We put our snow days to good use - we tested recipes!
Lavender is so versatile it can be used in appetizers, entrees, deserts and even drinks. Our favorites are Lavender Lemon Sugar cookies, Lavender crepes drizzled with Lavender honey and a dollop of sweet cream, Lavender popcorn, and always refreshing Lavender Lemonade. We hope you enjoy experimenting with Lavender in your own kitchens.
Some basics before you begin: Our family prefers using L. Angustifolia Hidcote or Royal Velvet in our sweet dishes like cakes, cookies and sweet drinks. we prefer L x. Intermedia Provence for Savory dishes and in our Herbes de Provence blend. This is just a matter of taste and you many like to experiment to suit your own tastes.
We use our Lavender straight from the field or dried. If you are using fresh Lavender from the field or garden just rinse the flower head, blot dry and pull buds and flowers off the stems. To dry Lavender, hang a bundle upside down in a dark, dry, airy location for a week or two. Put some clean paper on the floor to catch dried buds and flowers. You can use these in your cooking or for sachets. When dry, remove the buds by rolling the flower head in your hands. You can also pinch the stalk below the flower head and slide up to remove the buds. You can store dried buds in a dark blue or amber glass container kept out of the light. The Lavender will retain its color and fragrance for several years.
When you are ready to add Lavender to your recipe you can crush the buds to release the fragrant oils. You can crush them with your fingers, under a large flat wooden spoon or in a spice grinder.
When you dry your own Lavender, don't toss out the stems that are left over. These are great for adding flavor to meat, poultry or fish on the grill. Soak the stems in water for a few minutes before they go on the grill.
Remember you can always use more or less Lavender than the recipe calls for depending on your taste.
Lavender Sugar - Super simple to make! Use in baking or to sprinkle on sweets or ice cream. Good to have around to sweeten Iced Tea and Lemonade
1 tablespoon dried Lavender (I prefer Hidcote or Royal Velvet)
2 cups granulated sugar
Grind or crush Lavender and mix in the sugar. Store in a tightly covered jar. Let sit about 3 days before using.
Lavender Simple Syrup - Add to Lemonade, Iced Tea, and yes, Martinis, and Sangria
1 cup Water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon fresh or dried Lavender
1 small strip lemon zest
In a small pan, boil the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in the Lavender and lemon zest and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until needed.
Lavender Honey Butter - Just yummy smeared on muffins, scones, and even bagels.
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon honey (we use our own Lavender Honey)
1 tablespoon dried Lavender
Blend butter, honey and Lavender in a food processor or mash them together by hand. We fool ourselves and believe we can burn calories by doing this way! Transfer to wax or parchment paper and roll into a log. Refrigerate or freeze.
Lavender Jelly - Recently someone called and asked if I make Lavender jelly. I hadn't yet, but I was definitely up for the challenge. I love making jams and jellies from all the terrific summer fruits and berries available in central NJ. My family loves my secret recipe "Blueberry Crush" jam (aptly named because one of my twins was more interested in flirting with the cute boys who work at the organic blueberry farm than in helping me pick) My husband goes wild for the blackberry and raspberry jellies and jams I make from the pickings at the Colts Neck Berry Farm. Be sure to check out Emery's Organic Blueberry Farm in New Egypt (609-758-8514) and Colts Neck Berry Farm behind Delicious Orchards (732-294-0707) for amazing, fresh Jersey berries. For peaches and cherries we go to Battleview Orchards in Freehold (732-462-0756) and for apples we head over to Eastmont Orchards in Colts Neck ((732-542-5404). And now for the Lavender jelly... turns out it's not a challenge at all, and the results are scrumptious.
5 1/2 cups apple juice
1 1/2 cups fresh lavender (you can use buds and flowers)
1 box MCP pectin
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 1/2 cups sugar
Wrap the Lavender in cheesecloth and tie. Drop the Lavender bundle into the apple juice in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep. Remove Lavender bundle and add pectin, lemon juice and sugar. Cool and seal according to package directions for canning. This is wonderful on fruit salad and as an elegant spread on pastries like croissants and popovers.
* The recipe I used called for MCP pectin (Modified Citrus Pectin) which is a variation on regular pectin that is thought to have anti-cancer properties. I did not have MCP pectin on hand and used regular pectin. The results were still terrific.
** Be sure to follow all package directions for safe canning
Crystallized Lavender - Super, super easy with a big impact. Use crystallized Lavender to garnish ice cream, pudding, creme brulee, or just on their own as a pretty, sweet addition to a tray of sweets.
Fresh Lavender stalks trimmed about 2" below flower head
egg whites lightly whisked
I find it's easiest to crystallize the flowers on a short stalk and then remove the sweet, crystallized florets to serve or sprinkle on ice cream, pudding, mousse or whatever you fancy. Holding the stalk, dip the flower head into whisked egg white and swirl around to thoroughly coat flowers. Then dip flower head into superfine sugar to coat. Dry on layer of waxed paper until dry. Store layered in wax paper in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Pluck off the individual florets to serve. You don't want to eat the stalk. It will taste like camphor.
Alternatively, you can pluck off the flowers from the stalk with tweezers or cut off with a small scissor before you put them in the egg white. Using the tweezers dip each floret in the egg and sugar, then lay out to dry. This is more time consuming. I've tried it both ways and find that the results are the same - delicious, sweet, slightly crunchy Lavender Bliss.
Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Lavender Goat Cheese Croustades (fancy word for "on toast")
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 crust French baguette sliced 1/4" thick
5 ounce soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon dried Lavender
Preheat oven to 450
Combine oil and garlic in small saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Brush this onto the top side of each bread slice and place in single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake for 9 -10 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from oven and cool.
To serve: mix the goat cheese and Lavender and spread on the croustades.
Note: You can do this with any soft cheese you like. I really live Fromage D'affinios which is sold at Wegman's as their "Milky Brie."
Lavender Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 leeks, cut in half lengthwise (white and pale green pparts only)
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 pounds small brown mushrooms thinly slices
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender, finely ground
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or lemon thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup uncooked long-grained white rice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
6 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup port wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves, minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and shallots. Cook for 5 minutes or until the leeks are soft. Add the mushrooms, lavender, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid released from the mushrooms has evaporated. Stir in the rice and flour. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth and port. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf and add seasonings to taste.
Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley and chives. Serve with the croustades (above) and salad for a simple, satisfying light meal.
** I made this with vegetable broth, but you may substitute beef or chicken broth depending on your taste. You may also omit the heavy cream if you are trying to watch your calorie intake.
Lavender Salads and Salad Dressing
Lavender can be added to your favorite salad and salad dressing recipes to liven it up, give it that extra boost and impress all your friends and family! We just sprinkle Lavender dried or fresh on our salad greens, fruit salads, pasta salads and in our homemade and store-bought dressings. You can experiment by using a little or a lot, and try it fresh and dried to see what you prefer. The possibilities are endless as you try the many different cultivars available. You may like Hidcote and Royal Velvet on fruit salad, Grosso on your Ceasar salad... Go ahead, experiment. We'll help you find the perfect Lavender for your taste.
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried Lavender
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
In a blender mix all the ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate in a tightly closed container until needed
Lavender Lemon Ginger Dressing
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple jelly
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried Lavender crushed
Place all ingredients except the Lavender in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until dressing is warmed through and thoroughly blended. Remove from heat. When cool blend in the Lavender and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate in tightly closed container until needed.
Entrees and Side Dishes:
To be honest, as a vegetarian I have not tasted or even attempted to make any meat or fish dishes. I've included these recipes because they help highlight the diversity of cuisine that Lavender can enhance.
Lavender Breast of Chicken: stuffed with apples and fennel in parchment
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1 leek, but in half lengthwise and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 small fennel bulb, diced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
6 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lavender honey or honey
6 lemon slices
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender, finely ground in a spice grinder
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, apples, leek and fennel. Saute for 3 minutes, or until just tender. Add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Mic in the parsley and lemon zest.
Cut six 12 x 8-inch sheets of parchment paper. Lay the sheets on a work surface with the long sides facing you. Butter the paper. Place 1/4 cup of the leek mixture slightly off-center on each piece of paper. Top with the chicken, skin side up, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Peel back the skin and place 1 tablespoon of the leek mixture over the meat; replace the skin.
In a cup , mix the wine and honey. Spoon over the chicken. Top each breast with a lemon slice and sprinkle with the lavender.
Fold the parchment over the chicken, letting the three edges meet. Fold all three edges inward toward the chicken until you form a tight package. Place the packages on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes. To serve, place each packet on a dinner plate. Let diners open their own packages at the table.
Not one for experimenting in the kitchen but still interested in taste testing lavender? Not a problem, several restaurants in the tri-state area use our lavender in their dishes. In the summer we also offer complimentary lavender lemonade to help fight the heat.
The Flaky Tart, Atlantic Highlands
Purple Glaze, Asbury Park
Sel rrose, Manhattan
Franklin's Fountain, Philadelphia