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    You are in: Home / Cookbooks / An Old Cottage Herb Garden
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    An Old Cottage Herb Garden

    I have always loved gardening, and one of my real passions is growing herbs. Here in SW France, I am lucky enough to have a wonderful walled herb garden where I can plant, grow, harvest and cook with numerous different types of herbs to my heart's content! Here are some of my own personal herbal recipes.
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    An easy and delightful recipe that makes an elegant starter for a festive cocktail party - served with vodka of course! If caviar is hard to source or is expensive, lumpfish roe can be used. I see this being served for a Midsummer party in honour of the lands of the midnight sun, with assorted vodka cocktails! This festive and very special appetiser was developed by one of the best-known Swedish chefs, Dr Tore Wretman, who served a version of this dish in his Stockholm restaurant in 1958, since when it has become a classic. (This recipe version by Market Kitchen and Swedish chef and cookery writer, Anna Mosesson.)

    Recipe #427773

    Whitby and Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast of England were the places of inspiration for me with this recipe, they specialise in locally caught fish, perfect for this iconic English dish. Whereas fish and chips are usually only accompanied by salt and vinegar (Malt vinegar please!) when eaten out of newspaper, when eaten in a Fish and Chip Cafe or Restaurant, you are always served this tartar sauce with your meal, tangy and wonderful with the fish especially and a squeeze of lemon. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine the sun on my face and the salty smell in the air, with seagulls wheeling around above, and the smell of that special supper or lunch to follow, after exploring the little cobbled streets. This is a bit of a cheats version as it uses ready made mayonnaise; however, if you do make your own, then please use your own home-made mayo for this recipe, as I often do. Now all you need is a sun hat, a deck chair and plenty of time to do nothing before enjoying your fish supper!

    Recipe #428549

    There are numerous recipes for lemon balm lemonade, and I have an old English recipe myself that I make regularly - but, if you find that it is sometimes a little "light" on the lemon flavour, add some lemon verbena for a super charged lemon kick! I have made this several times now and it is so refreshing and zingy, perfect for a hot summer's day. Once the syrup is made, it lasts for several weeks in the fridge, or several months in a cool dark place if you add the optional citric and tartaric acid. Serve with cold sparkling water and slices of lemon and a sprig of either lemon balm or lemon verbena.

    Recipe #429564

    Too hot for a cup of hot tea? (Mind you, being British, there is never a wrong time for a cup of tea for me!) However, this wonderful ice cream has all the elements of a cup of delicate Earl Grey tea, but with the added lift of lemon verbena. Perfect for a hot day or a sophisticated and elegant dessert for any summer patio party. For a quirky twist, serve the ice cream in a tea cup and saucer, or serve it in little frosted glass bowls with fresh lemon verbena leaves. Remove the ice cream from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving.(Recipe adapted from Helen Graves and Persia in Peckham.)

    Recipe #429901

    These little cookies, or biscuits, as we call them in the UK, are absolutely delicious - light and yet fresh with the flavour of the dried lemon verbena. Dried verbena is essential in this recipe, as opposed to fresh leaves, to keep the cookies light, fresh and crisp. They make great gifts - pack them in a little cellophane bag with an attractive ribbon, or in an antique tin; they are also wonderful when served with ice cream. (Recipe from a copy of Better Homes and Gardens that was sent to me by a Zaar friend, I have kept the measurements in cups, as originally posted.)

    Recipe #429903

    This is my elderly French neighbour's recipe for a refreshing and popular French tisane, she drinks it almost daily as a digestif, using dried lemon verbena and mint leaves in the winter. Tisanes are popular in France, and most salons de thé serve all manner of wonderful natural tisanes and teas, with exotic herbs and spices, as well as fruit and berries. Nearly all French gardens have Lemon Verbena growing, it also grows wild on the hedgerows this far South in France, and it is added to all manner of things in the kitchen - from soups to sauces, and of course it makes a refreshing and easy drink. This can be served warm or chilled with ice. Garnish with fresh lemon verbena leaves.

    Recipe #429905

    Parmesan crusted chicken breasts with meltingly tender aubergines in a tangy tomato sauce and a melted mozzarella topping, this tasty dish is great with ciabatta or baguette and assorted salad leaves. A wonderful version of the Italian classic where the chicken is quickly pan fried to seal in all those lovely juices before being oven baked for ease and convenience. This can be prepped earlier in the day making it a great and tasty meal for a dinner party or company; prepare to oven bake stage and then cover with cling film and store in the fridge - allow to come to room temperature before baking. (Prep time includes pan frying the chicken and aubergines.)

    Recipe #426401

    A wonderful sticky, sugar topped sweet bread that is flavoured with orange blossom water. Fouace is a very old traditional bread, the word originally referred to the oven in which bread has been cooked since ancient times, from the Latin word "focus" or hearth. This orange blossom scented bread is traditionally shaped in to a wreath or an oval and is from the Albi region in the South of France near Toulouse. As the bread bakes slowly, it spreads out as it rises, giving a very distinctive shape. It is served very hot and, depending on the version, may be topped with white beans, rillettes, salted butter or goat's cheese; however, I prefer this recipe served hot, spread with butter and a dollop of apricot conserve. (Recipe from the Gourmet Food site.)

    Recipe #414954

    This is SUCH a wonderful old recipe! Fresh butter is mixed with floral scented waters, such as rose water or orange blossom water and is delicious as an alternative to clotted cream, especially when spread on freshly made scones. It is also wonderful with all types of griddle cakes, crumpets and traditional tea cakes and breads. This floral butter dates back to the 18th Century and is featured in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, as well as numerous other historical cookbooks. This recipe adapts well to modern cooking - and would make a stunning feature at any Victorian style Ladies' afternoon tea party or even a little girl's birthday party. Serve this with pancakes for breakfast or brunch, the possibilities are endless!

    Recipe #416574

    A simple and beautiful syrup that is easy to make and gives amazing results. My front garden is covered in little sweet violets every spring and although I crystallise them or cut them for the spring dinner table, I recently found this old recipe for making violet syrup, which is fabulous. So, I have been busy making Sweet Violet Syrup this year! The syrup is great when added to icings and butter cream for cakes; and is wonderful when used in beverages too. Only a small amount is needed to add to sparkling wine or lemonade for a delectable and elegant drink. I have also added the syrup for flavouring to homemade macaroons, French Macarons. Why not make a homemade violet ice cream, or add this to junkets and blancmanges, the list is endless! NB: Six handfuls are about 3 ounces. A bottle of this makes a great gift for a foodie friend, add a label with serving ideas; one teaspoon is usually enough for most recipes.

    Recipe #416575

    This is a fabulous recipe, or rather a recipe idea. I use this lavender mayonnaise throughout the summer months; it marries so well with poached salmon and is wonderful when served with canapés, salads, cold roast chicken and most types of fish and seafood. It is easy; simply add a drop or two of lavender infused vinegar to homemade or good quality readymade mayonnaise for a floral fantasy at your dinner table! By all means add a few lavender buds when serving this, as a garnish, it adds to the whole dining experience. I have a recipe for lavender vinegar: Recipe #416577

    Recipe #416576

    A wonderful addition to any cook's pantry, this lavender infused vinegar is easy to make and adds a certain j' nés quoi to any savoury dish. Use it in my Lavender Mayonnaise or to flavour a salad dressing – all the lavender taste but not the chewy lavender buds! This vinegar retains not only the flavour of the lavender, but also the fragrance too. If you have the lavender bushes, it is worth making a few bottles of this, it will enliven any drear winter’s day and makes a great gift for a foodie friend. This is a Francis Bissell recipe, from a great little cookbook that my daughter bought for me this Mother’s Day!

    Recipe #416577

    What can be nicer then inviting friends and family over for an old fashioned afternoon tea. Homemade bread, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits (cookies) and these delightful rose scented coconut macaroons. These are not the same as the little piped, multi-coloured and flavoured macaroons that you find in France; these are rustic and yet elegant little coconut mounds or pyramids, real old fashioned biscuit type cakes. As well as being delicious, these are also easy to make. If you would like to add a little food colouring to make them a pale pink, that would make them look so pretty! BUT, be warned, do add the colouring carefully, many a pale rose coloured biscuit (cookie) has ended up a bright puce colour! Recipe from Francis Bissell.

    Recipe #416578

    Cooking with unusual ingredients can be very rewarding, and we all love to impress our guests with unusual recipes and flavours. Using rose water and orange blossom water is a way of doing just this, with their unique taste, but purchasing these rare treats can be expensive. I cook with rose water and orange blossom water a lot; especially in historical (Medieval and Victorian) and Middle Eastern recipes. I have numerous highly scented old fashioned shrub roses in my old cottage style walled garden - great for rose water, and also an orange tree - great for making orange blossom water! Although I can buy both scented, flavoured waters in France and England, there is always something very satisfying about making your own - give it a go, I am VERY happy with the results. This recipe was found on a leaflet from a water distilling company in the UK; you DO need to use distilled water for these two recipes, which is easily purchased in most countries - I use it for my steam iron!! NB: Remember to use petals and blossom which are free of pesticides and traffic pollution. (Quantities and yields are dependent on how many blossoms and petals you use.........last time I made rose water, I used 4 ounces of petals and had a yeild of 4 small bottles.)

    Recipe #414575

    The English summer is thought to start when the elder blossoms end and the berries ripen. The citrus aroma floating down country lanes also heralds a bountiful harvest for the forager and home-brewer. Elderflower cordial costs more as the bottles get smarter and it’s seen as a luxury, which seems ludicrous to me, as I know that you can make it for next to nothing! Elderflower cordial is a wonderful base for all sorts of culinary treats............lemonade, sorbet, mousses, jelly, desserts, beverages, glazes etc. It is very easy to make, although you need to plan ahead as the flowers need to be steeped in the sugar mixture for four days. The flowers taste best picked early on a dry, hot day, and speed is crucial: they should be used straight after picking. The cream-coloured heads (or umbels) are tastier than the white, and don’t worry if they smell unappetising at first once they’re infused, the heady scent is delicious.Choose umbels free of discolouring and keep them dry until you’re ready to begin. Folklore: * One name for it is the Judas Tree, as it was thought to be the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from * To fell a tree without suitable protection could free a spirit called the Elder Mother to take her revenge * The elderflower was said to be a protection against witches, and a knotted twig kept in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism * Elderflowers were apparently never struck by lightning, and a cross of elder fastened above stables would protect the animals from evil Medicinal benefits * Elderflower cordials and elderberry wines are high in vitamins A, B and C * In A Modern Herbal of 1931, Mrs Grieves recommends an elderflower infusion, taken hot before bed, as a remedy for colds and throat trouble * Mrs Grieves swears by elder leaves as an insect deterrent. The foul-smelling bruised leaves around tender plants and buds prevent attack by aphids and cater-pillars, and gardeners can add a sprig to their hatband to ward off midges * Medical herbalist Christine Houghton says a daily elderflower infusion, made with fresh flowers, is helpful in preventing hay fever

    Recipe #414594

    This is my adaptation of the much loved and famous recipe created by Constance Spry for the Queen's Coronation lunch in 1953. I make this regularly for picnics and buffets; it is also amazing as a sandwich filler. In 1953, curry powder would have been used - but I find that curry paste works better. Use any type of poached or cooked chicken - I usually cook a couple of chicken breasts just for this recipe, however, a whole cooked chicken works very well; don't forget to remove the skin and check for bones first. This recipe is based on the Coronation Chicken recipe in: The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Constance Spry & Rosemary Hulme (1956).

    Recipe #245746

    Freshly boiled eggs are encased in a herb flavoured sausage “jacket” and are then deep-fried until golden and crisp, delicious! Contrary to popular belief, Scotch eggs are not Scottish, and they were actually invented by the famous London department store “Fortnum & Mason” in 1738, where they are still available today. The word "Scotch" is an old English word meaning to chop or mince, and obviously, the eggs are covered with “chopped or minced” pork sausage meat, hence the name Scotch Eggs. They are traditional British picnic food but I also like to serve them as a light lunch or snack, and they make a wonderful addition to the buffet table. These tasty traditional English specialities have had bad press over the years; mainly down to commercial mass production, but if you make them at home with fresh, free-range eggs and the best quality sausage meat, they will taste divine, and they will always be the stars of the picnic hamper or family lunch table! PLEASE use high quality sausage meat or sausages, with at least 70% meat content.Historical Note: Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason (F&M) stocks "food fit for a queen". The 300-year-old British department store, famous for its jams, teas, and sauces, provides the Queen with her annual supply of Christmas puddings and holds the "Royal Warrant. NB: You can use quail's eggs with great results too - perfect for an elegant appetiser or starter. (The optional mixed spice is for those who like a spicy meat coating, it is mentioned in some old recipes, but I don't always use it.)

    Recipe #408043

    An old-fashioned treat, this is a fabulous way to use up left over ham, although I have also put some freshly cooked ham aside especially for this when I have baked a ham for Christmas, Easter or another special occasion. The ham is finely minced and mixed through with old-fashioned spices and butter, and it keeps for several weeks in a cool place. Another name for this recipe is Potted Meat, and it was VERY popular in Victorian times, although recipes for potted meats (preserved under butter) goes back even further than that historically. Wonderful in sandwiches for the teatime table or for picnics, lunch boxes and festive buffets. This is an adapted recipe from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, where she suggests that this is a nice addition for the “Breakfast or Luncheon table”. Serve with sliced breads of all types, oatcakes, toast, bread rolls, and crackers or with salad, chutneys, mustard and pickles. NB: Use a good cooked ham on the bone for this recipe: the sort carved by hand at the deli and old-fashioned butchers. So called "cooking time" is chill time.

    Recipe #408287

    This Californian olive recipe was sent to me by some lovely Bed and Breakfast guests (now good friends), who come from Temecula in California. They have stayed with us a couple of times now and love this part of SW France, and the food and wine! They grow olives and avocados, and regularly send me a selection of "California Growers" recipe leaflets, magazines and cookbooks, as well as a box of avocados every year! Always a treat! I have made these scones/biscuits several times now for appetisers and nibbles, as well as for picnics - they are delicious when eaten warm with fresh butter, mustard and ham. I make these with French olives, but I am sure my friends don't mind!

    Recipe #384798

    Toasted goat's cheese on toast that has been spread with garlic paste.......and then served on mixed salad leaves - brilliant! I am hooked on Nigel Slater's new programme, "Simple Suppers", where he prepares and cooks food just the way I like it...........fresh, seasonal, unpretentious, flexible and hearty. This is one of Nigel's "Inspirational" recipes that was shown on his first programme. In the absence of ciabatta bread, I would be inclined to use any rustic bread........with lots of body! (Recipe from NIgel Slater's Simple Suppers and the Digin site.)

    Recipe #389599

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