summer brings some of my favorite flavors; ripe, juicy peaches and basil. my little peach tree is years away from providing an abundance of fruit so i must content myself with what i can find at the farmers market and the grocery store(my last resort). however, i have plenty of basil in the herb garden to keep me stocked for the rest of the year! we let it grow until the frost takes it and if we are paying attention, we pick as much as possible before it is killed off, puree it and freeze it in ice trays. during the summer, basil ends up in lots of things; salads, vinaigrette, sauces and desserts. wait, desserts? yes desserts. it blends beautifully with peaches!
for this weeks pie, i infused some milk with lemon grass, basil, star anise and cardamom pods. it was then strained and used to make a custard with a lovely herbal flavor to fill the baked pie shell and topped with ripe, juicy slices of peaches.
anyone that has looked in a seed catalog or visited a nursery has seen the many different varieties of basil out there. i plant as many as i can in my herb garden. one of my favorites, pictured above, is from a friend. jim, a fellow gardener, shared a plant with me two years ago and it has been reseeding itself in abundance. this year, i returned the favor and gave away at least 25 of the plants but i still have at least that many left in the garden! it is the most unusual basil i have ever encountered; it doesn’t have the strong licorice flavor that most basils have, including the flavored varieties. they only thing i can say about the flavor is that the scent of it makes me think of juicy fruit gum and as soon as i mention that out loud, everyone agrees. another characteristic of this plant, it is a little hairy in comparison to other basils. so if you know what variety it is, let me know-and if it isn’t a basil, tell me that too. we have compared the flowers as well as the stems and leaves to all of the other basils and they are almost identical except for the hairiness and the scent.