Many years ago, while I was staying with my late sister in the Eastern cape, I was introduced to using bay leaves in cooking.
In many of her dishes, there was a flavour that I could not identify and which really made her food taste delicious.
At that time in my life, I was not married and so it was years later that I embarked on my culinary journey and then discovered the joy of the bay leaf.
If you have never cooked with this wonderful herb, I would encourage you to try it.
I do know that many people have no idea what to do with bay leaves and this is a great shame, so i thought that I would share with you all how I use these wonderful leaves = I have a bay tree and so often take some to my daughter@jaynie who also loves them.
Firstly, the most common way of cooking with bay leaves is to use them in all types of curries, but it does not stop there.
Adding them to rice while cooking gives the rice a great flavour - and when storing dry rice, pop a few leaves in the container as well.
Roast potatoes sprinkled with rosemary and some bay leaves added is really good.
When roasting a chicken, put a few leaves inside the cavity as well as under the wings and alongside the legs.
A leg of lamb is at its best with garlic gloves and bay leaves - I pierce the top with a sharp knife and pop in the garlic cloves, then place bay leaves underneath the roast and a few on top - do this after the roast has been rubbed with some olive oil and seasoned.
The juices from the meat then can be used to make a wonderful gravy.
This method can also be used for other roasts.
Bolognaise sauce is not complete without some bay leaves added and the flavour improves further if the sauce is frozen for another meal.
For those of you that enjoy the old fashioned rice pudding, add a couple of bay leaves to it for a lovely result.
Pickles, chutneys and chilli preserves all benefit from bay leaves too.
My bay tree has now just pushed out new growth and so I have harvested some leaves - the leaves can be dried at room temperature and store in a container for months.
The new leaves have a stronger flavour than the dried leaves when used in cooking.