In the middle of spring, I planted a whole bunch of herbs and thought how great it would be. I would go out and snip a little rosemary to add to my grilled chicken. I would make mint teas and I would make pretty little satchels with lavender to tuck into our pillows. And none of it happened, it was all a Martha Stewartesque fantasy, never quite realized, until today when I finally used something out of my little herb garden; the lemon verbena. I love the name and it I ever have a daughter, that may even be her middle name. Verbena; poetic, romantic, music to my ears and utterly irresistible in an iced tea. Who knew? I feel like a kid that just made friends with the neighborhood kids and missed out on all of the summer time fun. I let the whole summer go by without experimenting with the beautiful lemon verbena and I have a lot of catching up to do. Enjoy!
- 1 cup packed lemon verbena leaves
- 4 cups water
- 1 orange, juiced
- your favorite sweetener of choice
Bring your water to a boil and pour over the leaves. (I always use a French press for this type of thing, I think they work great for teas.) Let it steep and cool naturally. Add in the orange juice and sweeten as you like. Garnish with an orange slice and a few lemon verbena leaves. Serves 2.
I’m so excited, I grilled a tea bag! Not just a tea bag, lol. I added some fruit but I am thinking differently about the humble little bag. It infused the peaches and strawberries with a delicate rose hip flavor as it bubbled away over the flames. I went a little heavy on the mint in the Greek yogurt, so you can add or take away according to how much you like mint. Enjoy and happy grilling with tea bags!
- 4 ripe peaches, halved and sliced
- 1 pound strawberries, trimmed and halved
- 2-4 tablespoons honey
- 1 rose hip tea bag, I used Crimson Blossom from Trader Joe’s
- splash of vanilla extract
- 17.6 oz. container of Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint plus a few leaves for garnish
- 2 tablespoons blue agave sweetener
- 1 tablespoon uncooked amaranth grain
Layer a few sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other and make a sort of bowl out of it, to hold your fruit in it. Heat up your grill to about 500 degrees. Take your tea bag and moisten it well, this is so it doesn’t burn right away. It works almost like soaking wood skewers. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of honey over the peaches, strawberries and the tea bag. Toss well to combine. Place your aluminum bowl over a flat cast iron pan and place on the grill. Peek in on your fruit often, to make sure it doesn’t burn and try to keep your tea bag on top of the fruit until the fruit releases its’ juices. After about 15 minutes taste the liquid and see if you need to add more honey and add in the splash of vanilla extract at this time. While your fruit is grilling away, combine the yogurt, mint and agave sweetener and set aside. Your fruit will be ready after about half an hour. You will see it bubbling away with all of its’ juices and then it will reduce. The fruit will begin to stick to the foil, once that happens, your fruit is ready. Once your fruit has cooled down a bit, remove the tea bag. Heat up your non-stick pan till it is hot on high heat and throw in your amaranth grain and gently shake the pan over the heat until they begin to pop. This serves about 3. Divide the yogurt, fruit among your bowls and top with the popped amaranth grain and mint leaves.
I was so obsessed with the amaranth popping! I originally wanted to just toast it to give the yogurt a little bit of a crunch. But as I shaked and shaked the pan over the flame, to my surprise it started popping. “How fun!” I thought! The batch below is a burnt one, but I couldn’t help thinking how pretty and delicate it looks. After some trial and error, I learned that you have to heat up the pan nice and hot before you throw in the amaranth grains.
My favorite part of any holiday including the fourth of July is the morning of. I love the quietness of it and just taking it nice and easy. And this grilled pound cake with blueberry butter that has a hint of chamomile and vanilla is just the thing to enjoy in the calm of the morning. Enjoy and I hope you have a great 4th of July!
- 1 pint whipping cream
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 bags of chamomile tea or loose tea about about 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 pound cake, cut into thick slices
- butter flavored cooking spray
- raspberries on the side
Bring the whipping cream and the chamomile tea bags to a light boil. Remove and let it cool. Once cool, let it sit in the fridge overnight. Use bags that don’t have metal staples in them. Once you bring it out of the fridge, this gets a little messy but it’s worth it, remove the tea bags scraping any cream that has surrounded them. Squeeze the tea bags well, you want all of the chamomile essence in the cream. I ended up breaking one of the bags and left some of the chamomile leaves in the cream. Stir in the blueberries, vanilla extract and the confectioners sugar in and with a hand blender combine well until it begins separating. Once you see that the cream has come together into a consistency of butter, you want to strain it in a cheesecloth, (I used a paper towel) to get all of the liquids out. Once all you have is butter, you can use it right away or form it. You can put it into a decorative bowl and cover or form it into a log and roll in parchment paper. Fire up the grill and spray your poundcake slices and grill them until you get some nice marks. They grill up quickly. Spread your butter on them and it’s a yummy start to a day of celebrating independence.