Regarding Lavender

To most people, lavender is strictly associated to soaps, perfumes and wall colors. Lavender has been used in the culinary world for centuries and is enjoying a bit of a renaissance. Today’s creative chefs look towards this member of the mint family to spice up cocktails and savory dishes as well as add delicate elegance to sweeter offerings.

Kathy Gehrt’s most recent book, Discover Cooking with Lavender features seventy-five recipes for seasonings, drinks, savory dishes and sweets. The book is filled with unique recipes that won’t give you an impression of bath beads or spa treatments – Kathy Gehrt celebrates the best that lavender has to offer to the culinary world.

I love these recipes because they encompass my motto for a great cookbook: sophisticated and, at the same time, accessible. The book is a fantastic introduction to anyone looking to experiment in the kitchen with lavender – from seasoned chefs, foodies, and novice cooks as well as lavender and gardening enthusiasts.

More than just recipes, Discover Cooking with Lavender walks through buying, growing and harvesting lavender. Cooks will discover the varieties of lavender best for culinary use, how to harvest lavender buds and new techniques for bringing this herb’s exotic flavor into drinks, savories and desserts. And the photos are beautiful!! Even if the charming photographs alone don’t have you running out the door to pick up a lavender bush of your own, the fabulous recipes definitely will!

Here’s a note from the author; “After 25 years as a technology executive, I decided to focus on my true passion which is creative cooking,” said Gehrt. “Discover Cooking with Lavender sprang from my love for food, friendship and gardening, and I’m thrilled to be able to share ideas for how to incorporate this fragrant herb into everyday cooking.”

And we’re glad she did! – Kathy Casey

Photo by Brian Smale, from Discover Cooking with Lavender

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

This pound cake originated in 17th century England. The original recipe called for one pound of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. As baking powder and baking soda came into use in the late 1800s, the recipe was modified. Lemon gives this cake a citrus taste, while lavender adds a hint of fresh flowers.

Makes About 12 Servings

4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
1 Tbsp. dried lavender buds, finely ground
8 ounces of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp freshly-grated lemon zest
5 eggs
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of plain sour cream

For the glaze:
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tsp freshly-grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried lavender buds, finely ground using a spice grinder

1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the dried lavender buds, then set mixture aside.
3. Combine butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until the mixture becomes smooth and pale, about 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, fully mixing each into the batter before adding another. After the last egg is added, slowly add the lemon juice and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix 30 more seconds until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
5. Remove bowl from the mixer. Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the sour cream. Use rubber spatula and gently mix just until all ingredients are incorporated.
6. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, filling pan two-thirds full.
7. Bake on center rack of oven for 70 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Insert toothpick into center of the cake; it will come out clean when the cake is done.
8. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.
9. Loosen the sides of the cake pan with a sharp knife. Place serving plate, upside down, on the top of the cooled Bundt pan and invert the pan to remove the cake. Let cake cool completely.

Glazing the cake
1. Sift powdered sugar and ground lavender buds into a medium bowl, then add the lemon zest and lemon juice, Mix with a spoon until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the cooled pound cake.

© Kathy Gehrt, Discover Cooking with Lavender, Florentia Press (2010)

Lavender Lemon Soda

Fizzy, sweet, cold and fresh, soda tastes great on a hot summer afternoon. Hidcote lavender is a great choice for this drink because of its floral essence. Blue Velvet, Provence or Munstead varieties also work well.

Makes 4 Servings

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lavender flowers
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
25.3 fluid ounces sparkling mineral water
Ice cubes

  1. Combine water, sugar and lavender in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over gentle heat.
  2. Remove pan from stove and let mixture steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain out flowers and chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.
  3. Combine lavender syrup with lemon juice and pour ½ cup of this liquid into an ice-filled glass. Fill the glass with sparkling mineral water and stir. Serve immediately.

© Kathy Gehrt, Discover Cooking with Lavender, Florentia Press (2010)

Posted by Kathy Casey on September 23rd, 2010  |  Comments Off on Regarding Lavender |  Posted in Books to Cook, dessert, Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, Recent Posts, Recipes

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