The last two weeks I’ve had out of town guests, have been to New York for some business meetings, and had jury duty, so my blog has been neglected. I did manage to make some lemon verbena ice cream for my birthday. Dixie, my “mother-in-law,” always sends me a multi-layered caramel cake from South Carolina, so I served thin slices of the super-rich cake with a scoop of the ice cream and a preserved fig alongside. Lemon verbena imparts an herbal lemon flavor to dishes without the acidic bite. The photo to the right was taken today on my stoop in Washington, DC. The passion flowers continue to bloom this Indian Summer and they have intertwined all over the wrought iron, roses, and herbs in our tiny dooryard.
LEMON VERBENA ICE CREAM
You can use the basic formula for this recipe to make all sorts of herbal ice creams. Just substitute mint or basil or lavendar blossoms or thyme for the lemon verbena.
1 cup loosely packed fresh lemon verbena leaves
3 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream, very lightly whipped
Add the herbs to the milk and scald the milk. In a large stainless-steel mixing bowl that will fit over a boiling water bath — or in the top of a stainless-steel double boiler, beat the egg yolks and sugar until well mixed and lightly colored. Gradually add the hot milk and herbs and cook over hot water, stirring frequently, until a custard is formed — until the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, then chill.
When the mixture is cold, strain out the leaves and any solids through a fine sieve, and freeze the mixture in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. When softly frozen, add the cream and stir to blend well, then continue freezing until the ice cream is firm. Pack the ice cream into a chilled container and allow it to ripen in the freezer for about 2 hours before serving. If frozen overnight or longer, remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it soften in the refrigerator for about a half hour before serving.
Makes 1 quart.
October 9, 2007
I was in London the last two weeks of September. See my London blog page. I went to Eastern Shore with my friends again last week, where I indeed found ripe persimmons and made the moist, pudding-like persimmon bread that is fudgy and thick and flowery with the unique aroma of the odd native fruit. We also picked apples and made applesauce and barbecue sauce for the ribs we served on Sunday.
Many of the apples were misshapen, small, and with off-center cores, so after washing and coring them, I was too lazy to peel them and instead came up with the following
LAZY MAN’S APPLESAUCE
Wash and core your apples, then cut them into pieces. Place them in a heavy pot with a lid and place them in a 225-degree oven overnight. The next morning, they will have collapsed and turned brown and your house will smell of baked apples. Pour off any watery liquid and save for another use. I reduced it with ginger, hot pepper, mustard, garlic, onions, tomatoes, salt, and pepper to make a barbecue sauce.
Run the apples through a food mill and taste the applesauce. We liked the sweetness the way it was, so we added no sugar, but if yours isn’t sweet, sweeten it to taste. We added the juice of one lemon to a huge pot of applesauce — 8 pints — just to perk it up a bit.
Measure the applesauce and sterilize your jars and lids in a hot water bath.
Carefully bring the applesauce to a boil. Be careful! You’ll need to heat it slowly, and stir it, but it can mound up like molten lava and spit out hot blobs of apple napalm. I’ve seen it hit the ceiling! Better to turn the oven up to 350 degrees and return the applesauce, uncovered, to the oven while your jars sterilize and your hot water bath boils.
As soon as the applesauce has come to a boil, ladle it into the sterile jars and process in a boiling water bath for twenty minutes.