Bay leaves, the leaves of Laurus nobilis, are an important flavouring in many cuisines. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, wreaths of fresh bay leaves, symbolizing wisdom and glory, were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to crown poets, athletes and warriors.
When it comes to cooking with bay leaves, they have a noticeably powerful fragrance and taste. Bay leaves in the kitchen are traditionally used to infuse dishes, with dried bay leaves an essential ingredient in France’s bouquet garni, the fragrant mix of herbs used to flavour stocks, sauces and stews.
Use bay leaves to add their distinctive taste to a lovingly-made béchamel sauce, a slow-simmered ragu, home-made tomato sauce, hearty beef casseroles and tagines. Alternately, create a subtle and sophisticated version of a traditional custard tart by infusing the custard with two whole dried bay leaves.
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