I love lavender!
I’m serious. I would have it as my best friend. I would hug it and squeeze it and call it George. I would give lavender a kidney if it found itself in need of a kidney.
I love lavender.
And, what’s not to love?
First off, it’s easy to grow. Even from seed, it thrives in hot weather, cool weather, it’s a little dry, no worries. So, already it’s gotten off to a great start.
Second, it has beautiful foliage. Sometimes a silvery verdant mix, sometimes more green than grass. Always delightful and cheery.
Third, it’s edible. That’s brilliant! Leaves and stems, flowers and all, munch them up, have a ball! The flowers can be used on cakes and cookies, in beverages and teas. The leaves and stems as well can be used in baking and in salads.
And finally, the pièce de résistance (appropriate French term, thanks to my high school French teacher, Mrs. Shouse) The smell. Oh, the lovely, lovely smell of lavender, how you gently remind me, “It’s 2 o’clock and all is well!” There are bills to pay, but smell that lavender. I have aches and pains, yes but isn’t the lavender lovely. Obama is still president, it’s okay, the lavender is blooming. (That was a tiny bit political, but only just a smidge. Please refrain from bashing me in the comments. It upsets the Parsnip. But, if you should feel the need is just too great to not, know that I’ll be just fine, smelling my lavender and ignoring ugliness.)
Dried lavender is excellent for sachets and laundry spray. A cheesecloth bag with dried lavender helps to shoo the moths away. I add cedar chips as well, double shoo that way, and lavender and cedar are so friendly with each other.
I’m giving you a few recipes today. All with lavender. I hope you try them all, but if you only try one, make it the Lavender Meltaways with Lavender Frosting. You won’t be sorry.
So, what types of lavender are there? I’m so glad you asked. Lavender is in the mint family, which is probably why it’s so easy to grow. I love the English varieties for their smell, it’s the sweetest in my opinion. These are in three categories, white, pink, and blue/purple/lavender. The last are listed together because each plant has a mix of blue, purple and lavender flowers on each plant.
- Nana Alba
- Hidcote Pink
- Jean Davis
- Lodden Pink
- Ashdown Forest
Avice Hill / Impression
Backhouse Purple / Backhouse Nana
Croxton’s Wild Blue
Irene Doyle / Two Seasons
Lady / Lavender Lady / Burpee
Seals Seven Oaks
Tucker’s Early Purple
In my flower bed I am growing six varieties of lavender. I have Folgate, Munstead, Hidcote, Rosea, Alba, and Lodden Blue. Oh, and I have two containers of “Lady” on the porch, just to make it smell divine.
This summer I plan to make Lavender jelly for the first time. I’m sure I’ll post on it when the time comes.
Before I get in to the recipes, I wanted to tell you that I harvested some radishes yesterday. Patrick and I had a blast trying to find both extra small ones to make room for the bigger ones, and big ones because they were ready and we were ready to have them. I’m making Radish Top Soup later today. Yum
I had enough to share with my neighbor, a neighbor down the street, my father in law and still enough for us. I’m going to pickle some in the next few days, more on that later as well.
These are the French Breakfast radishes. They’re so pretty, Paddy thought they looked like a flower bouquet, and I guess he’s right about that.
Thanks to Baker Creek Seeds for the great seed, I have had great success with radishes from them this year.
Okay, now some recipes.
My favorite rolled sugar cookie.
This recipe calls for rolling out the sugar cookie between two sheets of baking parchment. Also, I line my regular cookie sheets with parchment as well. I don’t line my baking stone, however, this is just a personal preference. This cookie is made to be frosted, or otherwise augmented with a sweeter layer (jelly, jam or custard for example), it is slightly less sweet than your average sugar cookie.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 1/4 cups flour (plus a little more if needed)
- Icing to decorate as desired. (Recipe will follow)
- In a large bowl with mixer on medium, beat together butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt until very light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well blended, scraping down the sides as needed.
- On low speed graduall beat in about half of the flour.
- Beat or stir in the remaining flour to form a smooth, slightly stiff dough.
- If dough is very soft, gradually beat in up to 4 tablespoons more flour to stiffen it slightly.
- Let dough stand in a cool area for 5-10 minutes to stiffen a bit more.
- Divide dough into thirds.
- Roll out each portion into 1/4 inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper. Check the underside to smooth out any wrinkles
- Stack the parchment sandwiched sheets on a baking sheet (parchment still on) Refrigerate about 45 minutes or until cold and firm.
- Preheat your oven to 375°
- Line baking sheets with parchment
- Working with one cookie sandwiched sheet of parchment at a time (keep the others in the fridge) gently peel away top parchment sheet then gently pat it back in place. (This makes it easier to lift cookies from the paper later.) Using 2 1/2 to 2 1/4 inch cookie cutters, cut out cookies. If the dough softens too much to handle easily, transfer the paper and cookies to a tray and refrigerate again until firm.
- Using a thin wide spatula, transfer cut cookies to lined baking sheets. Reroll scraps and rechill dough while working with the new batches.
- Bake 7 to 10 minutes. Cool thoughly
- Frost, Ice or slather with your favorite frosting, icing, jelly, custard or other yummy
My favorite buttercream frosting follows.
- 6 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 to 4 Tablespoons liqueur or eau-de-vie of your choice (I usually use vanilla, but others are great as well)
- Have ready a greased 1 cup heatproof glass measure near the range.
- In a bowl beat the yolks with an electric mixer until light in color. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan (preferably with a nonstick lining) and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.
If using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of a bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks with the mixer turned off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure. Continue beating until completely cool.
- Gradually beat in the butter and, if desired, any optional flavoring. Place in an airtight bowl. Bring to room temperature before using. Rebeat to restore texture.
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped lavender leaves and blooms
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
- generous 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cool, firm, cut into chunks
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- Position rack to the middle of the oven; preheat to 325° Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper
- In mixer, mix powdered sugar, lavender, and lemon zest until well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down the bowl, then process 2 minutes longer
- Add cornstarch, extracts and salt, mix until evenly incorporated. Sprinkle the butter over the top. Mix until cut in
- Sprinkle in 2 cups of the flour, process until moistly incorporated
- In large bowl sprinkle in the rest of the flour then add the dough, knead together until incorporated
- Roll dough into 2 inch balls
- Place balls on cookie sheets with 2 inches between each
- Flatten to 1 1/4 inch
- Bake 14 to 18 minutes
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lavender blooms or combination blooms and leaves finely chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons very tender purple pansy or dianthus petals for more color
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold cut into small bits
- 3 to 5 teaspoons frozen blueberry juice concentrate
- Combine the powdered sugar, lavender, and pansy petals, if using mix 2 minutes; scrape sides
- Add the lemon zest and mix 3 more minutes, scraping occasionally
- Add butter mix until cut in
- Sprinkle ice water adjust the hue with the blueberry juice concentrate
- Pipe or spread on the meltaway cookies or sugar cookies
Have a lovely lavender filled paisley day!~KeriAnne