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Lavender Adds an Aromatic Touch to Apple Rhubarb Crisp


Lavender lends flowery, herbal hints to this apple, rhubarb crisp.

“This sweet-tart dessert is especially good served with vanilla ice cream or a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream to which you’ve added a little ground lavender,” says Sharon Shipley in “The Lavender Cookbook” (Running Press, $18.95).  If you love a hint of lavender in desserts, you might also try serving this crisp with Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream.

Lavender Apple Rhubarb Crisp

Topping:
1/2 cup pecan halves or large pieces
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices

Fruit:
4 large Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 or 5 large ribs rhubarb
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds
3/4 cup sugar, divided use
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

For the topping: Place the pecans in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a cup and set aside. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Scatter the butter on top. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

For the fruit: Peel and core the apples; cut into 1/2-inch slices (you should have about 6 cups). Place in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and vanilla. Cut the rhubarb into 1/4-inch slices (you should have about 4 cups). Add to the bowl.

Place the lavender in a spice grinder with 1/4 cup of the sugar, Pulse until the lavender is finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the flour, cinnamon and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Sprinkle over the fruit and toss to combine.

Transfer the fruit mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the pecans. Sprinkle with the crumb mixture. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Note: Placing the chopped nuts under the crumb mixture helps to keep the nuts from burning.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From “The Lavender Cookbook” by Sharon Shipley

 

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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


“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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Great for the Grill: Lamb Chops


Grill lamb chops this weekend.

Here’s a quick recipe for grilling that incorporates two Texas ingredients now in season: blackberries and lavender leaves.

Lamb Chops with Blackberries and Lavender

8 lamb loin chops (about 3 pounds)

Marinade:
2 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sweet red vermouth
1/4 cup fresh lavender leaves, finely chopped (see note)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 to 6 cloves garlic, to taste, minced or pressed

Place the lamb chops in a 1-gallon zippered-top plastic bag.

Combine the blackberries, vermouth, lavender, salt, Worcestershire sauce and garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Mash the berries. Pour the marinade into the bag, seal and squish around to coat the chops. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat the grill with all the burners on high for 10 minutes and the lid down.

When the grill is hot, turn all the burners to medium. Place the lamb hops on the grill, close the lid and cook for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Adjust the time slightly up or down if you desire a different degree of doneness.

Transfer the chops to a platter, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: You can use untreated lavender flowers as a garnish on the finished dish, if desired, but use the more pungent leaves for the marinade. If you can’t find the lavender leaves, try 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, to taste, and omit the Worcestershire sauce.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Source: Adapted from “The New Gas Grill Gourmet” by A. Cort Sinnes

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