gifts from a friend and cute bees ::::
Sometimes it’s just a cutesy name that attracts me to an unfamiliar ingredient. It’s not that I hadn’t heard of lemon verbena, or tried an infusion in an overpriced teahouse, or even perused recipes to use it, just for fun, but it was the alternative name “beebrush” that finally hooked me. I imagined wobbly, furry bees fingering these lemon beebrush leaves, invoking images of these roly-poly stingers rolling around on them like giant slides, or images of cute, cartoony bees cleaning house. Sometimes cute really does count.
I received my first lemon verbena in the previously-posted shared windfall of produce or herbs from my friend K. I first used my largess to make the fabulous lemongrass-basil sherbet, out of season, and enjoyed eating it while wearing a warm sweater. While I had more lemongrass I knew what to do with (not a bad thing), the bulk of the herby gift was actually the lemon beebrush caught just before our first frost. This bee-centric plant, genus and species Aloysia citrodora, this tender perennial adds lemony flavor to savory and sweet, fish and fowl, vegetables and fruit, yogurt and sauces. I decided it would be perfect for a drink. My go-to simple syrup is usually a lemon-ginger, concocted somewhat off the cuff. Lemon beebrush is a nice change, flavoring a seltzer with a little zip of citrus flavor, made even better with a squeeze of lime. It’s great with iced or hot black tea. Soak a warm pound cake with the syrup. I foresee some kind of lemon beebrush sorbet or granita in the future. This will inspire you to grow and herb garden, finally, so that you can have this syrup at a moment’s notice. It’s really that easy and that good. And the bees just make it cute. Now, if I could find a bee cocktail stirrer….
One year ago: 6:46 minute caramels
Three years ago: baby bûche de noël cookies
- 1½ cup water
- 1½ cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon verbena (beebrush) leaves, washed
- Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Immediately turn off heat, add all of lemon beebrush. Allow to steep for at least 20 minutes.
- Strain through fine mesh sieve, pressing gently on solids. Discard solids.
- Transfer syrup into glass jar with a tightly-fitted lid, allow to cool at room temperature, then chill in refrigerator until cold.
- I like this to sweeten tea, hot or iced, or in seltzer water with big squeeze of lemon.