Lemon Balm Suggestions??
I have an unbelievably vigorous patch of lemon balm growing in my yard — I'm pulling leaves off this thing the size of my palm. So far, I've used the whole leaves in salads; chiffonaded them to death and sprinkled them over grilled fish and scallops, cantaloupe and sorbet; infused water, vodka and rum (note: lemon balm, on its own, isn't quite pungent enough to make a mojito work).
Frankly, I'm running out of ideas, other than simply trying it out in any situation that calls for fresh mint. Does anyone have a recipe specifically geared to highlight the unique flavor of lemon balm (for the uninitiated, quite similar to the fakey-fake lemon flavor-scent of Trix or even Lemon Pledge, but in a good way)?
I've had some fun infusing wine with herbs. My lemon balm is doing well this year too, but I haven't tried it in wine. But I did try my Lemon Thyme stuffed in a bottle of Sauv. Blanc for an hour or two and it was terrific! I think I had some sage with it too. I'll try Lemon Balm next.
I had to cut my lemon balm back, but a cool, wet June resulted in a thick second growth of small, tender leaves. A couple nights ago I cut off a bunch and used them to make lemon balm-buttermilk gelato, which was fantastic.
.5 cup (or more, according to taste) lemon balm leaves, muddled
1 cup whole cream
5 egg yolks
.5 cup powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
1 cup cold buttermilk
Simmer cream and lemon balm in double boiler, 10-15 minutes. In separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, powdered sugar and lemon zest. Gradually whisk in hot cream-lemon balm infusion, return mixture to double boiler and simmer, stirring constantly, until custard slightly thickens, @10 minutes more. Whisk in one cup cold buttermilk, let cool, then refrigerate overnight. Strain custard, then process according to ice cream maker instructions.
I've had an unexpected Lemon Balm bloom under my deck! I planted one small stalk about 5 years ago in a planter on the deck. It was pretty robust, so I was always pinching off the tops and tossing them over the railing onto the ground below. I never noticed anything growing down there until this year, when I discovered a huge patch with some stalks almost to my waist! Took the lawnmower to half of it, which "infused" the air in my back yard for a spell, and was quite pleasant. Keeping an eye on the other half, which is acting like something out of a sci-fi movie.
It's odd your question would pop up for me now because we were just talking about a drink recipe that uses a good amount of lemon balm. It's for Haymaker's switchel which is a summer-time drink that used to be used by farmers to keep cool. The particular recipe we were looking at was a version from Jerry Weintraub (sp) from the Herbfarm cookbook. The recipe is towards the end of this link:
We wanted to try this but don't have lemon balm. My herb-growing boyfriend likes a stronger lemon flavor so he grows lemon verbena instead. And I'm not sure if it would winter over in our climate. (I understand it's a perennial.)
I did a search and found a good number of different varieties of switchels but this one looked kind of refreshing with the lemon balm, spearmint, lemon and orange juices, a bit of rosemary, sparkling water and a couple other things.
Stuff some in the cavity of a chicken, then use whatever other spices you like (a bbq rub for example) and then roast or smoke it (bbq style.) Place some leaves under the skin for the leg / thigh parts. Fine on its own, but I usually serve this with mole over rice. with some simple roasted vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms. Near the end of
summer, I roast off four or five chickens like this, and vaccuum seal them after halving them. Nice lemony bbq in the middle of winter. You'll see. This is some good eats right here.
I'd also assume that a few sprigs would be good chiffonaded up in some sauteed spinach, or escarole w/ beans, but you're not gonna use that many there.
Oh, I have an idea that I might consider. (I haven't bought my plant yet) If you have someone who will smoke a fish for you ( i have a shop that will do them for me) maybe get a whole salmon, and ask them to smoke it with a bunch of leaves inside of it along with whatever else they use.
I'd also make a puree of water plus the leaves, kind of heavy on the leaves like the consistency of chimichurri, place them in ice cube trays, freeze, and then bag them - kinda like the stock trick.
Infuse some olive oil? (wash the leaves VERY well, or it may be wiser to make a vinegar/oil concotion)
Here's another one I did last year: You know that pickle jar in the back of the fridge with like two pickles in it that nobody's gonna eat? toss thos pickles, but throw the pickle juice iont your blender. Add a good handfull of leaves. Liquify it. Get some fresh pickling cukes (the little stubby ones) from the mkt. slice em, and throw em in the jar. (I added a bunch of chile pepper, and powder as well) let em soak for two weeks and eat them up. Hell, I still have some in the fridge from last summer. I'm gonna go crunch a few slices before the gym right now!
I copied a recipe from a recent herb book by the American Horticulture Association. I haven't tried it, but I snagged it cause it looked good, and I will soon have a lot of lemon balm. I've also thought about making lemon balm jelly--following a standard recipe for mint jelly and subbing lemon balm--again something I haven't done, but another idea. I also want to make simple syrup infused with lemon balm for drinks.
Here's a paraphrase of the cake:
4 oz. butter
1/4 c. finely chopped lemon balm leaves
1 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
grated rind of one lemon
1/4 c. pecans, finely chopped
juice of one lemon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. hot water
1/4 c. lemon balm leaves, minced
cream butter with lemon balm. Add sugar and eggs, beat well. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Stir in rind and pecans. Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 in a greased and floured loaf pan, until a tester in the center of the cake comes clean. Stir together glaze ingredients while cake bakes. When cake is don, pour glaze over the top and let sit in the pan for several hours. Remove from pan, wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit overnight for flavors to blend.
let me know how it is if you make it