Nectarines in Lemon Verbena Syrup

Nectarines in Lemon Verbena Syrup layered with cake croutons and whipped cream
Today, you get a rant and a recipe…

The Kafkaesque idiocy of city government is highlighted today as I run an errand I’ve been rightly avoiding for 14 years. I’m visiting City Hall to pick up guest parking permits, an easy sounding task. When I enter the drab 1960’s lobby, I grab a ticket from the machine (similar to what you do at the meat counter). There are only three people in front of me for parking permits – perhaps this will be easier than I imagined? I wait. And wait. And wait. While I wait, I wonder what government policy requires a homeowner to personally visit City Hall to obtain temporary parking permits. Americans bank online, pay property taxes online, buy and sell every commodity imaginable online and yet, I’m required to physically visit a building midday (which, if I was still working, would mean taking time off work). I don’t blame the city worker behind the counter for the molasses-slow process, although she’s admittedly moving at DMV employee speed. Each resident seems entirely confused by what they need, each carrying a large packet of information to the counter. This shouldn’t be this difficult. Finally, after 40 minutes of waiting, my number is called – “D2035 at Desk #19.” When I get to the counter, I’m asked to write down my name and address. I wonder what the city does with these handwritten forms. Transcribe them into electronic documents? Save them for seven years? Track permit request traffic flow? By this time, I just want to Kaizen the shit out of this place. Then, I’m asked for my driver’s license, a utility bill, and my car registration:

City Employee (Looking at his computer): “Who is Enrique?”

Me: “He was a previous owner (Who sold the house in 2001!)”

City Employee: “Who is John Woodman?”

Me: “He was the owner who sold the property to me (In 2003!)”

City Employee: “I can give you the temporary permits today, but next time, you need to bring in the Grant Deed to your property so we can update our records.”

So, City Hall needs a copy of my Grant Deed from 2003 (14 years ago!) to update their records so I can get temporary guest parking permits? Oh, and by the way, I need to go back in October to get a new set of permits for next year.

Don’t make me go back…please. Here’s an hour of my life I’m not getting back.  I hate pointless time-suck errands.  What a waste of an afternoon.  I need a sweet treat.  This recipe helps take me back to my happy place…


Nectarines in Lemon Verbena Syrup

I’ve been trying to use up summer’s plethora of nectarines and lemon verbena. This simple recipe is a favorite – the verbena syrup makes sliced fresh fruit special enough for company.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup lemon verbena leaves
  • 3-4 nectarines, sliced
  • garnishes if ice cream, whipped cream, cake or cookies

Directions

  1. To make the syrup, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved completely. Add lemon verbena leaves, stir well, cover and let steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Strain leaves from syrup.
  2. Drizzle nectarines with about ¼ cup of lemon verbena syrup. Serve nectarines and syrup with ice cream, whipped cream, or even pound cake croutons. Remaining syrup can be kept for a few weeks in the refrigerator. I use it in lemonade, ice tea, or drizzled over Greek yogurt.

Caramelized Nectarines

Caramelized Nectarines in a white casserole dish
The annual nectarine onslaught has begun again and, in fact, the prolific bounty has already managed to snap two branches with the weight. Harvest time is brief with pounds upon pounds of sweet fruit ready all at once. I want to rescue each juicy orb from Newton’s law, plucking them from the tree before they fall, but each morning I find a dozen plump globes bruised and broken upon the ground, their potential wasted. In my efforts to salvage the masses in the past, I’ve bubbled large caldrons of steamy nectarine jam, resulting in three dozen jars “put up.” One can only eat so much jam, however, and most of it remains languishing in the cupboard. I’ve also undertaken a raft of baked goods, but it’s a losing battle – a recipe requires a pound or two of fruit, while I’m picking a few pounds each DAY. I’ve tried freezing the fruit, but that resulted in mushy brown thawed blobs. I picked the first fat, ripe nectarines this week, preparing them with a drizzle of butter, sprinkle of sugar, and quick broil. I know I can’t save them all, but over the next few weeks, I’m willing to try.


Caramelized Nectarines

  • Servings: 2-4 people
  • Print
My nectarines are small.  With larger nectarines, you’ll probably only need two or three to reach the amount needed for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 10-12 oz. Nectarines, sliced in half and pitted.
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (preferably turbinado, like Sugar in the Raw)
  • Pinch cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler. Place nectarines, cut side up in a small casserole dish. Melt butter in microwave or small saucepan. Add salt and vanilla to butter and stir to combine.
  2. Drizzle butter over nectarine halves, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Broil nectarines about 4” from broiler element for approximately 8 minutes until fruit is bubbling and beginning to brown. Enjoy plain or serve with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Pink Promises

Pink PromisesEvery February, hundreds of pink promissory notes arrive at my home, pledging delivery of a summer crop of succulent and honeyed nectarines. The ripened fruit make its way into jams, gelatos, smoothies and even roasted chicken, but these round globes of goodness are finest when consumed sun-warmed and straight from the tree – devoured while juice drips unabashedly down my chin. This summer, again, I was paid in full.

Summer in a Bowl

With nectarines from my bountiful tree and homemade preserved lemons (from my garden as well),  I made this fresh and flavorful Summer’s day treat.  The leftovers were just as delicious when turned into milk shakes:

Nectarine and Preserved Lemon Ice Cream

2 cups fresh nectarines, seeded and unpeeled

3-4 slices preserved lemon, finely chopped

1 1/4   cups sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 large eggs

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

1/2 – 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped

Puree nectarines in a food processor.  Add 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice and combine.  Add preserved lemon to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring the mixture occasionally. Test flavor and add additional preserved lemon if needed.

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Whisk in 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.  Whisk for 1 minute more until completely blended.  Add cream, milk and vanilla bean and whisk to blend. Add 1/2 of the puree and blend.

Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.  About 2 minutes before ice cream is done, add remaining puree. **

** Adapted from Ben and Jerry’s Fresh Georgia Peach Ice Cream