Home > Cooking with Herbs > Herbs and Recipes for French Style Cooking

Herbs and Recipes for French Style Cooking

By: Elizabeth Hinds - Updated: 31 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Herbs French France Bouquet Garni Fine

France, the land of Escoffier, the first celebrity chef, is renowned for its cuisine. Visitors to the country expect the very best food whether they’re dining in the poshest Parisian restaurant or a tiny village auberge in Provence, and they’re not usually disappointed. French chefs pride themselves on their use of only the freshest produce and the finest ingredients, including their own delicate blends of herbs and seasonings.

Three of the most popular blends of herbs used in kitchens today originated in France, and their names have become part of our cookery vocabulary: bouquet garni, fine herbes and herbes de Provence.

Every chef will have his own favourite recipe for each of these blends but there is general agreement on the basic ingredients. Fresh herbs will always give the best and truest flavour and should be used where possible, although dried herbs, as long as they’re not kept for too long, are fine to use when necessary.

Bouquet garni

From the French meaning garnished bouquet, this is a small bunch of herbs tied together and used as flavouring for soups, stews or casseroles. A typical bouquet garni will include a bay leaf, a few parsley stalks and some sprigs of thyme, tied with string. Added to the dish before cooking, the remains are removed before eating, after the flavours have been absorbed.

Instead of string, a piece of green leek may be used to wrap the bundle, which may include rosemary or tarragon. Alternatively a tea infuser may be used to hold the herbs.

Fine herbes

Used with egg and cheese dishes, salads or sauces, this is a delicate blend of flavours that may include chives, chervil, parsley and tarragon. Usually, because of their subtle taste, fine herbes are added at the later stages of cooking or sprinkled on after cooking.

Herbes de Provence

A more robust collection of Mediterranean flavours combine to create this blend. They may include basil, fennel, thyme, savory, bay or rosemary. Authentic recipes call for lavender flowers to be added as well.

Omelette aux fine herbes

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chervil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1 oz butter
Break the eggs into a bowl, season and add the herbs. Mix lightly. Leave to stand for 10 -15 minutes to allow the flavours to penetrate. Melt the butter but don’t allow it to brown. Stir the egg mixture again before pouring into the pan. After 10 seconds stir lightly again. Repeat until the egg is just set. Fold in half and turn out onto a plate.

Provencal Beef

  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 parsley stalks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 rashers bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lbs casserole beef, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ pint red wine
  • zest of an orange
  • 2 pints beef stock
  • handful pitted black olives
  • freshly ground salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 150oC, gas mark 2. Make a bouquet garni by tying together the thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Heat an ovenproof casserole dish and fry the bacon until the fat begins to run. Add the onion and carrots and fry until starting to soften. Add the meat, turn up the heat and fry, stirring, until browned on all sides. Add the garlic and continue to fry for 1 minute.

Add the red wine, bouquet garni and the orange zest and let bubble until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the beef stock, cover and cook in the oven for about 2½ hours or until the meat is very tender. Add the olives, season and stir. Return to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni before serving.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • SarahBeau
    Re: Growing Coriander
    I’ve not been successful growing coriander. Successful when from seed them potted them in a bigger container. Unfortunately one by one they have…
    2 September 2020
  • Hoque
    Re: Growing Coriander
    I tried growing coriander from split seeds . Germinated after 10 days . Stem is very thin and can’t stand being 2 to 3 inches . After few days…
    31 August 2020
  • GreenThumbMom
    Re: Growing Coriander
    Hi, the coriander seeds germinated quite well and the seedlings are now about 4 inches tall. However the plants now seem to have stopped…
    28 August 2020
  • Titus
    Re: Growing Mint
    I've had a mint plant on my kitchen window sill for several years now. In addition to being a lovely addition to my Sunday potatoes, it adds a pleasant…
    14 August 2020
  • Matt
    Re: Has My Rosemary Plant Died?
    Small areas of my Rosemary plants are brown & dead looking. They are in ground & in my patio area. They are quite large a bushy but…
    13 August 2020
  • Pot answer
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    Hello I have been growing a bay tree in a pot (a succession of pots) for about 35 years, from about a foot high. It’s been moved from shade to…
    28 July 2020
  • Karen Mitchell
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    I'm thinking of purchasing the Bay Laurel Tree - Laurus nobilis. Can this be grown in a pot?
    10 July 2020
  • Steve
    Re: How to Cook and Recipes For Borage
    Eleven thirty a.m. on a Sunday I had a woman knock on my front door. She asked, "Do you mind if I take a few of your…
    5 July 2020
  • Eddie
    Re: Growing Fennel: Bulbed and Seed Varieties
    Hi, I recently watched a gardening programme where a lady showed that you can prolong the life of your shop…
    27 June 2020
  • Megaclear
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    Hi I have a bay tree that’s 10ft away from my house the tree is approximately 20ft high will this cause a problem to the foundations Regards…
    26 June 2020