Lemon verbena simple syrup

When I smelled lemon verbena for the first time a few years ago, I knew I had a new best friend in the kitchen. It will probably be very clear for everyone soon, how much I love everything that has lemon to it. Taste or smell. One of my favorite finds at the Santa Monica farmers market was the so many varieties of lemon and lime. At some point I will have a post about them for sure.

But for now back to lemon verbena. It is a very special herb, with a powerful scent of lemon and an added intense flowery perfume of its own that I can not even describe. I always buy a bunch at the market, and last time I even got one in a pot, so  now I can have it every single day!

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lemon verbena

Its leaves are a little bit rough, especially the bigger ones. As a result you cannot add them in whole to a dish to eat them as they are. You can steep the leaves in any kinds of liquid and make lemon verbena infused tea, syrup, sorbet, ice cream, creme anglaise, just to name a few.

If you use them as a herb make sure you remove them from the dish after marinating or cooking with it. In case you use it in a salad or garnish I suggest chiffonade cuts. Chiffonade means rolling up the leaves and cutting very thin slices of it.

So next time when you are at the market why don’t you buy some? It will definitely be a frequent herb on my blog and will have an appearance in sorbet, dessert and savory dishes.

The easiest thing you can do with lemon verbena is to make a simple syrup. Then store it in a jar in your fridge and make cocktail, spritzers or alcohol free drinks with sparkling water.

For making a simple syrup you will only need cane sugar, filtered water, a little bit of lemon and a small bunch of lemon verbena. Cook it on low heat until it thickens a bit and then you can store it in a jar in the fridge. To make it into a spritzer mix syrup, very cold sparkling water and some crisp, cold Italian Pinot Grigio. NO ICE!!!!!!!   Enjoy!

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lemon verbena spritzer

 

Strawberry tiramisu

 

It is strawberry and rhubarb season so I am sure everybody is making a dessert at some point using these fruits. Before getting into the delicious part let me remind you of something.

Always buy organic strawberries! Strawberry is on top of the list of fruits with pesticide residue. Considering how small a strawberry and how many you can eat of them, it would mean way too much pesticide for your body… Just saying.

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My kind of dessert is layered, has cream and fruit or meringue and caramel or cream and fruit, oh wait, I already said that…

Strawberry is perfect with cream. I remember when we lived in England, for the first year I never stopped eating scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. That clotted cream is the best creamy thing ever. Unfortunately I had to realize that my body is not responding really well for all that cream, sugar and carbs so had to really seriously cut back on it.

Strawberry is a great choice with any creamy dessert. The rhubarb helps to bring some tartness to the sweet, brightening it up a little bit. If you don’t use rhubarb you will need to add more lemon juice to the syrup.

Strawberry tiramisu is your easy late spring-early summer foolproof fruity dessert. To end your barbecue on a sweet, high note, or have it with friends over a cup of capuccino or  with your family for a  Sunday lunch.

You can simply add a layer of chopped strawberries in the traditional tiramisu. It does work, I tried it. However in this case I changed it a little bit and made it into a more fruity dessert.

The components are :

  • ladyfingers soaked in
  • strawberry-rhubarb-Limoncello syrup
  • fresh strawberries
  • mascarpone cream

 

Start cooking chopped strawberries, rhubarb, sugar in lemon juice and water. I also added lemon verbena I got at the market over the weekend. It helps to accentuate lemon taste in a different way than lemon zest.

DSC_4470Make sure to cook it on low heat and have enough water in there. When the fruit reaches mushy texture, you are ready. Turn off the heat and let it soak for 10 minutes if you have time. Strain the liquid, press on the fruit to get the last drop of nectar. At this point you can add Limoncello as much as you want, if there will be no kids eating the dessert.

 

While the syrup was cooking you can make your mascarpone cream using egg  yolks, sugar, vanilla, mascarpone and whipped cream.

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Finally start layering the tiramisu. Soaked ladyfingers in the bottom, top with mascarpone cream, then 2 layers of chopped strawberries ( I put only one, and it is so not enough….), mascarpone cream again, soaked ladyfingers and finish off with the mascarpone cream.

 

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If you feel that you miss the bitterness and cocoa from the original tiramisu (just like me), grate some very good quality dark, bitter chocolate on top. If you are happy with the taste of summer, cream, fruit, sweet then you can finish with fresh strawberries and mint leaves on top. Either way, it will be delicious.

 

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