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With spring in the air, we think it’s time to freshen up our homes and bring the outdoors indoors!
We all enjoy using herbs in our cooking from time to time, and if we don’t it’s usually because we can’t be bothered or don’t have the ingredients readily available to us. We recommend you introduce a herb garden into your kitchen this year, to add some colour, aroma and flavour to your home.
There are so many ways to create an enchanting herb garden at minimal cost. Try upcycling to turn something old into something new. Have a look around the house and garden, or take a trip to a local charity shop or boot sale to find some containers you think have potential. For example, you could fill some quaint teacups with soil and plant your herbs inside. Then line up your teacups along the windowsill so they get some light; remember to water them every so often.
When it comes to dinner parties, bring the teacups down from the windowsill and display them down the centre of the table along with (home-grown) herb infused oils and salts. This way your guests can pick sprigs of the herbs of their choice to complement their meal.
Not only will these herbs add extra depths of flavour to your cooking, but they will also make your kitchen smell incredible!
When your herb garden begins to thrive, introduce your herbs to the rest of the kitchen to create infusions to be used in cooking or to offer friends and family as gifts. Try making herb butters, oils and salts, or try creating new exciting recipes to surprise and delight your taste buds. Below are a couple of recipes for you to try at home:
Tomato, mozzarella and basil grilled on buttered crumpets
This recipe is great when you’re in a rush and you need a quick, tasty lunch! Turn the grill onto a medium heat. Put the crumpets in the toaster and then slice the mozzarella and tomatoes. When the crumpets pop up, butter them and lay the mozzarella evenly over the top. Cover with fresh, washed basil leaves and then top with the sliced tomatoes and cracked black pepper. Put the crumpets under the grill and remove when the cheese has begun to melt and the tomatoes are beginning to brown.
Baked salmon with feta cheese, mint and lemon
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Lay the salmon fillets skin-side down on a tin foil covered baking tray. Cover the salmon with fresh mint and then top with crumbled feta cheese and drizzle lemon juice over the top. Cover loosely with tin foil and place in the oven to cook for 15 minutes. Remove the top layer of foil and replace in the oven for a further 5 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and the feta is starting to brown. Serve with new potatoes and salad to enjoy a delicious spring meal.
Strawberry, basil and cracked black pepper ice cream
Blend 1 cup of fresh (washed and chopped) strawberries and set aside. Whisk 2 cups of double cream, 2/3 cup of caster sugar and 1 cup of whole milk in a bowl. Chop another cup of fresh strawberries into small chunks and add to the cream mixture along with the puree from earlier. Mix together and pour the mixture into an airtight container to freeze. To impress your guests, try serving in a teacup with a fresh sprig of basil, strawberry and a thin slice of lemon.
Here’s a list of some of the herbs you might want to get your kitchen garden started off with:
Basil, Chives, Dill, Oregano, Parsley, Mint, Thyme, Coriander, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Bay, Chervil and Fennel.