Marisa Renwald: Lavender a potent yet smooth edible flower
Marisa Renwald April 9, 2012 2:10PM
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:05AM
Lavender gets so little recognition for its overtime work — in the kitchen and elsewhere. Save for the few ardent groups that rally for its medicinal and hygienic properties, lavender is left to the gardeners.
But they love it for a reason. Fields of purple and green swaying in the dry July air — this is the soul of summer in America. Its storied background makes it the scope for Andrew Wyeth paintings, the timeless fragrance of your grandmother’s sachet and the soothing flavor in the tea your mother gave you to help you fall asleep so many years ago.
It has a certain fairytale-like immortality to it, and maybe that’s why we keep it pressed between the pages of books of English poetry or strung up with butcher’s twine over the kitchen sink.
Lavender will forever be fresh and as an edible flower, its culinary capacities should be recognized, too. Potent yet smooth, its flavor will never fall into a faddish category.
However, it certainly is a sign of warm weather. Teaming up with other such springish flavors as lemon, vanilla, honey or orange blossom, lavender brings fresh tastes to both sweet and savory foods.
This recipe for lavender shortbread cookies shows off the ripe flavor of lavender at its strongest. The buttery shortbread is the perfect host for dried or fresh lavender, allowing it to shine on its own or giving it the option to harmonize with another flavor. In this case, fresh lemon zest provides a nice tangy contrast to the smoothness of the lavender.
As with any shortbread recipe, its fragility makes it susceptible to disaster. Be patient with its delicate nature — both before baking and with the finished cookie. Tie a few rounds of them up with string to serve to each guest at an afternoon tea.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh or dried lavender flowers
In a medium bowl of an electric mixer fitted with an attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar, salt, lemon zest and lavender and mix until combined. At low speed, beat in the flour until soft dough forms. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper, and using your hands, form a circular or square log. Wrap in the wax paper and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator, slice 1/4-inch rounds and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges barely begin to brown. Transfer the shortbread to a wire rack to cool completely.
Source: Marisa Renwald