The bay leaf, picked from the bay laurel tree, can be used fresh or dried and stored for later use. In Ancient Greece the leaf was sacred to the god Apollo, and later brought to Britain from the Mediterranean by the Romans.
The bay leaf is commonly used in a bouquet garni, or bundle of herbs, to flavour soups, stocks and stews, or can be used on its own to add a more intense peppery flavour, as Bryan Webb does with roast pigeon and braised butter beans. Not just for meats, Simon Rogan uses bay to make an infused rum cocktail that is perfect for Summer, while Josh Eggleton adds punch to a lightly-spiced creamy rice pudding.
For the festive season, Adam Gray spices up traditional mulled wine with bay, while Dominic Chapman uses bay to ramp up the flavour in a rich and comforting bread sauce.