Chef's Table: Plant Your Kitchen Garden

In the this exciting episode, your intrepid chef goes slightly off mission and gets some air.

Right everybody, outside now.  Come on, leave your coats, it is lovely out.  We  are arriving in mid spring, which is the ideal time to plant your kitchen garden.  All those little green jars on your shelf all look the same, and after a while, smell the same.  So why not grow your own?

From my local garden centre I bought small pots of Oregano (two types), Coriander, Mint, and Rosemary.  These are pretty easy to maintain, just water gently every couple of days, 

Oregano is one of my favourite herbs, it smells like every Italian holiday I took as a boy.  It goes so well over Pizza or my trade mark Tuscan Chicken.

Coriander just goes so perfectly well with chicken, it is like a glass slipper for poultry dishes.  It's use was pioneered by Indian cooks down the years, and it soon caught on in England.

Mint is an old English favourite and has been used since Roman times.  I could lie and say I use it for lamb, but the truth is, Mint is for Mojitos.  But we will move on to them later in the year.  Oh yes, we most certainly shall.

Finally we have Rosemary.  This is a prince among herbs.  It can make the most bland lamb dish taste amazing and it can soon pep up your potatoes with a little roast garlic and seasoning.

So, to prep your herbs for use, take a clean green chopping board, and lay it on a work top, over a damp cloth to help with grip.  Then you fill a sink with clean cold water and let your herb of choice soak for five minutes.  Do not add anything else to the water, just let it do its thing.

Remove the herbs from the water and shake them dry or pat them dry gently with kitchen roll.  Place them on the green board.  Next take the biggest sharpest knife you have, and chop the herbs very finely, taking care of your fingers.  Alternatively, you can use one of those fancy curved blades, they work just as well.  Take care to pick out any bits of stalk.  You should be left with a fragrant herb in tiny pieces that goes well over the dish of your choice.  In your cooking you will tell the difference from the kick in the flavour.

See you next time.

Words & photos by chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.