I have just been down to my sister’s herb garden on her little farm at Toogoolawah in the beautiful Brisbane Valley. I picked a big, fresh, abundant bunch of rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender as a gift for my favourite cook. It looked so good I felt it warranted something just a little bit more fancy than the wet newspaper I was going to wrap it in.
Enter a piece of kraft brown paper and a bit of recycled burlap ribbon – admittedly with a bit of golden bling because the ribbon was off a hamper my sister received for Christmas. I turned the herbs into a lovely bouquet – a bit like a bouquet garni on steroids.
I do love that wonderful bundle of herbs that is added to casseroles, stocks, sauces and soups and is known as the bouquet garni. According to BBC Food (and who would argue with the BBC) “a bouquet garni traditionally comprises parsley (or parsley stalks, which have lots of flavour), a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. These herbs may be bundled into a strip of leek or a piece of celery stalk, or tied in a muslin bag or with string, to keep them together during cooking and allow easy removal before serving.”
Kye, a contributor to an even higher source of culinary truth known as the Jamie Oliver Forum notes the principle is to make a small packet of herbs, to lock them up in green leek and tie the whole lot together which is easily removed after cooking. Anna, on the same forum suggests just as an aside that the cheapest place to get cheesecloth/muslin is from the baby aisle in the supermarket. Top Tip Anna.
I know the recipient of my gentle giant bouquet garni will be well pleased. It’s a lovely alternative to flowers and the aroma of the freshly picked herbs in my car was to die for. I think there’s a couple of dishes in this bunch – or one big dish, in which case we’d need a fair swag of muslin but that’s a small price to pay for a such a wonderful gift of natural flavour.