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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ingredient Of The Week ~Lemon Verbena~

Ingredient Of The Week ~Lemon Verbena~




This wonderful lemon scented herb is a great addition to any garden and a great addition to your culinary repertoire. Not only does it add a beautiful color to your garden, with its bright green leaves and it’s petite white and purple flowers. It is also useful in everything from teas and cocktails to fruit salads and cheesecakes.

This herb can be chopped fine and used as a substitute for lemon or lime zest in any recipes.

It also beautifully flavors oils (this can be done several ways but I love to puree the leaves with oil and then strain through a sieve, releasing both the amazing flavor and a beautiful green color). Use this oil to drizzle over grilled fish, to decorate plates, or make wonderful salad dressings.

Lemon verbena is not just for savory foods, it can be used to satisfy your sweet tooth too. Use it to infuse its flavor into sugar (by placing ¼ cup leaves in a 16 ounce mason jar full of sugar; cover and allow to permeate for 2 weeks). That can be used for anything from sugar cookies to riming cocktail classes. Other sweet to eat uses range from custards to cheesecakes.

For a great lemon verbena cocktail recipe, using lemon verbena infused vodka, go to http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000538.html . I am going to try infusing my own vodka with lemon verbena shortly, pictures and story will be posted at sometime sooner than later.

This versatile and wonderful plant can be a little hard to find, sometimes vendors at your local farmers markets will carry them. I purchased mine at my favorite local garden shop, Cedros Gardens in Solana Beach (http://www.cedrosgardens.com/).


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