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Jekka's Herb Cookbook

by Jekka McVicar

Jekka McVicar -- whom Jamie Oliver dubbed the "queen of herbs" -- has assembled a special collection of her top-50 favorite herbs. Each herb is described in detail, including its Latin and common names as well as:
· Its botanical features and varieties
· A history of the herb in cooking
· How to harvest and use the herb
· Non-culinary uses
· The most important and useful varieties of that herb
· Suggestions for using excess harvest

Jekka's Herb Cookbook also features 250 original recipes that use her top-50 garden herbs. Recipes include: Salads, Sandwiches, Stews, Beverages, Desserts, Meat, Poultry, Seafood dishes, Condiments and sauces.  There are international recipes, such as salsa verde, and familiar favorites, such as caraway seed cake. Extraordinary color illustrations highlight McVicar's knowledgeable and enthusiastic descriptions.  For cooks and herb gardeners, 'Jekka's Herb Cookbook' is a fascinating guide to using herbs in practical and inspiring recipes.

This cookbook has many of the recipes Jekka McVicar freely shares with anyone she comes into contact with: whether it's an audience at one of her popular talks, or someone like me visiting her herb farm for the first time. The recipe she gave me is in this book (salmon and lemongrass parcel, which is yummy) along with another 249 taken from 3 generations of her and her family's cooking, plus those given by famous chefs, friends and staff at the herb farm.

50 herbs are featured: from the usual suspects like Basil, Mint or Sage and more unusual ones such as Shiso and Vietnamese Coriander. I'm pleased she's included Shiso as I tasted this herb at one of her open days: it was delicious, but I had no idea of how to use it. Flowers such as nasturtiums, marigolds and violets also get a look in. These are Jekka's top 50 herbs for culinary use in the broadest sense of the word.

Each herb featured is thoroughly introduced: taking you through its description (including notes on how to grow it), history in cooking, harvesting & uses, and varieties. Then follows the recipes: each one is introduced with lots of little anecdotes making you feel Jekka is at your elbow telling you all about it. The final section on each herb ends with a guide on what to do with a glut, should you have one.

If you're looking for specific information on making tinctures, teas etc., then you need to look elsewhere in Jekka's previous books, though instructions for drying are given for some of the herbs such as Sweet Bay. This is a celebration of the use of herbs to complement food rather than the use of their medicinal properties.

Her daughter Hanna's artwork is the final delightful touch to a clearly laid out and good looking book.
( - Wiltshire Bookworm, Chippenham)

Jekka McVicar has been growing organic culinary, aromatic, decorative and medicinal herbs for more than 20 years. She owns Jekka's Herb Farm, which has won 59 Royal Horticultural Society gold medals, including 12 Chelsea golds.


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