Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Lemon verbena is the herbal equivalent of The Eggplant that Ate Chicago. It starts out as a wee little slip of a plant in a 4-inch container and by mid-summer it's taller than corn in Kansas. I like how it looks both in the garden and in flower arrangements, but I never made much culinary use of it other than steeping a few leaves in tea.
Then Michelle Polzine -- the brilliant and adorable pastry chef at Range in San Francisco -- gave me this recipe for an article. The article appeared today in the San Francisco Chronicle's food section , but -- because of space constraints -- only the recipe for Polzine's delicious raspberry granita made it into print.
Her lemon verbena ice also is terrific, so I'm happy to have a place to share it. If you don't have the herb in your own garden and can't find it at a farmer's market, check to see if a friend is growing it. I'll bet you a dinner at Range that said gardener will have plenty to spare.
Lemon Verbena Granita
1 scant cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
1/3 cup lightly packed *small* lemon verbena leaves
2 cups spring water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Whirl lemon verbena leaves in blender with cold simple syrup until only small green flecks are visible. Strain through a coarse sieve, pushing most of the non-fibrous bits through. Add spring water, lemon juice and salt. Pour into a shallow pan and set in freezer. Every 30-40 minutes, rake icy portions until entire mixture is frozen into feathery flakes.