Tag Archive | "cooking with lavender"

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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WalkerSpeak: Culinary Uses for Lavender Bring Sweet Rewards

Lavender is sold for hobby, as well as culinary uses.

The first time I tasted lavender used as a culinary ingredient was at a wine luncheon at Becker Vineyards.  The meal included a touch of this fragrant herb in nearly every dish served, from the salad dressing to dessert.

When I returned home, I pulled down a book to read more about using lavender in cooking. My natural choice was “Southern Herb Growing” (Shearer Publishing, $29.95), by Madalene Hill and her daughter, Gwen Barklay, and Jean Hardy. This beautifully photographed compendium of herbal lore is a treasure for cooks as well as gardeners.

In the book, published in 1987, there was a only a brief discussion on using lavender in cooking. They did offer the instruction to use only the young growth tips of the plant for cooking.

Some 23 years after this book was published, attitudes toward lavender have changed. Many cooks, especially those who grow herbs, use the fragrant plant as an ingredient in many thing, from salad dressing and vegetables to roast chicken and ice cream.

I took a tour of several farms in an area area south of San Antonio recently with a group from the food organization, Les Dames d’Escoffier. The topic of herbs came up and someone asked Nichole Bendele, who works at Becker Vineyards, whether one could use “any” lavender found for sale, including that from a hobby store, for cooking. Becker Vineyards has its annual Lavender Festival this weekend.

“Not a good idea” was her response. The handling of the herb for culinary purposes is more strictly regulated than lavender that will be used for potpourri, dried bouquets or sachets.

Here are a few more tips on using lavender in cooking, from Bendele:

  • Purchase culinary lavender.  It’ll be pesticide-free, and it will not have stems and leaves attached.  It will be just the florets.
  • When cooking with lavender, use sparingly —a little goes a long way.
  • Lighter blossoms have a lighter flavor, darker (as in more gray) blossoms more flavor.
  • Lavender is also related to rosemary and sage.
  • Lavender sprigs can be used as skewers for shrimp and veggies on the grill.
  • Want to add a little flavor to simple rolls?  Sprinkle a few lavender florets in the dough before baking.
  • And, for a medicinal use:  Lavender oil is good to use as an antiseptic (small cuts, light abrasions).

For a recipe, try Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream

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