My first memory of walking this land was the intense aroma of wild fennel drifting up from the undergrowth. Then I learned to taste the delicate shoots in spring and to chew the seeds in autumn, then I appreciated why it's called the 'happy one'! Prolific spring lavender too, year round wild thyme, rosemary and for a few special days the perfumed waftings of the wild asparagus, in all a herbalist's dream.

saffron fricassee spring vegetables

Saffron fricassee of spring vegetables with wild fennel

Creamed potato, hardly cooked shredded beans, just cooked spring vegetables quickly and lightly sauteed, rosemary flowers and fennel shoots. The fricassee base is a light fennel-based vegetable stock with saffron infusion, reduced with a little butter and cream.


Herbs for healing

Sitting alongside the culinary herbs are the likes of chamomile, lemon balm, verbena and lavender. During the summer months we make mint ice cream, lavender sorbet, geranium panna cotta and other such light fragrant desserts.

pear tomato tarragon salad

Pear and tomato salad with tarragon and sweet white onion

A flavourful, cleansing salad – perfect to make when pears are overripe or damaged. The tomatoes need be full flavoured but not over ripe, their acidity balancing the sweetness of the pears.

2 ripe pears, 2 vine tomatoes, 1/2 mild white Spanish onion, 1/2 lemon (juiced), 50ml extra virgin olive oil, freshly milled black pepper, 1 tablespoon tarragon, (1 tablespoon chive flowers),

Finely slice onion, peel the pears, cut into segments, slice the tomatoes, layer on a plate. Make a dressing with the olive oil and lemon juice. Force the remains of the pear (skin and core) through a conical sieve, collect the pulp and add to the dressing. Drizzle over the salad, add tarragon and chive flowers if you have them. Season generously with black pepper.

marinated salmon

Marinated salmon with lemon, ginger, chives and dill

This is a nice summery dish that can be prepared in advance. It goes well with green salad and plain rice.

4 salmon fillets (cut from one side, skin on, no bones), small white onion, 2 lemons, 1 teaspoon smooth mustard, fresh root ginger (2cm length), 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 small bunch fresh dill, 1 small bunch chives, extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, Finely zest and juice the lemons, finely chop the onion, dill and chives. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Heat the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Add the ginger and mustard, mix and leave to infuse. Sauté the salmon fillets (skin side down) in a little oil to sear the bottoms, turn the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water, cover immediately. Leave to steam for about 3 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and carefully place the salmon fillets into a serving dish. Pour over the ginger infusion, drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with lemon zest, chopped onion and herbs, season with pepper. Seal the dish with cling film and leave to cool. Serve cold.

herb tartlets

Herb tartlets with tomato and fresh cheese

Prepare some simple pastry using plain flour, olive oil, a pinch of salt and a splash of warm water. Bring it together to a good dough consistency. Divide into small balls and press each one thinly into small oiled tart tins. Bake in a hot oven for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Cut the cheese (fresh cheese is best) into medium thick slices and trim to fit into the tarts. Slice the tomatoes and sauté in olive oil for 10 seconds each side. Place a slice of tomato in each tart, season with salt and pepper. Cover each with a slice of cheese and put under the grill for about 1 minute. Sprinkle generously with herbs such as rosemary and thyme, including their flowers if you have them. Serve warm.

fragrant chicken broth

Fragrant chicken broth

We have been making variations on this for a long time ever since discovering Asian ingredients. We now grow many of these herbs in the garden and others we can find at a specialist supplier in the market. We start with a light chicken broth (about 2 litres) and infuse all the fresh fragrant ingredients over low heat. To your chicken stock add 6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, a finely sliced large scallion, a bunch of fresh basil and coriander, finely sliced. 3 lengths of fresh lemon grass, very finely sliced. Finely grated galangal and ginger (each 10cm length, peeled). Leave to infuse over low heat for about 40 minutes, taste. To finish add finely sliced chilies, shredded vegetables, noodles and if you like, some grilled chicken.

summer peach salad

Peach, tomato and white onion salad

2 peaches (very ripe), 2 vine tomatoes (very ripe), 1/2 white onion (mild Spanish variety), 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 lemon (juiced), 10 large basil leaves, Pinch sea salt flakes,

Peel the peaches, remove the stone and slice the flesh. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the core end and slice the flesh. Peel the onion and finely slice. Rip the basil leaves. Toss all together, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt flakes. A simple and perfectly cleansing dish.

mushroom tartlet

Boletus tartlets, tarragon and rosemary flowers

These wild mushrooms have a fabulous flavour not dissimilar to almonds - they are easy to prepare and require very little cleaning. A small amount of butter enhances their luscious texture when cooked.

400g plain flour, 200ml extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 70ml water, 250g Boletus, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 25g unsalted butter, 1 bunch tarragon leaves, 1 teaspoon rosemary flowers,

Pre heat the oven to 220°C. To make the pastry, put the flour into a large bowl, mix in the salt and sugar. Add the olive oil and water, bring together with the hands until it ‘holds’, form small balls, press into individual oiled tart tins, bake in the oven until golden (about 5 minutes). Remove, leave to cool in the tins. Slice the boletus, sauté in olive oil and butter until soft and coloured, add the tarragon leaves and season well, Spoon into the tarts, scatter the rosemary flowers. Carefully remove the filled tarts from the tins. Serve immediately.