Lemon Verbena Panna-Cotta, and a little “Sneak-Peek”


I spent quite a bit of time in the Hamptons this past few weeks and i took my camera along to Big Bossman’s garden to give you a little sneak peek of all the wonderful things we grow out there. There are gardeners working on the property full time, growing fruits and vegetables, planting, trimming, cutting and landscaping and as much as i would love to give you a full view of the magnificent garden- i just can’t for privacy reasons. I thought it would be okay to take a few shots of the great produce grown there though. After all, we’re just here for the food.

We’ve been doing some pretty large dinner parties the past months for which we rely a lot on the produce grown on the property. The lemon verbena used to flavor this panna cotta for example is grown right outside my kitchen, and so are the wild strawberries for the garnish and the berries for the coulis. All we need now is a cow and a few chickens to be self-sufficient as i often joke with the Bossman.


Sit back, relax and enjoy this close-up insider look at an exclusive garden in the Hamptons. The recipe for lemon verbena panna cotta is at the end of this post. It’s a long ride, about 2 miles down south, but you’ll find refreshments along the way.


Let’s start with a bumblebee feasting on some funky flowers. Be thankful for every bug that flits back and forth among the blooms in your garden. You see, it really is all about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees. Animals like insects and hummingbirds that feed on nectar deep inside a flower’s bloom ensure that thing called luv’ occurs in the botanical world. By inadvertently gathering pollen on their bodies, the bees transfer the tiny grains that are essential to the fertilization of plants from one flower to another.


Since honeybees, the premier pollinator of commercial crops in the United States, are disappearing into thin air (some blame it on cellular phone signals), pollinators of all kinds like bugs, bumblebees, and hundreds more species we once loved to swat – are getting a little more respect these days. Remember that next time you have a choice between smashing the little sucker against the wall, or simply opening the window to let it escape.


Now that i saved the world, let’s explore the rest of the property, shall we? Two kinds of pears are grown here, Anjou and Bosc. Those are the Anjou pears just a few weeks away from being ripe. Pear tarts, pies, crumbles, poached, roasted and whatnot.. here i come!


There are also two kinds of apples grown there, Cortland and Fuji. Nearby there are also orchards with peach, apricot and sour cherry trees which didn’t give such a good crop this year because of all the rain and weird weather we’ve gotten over the summer. I won’t be jammin’ too much this year.


A few lime trees and Italian lemon and Meyer lemon trees can be found right outside my kitchen window. We make many things with them from lemonade to salad dressings, but i especially like to use them to make lime and lemon curds that i serve with meringue and fresh picked berries. I love to use them to make lemon tarts and lemon sorbet too.


I’m used to travel hectically around manhattan most of the year to pick up ingredients from various markets and grocery stores so i can’t tell you how much i appreciate the luxury to take a relaxed stroll down to some nearby bushes or trees to do my “shopping”. We have raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and tiny wild strawberries to choose from. That’s when it’s not the birds getting the ‘first pick’.


The entrance of the vegetable garden where all the elements to a great ratatouille are grown, plus many other. It’s not only the birds we have to watch out for, the deers love the same things as we do and they don’t hesitate to jump the fence to go and get it.


It should be called the garden of ali baba with an abundance of eggplants, tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchinis, garlic, baby carrots, beets, kale and cucumbers growing in the summer months. The picture on the right is some baby romaine lettuce.


That’s a whole lot of celery growing. And no, i don’t know what i’m going to do with it yet. I bet nobody can recognize the fruit on the right. I was puzzled by it so i finally took a knife and sliced it open to realize it was a miniature kiwi. Yes it is! And it’s pretty sweet too. Those tiny kiwi slices make nice dessert garnishes.


A little corner of the herb garden where basil, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, purslane, chives, mint, tarragon, dill, coriander and lemon verbena growns. In case you wonder, i don’t think the ‘animal’ on the picture is alive. If it was i would be worried. It’s looking at me funny.


There’s a fountain and pond with (non-edible) fishes in it, and a path lined with beautiful flowers carved around it. I think Big Bossman should start throwing some yummy species in there to bring this place one step closer to full autarky, although i don’t think this makes his list of priorities for the time being. Me, i wouldn’t mind bringing some fishing rod to work.


Right next to the lavender is the bench where the chef (aka ME) comes to sit and sip on some wine after dinner parties to decompress and relax for a while. Nice and cozy and hidden from the world. I mean almost hidden, that’s where i almost got tackled by the bodyguards of one of the guests once, they thought i was a terrorist in disguise. Fuckers.

This is your annual eyesight check-up. Yes, that’s how much i care. How many bees can you spot on the picture above?


I just realized i should have named this post: “A bug’s life”. If you have failed the previous check-up there might be still hope, this one is easier. How many honeybees can you spot feasting on flowering chives?


One last one for the road. A beautiful butterfly.

I will announce the winner of  the “Table Manners” giveaway on my next post. I need to do some catching up on my blogging first. Cheers!

  • Lemon Verbena Panna-Cotta

    • Serves 6
  • panna-cotta-5

    • For the panna cotta:
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 cups half and half
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 cups fresh lemon verbena leaves (packed)
    • 3 teaspoons powdered gelatin
    • 6 tablespoons cold water
    • For the garnish:
    • mixed berries
    • berry coulis


  • Combine the heavy cream, the half & half, the sugar and the lemon verbena in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let infuse for 20 min.
  • Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Strain the cream mixture and discard the leaves. Reheat the infused cream until very warm and pour over the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
  • Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into cups, then chill them until set. About 2 hours or more depending on the size of the cup. Recipe can be made up to 48 hours ahead until that point.
  • To unmold, dip the bottom of the cups in warm water for a few seconds and unmold on a plate. Garnish with fruits and coulis. Panna cotta can also be served directly in the cup.
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  • http://lunaskitchenmagic.blogspot.com Chef Luna

    Thanks for the share! I love panna cotta and I adore the highly under rated/under used lemon verbena, so perfection when together. and such lovely pics!

  • http://www.SeattleTallPoppy.blogspot.com Traca

    I’m drooling over those panna cotta. Love living vicariously through your photo tour! Thanks.

  • http://coffeegrounded.wordpress.com Margie

    A beautiful stroll. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • http://ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com Ciaochowlinda

    My oh my what a fantastic garden. I love the idea of using lemon verbena for the panna cotta. Do you think you could use lemon balm with equal success?

  • http://zwischengang.blogspot.com Anja

    I love verbene. Its so intensive aroma is great. thanks for share this recipe. I guess its a good summerdessert.

  • http://culinarytypes.blogspot.com T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types

    That is an amazing garden and the pictures are beautiful. How nice to have such a choice of ingredients right at home. The panna cotta looks excellent. Love the shape that you get from the cups.

  • http://www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com Sophie

    I love verbena especially in fresh tea!

    Lovely panna cotta & great pictures!!

  • Taxis

    I feel like eating a panna cotta, chef when can you cook one for me…!!!???

  • http://colloquialcooking.com Colloquial Cook

    It looks like a two-nippled boob.

    Is my comment going to go straight in the spam bin?

  • http://colloquialcooking.com Colloquial Cook

    No, seriously, do you know what kind of verbena this is? Is it verbena officinalis or aloysia citrodora? It seems the latter (the more flavourful of the two) has trouble growing North of Côte d’Azur and I want some in my herb garden. So not on the Côte d’Azur. Do you have a picture of the plant (said the coroner’s officer)?

  • http://zencancook.com zenchef

    –> Colloquialcook Pffeww.. hahaha. Yes, no comment.
    It’s aloysia citrodora and if it can grow in NY state.. it can grow ANYWHERE! I sent you some pics of the plant.

  • http://www.worldfoodieguide.com Helen @ World Foodie Guide

    Oh, the colours of the garden are stunning! The garden looks even more amazing than when you shot that little video and tweeted it. This would be my dream garden! You’re very lucky to have access to it…

  • http://vanillakitchen.blogspot.com dawn

    how come you didn’t show the pictures of where you planted the hemp and poppies like you showed me and that guy on the street?

  • http://verysmallanna.com anna

    Heh, I thought those tiny wild strawberries on the panna cotta were rosebuds or something at first! I bet they taste incredible!

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com stacey snacks

    You and Claire need to discuss herb varietals in French…..it’s too sexy for blog comments.

    GORGEOUS garden.
    Henry is jealous!

  • http://www.foodieindenial.com Foodie in Denial

    Your panna cotta looks beautiful! I’ll have to let you know when I try the recipe.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva@The Sugar Bar

    your panna cotta looks simply divine! i’m lovin the whole presentation and the garden is a dream come true. i’m very envious :) x

  • http://www.julianaloh.com/blog baobabs

    YUMS!!!! I love panna cotta, but it’s terribly difficult to perfect!

  • http://bowlofmush.blogspot.com/ ABowlOfMush

    Oh My goodness, this is so lovely!

  • http://amritac.wordpress.com Amrita

    Yummy, the panna cotta’s come out so well! Even though I always feel a wee bit icky about using gelatin in any dish, I keep going back to panna cotta, mostly because they’re always easy and elegant at the same time! Beautiful photographs!

  • http://www.bitemekitchen.blogspot.com Rose

    What a stunning garden… Beautiful photographs. I feel relaxed just looking at them. Lovely panna-cotta as well.

  • http://www.mattikaarts.com/blog matt

    what a hard life you lead mate. Amazing garden, and you are becoming quite the photographer! Love the verbena panna cotta. Was thinking about doing exactly the same thing with the verbena that is now overgrown in my yard.

  • http://baconandrhubarb.blogspot.com Rachel (S[d]OC)

    Lovely panna cotta and equally beautiful garden. I want a bossman like this.

    Can I still swat the skeeters? Please???

  • http://www.alittlebitofchristo.blogspot.com doggybloggy

    you are afraid of deer? tsk tsk…LOL

  • Maryann

    That was lovely! Both the walk in the garden and the panna cotta.

  • http://goldilocksfindsmanhattan.blogspot.com/2009/04/happy-easter.html Ulla

    gorgeous! thank you so much for sharing:)
    i feel like i am there, the best feeling ever!:)

  • http://www.bellabaitaview.blogspot.com Marla

    Velvety looking panna cotta. I’m sure the lemon verbena is a wonderful addition. The gardens are a marvel. I can only imagine a well tended herb garden as yours. Mine runs amok. Thanks for the peek.

  • http://www.culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    Love great garden pics and more jealous that he is getting strawberries right now. Every couple of years I will be able to get another run of them in the fall but I am thinking no luck this year :-(

    Never seen that variety of kiwi before.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.domino-design.nl Andrew

    this is absolutely great, I love it!. Things made with gelatine result in what we call in Holland: ‘drilpudding’ for which there is is no translation. Have to make this ‘dtilpudding’ though….

  • http://www.phoo-d.com Phoo-D

    What a magnificent garden! And the panna-cotta is simply stunning.

  • http://jeenaskitchen.blogspot.com Jeena

    Stunning photography and fabulous panna cotta.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com Pigpigscorner

    THe garden is beautiful and great shots!

  • http://latabledenana.blogspot.com/ Monique

    What a beautiful post!

  • http://www.honeyfromrock.blogspot.com Claudia

    As jobs go, yours is not at all bad. You have beautiful surroundings and get to do what you love. Lovely garden shots. Wonder if I could do that Panna Cotta with Lemon Basil? That’s the closest thing to Lemon Verbena in my garden, I think, never having tried any Verbenas.

  • zenchef

    Claudia, of course you can use lemon-basil instead of verbena to flavor the cream. I’m sure it’ll be delicious. Let me know how it goes.

  • http://foodhuntress.blogspot.com enrisa_marie

    Hello. Love this garden photo. Recently our garden’s also being lined up with gardenias for my 2011 wedding (year of the rabbit).And the herbs… I think I’m gonna have a bouquet garni with chive flowers down the aisle :) Thanks for the great posts- and food.

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org Cynthia

    This post makes my week! Thank you!

  • http://www.bakersbench.blogspot.com Sandy Smith

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I can almost feel the silkiness of this panna just by looking at the pic. Really nice.

  • http://www.bromography.com Bromography

    Your photography is absolutely gorgeous!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    i agree, the photography in this post is lovely. i can almost imagine the taste just by looking at the picture of the one with the spoon.

    i can not wait to meet you in person soon and really ask the hard questions about working at these “hampton garden parties” – the idea makes me cringe. but at least you get to see the insides of places that i’ve only stared at through the bushes/hedges the times i’ve been out east.

  • http://www.bromography.com Bromography

    Everything looks gorgeous. I cannot wait to try the recipe. BTW- Do you need an assistant? I would love to just hang around!

  • http://www.cheftonyperez.com/blog Tony Perez

    This is PERFECT!

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