At first I was sceptical about the use of lavender in cooking. However once I tasted Lavender Honey that all changed and now I am converted. It gives the most wonderful subtle floral flavour which lingers in the background of dishes it is used in.
There is much evidence in history that shows, centuries ago, lavender was a popular culinary herb. Throughout Europe it was used to give food a much needed boost of flavour and organic lavender infusions were taken for various medicinal purposes. High altitude Province lavender is perfect for this.
Lavender is a wonderfully versatile herb in the kitchen. It is becoming increasingly popular as an addition to all manner of dishes including biscuits and desserts and as a garnish. It is said that Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed eating lavender conserve and also used it as a perfume. Apparently she insisted that the royal table should never be without lavender conserve. She also drank lavender tea to help ease her migraines. Even today, French farmers graze their lambs in fields of organic lavender to give the meat a superb, fresh, floral flavour. Both the flowers and leaves of lavender can be used in cooking. Lavender makes a great accompaniment with other herbs and is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and summer and winter savoury.
Lavender flowers add a beautiful colour to salads and taste good too. They can also be used in bread recipes or used to flavour biscuits. The flowers can ground in a pestle and mortar and added to a bag of sugar to use in cakes and buns. The lavender flowers are excellent additions to desserts and will add a delicate floral scent and flavour to custards, flans or sorbets. Why not try adding Provencal lavender leaves to dishes instead of rosemary? Both the spikes and leaves can be used and will add a different dimension to the dish. Try popping a few leaves and flowers into savoury dishes, such as soups, stews and even meaty wine-reduced sauces.
Below are some suggested recipes:
This recipe will make old-fashioned lollipops flavored with Lavender.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon extract (Lavender extract)
Food Coloring (optional)
You will also need lollipop molds, wooden sticks, and a candy thermometer.
First oil the molds with a thin layer of vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray.
Combine Sugar, Corn Syrup and water in a heavy bottom medium saucepan.
Stir all ingredients over med-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
Place thermometer in pan and allow to boil until the hard crack stage of 295 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch carefully as it is easy to burn.
Immediately remove from heat when the mixture reaches temperature.
Stir in extract and pour or carefully spoon into molds inserting sticks.
Cool completely and then wrap in cellophane wrap.
This is a lovely old fashioned treat for the whole family.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon culinary lavender flowers
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons vodka
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Add the lavender flowers; stir until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand approximately 10 minutes.
Place a fine strainer over a large bowl and pour syrup mixture through (straining out the lavender flowers). Add lemon juice and vodka to the strained syrup mixture; stir until thoroughly blended.
NOTE: The vodka (or any other type of alcohol) is the secret to a soft sorbet. Alcohol itself does not freeze and adding a little bit keeps the sorbet from doing the same. Vodka is excellent to use because it doesn't affect the taste.
Ice Cream Maker - Transfer mixture to ice cream maker, process according to manufacturer's instructions.
Freezer Method - Pour into container, cover, and place mixture in the freezer. When it is semi-solid, mash it up with a fork and refreeze again. When frozen, place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Cover and refreeze until serving time.
NOTE: Can be prepared 3 days in advance. Cover and keep frozen.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Lavender & Honey Cup Cakes
The aromatic sharpness of lavender combined with soft honey flavours and toasted almonds give these cupcakes an intensity of flavour that is luxuriously decadent and festive.
280g plain flour, sifted
110g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
125ml full fat milk
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
50g soft butter
450g icing sugar (approx – depending on the consistency you want to achieve)
80ml lavender milk (see footnote below)
2 tablespoons double cream
1 tsp of our Lavender Honey
some flaked almonds, lavender and edible silver glitter to decorate
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
Sift together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add caster sugar and beat for 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beginning and ending with the flour. Be careful not to over mix.
Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into cupcake liners - about 3/4 full.
Bake for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Toast flaked almonds on a baking tray in a hot oven for approx 5 mins – until lightly browned - and allow to cool.
Whisk butter in a metal bowl until smooth, then add 300g icing sugar, milk, honey and double cream. Blend until smooth and slowly add remaining icing sugar until you have the consistency you want.
Ice cupcakes and dust with a sprinkling of lavender buds, cooled toasted almonds and silver glitter.
For the lavender milk:
Measure out around 1.5 times the milk your recipe requires (to allow for evaporation) and add lavender buds at a ratio of 2tbsp buds to 1 cup milk to a small pan. Heat ingredients to a scald stage (just before boiling), then turn off heat and leave to cool completely. Strain the flowers with a sieve and re-measure milk before adding to your recipe.
Lavender & Honey Lamb
This recipe is simple and can be adapted easily. The honey also works well, providing a balance to the “fattiness” of lamb.
Receipe by Alastair Christie, Jersey Lavender Ltd
1kg lamb steaks – 4 to 6 portions
1 heaped dessert spoon dried lavender
1 dessert spoon fresh Rosemary leaves coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic – chopped finely
1½ table spoons of our Lavender Honey
2 table spoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Place the steaks in a shallow dish, season with a good grind of salt and pepper, sprinkle over the lavender, rosemary, garlic, olive oil and honey. The messy bit that I love is to use your hands to mix everything up, ensuring that all the lamb is well covered in the herby, sweet mixture. You could equally use some utensils! Leave for a few hours (preferably more) covered in foil for the meat to absorb all the flavours.
The resulting steaks can be barbequed, baked or grilled. My preference is to lay them in a shallow roasting tray and put them into a hot (220°C) preheated oven until cooked to your liking, turning once halfway through.
Serve with new potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables.
Glazed Honey and Lavender Chicken Kebabs
4 x boneless chicken breasts
8 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 lemon zested and juiced
2 tbsp of our Lavender Honey
1 teaspoon Culinary Lavender (add more or less, according to your tastes)
Dice chicken into bite sized pieces
Mix all ingredients together and marinade (for at least 4 hours)
Skewer the chicken onto kebab sticks
Grill, bbq or fry until cooked
Can be served with rice, couscous, Jersey Royal new potatoes or salad. We serve it piled on top of a crisp, green salad and toasted warm foccacia bread. The chicken is also great served with an advocado and lavender mayonnaise.
Advocado and lavender mayonnaise:
For one portion mix 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, ½ tbsp of provence lavender and 1 tbsp of advocado
Seared Tuna with Lavender-Pepper Crust and a
Mustard Seed Dressing
1 1/2 pounds center-cut tuna or 4 (4 to 6-ounce) 1-inch thick sushi quality tuna steaks
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender flowers
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups savory mixed fresh greens and herbs
Prepare Mustard Seed Dressing (see below); set aside.
If using the center-cut tuna, trim and cut the tuna into a block approximately 2 inches across; then cut into 1-inch steaks.
Crush the salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and lavender with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin. Lightly oil the tuna with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil; evenly coat the tuna with the lavender-pepper mixture, patting off any excess.
In a heavy bottomed sauté pan or a cast-iron pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Increase the heat to high and place the tuna in the pan. Sear for 1 minutes, then turn over carefully, reducing the heat to medium. Sear the other side for 1 more minutes until medium rare. Remove from heat and immediately refrigerate the tuna for at least 1 hour but no more than 3 hours.
To serve, arrange the greens on chilled individual serving plates. Drizzle with Mustard Seed Dressing. Thinly slice the tuna and arrange on top of the dressed greens.
Makes 8 servings.
Recommended wine: Sauvignon Blanc offers some balancing acidity to the peppery, mustardy flavors in the dish. A young, vibrantly fruity Pinot Noir works beautifully as a red wine accompaniment.
Mustard Seed Dressing:
4 tablespoons prepared whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons toasted mustard seed
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place mustard seeds in a baking pan. Place in oven and roast for a couple of minutes (watch carefully so the seeds don't burn). Remove from oven and let cool. Whisk all the ingredients together and season to taste.
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