A Lavender Dessert to Remember…

If you love Creme Brulee and lavender, here is a recipe that is to “die” for.  I know it’s the beginning of the New Year and we’re all thinking about our healthy resolutions, but I have to share this Honey-Lavender Creme Brulee recipe with you before it fades into Christmas past memory.  We served it at our annual Boxing Day dinner party  to eight other couples and everyone was wowed!

Creme Brulee with Lavender and HoneyI have never made Creme Brulee before, but it’s definitely been on my culinary bucket list, so this was the year. I borrowed a kitchen torch and 6 ramekins (the oval type) to augment my round 6 oz version and made a few substitutions to simplify the process.   It’s easy to get it right the very first time!

This recipe was a winner of the Frei Brothers Winery contest and published in Bon Appetit Magazine, Holiday edition 2014.  It came originally from My Backyard, Eugene Oregon.

Honey-Lavender Creme Brulee
(pairs with Frei Brothers Russian River Sauvignon Blanc)

Makes 6 Servings

  • 3 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. dried lavender buds
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved
  • 5 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Special equipment: 6 ,6-7 oz. round ramekins, a kitchen torch

Note: I substituted lavender honey and our own Tahitian Vanilla lavender sugar to skip steeping and straining the lavender buds.  I did heat the cream with an extra vanilla bean which was easy to remove without straining.

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In medium saucepan, bring cream, lavender and vanilla bean and seeds to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; allow to steep 10 min.  Strain mixture into a bowl.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine 3 Tbsp. sugar, honey and yolks over low speed until well combined and starting to change color, about 2 min.  Slowly stream in milk mixture; mix until just combined (to avoid becoming foamy)

Place ramekins in high-sided baking pan’ divide cream mixture evenly among them.  Fill baking pan with water until it goes 3/4 up the side of the ramekins.  Bake 50-55 min. until mixture is set, but still wobbly.

Remove ramekins from pan; place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  To serve, remove from refrigerator and keep at room temperature for 20 min.  Sprinkle custards with 2 Tbsp. sugar.  Using kitchen torch, melt sugar evenly until deep brown and crunchy.

Prep time: 15 min

Bake time: 55 minutes

Chill time: 2 hrs up to two days

Epilogue
Inspired by this delightful recipe, I decided to purchase my own kitchen torch.  I found several brands out there from kitchen stores, but decided upon a professional model that didn’t need to be recharged frequently during the process.  J.C. Penny online had a great looking professional torch (on sale) which I’ve ordered  http://www.jcpenney.com/dotcom/jsp/browse/product.jspcontainerId=JCP|EMAIL&ppId=1845358

 I’ll keep you posted as this dessert will become a favorite at LavenderGreen Farm!

 Happy New Year,
Ginna

Lavender Lover’s Chocolate Valentine Recipes

“Biochemically, love is just like eating large amounts of chocolate”.
~ John Milton

Chris and Gina Gemmel farm wedding at Lavender Green Farm

My husband, Chris loves chocolate in all of its forms, so I thought I’d make him a chocolate cake for Valentine’s Day as an expression of my love for him.  We have been married since “childhood” and I hope to keep the love by adding some lavender for its mythical effects on nurturing it.  Both chocolate and lavender have a long history in aiding affairs of the heart and this recipe is lower in fat than most (at 0.5 grams per serving) so it will be kind to his heart both ways.

A very personal and romantic message written on a blank or homemade Valentine card is also part of my plan. This year, I think, something from the heart will be so much better than a box of chocolates with mysterious centers, purchased at the last minute.  I’m aiming for an original card and our Lavender Lover’s Chocolate cake to make this Valentine’s Day memorable.

I’ve used LavenderGreen’s prepared Lavender and Tahitian Vanilla sugar in this recipe, but you can make your own by adding a teaspoon to a tablespoon of crushed lavender petals and a vanilla bean to a cup or two of sugar and storing it in a cool dry place for ten days. You can order it on our site.  Or, if you are running late, you can use plain sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla and a teaspoon or two of crushed lavender florets.

If you are using lavender buds you have on hand, make sure they are of the English, Angustifolia variety such as  Hidcote or Munstead which are best for cooking.  Craft quality lavender is better suited for sachets and soaps because it has a clean, sharp fragrance that would spoil the scent and taste of the cake.

You might want to try this cake (even if you’re not trying to woo your husband or lover this Valentine’s Day) and be sweet to yourself and your friends and family. It takes about an hour from start to finish, including baking.

Heart Cake

Lavender Lover’s Chocolate Valentine Cake

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups un-sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
13 tablespoons cocoa, unsweetened
2 cups lavender vanilla sugar (reduce sugar if desired)
7 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup nonfat milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water

Directions

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Put into large mixing bowl with the rest of ingredients, except for water.
3. Add boiling water and stir.
4. Put into greased 9 x 13, or 2 8 inch cake pans that have been greased and floured.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F.
6. Bake layers for 30-35 minutes  (round layer or heart shaped pan)
Bake 9 x 13 for 35-40 minutes (sheet cake size)

Notes for the chef:  Your batter may look a little thin, but this recipe produces a very moist chocolate cake.  You may lift cake on to a platter with raspberry sauce as shown in the picture and top with fresh raspberries, or ice the cake with your favorite icing.  For Lavender Lovers, we also like to dust it with powdered sugar or whipped cream with lavender flowers strewn on top.

Credits, this recipe has been modified from a Hershey’s original and adapted by Lavender Lynn and LavenderGreen.

If you don’t have a heart shaped baking pan, make the sheet cake format and cut individual servings with a heart shaped cookie cutter.

Calories: 185 per serving for the cake

 

In the mood for a lighter dose of Chocolate and Lavender?

Enjoy our favorite Lavender hot chocolate recipe.

 

Cup of hot chocolate with Lavender

Lavender Hot Chocolate

 

About This Recipe

This is a wonderful recipe posted on Food.com by “ratherbeswimin” in 2008 and made at the farm many times.  We substitute 3 tablespoons of our own Tahitian Lavender sugar and omit the pulverized dried lavender and vanilla extract from this recipe, but it’s great either way.  Calories are 196 per cup. We also top off the pretty cup with a little whipped cream sprinkled with lavender florets when we’re in the mood and don’t mind the extra calories.  To cut calories in half, make this cup half coffee and half hot chocolate which I do when I need a quick, feel good pick-me-up in the afternoon.

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk or 4 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon pulverized dried lavender
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Add milk to a medium saucepan; add in the lavender; set over medium heat and bring just to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and steep for 5-8 minutes, or longer for a stronger lavender flavor.
3. Return saucepan to heat; whisk in the chocolate until melted and smooth.
4. Whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt; remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
5. Divide among 4 Irish coffee glasses or mugs, straining out the lavender if desired.

 

Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4

 

Happy Lavender Valentine’s Day to You!

Cheers,
Ginna

Herbs de Provence Stuffing

A promise is a promise, so here is our favorite Herbs de Provence stuffing, a little late for Thanksgiving dinner but in plenty of time for your Christmas planning.

Bowl of Herbs de ProvenceIngredients
1/4 cup basting oil (herb infused olive oil will heighten the taste)
1 cup ounces diced celery
1 cup ounces diced onions
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
2 tablespoons butter
32 ounces chicken stock
1 lb cubed stuffing bread
1 granny smith apple, grated

Directions
heat the oil on medium high. add onion and celery and cook for 5 mins.
add herbs and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
add butter and stock and bring to a simmer.
combine with cubed stuffing bread and grated apple.
add mixture to backing dish.
back on center rack of oven or 30 mins or until stuffing is browned and cooked through.

Let’s Talk Turkey

Live Turkey in WoodsEveryone has a turkey story and I’ll share one that makes me blush!  A long, long time ago I invited my in-laws to Thanksgiving dinner.  I had a very busy schedule at Fisher-Price Toys in East Aurora, NY and the holidays were hectic as you can imagine.  Fisher-Price had a wonderful tradition of giving employees a turkey for the holidays.  I froze this huge turkey for our big Thanksgiving feast.  With all of the preparations, though, I neglected to take the turkey out of the freezer to defrost in time.  So, Thanksgiving morning, with local grocery stores closed, I had to deal with this partially frozen turkey.  Necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to pop it in the microwave on “cook” and then brown it in the regular oven.

Don’t try this at home!  My turkey looked beautiful and smelled OK, but when we carved it, it was shoe leather on the inside and very rare just under the nicely browned skin.  We had to toss the turkey and go out for dinner.  Of course, this sad affair has lived on in the story telling tradition of my husband’s family and it was a bit hard to live it down.  Fortunately, twenty years have passed along with at least 20 turkey dinners and I can now claim to make a perfect turkey at Thanksgiving.

There are many ways to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey, from brining to deep frying, and perhaps you have tried them all.  Our favorite at the farm is a slow roasted turkey seasoned with Herbs de Provence for a classic that is easy to prepare and a favorite for everyone’s palate.  We use our own organic blend of Herbs de Provence with Marjoram, Oregano, Lavender and Thyme.  The ingredient of lavender cannot be found in many Herbs de Provence blends on the market but it is wonderful, giving a slight floral twist to the fragrance and taste.  Herbs de Provence is a lovely seasoning for game fowl, like pheasant, too.

One of our favorite recipes is Williams-Sonoma’s take on this classic, presented below and tested in our kitchen for a decade, at least.  You won’t be disappointed and remember, a Turkey and a Microwave oven are not the best companions.

Herbes de Provence Roast Turkey

Herbes de Provence Roast Turkey

Image Credit:Williams-Sonoma.com

Ingredients:

1 fresh or thawed frozen turkey, about 16 lb.
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 or 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 to 3 Tbs. herbes de Provence
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 to 6 Tbs. (1/2 to 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Do not leave the turkey at room temperature longer than 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425°F.

Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and reserve for making gravy, if desired. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the onion, celery, parsley and 1 Tbs. of the herbes de Provence in the body cavity, and season with salt and pepper. If desired, truss the turkey with kitchen twine. Brush the turkey with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with the remaining herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper.

Place the turkey, breast side down, on a buttered roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, basting with some of the remaining butter after 15 minutes. Using 2 pairs of tongs or heat-resistant kitchen gloves or mitts, turn the turkey breast side up and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue roasting, basting with the remaining butter and pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F, and into the thigh, 175°F. Total roasting time should be 3 to 3 3/4 hours.

Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Serves 12.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Note: Herbs de Provence and Herbes de Provence both correct spellings .  They can also include other herbs, like tarragon or fennel, so be sure to read the label to ensure that you are going to love the blend. Ours is perfect for lavender lovers.

Cheers,
Ginna

Cooking with Lavender

Desert Island

If you were ship-wrecked on a deserted island, which herb or essential oil would you like to take with you?

I would choose lavender because of its amazing versatility.  I could use it for treating a sunburn, or a scrape, or a bug bite.  It would reduce the stress of it all, make me less hungry, and help me relax and get some sleep.  Lavender would ease a tension headache and sore muscles from building a shelter.  I’d use lavender to wash myself and my clothes, or anything else I could take off the ship.  I could brew a tea, or make some lemonade and make my “catch of the” day taste divine.  Hands down, lavender would be my first choice and I would hope to be rescued before my stash of lavender ran out! To see more of lavender’s benefits, take a look at https://lavendergreen.com/lavender-benefits/

Let’s explore some the benefits of lavender, beginning with it’s culinary properties because that seems to be the least known use of this wonderful herb.

For now, I’d like to describe the many ways of using lavender in food or drink.  It seems that every on-line food website includes recipes using lavender in beverages, sweet baked goods and savory dishes.  A good rule of thumb is that lavender can be substituted for any recipe that includes mint, because lavender is part of the mentha family–with a floral twist.  The ingredient list in the recipes can call for a drop of lavender essential oil, whole dried lavender buds, finely ground or crushed lavender buds, an infusion, a tincture, a candied lavender floret,  a lavender flower head, or lavender blend with other herbs such as Herbs de Provence.

Bowl of Herbs de Provence

On top of these form variations, there are well over 100 unique cultivars of lavender, all with slightly different properties, scents and flavors.  You can simplify your choice by using Lavandula Angustifolia for culinary purposes.  The two varieties of Angustifolia in widest use for food preparations are Munstead and Hidcote.  Angustifolia is often referred to as English lavender, or True lavender and sometimes wild crafted lavender.  These two varieties are considered the “sweetest” or most “floral” and therefore better tasting in food.  Munstead is pale blue in color and adds its wonderful flavor to a recipe, Hidcote is deep blue in color and makes an excellent decorative garnish, such as salad dressing or icing on a cupcake.Periwinkle Blue Dried Lavender Buds

For food preparation, the best choice is organic lavender.  Organically grown lavender may be a little more expensive because no herbicides are used, but who needs more chemicals in their body?  Organic lavender essential oils labeled E.O. are sometimes noted as an ingredient, but we rarely use the oil in cooking at LavenderGreen and tend to rely on buds, blends and infusions as our mainstay.  Visit our shop to order organic lavender buds and blends.  Wow your family and friends with your gourmet cooking prowess with just a pinch of lavender.

Never, ever use Fragrant or Fragrance oils in cooking, by the way.  They are not meant for ingestion and could be very toxic.

Stay tuned for more recipes and techniques for cooking with lavender.

Cheers,
Ginna