Cooking with Lavender

Lavender is a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen.  Whether using fresh flowers, or dried buds and stems, there are many uses for culinary grade lavender.

The key to cooking with this lovely herb is to experiment with quantities.  Start out with a small amount and add as desired.  Adding too much to your recipe can be like eating perfume and will make your dish taste bitter.  Just remember that a little goes a long way!

Lavender is a member of the mint family and is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and savory.  It is chock full of phytonutrients and can be added to just about any meal.  Herbes de Provence is a blend that contains this herb, and can be used on sauteed or grilled meats, poultry, vegetables and even barley, couscous and brown rice.

It is very important to avoid ingesting flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centres.  In most cases, these plants have been treated with harmful pesticides and are not intended for culinary use. 

Suggestions:
  • Lavender flowers can add a beautiful splash of colour to salads
  • Substitute lavender for rosemary in many bread recipes to try something new.
  • Place lavender flowers in sugar and seal tightly for a couple of weeks.  The sugar can then be substituted for ordinary sugar in cakes, buns or custards.
  • Both the spikes and leaves of lavender can be used in most dishes as a substitution for rosemary.
  • Lavender flowers look lovely and taste great in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake or as a garnish for sorbets and ice cream.

 

Recipes

Lavender Shortbread

Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried or fresh lavender flowers

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter until soft in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1/4 cup sugar and mix until incorporated. Stir together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the ingredients are almost incorporated, then add the lavender, and mix until the dough starts to come together. Flour a work surface, turn the dough onto it, and knead it 5 to 10 times, to bring the dough together and smooth it out.

Re-flour the work surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4-inch thick to fit an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan lined with parchment. To transfer to the pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, lift it up, and unroll into the pan. (Or, press the dough thoroughly into the pan with your fingers.) Prick the shortbread all over with a fork, or use a pique-vite (dough docker) if you’ve got one, to prevent any buckling or shrinking. Sprinkle the surface evenly with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, deflate the dough by knocking the pan once against the oven rack then rotate the pan to ensure even cooking and a flat surface. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden all over and very lightly browned. As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the surface evenly with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Let cool about 5 minutes. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 3 rows by 5 rows making about 1 1/2-inch by 3-inch bars. Let cool completely in the pan. Remove from the pan and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Chicken with Herbes de Provence

Recipe courtesy of whatscookingamerica.net

This recipe makes 4 servings
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

4 chicken boneless breast halves (with skin)
(Do not remove skin until after baking, as the skin helps to retain moisture in the meat)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon herbes de provence

Directions
  1. Place chicken breasts in a single layer, into an ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine olive oil and the herbes de provence.
  3. Pour marinade over chicken breasts.
  4. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate to marinate longer (turning meat over several times).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (juices will run clear when cut with the tip of a knife); basting several times during cooking.
  7. Remove from oven and serve immediately.