Sunday, September 18, 2011

Herbal Connection

My herbal garden is taking over at the moment and I was in urgent need to either cut it back and feed the compost or come up with some ideas on how to use a glut of herbs. Lemon balm and lemon verbena were the most dominant herbs and needed to be dealt with first.

Lemon balm is a lovely herb but - I think - limited to a few uses; tea comes to mind. But there is only so much tea you can drink. I tried to dry it but it loses a lot of its fragrance. As I was cooking dinner the other day, I thought of a dessert that includes lemon balm. The most quickest was lemon balm sorbet (Darina Allen has a lovely recipe). I left the raw egg white out as I didn't like the idea of it. Made a sugar syrup and infused it with the leaves of the lemon balm. Juice of 3 lemons went in as well and then off to the ice cream machine (no worry if you don't have one, you just needs to freeze it and take it out every hour or so and fork the sorbet up). The result was a very refreshing and soothing sorbet. Not bad at all. While searching for some ideas, I came across a recipe for lemon balm pesto which I will try next. So watch this space.

Lemon Verbena is one of my favourite herbs as the fragrance of it is so soothing, fresh, calming and is simply the essence of Summer. While my first verbena bush died a frosty death last year, this one is strong and growing as much as the lemon balm. You can eat the leaves uncooked as the taste is very bitter but infuse it in cream and you have the most aromatic smell going through your kitchen. It was my neighbours anniversary at the weeLinkkend and I wanted to give them some homemade chocolates. I had already finished a batch of cinnamon truffles but wanted to use the lemon verbena. So, brought some cream to the boil and added a handful of lemon verbena leaves. Left it to infuse for 15-20 mins, returned the cream to a boil and strained the cream into a bowl with white chocolate. Stirred until everything was combined and poured the cooled mixture in my prepared chocolate moulds. The result was a creamy fragrant truffle that - at least I thought so - was the essence of elegance. For more ideas and recipes - click here

My next herbal project is a variety of herbal oils and of course the lemon balm pesto.

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