Ramona Werst has a love for growing, caring for, and cooking with basil. There are over 30 different varieties of basil in her current collection, and she is adding to her collection all the time. She creates recipes to use with different basils and will teach you how to Love Your Basil! Visit her blog, www.ramonasbasilgarden.com, to download her free e-book, Love Your Basil.
My love for basil started by wanting to enhance my culinary skills, but once I started collecting this amazing herb and cooking with it I wanted to share with everyone how to grow, care for, and cook with basil.
It's summer! Summer always makes me think of refreshing beverages, delicious salads, cooking out on the grill, and fancy fruit desserts. I grow several basils year-round to cook with my special pasta sauce, picante sauce and fresh fruit desserts.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Spicy Globe') grows as a small compact bushy basil plant. The leaves are very tiny and it takes quite a few leaves to use in my recipes. I have several 'Spicy Globe' plants and I use them not only as decorative landscape but in container pots to keep in the greenhouse year-round. They have a delicate, little white flower and they look so pretty around bird baths or in a garden around trees. We have large pecan trees that provide plenty of shade for them; my 'Spicy Globe' grows and thrives all summer long.
I have several 'Spicy Globe' plants that I don’t let flower so that I can harvest the tiny leaves and freeze them. The spicy flavor adds a unique taste to many sauces and fresh fruit desserts. I have even added 'Spicy Globe' to my Fresh Homemade Peach Cobbler!
Photo by matthew_middleton_dot_ca/Courtesy Flickr
I love to entertain and serve one-of-a-kind desserts. You never know what I’ll bring to the table to share. My 'Spicy Globe' Blackberry Tart is a crowd pleaser. It’s so attractive that you can’t wait to take your first bite. When you do, you won’t be disappointed. Take time to savor all the different flavors ranging from the rich cornmeal shortbread crust and the creamy vanilla bean flavored filling, to the juicy blackberries with just a little spice from the 'Spicy Globe'.
'Spicy Globe' Blackberry Tart
I freeze fresh blackberries and fresh 'Spicy Globe' so I can prepare this dessert for special occasions. (Click here for the original recipe.)
• 2 cups sour cream
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 vanilla bean pod, halved lengthwise
Cornmeal Shortbread Dough
• 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 6 tablespoons butter, softened
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated
• 2 cups blackberries
• 1/4 cup fresh 'Spicy Globe' leaves, loosely packed, plus sprigs for garnish
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon water
1. After washing the 'Spicy Globe', pinch the leaves from the stem and put them in a bowl.
2. Combine the sour cream and white sugar, mixing until white sugar is dissolved. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half and slice it lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla bean out with a knife and add it to your mixture. Since it is very costly, make sure that you are not wasting any of it. Stir the vanilla bean into the mixture; once it is completely mixed put a lid on it and refrigerate it for 3 hours or overnight.
3. After refrigerated, prepare your cornmeal shortbread dough for the crust. Combine flour, cornmeal and salt. Set aside.
4. In another bowl, whisk egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
5. Add butter and sugar to an electric mixing bowl and beat it at medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Now, add in your yolk mixture and the orange zest. Turn down the speed of the beater and add your flour mixture. Beat the mixture until it forms a dough that is very soft. When the dough is ready, form it into a little disk and wrap it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spread the dough over it. Leave a little bit over the edge so that you can easily pick up the crust once it is baked.
7. Mold the dough to the pan and make sure that the bottom of the pan is completely covered with dough.
8. Place the crust in the oven for about 18 to 20 minutes until it turns golden. Then, set it on a rack and let cool completely.
9. In a saucepan, combine fresh blackberries, 'Spicy Globe', cinnamon and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook it until the juice starts to come out; about two minutes.
10. Take the dough out of the tart pan on a dish. Spoon the vanilla bean filling that we have already prepared onto the crust. Spoon the cooked blackberry mixture over the crust. Garnish with some fresh basil tops.
The 'Spicy Globe' Blackberry Tart is now ready for you to eat and enjoy!
You, too, can enjoy the many benefits of learning to grow, care for, and cook with basil. The Herb Companion is a treasure of news and tips in learning all about the fascinating basil and other healthy herbs.
I’m Ramona Werst, teaching you to Love Your Basil.