Thanks KarenB, you're the best! I've found Bay Leaves to be more interesting than I had first thought. Sachet anyone? Or should I say bouquet garni?
Thanks for the link, KarenB. I knew the laurel crowns on those Greek and Roman statues were made of bay leaves, but I didn't realize they were victory trophies. I had always just assumed this was a traditional accessory in an era without shampoo!
In response to the original question- I seldom use bay leaves on my own initiative, but I never omit them when called for in a recipe. I often like to toss one in when I'm heating the milk to make Bechamel; it adds a certain subtle grassy something.
I should add that the bay leaves I use are gray-green and quite mild. Even though I buy them a few at a time from the local CoOp so I don't wind up with a jar of odorless years-old leaves the way I used to, I'm pretty sure that folks in or near California (or Turkey for that matter) are getting much stronger laurel flavor in theirs.
Oh, my goodness! Beans (lots and lots!) soup, stew, almost any meat dish. Couldn't cook without them! I grew up an hour from the coast, in Northern California. If you know what to look for, you can (we always did!) harvest fresh leaves from a coastal bay tree. They are the best!
If purchasing bay leaves from a grocery or store such as Penzeys (www.Penzeys.com), I believe the bay leaves come from Turkey, or other Mediterranean countries. My own take on it is that the California Bay Laurel is a stronger odor, and flavor. I might even say it is addictive....
Does Bay Laurel grow in coastal Canada? Or Down-Under?
No. we are total import here. We range from a 3 to 0 growth zone. Bay can grow in 8 to 11 zone. Only inside here only.
My area is only a 5A at the best.
My grandmother always told me to store one in my flour container and in the back of cabinets to ward off any unwanted visitors
So correct! I have them in my rice, and grains.
You really don't need a lot of bay leaves. At work, we make HUGE pots of meat sauce and only use 3 or 4 leaves per pot.
Mom always used them for pot roast, and gravy. Until recently, I had never thought to use them in my sauce for pasta, until the BF told me he had heard of it.