(fresh lavender - a seldom treat)
On a recent visit to a farmer’s market one of the stands turned my head. I could not stop staring at the blueish-purple ocean of flowering lavender spread out over the entire table – worthy of a picture. As I approached the stand the strong scent of lavender was mesmerizing. I had not seen fresh lavender in that abundance in New York City before. I found it interesting how quickly it sparked memories from growing up in alpine Tyrol, Austria where it still grows in abundance. We usually see lavender in its dried form in stores like Whole Foods. The purple beauty is used in ornamental dried flower arrangements of potpourris and wreaths and in many cosmetics such as essential oils, soaps, sachets and perfumes because of its bedazzling scent. My mother tucked lavender soap in between bed sheets, which gave it the most amazing, fresh pine aroma. |
(lavender scented candle - mesmerizing)
(plenty of cosmetics with lavender available...)
Lavender in the kitchen
If you can’t find fresh lavender go with dry. I recommend buying organic lavender so you don’t have to worry about any synthetic pesticides that may have been sprayed and compromise the healthful natural qualities of this flower. I have used dried lavender buds in multiple sous-vide-style cooked venison dishes. The meat can stand up to the strong lavender flavor. The combination seems to make sense when I witnessed deer happily eating the purple flowers in the wild. Carrots caramelized with lavender-honey makes this common vegetable shine. It’s true I romanticize lavender a bit -- it makes me think of a mountainous panorama on a sunny summer day. And with summer comes ice cream so naturally I think of lavender steeped in cream showing off this flower in a delicious bowl of ice cream. It also pairs particularly well with chocolate and makes an appearance on my fall menus every so often. Because of lavender’s pungent flavor I suggest extracting the flavor in a brew by steeping it in a hot, but not boiling, liquid for a few minutes. Thelavender-infused liquid can be dosed as needed so dishes don’t get overwhelmingly strong lavender flavored. Blending lavender into shakes, dressing, sauces and soups is a good way to get the texture of flower buds into your dishes. I must admit it took me a while to get into the taste o lavender as it reminds me of the bed sheets in my mother’s house so I started subtly. The following recipe is a good way to get introduced to lavender - so tasting lavender is not like tasting soap!
(local veggies seasoned with fresh lavender)
Yogurt with Honey and Lavender
(recipe yields four portions)
½ cup water
1 teaspoon fresh or dried lavender blossoms
1 tablespoon honey, wild flower honey preferably
4 cups Greek-style yogurt
4 cups blueberries
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1. In a small saucepot bring water to boil. Move the pot to the side of the stove
and add lavender. Steep lavender for 10 minutes then strain through a fine
mesh sieve. Add honey to the lavender flavored water.
2. In a bowl mix yogurt with a wire wisk then add the lavender/honey water.
3. Rinse blueberries with water then put into small bowl plates and spoon the
lavender yogurt over it.
Chef’s Tip: add orange zest to the yogurt as it balances the lavender/honey-flavored yogurt nicely.