Bee balm and blue cheese
I keep bee balm on hand (vacuum packed petals we picked this summer) mostly to make our flavoured butter. Sometimes I chop them up fine and whip them into mashed potatoes or use them to brighten a soup garnish, stuffing or sauce. Bee balm makes a pretty pink béchamel or froth that is lively and light tasting. I find the sweet/herbal quality blends nicely with root vegetables and dairy, and the delicate flavour accompanies fish, poultry, pork or rabbit nicely. A knob of bee balm butter makes a fine simple sauce placed on top of anything hot – coquille st-jacques, steamed vegetables, even a steak.
I recently stumbled upon another winning combo. On the menu was a composed salad of celeryroot and parsnip slaw, smoked duck, pomegranate, spiced pecans, pickled day lily buds and blue cheese. To please the masses, I decided to soften the blue cheese by transforming it into a cream* that I could quenelle and on a last minute whim, threw in a good measure of my petal paste. Wow! Striking appearance, delicious taste, so surprisingly complementary –the honey-thyme notes of the bee balm marrying seamlessly with the blue.
Mental note: this could be served as a dip or a spread or a sauce outside the salad context, and might be a way to turn squeamish kids or fussy adults onto blue cheese..
*Blending it with a white wine-shallot reduction with cream and an egg yolk..