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Monday, November 30, 2009

Lessons in Lavender, Part One

After a recent, heady discussion of all the wonderfully fragrant possibilities when using lavender in cooking, Mags wrote back several days after her visit, offering further suggestions to incorporate the delicate, versatile bud (whether fresh, dried, or diluting its oil) into other things, things such as wild cocktails, cookies, and chicken! I'd only ever traipsed across lavender when par-boiled with salted red bliss potatoes which I then drained and let sit for a few hours before being roasted in the oven with fresh rosemary, a firm drizzle of olive oil and a frank use of coarse salt and ground black pepper for about an hour.

Unfathomable as it may be at first, it does seem that in lavender, a world awaits.

Here is just a taste of what to do to get started of course, but Mags has promised to send more recipes that also infuse the elegant lavender lady. It appears that a little imagination is all that is required, whatever your recipe, whatever the season!

From Mags herself:
"Peter! I haven't forgotten about what you mentioned about lavender recipes. Below is the syrup that we've come to love in everything from fizzy lemonade, or straight club soda to champagne or caprihinas. I've got a good lavender-limoncello shortbread type cookie that's perfectly reliable but I'm futsing with a salted chocolate lavender cookie. I'm close but not perfect yet. I've got to recreate a chicken dish that I made early in the summer--I'm horrible about writing recipes down but once I do you'll have it."
Thanks, Mags!

To be continued for sure, but in the meantime...

Cherry Lavender Simple Syrup
2 c water
2 c sugar (more if extra-syrupy-ness is desired)
scant cup cherries, halved and pitted
3-4 sprigs fresh lavender or 1 tsp dried lavender flowers
Heat together over medium heat until sugar has melted and the syrup has taken on a deep cherry color. Strain, discarding both lavender and cherries. Add a tablespoon to favorite cocktails, or add balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a quick dressing or meat glaze. A tiny spash will transform meringue or whipped cream. Syrup will keep in a glass container under refrigeration for ages.

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