Saturday, March 12, 2016

French Lavender Cookies, other Lavender Stories and Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Lavender

We buy Culinary Lavender when we're visiting France. You can find in in the States in Speciality Cooking Stores. There's a difference between the Lavender you buy in stores for Pot Potpourri and the Lavender you grow in your Garden. You can eat the Lavender from your Garden but commercially sold Lavender for Fragrance had been infused with oils. Make sure you use edible Lavender.
Although most varieties of Lavender can be used in cooking, some varieties are more widely used, including Lavendula Angustifolia and Munstead. These have the sweetest fragrance that creates floor in baking. The flowers also add a subtle, sweet citrus flavor.

I took this photograph when we were in France in the Summer of
2015. We wanted to be there specifically for the Lavender Harvest and the Lavender Festivals.
It was the first time we were in the fields during the harvest. The fragrance is more intense during the harvest.

French Lavender Cookies.

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Sheet Pans lined with Parchment Paper.

3/4 C All Purpose Flour
1/2 C Almond Flour
2 TBS Cornstarch
2 TBS Granulated Sugar
1 TBS Culinary Lavender
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
8 TBS Cold Butter, cubed
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 TBS Honey

In a small bowl, sift together:
All Purpose Flour
Almond Flour

In a Food Processor:
Flour Mixture
Lavender Salt
Pulse just to combine.

Lemon Zest
Continue pulsing just to form a coarse texture with visible pieces of Butter.

Lemon Juice
Pulse just until it comes together and forms a soft dough ball.

Wrap it in Plastic Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the Dough, use a 1 1/2" Cookie Scoop and drop the dough onto the Sheet Pan.
Gently flatten each cookie with the bottom of a Stainless Steel Measuring Cup.

Bake 9 - 11 minutes.
Remove Pan to a Rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer Cookies to the Rack to cool completely.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Over the Memorial Day weekend in 2014, we went to our local Lavender Festival. Lavender Ridge Farms is located 8 miles east of Gainesville, Texas.
I've included stories, photographs and some of the recipes from their farm.

It was originally a strawberry and melon farm in the 1920's and 30's. It is now a lavender, cut flower
and herb farm. It has 2 acres of lavender, and a field of Zinnias, Bachelor Buttons, Sunflowers and a variety of vegetables for picking.

You can have lunch in the cafe or bring a picnic.
There's also a gift shop with Dried Lavender, Homemade Soaps that are amazing, Pottery , Herbs, Culinary Lavender and Cookbooks.

Twice a year they have a Festival that includes tents with vendors selling a variety of antiques, collectibles and various other knick-knacks that we just can't seem to live without.

 The gift shop is charming ,with a variety of Lavender gifts.

Anne and I bought Soap, Culinary Lavender and a Cookbook. We discovered, for the first time, Aubrey Oaks Alpacas, a vendor that raises Alpacas and sells the most beautiful items of clothing and accessories made from the hair that has thermal properties. The hair is strong, soft and comes in a variety of natural colors. Anne got a Sweater/Coat and I bought a Vest that looks very German/Austrian.

I purchased the Lavender Farms Cookbook and Culinary Lavender to bake a variety of items and post recipes on the blog. I received permission from Kevin and Jerry to talk about the Festival and post some of their Lavender Recipes. Thank you for allowing me to blog about your wonderful farm and event. We've visited the farm several times and will return again many more times!

If you're ever in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, take a day trip to visit the Farm.

We've spent many years vacationing in Provence, France enjoying the Lavender Fields near Valensole. We have many friends throughout France. Provence in the summer is amazing! We'll be returning next summer.
If you can't make it to France to see the lavender, come to Texas and visit Lavender Ridge Farms.
Before I post recipes, I wanted to show you that even when we left Lavender Ridge, it reminded us of Provence.

And now........ Recipes!
As I make some of these recipes, I'll add photographs.

I added a note at the end of this post talking about Lavender and Culinary Lavender. The recipes mention Culinary Lavender . We purchase ours at Lavender Ridge Farms.

There are so many great recipes, it was difficult to choose, but here are some of my favorites from their cookbook.

Summer is approaching so I'll start with two drink recipes.

Lavender Lemonade:

Steep 2 TBS dried lavender in 1 C of boiling water, about 5 - 10 minutes.
Cool and add 2 quarts of prepared lemonade.
Stir well, serve chilled and garnish with a fresh lavender sprig.

Lavender Lemon Chiller:

2 C Water
1 C Sugar
1 TBS Lavender Ridge Farms culinary lavender
1 1/2 C Lemon Juice
1 Lemon, sliced

Place a bottle of Vodka in the freezer for 2 - 3 hours until syrup like.
Combine Water, Sugar and Lavender in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
Allow to cool at room temperature.
Add Lemon Juice.
Strain to remove the Lavender.
Fill a tall glass with Ice and 1 shot of  Vodka.
Fill the glass 3/4 with the Lemon mixture.
Add a fresh Lavender Sprig and a Lemon Slice.
Top off each glass with Sparkling Wine.

I have to add this recipe for Lavender Hot Cocoa and I'll make this for family and guests during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Lavender Hot Cocoa:

1/2 C Sugar
1/4 C Cocoa
Dash of Salt
1/3 C Hot Water
4 C  Milk
3/4 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Lavender Ridge Farms culinary lavender.

Milk Mixture:
In a medium saucepan, combine milk and finely ground culinary Lavender.
Bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat, cover with a lid and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
Strain before combining with Chocolate mixture.

Chocolate Mixture:
Mix Sugar, Cocoa and Salt in another saucepan, stir in hot water.
Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.
Remove from heat and add vanilla and milk mixture.

Lavender Pound Cake:

This recipe calls for a prepared loaf pan. I use my Pan Release Mixture. (equal parts of Crisco, Vegetable Oil and Flour) I start with 1 C of each, mix well and keep refrigerated in a jar. I always have it available for all of my baking needs.
The recipe calls for a Lavender Syrup, so here's my personal favorite.

Lavender Syrup:
1 C Water
1/2 C Sugar
1 TBS Lavender Ridge Farm's Culinary Lavender
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve and cool completely at room temperature.

1 1/2 C Sugar
1 1/4 C Butter
3/4 C Vanilla
6 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
2 2/3 C Flour
2 TBS Lavender Ridge Farm's Culinary Lavender

Cream Butter and Sugar.
Add Vanilla and Eggs.
Add Salt, Flour and Lavender.
Mix well.
Pour the batter into an 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" X 2 1/2" prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. ( or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean) This cake took almost 1 1/2 hours.
Cool 10 minutes in the pan.
Remove the cake from the pan while it's still warm.
Transfer to a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan.
Brush the sides and top  generously with Lavender Syrup until well saturated.
Cool completely before serving.

The batter is incredible!

Lavender Syrup

The final cake with the glaze brushed on it.

Lavender Lemon Bars:

2 1/2 C Flour
1 1/2 C Powdered Sugar + additional for dusting
1/2 pound Butter (2 sticks) chilled and cubed
1 1/2 C Sugar
6 TBS Lemon Juice
Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Ground Lavender Ridge Farms Lavender
4 TBS Flour (set aside)
1 tsp Baking Powder
4 Eggs

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 C Flour and Powdered Sugar.
Cut in the Butter with a pastry blender or two forks.
Press evenly into the bottom of 9"X13" baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl:
Lemon Juice
4 tsp Flour
Baking Powder
Mix well
Pour batter over the crust and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Cut into bars and dust with additional Powdered Sugar.

Lavender Pecan Crisps:
I love this recipe!

2 C Sugar
2 C Butter
3 C Flour
1 tsp Crean of Tartar
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Soda
6 tsp Lavender Ridge Farms culinary lavender
4 C Corn Flakes
1 C toasted chopped Pecans

In a mixing bowl:
Beat until creamy and smooth.

Slowly Add:
Baking Soda
Mix well.

Fold in Corn Flakes and Pecans by hand.
(at this stage, I would chill the dough for at least 1 hour)

Use a 1 1/2" cookie scoop and place cookies 2" apart an a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and place the sheet pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Transfer cookies to the rack and cool completely.

Lavender, Potato and Leek Soup:

4 - 5 slices of real bacon (Vegetarian version, I use Morning Star Farms Bacon Strips. I microwave 5 strips for 2 minutes. They should be crisp. Crumble and set aside.
3 large Leeks (white part only) Washed well to remove sand, chop and set aside.
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
6 C peeled and diced potatoes
6 C Chicken Broth ( Vegetarian version, I use a vegetarian Chicken Broth)
1/2 C Heavy Cream
1/2 C Milk
1 1/2 tsp Lavender Ridge Farms Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp Lavender Ridge Farms culinary Lavender
Salt and Papper to taste

In a large soup pot:
Cook Regular Bacon until crisp.
Remove and crumble.
Add Leeks to the bacon drippings and sauté until they're soft. (Vegetarian version, add 2 TBS Olive Oil to the pot and cook the Leeks.)

Chicken Broth
Simmer until the Potatoes are soft, 20 minutes.
Pour into a Food Processor and puree the soup.
Return to the soup pot.

Herbes de Provence
Reheat until hot but do not boil.
Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

This next recipe does not use Lavender but it use Herbes de Provence that are available at Lavender Ridge Farms.
This looks very appealing to me.

8 oz. Cream Cheese or Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1/4 C Mayonnaise
2 cloves of crushed Garlic
1 tsp Lavender Ridge Farms Herbes de Provence
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl:
Mix thoroughly.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Serve with a variety of Crackers or slices of toasted French Baguette Bread.

Lavender Goat Cheese Croustades:

1/4 C of your favorite Italian Dressing
1 French Baguette
5 oz. Goat Cheese, softened
1 TBS ground Lavender Ridge Farms culinary Lavender

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice bread into 1/4" slices.
Brush with Italian Dressing.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Allow to cool.

In a small bowl:
Mix well.
Spread on toasted bread and serve.

Lavender Honey Salad Dressing:

6 TBS Olive Oil
2 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1 TBS Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
1 tsp Coarse Grain Mustard
2 TBS Honey
1 tsp Lavender Ridge culinary Lavender

Mix all ingredients together.
Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Store refrigerated up to 1 week.

Raspberry and Lavender Vinaigrette:

1/2 C Olive Oil
3 TBS White Wine Vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar
3 TBS Raspberry Vinegar
1 TBS minced Lavender Ridge Farms culinary Lavender
2 TBS Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a jar and shake well until blended.
Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

This is the last recipe and it says to serve this sauce warm, over Bread Pudding. They did not include a recipe for Bread Pudding but I will post my Best of the Best Bread Pudding recipe at the end of this sauce recipe.

Vanilla Sauce with Lavender:

1 C Sugar
1 Stick  (8oz.) Butter
1/2 C Half and Half
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Lavender Ridge Farms culinary Lavender

Grind the Lavender with 1 TBS of sugar in a spice grinder to a fine consistency.
Put remaining ingredients in a saucepan.
Simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Serve warm over Bread Pudding.

Another Best of the Best Recipes.
I've had this recipe since the early 70's.
It's the only Bread Pudding I make.

1 Baguette, sliced
1 Quart of Milk (4C)
3 eggs, beaten
2 C Sugar
2 TBS Vanilla
3 TBS Butter
1 C Raisins

Mix Bread and Milk by hand
Add all other ingredients except the Butter
Melt the Butter in a 9X13 pan in a 350 degree pre heated oven, coating the bottom and sides well
Pour the mixture in the pan and Bake for 45 minutes

Another option is to bake the Pudding in Muffin Tins lined with paper cups.
If you bake the Pudding in Muffin Tins, make sure to break up the bread into small pieces, not slices.
Spray the paper cups with a vegetable cooking spray.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve with The Queens Sauce:
1 Pint Heavy Cream
3 Eggs
1/2C Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 C Brandy or Whiskey

In the top of a doubler boiler,  place the Cream and Eggs and whisk well
Add Sugar and Vanilla
Stir constantly for 10 minutes
Slowly add the Brandy or Whiskey and whisk until incorporated

Here's another Whiskey Sauce :

In a sauce pan, over medium low heat:
1/2 stick of butter
THe juice of 1 lemon
1 C apple cider
1/2 C brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 C Bourbon Whiskey

Cook to reduce to 1/2
Serve on the side with Bread Pudding.

I hope my readers have learned a bit about cooking and baking with Lavender. I hope you all take some time and make some of these wonderful recipes.
Again, I want to thank Lavender Ridge Farms for allowing me to share our experience, photographs and recipes at their farm outside of Gainesville, Texas.

Peace in the Kitchen!

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