Simple syrups are a great addition to your pantry. They can be used to flavor and sweeten fruit salads, brushed on cakes to add some moisture or mixed with wine to poach fruits. When it comes to beverages, adding a splash in bubbly water or cocktails will add some depth to your drinks. They easily keep up to a month in the fridge, that is… if they last that long.
LEMON VERBENA SIMPLE SYRUP
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup loosely packed lemon verbena leaves washed and dried
In a medium saucepan mix the water and sugar, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer fro 8 minutes, mixing a bit to make sure the sugar dissolves. Add the herbs, turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for an hour.
Put a fine mesh strainer on top of a bowl and strain the syrup, pushing the verbena with a spatula or wooden spoon to get as much of the flavors from the herbs. Transfer into a clean bottle or mason jar, label and refrigerate until ready to use.
NOTE: If you want a regular simple syrup, omit the herbs. You can also substitute the verbena for mint, lavender leaves or basil; zest of one lemon, orange or lime or 2 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger. For a syrup with a bit more depth, use sugar in the raw. Instead of a clear syrup you will have a brownish looking syrup that will also change the look of your drink .
From my kitchen to yours,
CK, la fille du boucher
When I am looking for a light and simple dessert I always look to the fruits of the season for inspiration. Come November, with those fresh local berries long gone, my mind turns to apples and pears. I get busy in the kitchen with stews, hardy soups, and various comfort foods that are best shared with friends and family. What better way to end a fall or winter meal than with poached pears. They are delicious served with their own poaching liquid and, on special occasions, can be stepped up a notch and served with a mascarpone sauce. This recipe serves 6 (half pear per person).
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white wine
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean cut in half the long way
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 whole cardamon pods
- 7 whole cloves
- 1 strand of lemon zest (about 1/2 a lemon)
- 3 bosc pears ripe but still firm, peeled cut in half and cored
In a saucepan bring the liquids, sugar and spices to a slow simmer, making sure the sugar dissolves. Add pears and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn heat off and let the pears stand in the liquid until ready to serve. You can cover the surface with a cheesecloth and secure it with a plate to make sure the pears stay submerged in the poaching liquid. If serving the next day, refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.
When ready to serve, take pears out of the poaching liquid. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer to collect the spices. Take the vanilla bean and scrape any left over seeds from the pod and transfer to the poaching liquid. Serve a half pear per person in a shallow bowl with a few tablespoons of the syrup. Serve with extra syrup on the table or with the following mascarpone sauce.
- 3/4 cup mascarpone
- 3/4 cup poaching liquid
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon
In a large bowl whisk all the ingredients until blended and smooth.
NOTE: You might have poaching liquid and sauce leftover. The poaching liquid makes a wonderful simple syrup that you can save in the fridge for up to a month and serve with bubbly water, prosecco or white wine for a nice refreshing cocktail. The sauce can be served with other fruits or mixed in with plain yogurt.
From my kitchen to yours!
CK, la fille du boucher