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Paul Kitching of the restaurant 21212 in Edinburgh gives us some hints and tips on how to cook using homegrown herbs at Gardening Scotland 2016.
There is something satisfying about growing your own herbs, especially if they’re culinary herbs, where the end result is fantastic flavourings in your dishes.
Growing herbs couldn’t be easier and I promise nothing beats that feeling of just being able to pop out to your garden and take a little snip of this and a little snip of that for your dinner – it couldn’t get any fresher and you’ll be able to taste the difference instantly.
Here, I’ve listed my favourite herbs and wild flowers to cook with and also my favourite dish to cook them in.
This is a fantastic ‘starter’ herb to grow if you’re a beginner in the garden as it’s one of the easiest, fastest and low maintenance herbs out there. It’s versatile and there’s no waste either, as the entire herb is edible.
Cooking with chives: To make a brilliant BBQ marinade, start by softening some butter and add finely chopped chives, onion and garlic. Spoon the butter into cling film and roll it into a sausage shape. Keep refrigerated and simply cut off a slice when needed.
In my eyes, sage is about as classic as you can get. It’s incredibly aromatic and bursting full of flavour. After picking it from the garden, I dry it out in the oven for an hour so to release all of those fantastic flavours.
Cooking with sage: You really can’t go wrong with pairing sage with pork or any white meat. It’s a robust herb that can withstand long cooking times so it’s perfect to use in casseroles and roasts.
Tarragon is one of the more powerful herbs. It’s very hearty and perfumed and can transform a bland dish, which is why it’s loved so much. It’s a key ingredient in French cuisine and you can’t go wrong when pairing it with any grilled shellfish.
Cooking with tarragon: Pick off the leaves and add to strong English mustard with a drop of water, lemon juice and olive oil. Combine well and you’ve got a great dressing for fish or to liven up a salad. If you’d rather a slightly creamier dressing add a spoonful of yoghurt.
Basil is a highly fragrant herb, which is often used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking. Basil is the go-to-herb for pizza, pasta, seasonings and dressings. When cooking with basil, be careful not to overcook it as it can result in the removal of the sweet aromatic flavour.
Cooking with basil: I like to step away from the norm and use basil in sweet dishes. One of my favourites has to be when I pair it with simple vanilla ice cream. Once you’ve made the anglaise for your ice cream and just before you pour it into the ice cream machine, add a handful of finely chopped basil and you’ll have the most beautiful, refreshing dessert – perfect for a summer’s day!
Rose petals are commonly used in desserts or as decoration on celebration cakes for a splash of colourful, sweet perfume. However, now we’re seeing rose petals incorporated into exotic savoury dishes too, especially Middle Eastern cuisine.
Cooking with rose petals: Either rose petals or daffodil petals work incredibly well for this dish. Simply carefully place the petals in iced water, pat them dry, dip them in egg white then caster sugar and glaze each petal with a blowtorch. They make a fantastic crispy garnish on sweet or savoury dishes and add a splash of colour too.