A SMALL corner of the restaurant garden is set aside for growing vegetables and herbs. This experiment has gently developed over the years and I now find myself, rather unexpectedly, teaming up with a local farmer to use his enormous walled garden: we will embark, soon, on growing much of our own produce.

More of that another time. What my timid dabbling has revealed so far is: beetroots, little turnips and carrots are relatively straightforward to manage with minimal fuss; and that herbs, grown yourself, lend an astonishing "just picked" flavour I had never anticipated. Throughout summer, chives, sage, chervil and parsley have all flourished to varying degrees.

With the arrival of cooler temperatures, I find myself leaving these soft, pretty herbs behind and turning instead to robust thyme and rosemary, in step with the hardier weather. Evergreen rosemary withstands the dip in temperatures. What better time to indulge my love of this fragrant, sophisticated herb?

Its beguiling character encapsulates hints of pine, eucalyptus and sage. It is certainly floral, heady even, yet this complexity – and versatility – is frequently overlooked. It is familiar as the classic partner to lamb, goat cheese, garlic and tomato and I personally hate to barbecue without a few sprigs to hand, to toss into the coals. In winter, rosemary salt is my go-to seasoning. But with its unmistakably sweet edge, rosemary shines in desserts. Custards, chocolate, hazelnuts and chestnuts are all welcoming partners for its clove-like intensity and comforting perfume

Seared and sliced flat iron steak with rosemary salt

Recipes serve four

4 flat iron steaks, about 160-180g each, around 1.5 to 2cm thick

Rapeseed oil for frying

Several sprigs of rosemary

4 cloves of garlic

For the rosemary salt

6 rounded dstsp sea salt flakes

4 cloves

2 juniper berries

1 cardamom pod

6 fennel seeds

10g rosemary (about 4-5 long sprigs)


1. Flat iron steaks are cut from the spalebone, which is sometimes called the featherblade. This cut is from the shoulder, so is not expensive: it can be braised slowly but has a wonderful flavour and enough tenderness to sear over a high heat briefly to be served as a rare, pink steak.

2. Make the salt in advance. It can be stored in an airtight container, and doesn't need to be refrigerated. Using a pestle and mortar, crack open the husk of the cardamom pod to reveal the black seed inside. Discard the outer husk and reserve the seed, placing it in the pestle and mortar. Now add the fennel seeds, juniper and cloves and crush to a coarse powder. With your fingers, strip the rosemary leaves from the stalk, chop them finely with a sharp knife and add to the spices. Continue to grind for a further minute then add the salt and rub this thoroughly into the mixture until a brownish, ground-up salt mix is achieved. Set aside for now.

3. To finish and serve: remove the steaks from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and dab dry with kitchen paper towel. Heat a wide frying pan over a high heat for one minute then add a film of rapeseed oil and heat this for one minute. If the pan is not big enough to hold all the steaks comfortably, then it is fine to cook just two at a time. Season each steak with the rosemary salt, just on the upper side at this point. Place the steaks into the pan, with the seasoned side facing down into the hot oil. Sear for four minutes, adding the garlic cloves halfway through this time, then after the four minutes is up, season the side of meat facing upwards with the rosemary salt mixture. Turn over and cook for a further four minutes on this face. After one minute add the rosemary, cut up into one-inch lengths (if cooking the meat in batches, only add half the rosemary at this point, reserving the rest for the second batch).

4. When the meat has seared on the second side for its four minutes, lift out onto a clean plate, pour the meat juices from the pan over the meat and cover with a loose dome of tin foil. Allow to rest for five minutes

5. Before serving, slice each steak in thin slivers and transfer each one to a serving plate, arranging neatly. Sprinkle with more of the rosemary salt and serve at once with your choice of vegetables or salad

Dark chocolate and rosemary sorbet

800ml water

200ml milk

150g sugar

100g glucose syrup

300g dark chocolate (minimum 65%) broken into small pieces

70g very good quality, dark chocolate powder

10g rosemary leaves, stripped from their stalk and roughly chopped


1. Combine the water, milk, sugar and glucose in a pan and gently warm so the sugars dissolve. Stir in the rosemary. Cover with cling film and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine the chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl.

3. Once the pan of liquid ingredients has stood for 30 minutes, carefully remove the cling film and return the pan to the heat. Bring briefly to the boil then remove from the heat.

4. Pour this carefully over the bowl of chocolate while whisking and stirring to help it melt and coagulate. Ensure everything has melted and combined fully.

5. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean container and chill until cold. Transfer the base to an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer, covered with a lid, until required. Remove form the freezer 15 minutes or so before using.

Geoffrey Smeddle is the chef patron of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife, KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk