Fusing Flavors

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Enjoy a fusion of Apricot, fig, pear and lavender in this mouth-watering appetizer

Culinary lavender is a versatile herb for cooking and baking and is gaining popularity among professional and home chefs alike.  Edible flowers (fresh or dried) are fashionably used in today’s upscale restaurants and the soft earthy herb flavor of lavender sought after by many famous chefs. Now you too can add lavender to your collection of herbs and create flavorful dishes to enjoy.

Lavandula (common name Lavender) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint familyLamiaceae. Realizing it is related to Rosemary and Mint makes it more palatable and applicable to cooking. Lavender by itself in a tea, jelly or syrup is a delightful flavor but when mingled with other flavors it is simply divine, fit for royalty.  Centuries ago even Queen Elizabeth I of England valued lavender as a conserve and she commanded that the royal table should never be without “conserve of lavender”. She also drank Lavender tea to help ease her migraines. If you are ready to add lavender to your kitchen table try the appetizer recipe below with a nice glass of your favorite white wine.  Also visit our “Recipe” tab to the left for more ideas. Apricot lavender spread Apricot Lavender Cheese Spread

  • 10-15 dried apricot halves, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon or apricot brandy (optional)
  • 1 eight ounce brick of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon of fig jam
  • 1 teaspoon of finely ground dried culinary lavender * (grind in a coffee mill or with a mortise and pestle)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped pecans

Combine chopped apricot, orange juice and brandy in small sauce pan, simmer for 10-15 minutes until apricot pieces are plump. Place softened cream cheese in bowl or food processor, add apricot, fig jam and ground culinary lavender. Process until well blended.  Top with pecans.   Delicious served as a sandwich spread or on a cracker. For the appetizer pictured above, layer a small amount of fig jam, cheese spread, a slice of pear or apple and top with lavender buds for an elegant hors d’oeuvres’. Enjoy!

*When purchasing lavender for use in the kitchen make sure it is labeled “culinary lavender” and free of pesticides and herbicides.  My favorite lavender varieties for cooking are from the Lavandula angustafolia sub genus, (also known as English lavender),”Folgate” and “Royal Velvet”. These are less camphoric and lend a softer flavor. As always, please contact us via phone or email if you would like to purchase culinary lavender, we have the aforementioned culinary varieties available. All our lavender is naturally grown using organic practices, free of pesticides, herbicides or growth chemicals.

Sequestering of the Spices

Thanksgiving buffet, tight shot of turkey
Image from hgtv.com

I love to cook! I love to eat! That is why I like the holidays, and of course enjoying time together with family and friends.  I grew up in a home where life evolved around the kitchen table and good food.  My mother’s family were all good cooks. My father’s family were all good cooks. My siblings are all good cooks, in fact I don’t think there’s a bad cook in the whole wild bunch of us. Emotions, happy or sad, are expressed with food at our house.  Not just basic food, but mouth-watering delicious from scratch food. Where the main ingredients had to be fresh, preferably home-grown or from a nearby farm or dairy (always including staple ingredients of cream, butter and whole milk). If it was winter we went to the pantry for home canned fruits and vegetables and out to the freezer for meat. (usually deer or elk from my fathers hunting expeditions)  A pre-packaged meal or a cake mix in my mother’s kitchen was unheard of. As a child, in my eyes, my mother WAS Betty Crocker!

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Three things I am thankful for, Mom, Betty Crocker and Kitchen Aide mixers.

In addition to salt and pepper she taught us the proper use of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of food. Mom didn’t measure very often, she was a “little pinch of this and a little pinch of that” kinda cook. “Just shake it in until it looks right” she’d say. With my collection of herbs and spices that litter my kitchen cabinets, I perhaps have taken their use a little too far.  After many years of my kids teasing me about the strange green stuff in little plastic bags tucked in my pantry I decided to do something about the mess.

Before the chaos of holiday cooking hits our little kitchen I set out to get things organized.  I like to buy herbs and spices in bulk at natural food stores, like Natural Grocers or Sprouts, because they are fresher and more economical than what is available at most retail grocers. Unfortunately all the little plastic bags make a mess of my shelf.

The spice mess
The spice mess

On my quest for organization I found these great spice tins online at Specialty Bottle Supply. For just .93 cents each these square spice tins with a clear tight-fitting lid hold 8 oz of dry ingredients. So I sat out to sequester the spices!  

$2.33 is a nice price for dried organic oregano. This bag filled 2 tins, so even adding in the price of the square tins, it’s very economical.

One by one I washed then labeled and filled each little tin…….I kept finding more and more herbs and spices jammed at the back of the cabinet, so I kept washing, labeling and filling.

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Finally, a few hours and 30 tins later they were all organized. Wow, I like the new look! The lids make for easy identification and the wide opening allows access with a teaspoon or your fingers if you need “just a pinch”. (See if you can spot the culinary lavender and the lavender finishing salt in the photo below)

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If your herbs and spices look anything like my mess, give this a try, the results are wonderful. Now I’m ready, bring on the holiday cooking, baking and all the fun kitchen chaos that ensues.

Wherever you travel or dine for Thanksgiving I wish you happy trails and yummy food! (or to quote my dad, “umm um, that’s good eatn'”)

Simple Lavender Syrup Recipe

Simple Lavender Syrup

  • 2 cups of distilled or filtered water
  • 1 cup of sugar (Turbinado, cane or coconut for a healthier alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons of whole culinary lavender buds
  • 1 strip of lemon zest

Boil the water in a small saucepan and add the sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Add the culinary lavender buds and the lemon zest and allow the mixture to steep, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-screened colander or cheescloth. Lavender syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Adds a refreshing flavor to lemonade, tea, or as a cocktail ingredient.

Add one ounce of syrup per eight ounces of beverage. Adjust according to taste.

This recipe is adapted from Sharon Shipley’s, The Lavender Cookbook.