Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

There's Always Room for Jello

...points for the relatively obscure Bill Murray reference. (Devorit -- you can't play.)

Of course this isn't actually Jello. I came home from the Greenmarket last weekend with a fistful of lemon verbena, which I had read about but never seen. The leaves are actually more leathery and tough than I had imagined -- don't you think "verbena" conjures up a rather more ethereal herb? But the scent is everything the leaves are not -- delicate, firmly lemony without being astringent, green underneath the edges.

My source for herbs I don't know anything about is always Jerry Traunfeld. As it happened that I'd also grabbed several pints of fresh raspberries, this recipe was an obvious choice. It's really a lovely summery dessert -- light without being over too quickly, refreshing and a little exotic.

Raspberries in Lemon Verbena Gel
Adapted from Jerry Traunfeld's The Herbal Kitchen

Serves 4-6.

2 1/2 c. water, divided
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. lightly packed lemon verbna leaves
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1 pint fresh raspberries

Heat 2 1/4 c. water with the sugar in a small saucepan. As soon as it boils, stir in the lemon verbena, cover the pan, and remove from heat. Steep at least ten minutes; I let mine go for thirty because, honestly, I forgot about it.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/4 c. water. Give it a few minutes to develop. Strain the verbena syrup and stir the gelatin into the still-warm syrup to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.

Stir in the lemon juice. Arrange the berries in 4-6 dessert gasses, then pour the gelatin over the berries and chil for several hours until set.

* Mine took 10 hours to set fully -- maybe I skimped on the gelatin without realizing it.
* The gel is soft and scoopable, not firm.
* The raspberries will color the gel as it sets.


  • At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said…

    Oh, it's not What About Bob, is it? I love that crazy flick. The gel is a gorgeous color, and I love those dishes (brandy glasses without the stems?)

  • At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Pamela said…

    Looks heavenly!

  • At 2:28 AM, Blogger Nerissa said…

    *swoons* oh... err YUM!

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hey Jennifer -- nope, but here's a hint -- it was a sequel. The glasses are the "O" wineglass series -- I love them because I can't knock them over as easily!

    Thanks Pamela!

    Hi Nerissa -- careful, don't hit your head!

  • At 9:36 AM, Blogger Lis said…

    It looks beautiful!

    I'm growing Lemon Verbena this year after discovering it last year. Here's the thing.. I've got boatloads of it and had no idea what to do with it, I just planted it this year because of it's lovely aroma. Thanks for a fabulous way to use up some of it!

    PS - I've also come across another way of using the steeped leaves.. instead of steeping it in just water, steep it in a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar). You can either leave the leaves in or strain them out and use the syrup in iced tea or over pancakes, ice cream etc. I haven't tried it yet, but if you do.. lemme know how it turned out! =)

  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger Lis said…

    Holy crap.. I must have read right over where you did steep it in simple syrup. DOH. Okay then.. well.. uhmm.. gonna take my flaming cheeks and maybe steep me some lemon verbena leaves.. *blush*

  • At 11:35 AM, Blogger sitsonchair said…

    I am scared of jello and have heen for years.

  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hey Lis! No worries, it's Friday -- everyone gets a free pass. I have one stalk of verbena left and I think I'm going to let it dry and make tea out of it -- that might be a good use for you, too.

    Sorry to hear about the Jello issue, sitsonchairs...

  • At 7:30 PM, Blogger Catherine said…

    beautiful, but I don't know the Bill Murray quote :-(

  • At 8:22 PM, Blogger Devorit said…

    Do I get to play if no one else guesses? *wg* This looks so cooling and elegant in the glasses. Very nice.

  • At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Ellie said…

    Oooh, that looks amazingly beautiful! Dangit, all these berry posts from you Northern Hemisphere food bloggers is making me lament by lack of fresh summer fruit :(

  • At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said…

    Hmmm. A sequel. Alright, then, how about Ghostbusters II? And if not, Devorit, would you please tell us?

  • At 7:01 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    Thanks Catherine! Bill Murray quote revealed below...

    I knew you'd know it, D...

    Ellie, just think of how happy you'll be when raspberry season arrives for you!

    Jennifer, you are correct! That is pretty much the only part of that movie that I remember. Definitely not the highlight of Murray's career.

  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger cucina testa rossa said…

    oooooooh! this looks beautiful and perfect for this heat wave! love the o riedels too!


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