Dear Lisa: When a recipe calls for "bouquet garni," what is that? Where do I find that? - Sam C.
Dear Sam: Bouquet garni means a bouquet for garnish. The French use this savory herb bouquet in dishes cooked with liquid - especially to flavor soups and stews. Parsley, thyme and bay leaf are the traditional bouquet ingredients; sometimes celery and other savory seasonings are added. You can even add a strip of orange peel to give a taste of Provence.
To make a bouquet, tie a bundle of the herbs with a piece of food-safe string or put the herbs in a piece of cheesecloth and tie so that it can be easily removed from the casserole or stewpot. Tying one end of the string to the pot handle makes it easy to retrieve. You could even put the herbs in a tea ball instead of cheesecloth. For a small bouquet, use 5 fresh parsley stalks, 2 springs of fresh thyme and 1 large bay leaf.
Some spice companies sell a dried version of bouquet garni, but you can easily make that with your own dried herbs. But as with most recipes, the fresh ingredients will always be the best.
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Lisa Fritz, a longtime Bryan food and nutrition educator, answers readers' questions about food, cooking and recipes. Her email address is email@example.com.