James says: 'This herb is my favourite in my garden at home—it’s perfect for infusing custard for crème brûlée and making flavoured teas (if you like that sort of thing). Here the leaves add a gentle citrus note to the meringues, but if you can’t get hold of any, a little finely grated lemon zest will do the trick.'
For the meringues
6 egg whites
180g caster sugar
180g icing sugar, sifted
A few tiny lemon verbena leaves
For the sauce and filling
375g strawberries, hulled
400ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
4 sprigs of lemon verbena
1. Preheat the oven to 100C/200F/gas mark ¼. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. To make the lemon verbena meringues, use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites with the caster sugar to stiff peaks. Add the icing sugar and continue to whisk for 4-6 minutes, or until the meringue is smooth and shiny. Stir in the lemon verbena leaves.
3. Using 2 large metal spoons, shape a quenelle of the mixture
and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process to make 7 more meringues, spacing them well apart on the baking sheet.
4. Place the meringues in the oven and cook for 2 hours.
Remove the meringues from the oven and allow to cool slightly
before gently easing them from the baking sheet with a palette knife. Transfer to a wire rack and set aside.
5. Place 250g of the strawberries in a small food processor and blend until smooth, then pass through a sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds.
6. Thinly slice the remaining strawberries.
7. To make the filling, whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds together until soft peaks form.
8. To serve, spoon some of the cream onto the base of half of the
meringues, top with a few strawberry slices and sandwich together with the remaining meringues. Garnish with the lemon verbena sprigs and serve the strawberry sauce alongside in a bowl.