Got some lavender, now what do I do with it?
I went to a great little restaurant for lunch last week and in your birth month, they give you a free bag of herbs. Usually in September, it's marjoram. But this year I got lavender. I've NEVER cooked with lavender before. Does anyone have a recipe?
In all honesty, I like the way I make gelato NOW better than the way I made it last year. The original recipe is nice enough (and on Katty's Kitchen), but I really, really LOVE making it with whole milk, a touch of cream and a can of sweetened condensed milk. It's much, much smoother and creamier. Can I direct you to my stracciatella recipe, then modify as follows? That's what I did to make fresh mint stracciatella this month!
(omit chocolate chunks!)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon dried lavender (or 2 tablespoons fresh lavender)
½ a vanilla bean, split and scraped, rather than a whole bean
After the first part of the process where small bubbles form at the side of the pan, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
Strain liquid using a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the leaves to extract all the liquid. Then follow the rest of the recipe. :)
If that's just jibberish, hit me back and I'll try again! I don't have it all written in one place. It's on pieces of paper and in my head. HA HA!
To add a savory dish to this thread, David Leite had a wonderful sounding chicken breast with lavender and honey in his blog this am, from Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume:
There are a few more savory dishes containing lavender at the bottom of the link page as well. Happy eating.
A question for the experienced lavender chefs: do you use dried or fresh? I love the smell of lavender, but so far have only enjoyed it as a perfume. For some reason, I always pictured lavender fresh when it was used in cooking, but then last week I saw a little bag of dried in the spice section of the Mexican grocery near my house. Would this be appropriate for all of these delicious-sounding recipes everyone is posting (most refer simply to "lavender flowers") or would it be better to try to find the fresh stuff? Or is the fresh stuff even findable? Or edible?
That ice cream sounds amazing, by the way.
Fresh is both findable and edible, but we're talking mostly about dried flower buds here, which is much more easily findable. Those who cook with fresh most likely grow their own.
Make sure the product is marked culinary lavender; there are many varieties of lavender, some less acceptable for cooking, as they are more perfumy tasting and have a stronger aroma. English Angustifolia lavender and Provence lavender (the better of the two) are two very good culinary varieties. I would get it from a reputable packer/vendor/spice shop.
I keep it in the freezer, well wrapped.
If you do use fresh, the ratio is 1T. fresh:1 t. dried, about 1/3 the quantity, like other strongly flavored dried herbs.
I love lavender. I put lavender oil on a small handkerchief and keep it under my pillow; a few good sniffs and I'm asleep.
Lavender-orange scones are delicious, I used to make them for catered events and the guests couldn't guess what that different flavor was. Add 1 tsp minced dried lavender flowers and 2 tsp orange zest to a basic buttermilk scone recipe; add currants for extra flavor. If you make scones with regular milk, steep the lavender in the hot milk first, then strain. Let the milk cool before using.
Make lavender sugar, as you would vanilla sugar; in a jar with a tight lid, wrap two tablespoons dried lavender up in a square of cheesecloth as a sachet and cover with 1 cup white sugar, cover and let set for a few weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. Remove the lavender sachet. Nice with tea or use the sugar for sprinkling on sugar cookies, or use the lavender sugar in the cookie dough.
For lavender creme brulee, use 1 tablespoon dried lavender to 4 cups heavy cream, a pinch of fine salt, 8 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring the cream to a simmer, remove from burner, steep the lavender in the hot cream for 5 minutes, then strain through wire mesh strainer. Beat egg yolks and sugar until light, add strained cream slowly to eggs/sugar and blend, portion into creme brulee cups and bake in hot water bath in 300º oven until set but jiggly in the center; time depends on your oven and size of custard cup; this can take an hour or less. Cool in water bath and refrigerate well before serving. Brulee top of custard with lavender or granulated sugar before serving.
I make lavender scented creme anglaise for serving with fresh fruit, especially berries or plums.
A lavender flavored simple syrup 1:1 cups ratio sugar to water, 4 teaspoon dried buds, add a little honey if you like, is nice on fruit salads and in iced tea. Simmer water, sugar and lavender for 3-4 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and your kitchen is filled with the lovely aroma. Strain into jar and refrigerate.
Speaking of drinks, steep a tablespoon of dried lavender in a bottle of decent gin for a week, strain and use it for a very refreshing gin and tonic.
Mix up your own herbes de Provence with lavender, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, fennel seed and summer savory in equal proportions. Add basil if you like. Great with pork, lamb, chicken, roasted vegetables, eggs, breads, fish, blended into soft cheeses and used to marinate olives, whatever.
The one big rule with lavender, which is a strongly scented herb, is less is more; use it as a background note, like vanilla; remember that and you'll enjoy cooking with it.
The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld and The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley might be worth looking into for more recipes.
Love lavender shortbread. And lavender scones.
Also it works well in savory. I have the Lavender Cookbook and like the Shrimp with Lavender Honey Marinade (lavender honey, lavender buds, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, lime and tangerine juice).
Also like it with pork chops as a marinade.
(I'd post more, but screaming baby is pulling me away - but if you can find that cookbook, lots of great ideas)
We love this one; it's a tweaked version of Claudia Fleming's Lemon Lavender poundcake. The flavors complement each other well and it's so much nicer with more tartness to the lemon. I can paraphrase the actual recipe if you prefer that one:
Lavender Lemon Pound Cake
adapted from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course
(1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf, 8 Servings)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon dried lavender
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
zest from about 3 lemons (or 3 heaping Tablespoons)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons dried lavender
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of the lavender. Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes, then strain, discarding the lavender. Set aside to cool.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes.
In a bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Using a whisk, fold the lemon zest and a third of the flour mixture into the eggs until thoroughly combined. Fold in the rest of the flour in two batches.
In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup of the batter with the melted butter and the vanilla. Add this to the remaining batter and fold to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. If the top of the cake seems to be getting overly browned before the center is set, cover with foil and continue baking.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, the lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, and 3 tablespoons of lavender. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Transfer the cake to a wire rack. Using a cake tester or skewer, poke the cake all over. Brush the loaf with half the syrup and let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack, remove the pan, and brush syrup over the bottom and sides of the cake. Re-invert the cake and brush with the remaining syrup. Let cool completely.
Lavendar Lemon biscotti is a nice treat.
The key to cooking with lavendar is resisting the urge to overuse it. Too much imparts a soapy taste. : ( Better to use too little and then need to make it again to decide what is the right amount for you. :)
This is the recipe I started with:
I make a Lavender Caramel ice Cream that is very good.
Lavender Caramel Ice Cream
makes 1 1/2 quarts
1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons lavender flowers
1 1/2 teaspoons water
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
1. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of lavender and 1 1/2 teaspoon of water. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture dries (2 to 3 minutes). Transfer to a plate to cool, then grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Set aside.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the milk, crème fraîche, vanilla bean and remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/2 teaspoon lavender. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot (about 8 minutes).
3. Remove from heat, cover and let the mixture steep for 15 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve and return it to the saucepan.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended. Gradually whisk in one-third of the warmed milk mixture in a thin stream, then whisk the mixture back into the remaining milk in the saucepan. Stir in the reserved lavender powder.
5. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard lightly coats the back of a spoon (about 5 to 7 minutes). BE CAREFUL NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL!
6. Immediately remove from the heat and strain the custard into a medium bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice and water, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (Or, you can use the refrigerator [or freezer]). Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, or overnight.
7. Pour the custard into an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Lavender is grown quite widely near me and looks beautiful in the fields. I also have a nice bush in my garden and have made this with it:
They tasted very good but I am still wary of cooking too much with it as it has a tendency to remind me of perfume and lavender bags used to scent clothes drawers!
However, if you're further inspired you could also try this website - the shortbread sounds interesting:
I'd love to know how you get on!