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uly
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Lemon Verbena and Thyme Soda Syrup, and Sorbet too!
 



Our herb garden is growing like weeds.  Well, truth be told, the weeds are also growing like weeds.  But between the weeds are fragrant, mystical herbs, that are spicing up meals and will also shortly be hoarded away in ziplocks in the freezer for less bountiful months.

My favorite herb is lemon verbena.  It smells like something that should come from a much more tropical locale--even the plant, with its woody stems and slender leaves, looks rainforesty.  Rubbing your fingers on one of the leaves, as I do at the start of many days, is an instant antidepressant.  Bright, intensely fragrant, with an aroma and flavor that is distinctly the sweeter side of citrus.  Too much and it can make a dish taste like bad perfume, in the right amounts it is transporting.

My husband's favorite herb is thyme.  It definitely stems (pun intended) from his early childhood-rooted love affair with weekly roast chickens.  He painstakingly freezes bunch upon bunch of this savory treasure and stuffs several sprigs under the skin of our weekly roast chickens through the year--as well as it being used in our homemade soups and beloved stocks.

So this recipe is a love letter to our favorite herbs.  Citrus and thyme marry beautifully, fortunately for us, and both herbs are in great abundance now and for the next couple of months in gardens and markets.  A not-too-sweet aromatic addition to sodas and cocktails, and a refreshing palate cleanser when spun into a sorbet or scraped into a granita.  Try any of the above with a few fresh berries, oh my.

(more…)


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pril
14
Homemade Mango Lime Soda Syrup


Here is another soda syrup recipe to accompany yesterday's homemade ginger soda syrup.  Super refreshing and light, making me crave flip flops and sunscreen.  Try mixing a little of both syrups together for mango-lime-gingerlicious beach blanket bingo in a glass.  Who says it's only april?

 

HOMEMADE MANGO LIME SODA SYRUP
by Catie Schwalb

makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

1 mango, peeled, and roughly chopped, save the pit
1 cup of sugar (you may decide to use much less, depending on how sweet and ripe your fruit is)
2 cups water
2 limes, juice (about 3 tablespoons) and zest

fine strainer
cheesecloth

Place mango, mango pit, sugar, water, lime juice and zest in a small pot. Bring to a gentle boil, and the turn off heat. Allow to steep and infuse for thirty minutes.

Return the mixture to a gentle boil, and reduce the syrup by about half, until it is a slightly thicker consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool

Strain through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze cheese cloth to extract any remaining juices.

Refrigerate for up to one week.

Mango Lime Soda: Mix 1 part soda syrup with 5 parts seltzer, or more or less to taste.

 


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pril
21
Spicy-Tart Pickled Ramp Recipe


This past weekend friends who live near us upstate, on an area overrun with ramps, graciously invited us over for our second annual swap of all-we-can-pick ramps for a pick-up truck full of our "like gold" sheep manure for their garden. (So very cutting-edge-hipster-locavore.   Then again, poop for weeds...)

After a very muddy morning, we brought home two substantial garbage bags of ramps with their roots and soil intact, to transplant to our woods, and a very generous shopping bag of loose ramps to cook and eat.   I got to work on a big batch of these slightly hot, slightly sweet, bright and tangy pickled ramps that night.  I am now addicted, and looking forward to ice cold pickled ramp martinis later this summer.  Oh, and picked ramps also go brilliantly with fish and roasted meats, on sandwiches, or alongside cheeses and charcuterie.


SPICY-TART PICKLED RAMPS

by Catie

2 large bunches of cleaned ramps, stalks only, trimmed of greens (about 2-3 cups, loosely packed) (Save greens for scrambled eggs.)

Kosher salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp peppercorns, white, green, or black, or combination
2 1/2" piece of ginger root, cut in 1/2" pieces
1 dried thai chili, about 2" long, seeds removed for less spice
1 bay leaf

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready nearby. Blanch ramps in salted water for about 30 seconds, and then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. This will preserve some of the ramps' color. Dry and transfer to a quart sized jar.

In a non-reactive pot, combine vinegar, sugar, water, ginger, chili, bay leaf, and spices. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over blanched ramps.

Cool, cover and refrigerate. Ramps will be sufficiently pickled in about 3 days, and will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks. If you'd like to preserve them longer, process in a canning water bath to seal jar.



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{ welcome! }
Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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