huge bay tree close to her house - it reaches up to the eaves. I prefer to use the leaves dried, they seem to have a more robust, pronounced flavour when dry, but fresh works very well, I just use more of them! I throw them into soups and stews and marinating sauces. You can make a nice lemon and bay oil to use for dressings or sauteing:
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel shavings or zest
  • 1 bay leaf (or more)
  • 6 whole black peppercorns

In a small heavy-based pot, pour in the olive oil. Slowly bring up the heat. Add the shavings or zest. Drop in the bay leaf and black peppercorns.

Gently simmer on a very low flame for 7 minutes.

Let cool thoroughly before storing in an air-tight jar. Makes 1 cup image from www.cuisine.com

Bay is the herb of Apollo - who chased the nymph Daphne down relentlessly before she was transformed into the bay tree. Bay leaves were used to roof the Temple at Delphi.

Medicinally, bay leaves have been used as an anti-inflammatory and/or as a treatment for headaches.

Here's a nice, spicy recipe that uses bay leaves: Cauliflower Biriyani~

Ingredients - Serves 4

  • 3 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 small cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 175g (6 oz) basmati rice, rinsed~ I use brown basmati-you'll need more stock if you use brown rice
  • 50g (2oz) red lentils, rinsed
  • 600ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets or pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 50g (2 oz) sultanas
  • 1 tsp black onion seeds (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Method - to make the cauliflower biriyani

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan and stir-fry the cardamom, cumin and coriander seeds and cinnamon for 1 minute until lightly fragrant. Then add the onion and fry, stirring, for about 5 minutes until softened, but not browned.
  2. Add the turmeric, bay leaf, rice and lentils and cook for a further minute, stirring all the while, to coat the rice in the spice mixture. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Add the cauliflower, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and stand covered for 10 minutes to allow the stock to be absorbed by the rice. Discard the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Season to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, make the carrot relish. Heat the remaining oil until hot and stir-fry the grated carrot for 2 minutes until just wilting. Add the sugar and sultanas and stir-fry for a further 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly golden. Stir in the onion seeds if you're using them.
  5. To serve, pile the cauliflower rice on to warm serving plates and top with some carrot relish. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve immediately.
I added chickpeas and red pepper flakes. This recipe is from http://www.suite101.com/

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