Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to Cook with Lavender - Where to Start : Part 2


Local San Juan Island Chef, and Pelindaba's long-time friend, Anna Maria de Freitas takes us into her kitchen with a primer on how to use lavender in everyday cooking.

How to cook with lavender - basic recipes

Essential Lavender Pantry Items


"A small tin of Pelindaba's Organic Culinary Lavender is your jumping off point.  Having a few simple lavender staples at the ready is also a help:

Lavender Butter – to spread on toast, atop fish or chicken or in place of butter in your favorite sugar cookie, muffin or tea bread recipe.  (Recipe below.)

Lavender Syrup – as a base for fruit sauces for pancakes, waffles, ice cream or as a simple syrup in a cocktail or non-alcoholic mocktail.  (Recipe below.)

Lavender Sugar – in place of sugar in your favorite baked good.  (Recipe below.)

Lavender Salt – in place of regular salt or as a finishing salt.

Lavender Vinegar – in place of vinegar in salad dressings or marinades."

What variety of lavender can you use in cooking?


"Often, the 'Provence' (Lavandula x intermedia) variety of lavender is recommended for culinary use.  In reality, almost any variety may be used for cooking if it is harvested at the proper time.  Optimally, you want to harvest early in the season when the flower heads just begin to open and before the bitter (yet fragrant) essential oils start building up.  Later in the season, the flower head is best used for essential oil distillation.  Remember, you want to capture the beautiful floral components of lavender when cooking.

"You may use fresh or dried buds for cooking.  If you are using fresh lavender, use approximately half the amount of dried lavender called for in your recipe.  Choose lavender that is food grade and organic.  At our bed and breakfasts and restaurant in Friday Harbor, we love using organic lavender flowers for garnish throughout the season, starting with the early blooming Spanish lavender to later blooming French lavender.  We use individual flowers on cakes, cookies and scones and small bouquets of lavender flower heads for platters and larger dishes."

How to cook with lavender - basic recipes
Photo: Lindsey Smith

 Do you use the entire lavender bud?


"Be mindful of the taste and texture of the dish you are making and the form in which you want to use the bud.  If you are making a simple syrup, custard or ice cream base, steep the liquids, sugar, and lavender buds in the liquid from the recipe and strain.

"For lavender sugar or butter, grind the buds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to ensure the buds do not impart any unwanted texture.  You may also add the lavender to the flour in a baking recipe and buzz in a food processor to ensure the buds are finely ground.

"Encrust meat with a rub of lavender and nuts.  For this application, you may choose to use the entire bud for added texture."

How to cook with lavender - basic recipes
Photo: Lindsey Smith

Recipes for Lavender Kitchen Staples


Lavender Butter

Makes ½ cup

Use as spread on toast, atop fish or chicken or in place of butter in your favorite sugar cookie, muffin or tea bread recipe.

¼ Pound unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon Organic Culinary Lavender, finely ground

Step 1. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until combined.

Step 2. Transfer to parchment paper and form a log.  Wrap well with plastic; refrigerate or freeze. Slice as needed; will keep two months refrigerated.


Lavender Sugar

Makes 2 cups

Use as a replacement for sugar in recipes or to make lavender syrup.

1 Tablespoon Organic Culinary Lavender
2 Cups sugar

Step 1. Place lavender buds and 1 ¾ cups sugar in spice grinder or food processor.  Blend for about 1 minute or until the mixture turns to a soft powder.

Step 2. Store in a mason jar or zip lock bag.   The longer the sugar is in contact with the lavender the more it will permeate and infuse the sugar with its delicate flavor.


Lavender Simple Syrup

Makes 1 cup

Use as a base for fruit sauces for pancakes, waffles, ice cream or as a simple syrup in a cocktail or non-alcoholic mocktail.

1 cup Lavender Sugar
1 cup water

Step 1. Bring ingredients to simmer to melt sugar.  Steep for 20-30 minutes.

Step 2. Strain.  Will keep one week if covered tightly and refrigerated.


How to cook with lavender - basic recipes
Photo: Jakie Donnelly Baisa
To read more about Chef Anna Maria's adventures with lavender in the kitchen, check out How to Cook with Lavender : Part 1.

About Chef Anna Maria

Anna Maria de Freitas is the owner of the San Juan Island Inn Collection, including the Harrison House Suites, Tucker House Inn, Coho Restaurant and Island Special Events and Catering.  Her first cookbook, La Cucina Anna Maria: Good Life Recipes from San Juan Island, published shortly after moving to San Juan Island in 2005 is a compilation of recipes chronicling her passion for food, cooking, and entertaining from her family heritage and travels throughout the globe.  Her new book, Savor San Juan Island: Good life Recipes from Friday Harbor is a new set of recipes developed by her and her colleagues over the past decade.  This new edition contains many of the recipes she has adapted with lavender.  She has shared her love of cooking with lavender at the San Juan Island Lavender Festival, hosted by Pelindaba Lavender Farm, every year since 2005.  Her team loves catering events in the fields surrounded by a sea of purple and the intoxicatingly relaxing scents of lavender.

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