Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
This herb is native to the Middle East, southern Russia, and the Caucasus, and was probably introduced to Europe by the Romans. It has become one of the classic herbs used in French cookery, in which it is considered indispensable.
Chervil is closely related to parsley. It grows to a height of 20 inches with a spread off about 8 inches. It has flat, light green and lacy leaves, which have a slightly aniseed-like aroma and turn reddish brown as the plant matures. It blooms in mid-summer, producing flat umbellifers of tiny white flowers.
The plant is easily grown from seeds planted in spring or late summer. Plants resist transplanting, so the seeds should be sown directly in the garden. Choose a moist, shady location and keep it well watered. It won't withstand very hot summers well. A succession of sowings will produce a harvest well into winter. Chervil makes a great container plant and adapts readily to window boxes.
Bits of chervil should be snipped from the outside edge of the plant with scissors and used fresh. The leaves will quickly loose their flavor and should be added to a dish just before serving. Finely chopped chervil enhances the flavor of chicken, fish, herb butter, vegetables, cottage cheese, salads and egg dishes. The whole leaves can be added to creamy soups as an aromatic garnish. This herb adds a nice flavor to white wine vinegar.
The leaves can be infused in water to use as a skin freshener.