(Dec. 10) It may not be good enough to offer a delicious meal to your guests. Perhaps you want to take it up a notch and present your dish as a bouquet of flavor and fragrance. The essence and delicacies of herbs carefully infused into your dish gives that fine touch.

Herbs satisfy four senses: They add a deep, rich flavor; they also offer a delightful look and aroma and they have a pleasant mouth feel — consider cilantro in salsa, said Bob Pastorio, chef, writer and food consultant from Swoope, Va.

He said he sees more happening with herbs, especially in the blending of cultural cuisine such as Asian herbs in European dishes.

He said he believes that balance is the biggest challenge chefs face in working with herbs — knowing when enough is enough. But some always is better than none.

Learn your herbs. Experiment and visit other restaurants. If you’re a French chef, eat at a Thai restaurant. If you’re a Japanese chef, visit a Russian or Indian restaurant to see what others do with their seasonings, Pastorio said.

Infusions are another way to learn the flavor of herbs. He said he suggests infusing vodka bottles with separate herbs.

“You get a wardrobe of infusions you can cook with and taste yourself. You can also serve it as a beverage,” he says.

You can find appropriate herbs for nearly anything you prepare using any cooking technique.

Play with pesto. Don’t limit your paste to basil. You can make it with dill, mint, tarragon, chives or any soft herb that you can easily process or pound, said Gwen Kvavli Gulliksen, division vice president for Pro*Act Specialties – Harvest Sensations, Los Angeles. Arugula pesto works well with lamb and poultry, for example.

Jazz up chocolate. Herbs and chocolate are common in France, Gulliksen said. Thyme-scented truffles are nice, she said, and basil also combines well with chocolate. Use the softer herbs, she said.

Make surprising salads. Pro*Act offers chefs an herb flower mesclun mix. It combines seven lettuces with mint, dill and chives with seasonal edible flowers packed separately to add into the mix.

“It’s beautiful and delicious,” Gulliksen said.

For an herb-only salad, combine parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil or sorrel, mint and parsley, says Suzanne Goin, owner/chef of Lucques restaurant in Los Angeles.

Melissa Kelly, owner/chef of Primo restaurant in Rockland, Maine, makes a petite herb salad with several basil varieties, tarragon, chives and parsley mixed with frisee. She places it on top of lobster and potato hash.

Add essence to jelly. Follow the recipe that comes with pectin for mint jelly and expand from there, Pastorio said. He said he likes to make orange rosemary using orange juice instead of water as the base and dropping in rosemary leaves. He also makes lemon dill jelly with a white wine and lemon juice base, adding dill weed and seed. He brushes the jelly on salmon and broils or bakes it. It gives an unexpected sweet, intense flavor to the fish.

Roll herbs into your homemade pasta. “Adding mint into pasta itself gives another dimension of mint flavor different from adding fresh mint to the dish. It gives it a little more complexity or a back note,” Lucques’ Goin said.