We use a lot of fresh herbs in our cooking, and I try (not always successfully) to maintain in my garden a supply of the ones we use most often. I don't mention these herbs on my blog as much as they deserve, but this post is a small step towards redressing the balance in their favour.
Thyme is probably my favourite culinary herb. It is so versatile, going with so many different styles of cuisine. I love having enough of it in the garden that we can use as much as we want.
Here's a dish in which I used some of it recently. (Haha - "a dish" in more ways than one!) I mean a recipe... This is Butter-braised Leeks with Thyme.
Step 1 is to line a deep oven-proof dish with a layer of fresh Thyme sprigs. Be generous!
Clean a couple of Leeks and cut them into pieces about three inches long. If you are worried that there might be grit inside them, cut them lengthways and soak them in cold water for half an hour beforehand.
Place the Leeks in the dish and dot them with knobs of butter. Season with salt and black pepper.
Add a litre of hot vegetable or chicken stock.
Cook in the oven on medium heat for as long as it takes to soften the Leeks completely - say, about 40 - 45 minutes.
I served mine with a Braised Beef casserole, so I was able to put the Leeks in the oven for the last part of the beef's cooking-time. Being honest though, I added cold stock, and it took ages to heat up because the oven was on a fairly low temperature for my beef!!
While I'm on the subject of herbs, I just want to give a shout-out to a firm of herb-growers based not far from here, called Pepperpot Herbs. They sell a wide range of herbs, mostly wholesale to Garden Centres and the like, but also at local events (like the Fleet Food Festival) and at Farmers' Markets. I have seen their stall many times, and bought from them occasionally. I'm always impressed with the quality and consistency of their plants, which is all the more creditable in view of the fact that they don't use artificial heat or light. In 2016 that is really unusual. If I were in the market for herb plants, this is who I would buy from (and they despatch throughout mainland UK...).