Bay leaf is typically used to season long-cooking dishes like soups, stews, and braises, but it can also enhance the flavor of quicker-cooking dishes like risotto, pasta sauce, or even a simple pot of rice. The key is to have at least a little liquid for the bay to infuse and heat to get the process going.
The herb is used most widely in Mediterranean cooking, but since it was one of the earliest and most widely traded spices, bay has become an established seasoning in many cuisines around the world - most noticeably Indian, the Middle Eastern, and many European cuisines. It's also one of the main ingredients in a classic French bouquet garni. This ground leaves will blend smoothly into sauces and broths, eliminating the risk of biting into a whole leaf.