Notes from Herb Heaven

Chervil

Chervil originates from eastern Europe and western Asia but now grows in many parts of the world,
especially France where it is used extensively. It is deemed indispensable in French cuisine.
The leaves look a little like parsley but are a light green, finely divided.
As they reach maturity they turn a pinky red. It bears small umbels of white flowers,
which are followed by seeds that are similar to cumin.

It grows in most soils that are well drained and not too heavy. Once you have found the right place
for it in your garden (sow in a few places to see where it grows best) this hardy annual will
self-seed year after year. Chervil likes dappled shade and doesn't like
to be too dry. Keep it sheltered from the wind and water it well.

It grows to a height of 30-50cm and can be used for path edgings and in flower borders.

Sow seed in succession for year-round leaves. Thin the seedlings to about 20cm apart.
They do not like being transplanted, so find them a permanent home from the beginning.
Start sowing in late summer here in the subtropics. Finely rake a bed and sprinkle seed,
covering lightly. Grow some in a tub or a large pot in a shady place near the kitchen door
so that you can have liberal quantities of it near at hand.

With its warm, spicy, slightly aniseed flavour, this delicious herb is well-suited to salads
and young vegetables, light white fish,cream cheese, eggs, sauces and soups (especially iced soups).

Chop it fine and mix it into butter to top a grilled sole or steak.

Chervil is better fresh than dried, but it can be frozen quite successfully. Wash and snip the leaves
and pack tightly into an ice cube tray. Cover with water and freeze. When frozen, pack cubes into a freezer bag.
Defrost in a strainer and use as fresh.

 

Chervil and Avocado Mousse

2 avocado pears 

2 Tbs lemon juice
4 Tbs thick cream
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional) 
2 Tbs chopped chervil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Scoop out the avocado flesh and mash it in the blender
with the lemon juice, cream, seasoning and garlic. 
Pile into 4 ramekins or fill the empty avocado skins. 
Sprinkle chopped chervil on the top. 
Wrap the dishes or filled skins with foil paper 
and chill before serving.

Medicinally, chervil is a blood cleanser and digestive 
and can also help to increase perspiration 
during colds and fevers and can lower blood pressure.
Pour a cup of boiling water onto a tablespoon of fresh herbs
to make a tea or infusion which can be used, 
cooled, as a cleansing lotion.

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