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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Lavender Rosemary Biscotti

Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Lavender is a beautiful plant and the scent is so amazing. I love it in my garden, but do I need it in my food? The answer is in the tiniest amounts it's delightful, too much just plain nauseating!

Some basic info:
  • Lavender is native to the Mediterranean. One of the major producers of culinary lavender today is Holland. Why use only culinary lavender? Pesticides! Nobody should eat that, and they are used on some crops, so be careful!
  • Some folks say that the flowers can be steeped in water and the infusion used as a compress to relieve headaches. It is also used externally as an antiseptic.
  • Lavender has become a popular ingredient for cooking for both sweet and savory dishes. Desserts such as Crème Brulee can be lightly scented with lavender. Lavender sugar is easy to make at home: bruise dried lavender flowers and add them to superfine or confectioners sugar. Store in an airtight jar until used. Use a sieve to remove flowers before use. Add the scented sugar to cakes, meringues or other sweets for a delicate flavor.
  • Lavender can be purchased at the farmer's market, health food stores and some "gourmet" shops. Do not purchase lavender to be used in cooking from a craft shop unless they specify that it can be used for food.
  • Here's a great tip: My friends who ran an artist retreat in France used to put fresh lavender stems into a fine mesh bag and throw it into the dryer to give the bed sheets a beautiful scent.
My favorite recipe using Lavender was created by Susan Purdy and myself and it goes like this:

Lavender Rosemary Biscotti

2 1/4 cups A.P. Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup room temp. butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 T Lavender blossoms
2 T Fresh Rosemary

Combine flour, soda powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, set aside. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl or your electric mixer. Beat in eggs and extract. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mix and combine. Then add rosemary and lavender. Gather dough into a ball with floured hands and form to loaves. Place on sheet pan lined with parchment and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. let cool 15 minutes then Slice with serrated knife and place standing up on sheet pan. Put back in oven for 10 minutes, or till lightly golden. Can also be dipped in white chocolate. Store in airtight container.