Santa might deliver us presents, but Sara fills our tables with deliciousness. Read on for some fabulous wintery recipes!
Written by Sara Dixon
At Christmas, I find two herbs to be particularly handy, Moroccan Mint and Tangerine Sage; the Mint because it comes into its own in cocktails – alcoholic or non-alcoholic – and Tangerine Sage because its fruity flavour is so Christmassy.
Let’s start with the Moroccan Mint.
Moriccan Mint is one of the strongest minty flavours.
Make a Mint Julep.
Put some crushed ice into your glass (or cocktail shaker). I add the mint (leaves – don’t chop the Mint otherwise you will find the bits get stuck in your teeth!) with some sugar into at this stage and shake it a bit. (Some people make a sugar syrup with the Mint but I generally don’t have the foresight to do that in advance!). Then I add some whisky to my taste.
And you can freeze the herb in advance in ice cubes so you just pop them into your drink as and when.
In the winter months, you could strain the liquid out and warm the liquid. So really you get a hot whisky with a hint of mint.
And if you are off the alcohol, Moroccan Mint added to fizzy water is lovely. Or added to warmed orange juice. BUT and here is your Christmas Eve drink – add the Mint to hot chocolate!
Mint is a thug – so keep it in a pot. Read more about Mints here.
Always be a bit careful with Sage. Too much of it raw is not good for the digestion. Traditionally used in stuffings, you can also try it in biscuits or cakes, or in the pastry for pies. It is good with fish stew. It does need to be cooked in some way as the taste, raw, is quite full on! But here are those who like it raw as a salad leaf…
I find that the fruit Sages go particularly well with game as it is a bit sweeter than other varieties and adds an element of sweetness to the strong taste of game.
As a plant, it is very pretty and if you leave it to flower, you will find the bees love it – pair it with roses outside and it seems to help with the green fly and black spot!
Keep it cut back. Sage has a tendency to have mould. This is because it grows thick and lush and, like people, it does need a bit of slimming and fresh air around the feet sometimes! So thin it out, let the air circulate, plant it in a bigger pot if you like, and it will be happy and healthy.
Never just pick the leaves on your herbs. You need to stimulate the roots to grow more leaves. And to do that you need to cut the stems. So start at the top of each stem, pick some leaves, cut that bit of stem, and work downwards. More leaves will develop from the bottom on new stems.
As it is the month of festive frivolity and sparkly beauty, may I recommend Foxley Thyme to you. As you can see from the photo, it is gold, red, green, all at once! Put it in a pretty pot, make it the centrepiece of your table, and have the occasional munch!
Sara runs Hawkwell Herbs, selling herbs that she grows herself and teaching cooking courses. Visit hawkwellherbs.co.uk to discover more and find Sara on Instagram @hawkwellherbs. If you would like to receive the next Herb of the Month straight to your inbox, email “Herb of the Month please” to firstname.lastname@example.org
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