I have so many recipes and serving ideas to share with you for what I am calling my “herb series.” It’s actually much more then herbs, but as it is full summer just about everywhere in the United States, incorporating herbs into our foods seems like a grand idea. That being said, I was up at 4 today and at the LA Flower Mart just before 6am; I have been going non-stop all day and at 10pm the cosmo I now have in hand made with Blackberry-Rosemary syrup tastes pretty darn good. So due to fatigue and the cosmo, I invite you to try this recipe for yourself and see if you like it as much as I do!
The basic recipe lets you capture the taste of local berries with or without a hint of herbs; think of it for a bar mixer (cosmo, tonic or martini, champagne mixer) or on dessert (over ice cream or fruit or cake) or for breakfast over something hearty like buckwheat pancakes or waffles. It is a very basic recipe that is highly adaptable. Whenever possible, buy from a farmer or store that has organic or “spray free” berries. If you grow or pick your own local berries, I am supremely jealous! Try any kind of berry: strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, mulberry etc. I make various syrups each summer, and I like the ability to control the origin of the fruit and the amount of the sugar with a home made syrup. Some berries are sweeter and need little sugar. I love this recipe with greatly reduced sugar and fresh boysenberries; the recipe coaxes the juice out of the fruit with a little heat and a little sugar. I have tried this recipe using both mint and rosemary from my garden, and I have to say I prefer the rosemary, but both are good and both will be included in the 80th for my Dad next weekend. Personalize your combination to your taste~
Herb flavors take well to various mediums, like cream, simple syrup and alcohol such as vodka. The general rule for syrup, using my “old” French cookbook, is 1 part sugar to 3 parts fruit. Think in cups or kilos or grams. Make a simple syrup of:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
Boil the sugar and water to make a syrup, then add in your herbs, in this photo mint; return just to a boil then remove from heat for 20 minutes~
Return just to a boil again, then add your berries; using the 3:1 ratio; more fruit is fine as long as it gets incorporated into the syrup. Turn the heat down to very low; leave the berries to poach in the syrup. The low heat will cause the berries to “give up” their juice after about 10 minutes. You can mash the berries slightly; you will see them plump and blanche color; the color and juice is going into the syrup at this point. Stir them if you need to to keep the berries hot and in the syrup.
Strain the sauce using a fine sieve and mash the solids to get the rest of the juice out. If you want a thicker syrup, return the strained syrup to heat and cook on low. At the end you will have a sauce like this~
I bottle this and keep in the fridge. You can also jar it; no need to “can it” if you keep it refrigerated. I use this same recipe for all kinds of berries, and it works well for everything. Get creative with your combinations of berries or adding in herbs;. I prefer a hint of herbs in a berry sauce than a straight berry sauce.
Back to that cosmo; it’s very good, and I hope you will try a variation of this sauce when you can!