18 Brigham Creek Road
Whenuapai
Auckland 0618
New Zealand
The Herb Patch
Let your food be medicine and your medicine be food

Italian Parsley

(Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum)

Most people are familiar with the common curly parsley which has been used widely in almost every culture as a dish garnish in restaurants. We grow the flat leaf parsley known as Italian parsley. It is a big hit with professional chefs, but surprisingly hard to find in your average supermarket. 

A good friend of ours showed us how she flavours up chicken pieces with Italian parsley. I was fascinated to watch her cook. It was quick and easy to prepare and the chicken turned out full of flavour. She laid the chicken pieces on a non-stick pan without adding any oil, chopped up a big bunch of Italian parsley, put it on top, added a few cloves of chopped garlic, sprinkled some salt and pepper and turned up the heat. 

Once the pan was heated up, she reduced the heat, covered the pan and just let the chicken simmer in its own juice with the herbs. She turned the pieces once and lifted the cover towards the end to get a nice brown coating on the chicken. It was delicious! 

I have cooked this dish many times and had never failed to impress my guests. Enjoy! 

Italian parsley can also be added raw to salads, finely chopped and sprinkled over sandwiches, egg dishes, vegetables soups, fish and potatoes, added to mayonnaise and many other classic sauces. 

As an experiment, try chewing it raw as a natural breath freshener. 

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Kaffir Lime Leaves

(Citrus hystrix) 

Kaffir lime trees are native to Indonesia. It has big thorns on the branches and the leaves are a rich deep green and highly aromatic. It’s easy to recognise as the leaf is uniquely different with double leaf lobes. 

The Kaffir lime fruits are also different from other lime tree varieties and have an uneven bumpy surface and are almost deprived of juice. For this reason, it’s the leaves that it’s mainly grown for. It is best to purchase Kaffir lime leaves fresh as the dried or frozen Kaffir lime leaves are not as aromatic or flavourful as fresh leaves.   

You’ll be familiar with Kaffir lime leaves as a key ingredient in Thai cuisine such as the green and red curries. We have found many other uses such as adding the leaves into a jug of water like you would a slice of lemon, adding it to boiling rice, removing the centre of the leaf stem and finely slicing the leaves to stir fry with chicken or seafood, even adding it to oil based salad dressings.  

We cannot think of a suitable substitute for Kaffir lime leaves. To us, there is simply no replacement for the distinct flavour it gives to a dish. 

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Lemon Balm

(Melissa officinalis) 

Lemon balm is a medicinal herb known for its many therapeutic properties including being antibacterial, antiviral and an antidepressant. It is considered a calming herb. The leaves can be finely chopped and boiled as tea to help induce sleep. Other beneficial properties include relieving pain from indigestion, improving appetite and reducing stress and anxiety.  

It is also an effective natural insect repellent as it contains high levels of a compound called citronellal, which gives it its lemony aroma and flavour which insects find so unpleasant. To use simply bruise and rub the leaves of the plant onto the skin especially around the ankles, arms and other areas most exposed and vulnerable to insect bites. It’s safe to use on children too. It can also be used to treat insect stings and bites by rubbing fresh bruised leaves on the affected area. 

We particularly enjoy our homemade herbal tea with a combination of lemon balm and lemon verbena. If you enjoy a light and refreshing tea without any strong or distinct herbal tea taste then this tea is for you. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family. If you prefer a minty taste you can add fresh or dried mint leaves to this tea combination. 

We make the above herbal tea from fresh leaves in summer and dried leaves in winter.  

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Lemon Grass

(Cymbopogon Citratus) 

You’ll probably be most familiar with lemon grass chicken, and for good reason, they taste amazing together! Another Asian recipe to definitely try is Vietnamese pho or bone broth. To use it in soups, get the stem and crush it with the side of a knife or pestle to release the flavours.  

Lemon grass makes a great tea also, I like to make it with ginger, chop finely to extract more flavour. Tea with Lemongrass is said to be good for digestion, stomach aches, high blood pressure, and help with colds and flus.

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Marjoram

(Origanum majorana) – Sweet marjoram 

My first attraction to marjoram is its fragrance. It has an almost lemony, flower-fragrant taste and smell. Marjoram is often used interchangeably with its cousin oregano. We use it in our soups and stews, and any tomato based dishes like pasta sauce and pizza. 

Like most herbs, marjoram also possesses antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties. If you enjoy a hot drink at night you may want to try marjoram tea which is said to have a calming effect which may help to induce sleep.

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