Sunday 23 June 2013

Herb Oils

I used to wonder why restaurants served purees instead of the whole vegetable. Now I know: it's about the flavour concentration. Oven roast a parsnip or a carrot and you remove much of the water content. But a withered vegetable can look a tad unattractive. So you stick it in the blender. Add butter, or cream for texture, salt and pepper and maybe herbs and spices. A touch of coriander with the carrot perhaps. You can also combine flavours. That sweet parsnip gets all windswept and interesting if you add a little bramble apple acidity.

The same is true of herb oils. You take the essence and add it to a neutral oil. Just like when making granita, you first blanch the leaf for ten seconds and then refresh in ice water. Squeeze out the excess and blend. Sieve through double muslin and you have a hugely aromatic, very concentrated and often very vivid oil.

Now you can drizzle it on meat or fish, or veg. Hell, it's oil. You know what to do with oil right? Here I use it to brighten up my barley risotto.

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