Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Freshness - Lemon Verbena Sorbet

You haven't heard from me lately because I have been recovering from an operation that I underwent six weeks ago. All went well, and I am back.

Plainly this is the best time of year for a home cook to recover from surgery because the abundance of healthful and varied local summer produce provides half the meal with no, or very little, cooking. My favorite food is sweet corn, which I serve plain or made into Bobby Jay's Corn Soup, served hot or cold. And it is hard to beat juicy and sweet heirloom tomatoes, served as a salad (salted for 30 minutes, seasoned with pepper and dried oregano, vinegar and olive oil), with or without mozzarella di bufalo or burrata. Or just sliced and made into a caprese salad with mozzarella, olive oil and torn basil.

Wonderful fresh produce can be supplemented with rotisserie chicken, by itself or in a main course salad shredded with cabbage, lettuce, carrots, nuts and the dressing of your choice (I use a Chinese inspired dressing with peanuts).

Lemon verbena, washed and laid out to dry
In summer, we eat fruit for dessert almost every night, with a little homemade ice cream (ginger being my and J's preferred flavor) or, if we are being really virtuous, low-fat yogurt mixed with some cardamom powder and vanilla. An easy way to extend the life of fragile fruits, like sour cherries, is to cook them for five minutes or so with something sweet: a little sugar, honey or maple or agave syrup. I use a spoonful each of ginger and almond syrup, and serve the resulting lightly stewed berries over ice cream or yogurt.

Going to farmers' markets can provide unexpected inspiration. One day I was browsing at the farmers' market and saw some lovely lemon verbena, which I felt compelled to buy, although I had no fixed idea of what to do with it. Returning home, I found a recipe for lemon verbena sorbet on Clotilde Dusoulier's excellent blog Chocolat & Zucchini. While the sorbet turns quite icy after the first day, I just scrape it with a fork and use it as granita atop summer berries of all kinds. It is summer on a spoon, light, herbal and a perfect complement for fruit. You can also dry lemon verbena and use it for herbal infusions (verveine).

It is a pleasure to be cooking again, especially in the summer, when preparing light and healthful meals is made easy through the efforts of our local farmers.

Bobby Jay


Amanda said...

I hope your surgery was a success and you are fully recovered. I had surgery myself and thank to Facebook, I am completely hooked, again, and will have to wean myself off it.
I was wondering if Clothilde's book was worth buying. I have seen it but needed some convincing. I have only read her blog few times.
Wishing you good health and a great enjoyment of summer fruits.

Bobby Jay said...

Nadege: Thanks for your good wishes.

I love Clotilde's Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook and use it often, with success. Also Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, which is a very good food guide to the city. However, I have not really been attracted to the recipes in her vegetarian French Market Cookbook. Her new book, on food idioms, is probably interesting, but I have read them all on her blog so don't feel compelled to buy it.