Bay is from the same botanical family as laurel but, unlike laurel, its leaves are not poisonous; bay leaves should be dried to develop their full flavour; bay leaves scattered in a pantry will repel meal moths.
Bay trees, with their glossy green leaves, can be quite prolific. I have one about 2 feet (60 cm) high, which gives me all the bay leaves I need. Fresh bay leaves, however, can impart a slightly bitter flavour, so this is a herb which is far better used dried. To dry them is easy: just hang a branch in an airy spot and the leaves will dry in a couple of weeks.They are used probably more than any other herb, to flavour stocks, sauces, casseroles and marinades. One idea you might like to try is to place a bay leaf in about 2 inches (5 cm) of boiling water, add some salt, then sit a whole prepared cauliflower in the water to cook with the lid tightly closed. When it’s tender (about 10 minutes), drain, melt some butter over the cauliflower and sprinkle on a little nutmeg.
No fiddly browning of the meat here: just throw it all into a casserole and three hours later you'll be swooning at the wonderful aromas that escape from this classic stew.
This clever recipe uses the principles of making lasagne and adapts these to cannelloni, using no-soak lasagne, minced pork and bechamel.
Adding chick peas to this wintry chicken casserole allows you to feed four people very well for very little money without sacrificing flavour and nutritious value in the process.
All you need is crusty bread to mop up the juices in this superb summery salad that has more than a hint of Italy about it.
This frugal recipe includes aubergines, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes so will be cheapest to make in early autumn when these ingredients are in season: enjoy!