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Archive | June 7th, 2011

Blanco Lavender Festival June 10-12

Blanco Lavender Festival June 10-12

The grounds of the Old Blanco County Courthouse will be busy this coming weekend when the seventh annual Blanco Lavender Festival gets under way.

The Blanco Lavender Festival is June 10-12.

Live music, arts and a host of speakers talking about growing lavender as well as cooking and cleaning with it will all be included in the festivities, which run June 10-12. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Local restaurants will be offering favorites as well as a few lavender dishes for people to try. The wine tent will feature the following Texas wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards, Maydelle Country Wines, Texas Hills Vineyard and Texas Star Winery.

Also for sale will be the new cookbook, “The Local Flavor of Lavender,” featuring more than 70 recipes from local chefs, caterers and farmers. It is priced at $12 a copy.

There will be plenty of everything, except perhaps the freshest lavender. “Due to the drought this winter and spring the Blanco Lavender Farms are experiencing a below-average bloom this season and will not be offering Cut Your Own Lavender,” the festival’s website says. “We invite you to come out and enjoy our farms, but do not want you to be disappointed by the lack of blooms. There will be many wonderful products and fun events to enjoy at the farms during the lavender festival; even if there is not much lavender. Please take this into account when you are planning your trip.”

But that won’t stop lavender lovers from coming out to party.

For directions to the Old Blanco County Courthouse, click here.

If you like cooking with lavender and want to give your old brownie recipe a makeover, check out this recipe for Chocolate Lavender Brownies.

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Try Lavender in Your Brownies

Try Lavender in Your Brownies

“I love these brownies!” Sharon Shipley writes in “The Lavender Cookbook” (Running Press, $18.95). “They’re moist, chewy, and so quick and easy to prepare. Why bother making brownies from a box, when these take only a few extra minutes and taste so much better? Serve them with vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge sauce — or just plain with a glass of cold milk. What could be better?”

If you are cooking with lavender, make sure you get the variety that is meant for the kitchen. Ask your lavender farmer or the person handling the bulk bins at stores like Central Market, Whole Foods or Green Fields for guidance. Shipley prefers the dried “Provence” culinary buds because they have “a low camphor level, a nice floral note, and a gentle lavender flavor. Other varieties of lavender can taste perfumey, buttery and medicinal.” The culinary variety will also have more gray in the color.

Chocolate Lavender Brownies

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds
3 cups sugar, divided use
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder or powdered instant coffee
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Place the lavender in a spice grinder with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Pulse until the lavender is finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the flour, cocoa, salt, espresso or coffee powder, and the remaining sugar. Mix well.

Place the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high power for 1 minute at a time until melted. Let cool for a few minutes. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter mixture. Using a wood spoon, mix until just combined. Stir in the nuts, if using. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.

Makes 24 brownies.

From “The Lavender Cookbook” by Sharon Shipley

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