Even if you don’t go in for the fruit and veg plot in your garden you can still grow a few herbs or even eat some of the edible flowers and add them to recipes.
Herbs and petals can be added to marinates, rubs, vinegars, butters, oils, salads, salsas, dressings, pesto, sauces, soups, risotto and even sweet custards and syrups.
Flavoured oils are easy to make and also freeze well, they are a clever way of using up gluts of herbs.
Chop the herbs in a food processor and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the herbs (roughly three tablespoons of herbs to one tablespoon of oil). Divide into portions and freeze in bags.
Finely chopped herbs can also be frozen in your ice cube trays. Fill the tray with herbs and then pour over water to cover. Freeze until solid. Then you can pop them out of the tray and freeze in bags.
These work well with softer herbs such as dill, parsley, thyme, basil, tarragon and marjoram. Wrapped in cling film it will keep in the fridge for about a week and up to three months in the freezer.
Pulse 3 tablespoons (100g/3 ½ oz.) rinsed herb leaves into a blender or chop finely. Season to taste and then add 100g/3 ½ oz. butter. Pop in two teaspoons of lemon juice and whizz or beat until smooth.
Use just one herb or a mixture of them such as basil, oregano and parsley. Mix together a total of eight tablespoons of herbs with two cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste and blitz roughly in a food processor or pound with a pestle and mortar. Blend until the mixture is mushy then add in 50g/1 ¾ oz. grated parmesan cheese and 100ml/3 ½ fl oz. olive oil. Mix to a thick paste. Use on pasta or add in a little vinegar to create a dressing.
Add two to three tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs into your usual scone mix. Parsley, sage, marjoram, thyme and rosemary all work well.
Chop a few borage leaves, pick some blue borage flowers from the plant and pop them all into cottage or cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper and spread on bread or crackers. This also works well with soft herbs such as chives.
Put two teaspoons dried lavender flowers, 300g/10 oz. sugar and the zest of one lemon in a pan with 300ml/10 fl oz. water over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Put the pan over the heat again and bring to the boil without stirring. Turn up the heat and allow to bubble for about five minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool a little then strain into a sterilised bottle. Cool completely then seal and store in a cool place. This will keep for up to six weeks.
Remove the stalks. Beat an egg white until it is foamy. Dip each flower into the egg white then into some sugar. Place the flower on greaseproof paper and cover with another sheet of greaseproof paper. Pop into the oven on the lowest setting until dry. Store in an airtight container.
Add flowers or herbs to a jar of sugar leaving a little space (don’t fill the jar right to the top). Shake the jar each day for about two weeks, then sieve/pick out the flowers or herbs. Lavender, violets and thyme work well for this.
Roast 225/8 oz. nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts etc) in the oven for about ten minutes on a medium heat and then blitz. Mix to a paste with 75g/3 oz. butter.
Chocolate nut spread
Add 110g/4oz melted dark, milk or white chocolate to the nut butter mix and you have chocolate spread.
If you want to avoid caffeine but need ‘coffee’ this makes an alternative. Note I didn’t say ‘good alternative’, it is certainly something different to try.
Wash dandelion or chicory roots, dry then slice them and lay on a baking tray. Bake in a low oven (300F/150C/Gas2) until they are brown and snap easily. Grind them up and use as you would normal coffee.
Butter 100g (3 ½ oz.)
Sugar 50g (1 ½ oz.)
Ground almonds 50g (1 ½ oz.)
Plain flour (all purpose) 100g (3 ½ oz.)
Tablespoon of herbs, chopped – this works well with basil, lemon balm and thyme but experiment and see what you like.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cream together the butter and sugar, add the ground almonds then the flour. Knead together on a lightly floured board to form a dough. Roll the dough in the chopped herbs until the leaves are amalgamated into the dough then roll it out into a 5cm diameter sausage. Slice into 1 cm thick slices.
Place the slices on a well-greased baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove at once and cool on a wire rack.
Information taken from: Kitchen Witchcraft: Garden Magic by Rachel Patterson