|Hierba luisa (lemon verbena), a new herb to try.|
After I wrote about capers last week, I decided I really had to have a caper plant. So, off to a vivero (nursery gardens) I went. I got my caper bush, which has a few teensy buds on it.
But, of course, I came home with much more than that. The caper plants were smack in the middle of flats of all sorts of herbs, culinary and aromatics.
|Basil adorns watermelon salad.|
Lavender? I’ve never grown lavender before.
Oh, here is some hierba luisa, lemon verbena. I once had a lemon verbena bush in the garden where I lived in the village and loved using the fragrant leaves for making infusiones, herbal teas. Onto the cart it goes.
|Herbal border--at the top, manzanilla (chamomile); center, romero (rosemary); below, tomillo (thyme) and santolina, an aromatic not used in the kitchen.|
Once home with my pots, I must decide where to plant them out. The oregano will join the herbal border by the front steps.
|Chives in flower.|
|Cilantro (coriander leaves).|
Before I even decide where to plant the lemon verbena, I have snipped off some leaves, infused them in milk and whipped the flavored milk with mascarpone (about ¼ cup of the milk to 1 ¼ cups mascarpone) to make a gorgeous cream to serve with sliced peaches. The flavors and aromas enhance each other.
For the lemon verbena-infused milk: Bring 1 cup milk to a boil with 1 tablespoon sugar and a strip of lemon zest. Remove from heat and add ¼ cup loosely packed lemon verbena leaves. Cover and steep until milk is cool. Strain the milk and discard the solids. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator. Add the flavored milk to desserts such as pudding, ice cream.
|Mascarpone cream with lemon verbena tops sliced peaches and strawberries.|
Other ideas for using lemon verbena: make a sugar syrup infused with the leaves. Add to ice tea or vodka. Serve chopped fresh leaves as a garnish for chicken or fish. Infuse chicken or fish stock with the leaves before using it to make sauce.
|Salvia (sage), part of herbal border.|
|Tomillo (thyme), beginning to flower. My favorite herb.|