I am so happy to have my little balcony garden, especially now that things are growing on their own and I can pick herbs without worrying about killing the plant! I've already used some cilantro from my plant that looked like it was almost dead when I bought it, but now is green and sprouting new leaves every day. My lemon verbena plant is bouncing back after I picked a heck of a lot of leaves for this recipe and is bigger than before. I used some lemon balm and mint leaves in a drink last week and it was so delicious and refreshing. It's such an incredible feeling to just go outside and pick the herbs you need right off the plant.
Once summer rolls around, everyone busts out the herbs. Summer is all about bright flavours and tons of refreshing herbs, at least to me. Almost everything I make in the summer has either lemon or lime and a butt load of fresh herbs, especially cilantro. This is no exception! Blackberry and lime go very well together and the bright citrusy herby taste of lemon verbena goes great with both of them.
I've paired up with Sabatier for another post on basic knife skills, this time to show you guys a basic chiffonade. The chiffonade technique is used for cutting flat leaf greens/herbs into little strips, like basil or spinach or sage. If you're cutting a larger leaf, like basil, first you lay three or four leaves on top of each other. Then, roll the herbs up lengthwise. If you're cutting something that isn't very wide (like lemon verbena), you don't need to roll up the herbs.
For a more detailed description on how to hold the knife and the product you're cutting, check out my previous Sabatier post!
With a firm grip on your Santoku knife and your fingers safely holding the leaves, simply cut thin strips. It's that easy! The chiffonade technique is invaluable when cutting large leafy herbs like basil - and the strips make a beautiful garnish, too.
Don't forget to keep your knives sharp! A dull knife is a dangerous knife, so try to sharpen your knives as often as you can. Always hand wash your knives (carefully!) and dry them immediately - no knives in the dishwasher!!! Take care of your knives and they'll last for years.
Blackberry, Lemon Verbena, and Lime Verrines
Blackberry and Lemon Verbena Compote
300 g fresh blackberries,
30 g granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon verbena leaves, chiffonaded
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery
50 g almond meal
50 g all-purpose flour
50 g granulated sugar
1 lime, zested
50 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4 inch dice
Recipe from The Modern Cafe
100 g whole milk
100 g heavy cream
1 g vanilla paste
83 g granulated sugar
61 g egg yolks
161 g heavy cream
1 gelatin sheet, bloomed
For the blackberry compote, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan set over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat down to low and cook until the berries are soft and the liquid has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
For the streusel, combine the sugar and lime zest in a small bowl and use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils. Add the almond flour and all-purpose flour and stir to combine. Add the butter and use your fingertips to break up the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture starts to clump together in small pea-sized clumps. Refrigerate until firm, about 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the streusel onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring the streusel every 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
For the vanilla cream, combine the whole milk, heavy cream, and vanilla paste in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Combine the granulated sugar and egg yolks and whisk until slightly paler in colour. Once the milk mixture has come to just a boil, whisk in a third of it into the yolk mixture, then another third. Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the custard has thickened and reads 82 C. Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. Once the custard has cooled to room temperature, place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until completely cold, about 3 hours or overnight.
Once the custard has cooled, prepare your glasses. Spoon some of the blackberry compote into each glass and sprinkle a generous amount of streusel on top.
To finish the vanilla cream, whip the 161 g of heavy cream to medium peaks. Take a small portion of the custard and place it in a bowl set over a bain-marie. Heat it just until it is hot to the touch, then add the bloomed gelatin sheet. Stir to combine.
Add the gelatin custard mixture back into the rest of the custard mixture and whisk briefly to combine. Fold in one-third of the heavy cream into the custard mixture, then the remaining cream. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe the cream into your prepared glasses. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
To serve, garnish with blackberries and lemon verbena leaves.