Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lavender Shortbread

No visuals for you, sorry. They were eaten up too fast.

1 cup butter
4 tsp lavender buds
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour

First, if you have one of those little Braun coffee grinders, you whiz the lavender with a tablespoon or two of sugar. You can also use a food processor but the texture might be slightly chunkier. Then transfer that to your mixer, add the butter and the rest of the sugar and whip till the mixture looks really well blended. Then add the flour. (such high-tech instructions)

Now you can either roll it out or shape into little balls (which you might want to flatten slightly before baking). Some people use parchment or plastic wrap for rolling, but I used (gasp!) MORE SUGAR. Not a lot more, about another 1/4 cup. It gave them a nice sablé texture, which was welcome with such a rich biscuit.

After you've got them on the cookie sheets you must chill them for at least 30 minutes. I place mine in the freezer. Then bake, 300ºF, for around 15 minutes. Whatever you do, do NOT let them get brown. You want them in the pre-brown phase, if that makes sense. Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then place on racks to fully cool.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lemon Verbena Sorbet

Sheila's lemon verbena

I found this recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks - The Herbfarm Cookbook, by Jerry Traunfeld - and have kept a lemon verbena plant ever since, babying it through our wicked winters (well, wicked if you're a tender perennial). Mr Traunfeld pairs it with Lavender Shortbread, which is just fine, but you will never get over your first (or second, or third) taste of this sorbet. I kid you not. It's incredible. It will make you want to break into song, even if you are an old songless grouch. And whatever you do, don't be asking if you can use lemon balm instead (it's a very very very poor cousin in this case).

1 cup lemon verbena leaves, packed
1 cup superfine sugar (I have always used plain old white sugar)
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
3 cups cold water

First, put the sugar and lemon verbena in the food processor. Grind grind grind. When the sugar is green, add the lemon juice, then the water, pausing now and then to scrape down the sugar on the sides. Strain well, because this baby is fibrous. Then you have a couple of choices: if you have one of those electric churning ice cream thingies, toss the mixture in and wait til it's ready, if you have nothing vaguely resembling this, toss the mixture into a shallow baking tin and freeze it until it's frozen solid, then toss it back into your food processor. Give it a few whizzes and it should be fine.