With its sweet, slightly pungent balsamic aroma and spikes of nutmeg and camphor, the beauty of cooking with bay is that it releases its flavour slowly, which makes it an essential herb for slow, long cooking techniques.
Indeed, stocks, soups, stews, sauces, marinades, stuffing and pickles benefit from the addition of fresh or dried bay leaves. Garnishing cooked or cold-pressed paté or terrines with a leaf or two infuses the spicy essence of the Mediterranean, its native homeland. Fish dishes are enhanced by the combination of bay and fennel. Lamb and other robust meats may be stewed or grilled with bay as a key ingredient. Bay adds the characteristic flavour to béchamel sauce; while tomatoes, oregano, thyme and bay are the foremost ingredients in tomato sauce. Bay is a popular herb used to flavour wines and it is positively brilliant in baked bean and lentil dishes.
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