Resinous, herbal and floral, good quality leaves should always be pale in colour, just as we demand from our suppliers.
Bay leaves release their essence when heated (especially if crushed slightly), and they also perfume a dish. Native to the Eastern Mediterranean region, the fresh or dried leaf variety is acceptable when cooking.
Bay leaves are rich in Vitamin C. They are said to protect us from cold and flu, diabetes, heart disease and aiding digestion. It is also considered great for the skin in the form of Bay leaf tea. Some also suggest that it is great for eradicating head lice. It also is said to have great properties for protecting our eyes.
The Greeks and Romans believed it had magical qualities, and it is fair to say modern chefs agree. Often added to a bouquet garni, tied in a bundle, with thyme and parsley and always removed before serving.
The Romans would use bay leaves to flavour roast meat, and sometimes the berries were eaten by adding to stews and sauces.
The Romans believed that crowns or wreaths of bay leaves would dispel evil spirits, with the spiritual significance continuing all over Europe.
Bay branches were burned in public places during the 17th Century to protect people from the plague.
Chief Flavour Compound
Cineole: (Sharp, eucalyptus and herbal) colourless oily liquid, with a pungent fragrance and balance of cool and spicy in taste. Also found in black cardamom, galangal, nutmeg and rosemary.
Baharat is the garam masala of the Arabian Peninsula. This blend is the perfect combination of sweet and smoky without any spiciness. An all-purpose exotic blend of heady spices this blend packs a punch, so less is definitely more. Used across the Middle East, with each area having a little twist on the basic blend.
An exceptionally balanced and versatile Mediterranean base blend. Sofrito is a multi-ingredient preparation that contains nutrients that are beneficial for the body. The bioactive compounds found in sofrito included polyphenols, carotenoids, and Vitamin C. Numerous studies have shown that consumption of these nutrients can lower the risk of various cancers and heart disease. Not only do studies show that we do not need rarefied super-foods to maintain our nutritional health, but it also highlights the simple yet oh-so-flavorsome additions this blend can add to everyday dishes.
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