They’re a great fresh herb to keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use in stocks, soups and stews to enrich the flavour.
Finely chop a couple of leaves with a handful of fresh parsley and thyme, then stir in lots of cracked black pepper, salt and a drizzle of oil. Coat a rolled rib of beef with the herby mix for a delicious crust and something different for your Sunday roast.
For a healthy, tasty breakfast, stir seasonal berries into a good dollop of Greek yogurt, scatter liberally with whole and chopped pecans, then finish with a drizzle of honey.
Whisk 3 medium free-range eggs with 250ml double cream, crumble in some blue cheese, then add a handful of chopped pecans and some fresh thyme. Pour into a ready-made 20cm pastry case and bake until golden for a savoury pecan pie.
Gently toast pecans and toss through cooked penne pasta with some crispy pancetta, olive oil, sage and a good twist of black pepper for a speedy supper with crunch. Or replace the oil with a tablespoonful of cream cheese if you want a more luxurious sauce.
Toast with a sprinkling of cumin and coriander seeds, then crush in a pestle and mortar. Stir into plain yogurt and sprinkle over a few whole seeds for an Eastern-style dip.
Lightly roast and add to homemade chutneys for an extra kick of curry flavour – perfect with strong cheese and crackers.
Use fish sauce as a savoury seasoning when cooking with Oriental flavours. Splash into Thai or Vietnamese soups, stir-fries and curry pastes for an intense yet complementary flavour.
Use in a marinade for sliced chicken with crushed garlic, plenty of lime juice, toasted sesame oil and chopped chilli. Fry the chicken in a hot wok until cooked, along with sliced Oriental vegetables and a splash of soy sauce. Add a little stock or water if it gets too dry. Serve with jasmine rice and chopped fresh coriander.
Dried porcini mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms have a nutty-sweet flavour that works well with meat. Rehydrate in a little hot water, then finely chop. Add sautéed onions, chopped walnuts, breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley and an egg to bind, for a flavourful stuffing. Strain the soaking water and use as stock for gravy.
Grind the dried mushrooms to a fine powder and stir into stews, risottos and sauces to add a deeper, nuttier flavour. When making fresh pasta, stir ground porcini mushrooms into ‘00’ flour to give it a rich umami flavour.
Revive a childhood favourite and make a generous amount of custard using the powder. Stir in 2 ripe bananas, sliced, for a fast, easy and satisfying pudding.
Add a tablespoonful of custard powder to your crumble or pancake mix to give it a creamy custard flavour.
For an easy chocolate-custard icing, make a thicker custard than usual – using less milk – and stir through a tablespoonful of dark cocoa powder. Use instead of buttercream when icing your cakes.