Herbs are central to the River Cottage way of cooking. It’s high time that a volume on these lovely ingredients was added to our other handbooks, and I’m delighted that Nikki has been the one to write it.
She is as passionate as I am about the culinary properties of these wonderful plants.
Like me, she is in thrall to their intoxicating scents and their gorgeous flowers, which are frequently at least as useful as their leaves.
Herbs are often real catalysts, both in the garden and the kitchen.
They function in an immediate way, getting the juices flowing because they are so instantly enticing and appetite-piquing.
But, in a broader sense, herbs can be the plants that make you into a gardener, even a very small-scale one, and the ingredients that turn you into a creative cook.
They are so easy to grow and so simple to use that they form an irresistible first step on a road towards self-sufficiency.
That needn’t be the end goal, of course; in fact it’s really an endless and ever-lifeenhancing journey.
That journey, away from industrially produced, sterile food towards everything that is local, seasonal and exciting, is what River Cottage is, and has always been, about.
And Nikki’s book is now a vital part of that road map.
It’s a wonderfully useful guide that will introduce you to the satisfaction of growing and cooking some of your own food, if you don’t already.
If you do, you will find much in these pages to inspire you and take you further.
There are plenty of classic recipes here, but also bags of new ideas that will have you using your homegrown herbs in ways you may never have considered before.
Bay-infused ice cream, white chocolate truffles with basil, and lavender-scented lamb are just a few among a host of tempting aromatic recipes.
While it’s not essential to grow your own herbs in order to enjoy them, I do think you’re missing a bit of a trick if you don’t.
Most look and taste their absolute best when freshly cut, and their very presence on your windowsill or by the back door will encourage you to use them.
You don’t need a veg patch, greenhouse or polytunnel; you can grow herbs with no garden at all.
Of course, the more space you have, the more possibilities suggest themselves, but a window box, sunny patio or even a doorstep with a few pots on will suffice.
Our new River Cottage Herbs Handbook is available for £9.74 today from the River Cottage Shop on Amazon. Take advantage of unbeatable Amazon prices and service.