Monday, November 21, 2011

LAVENDER - FROM FIELDS TO TABLE - Part 2 - Lavender/Walnut/Cheese Sandies

Part 2
Lavender-Walnut-Cheese Sandies

Hi, my name is Ilona, and I’m a cheeseaholic… so when Richard told me that he was going to make lavender-walnut-cheese cookies, I perched on a kitchen stool while they baked just waiting for them to come out of the oven.  I mean really, baking CHEESE!

I know – there’s lavender AND walnuts… but, for me, it’s the cheese.  The blend of these three ingredients give these cookies a most marvelous and distinct cheese taste.

Richard, however, tells me these delicious morsels are not cookies.  They’re biscuits “in the British sense.”  Gotta say that even though I consider myself an Anglophile, biscuits to me are warm and plump and smothered with melting butter. Not these lavender-walnut-cheese cookies.

Remember those pecan sandies you loved as a child (maybe still do), well these cookies (biscuits) have the same “sandies” texture… Call them what you will, I could eat dozens.
And, did I mention they have cheese, probably one of my favorite, if not favorite, food groups?!?!

As far as I’m concerned, Richard can stop testing lavender recipes now.  I don’t know how he’s going to top this one.  I’ll have to wait and see… or should I say “taste.”

Savory Lavender Walnut-Cheese Sandies (Biscuits)

Makes 2 dozen

  • 1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (plus more for topping cookies)
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Ground Toasted Walnuts
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Culinary Lavender Buds 
  • 1 Cup Butter Cubed (2 sticks)
  • Black Hawaiian Smoked Salt (or large crystal smoked salt)(optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Or use a silpat. 

Mix flour, Parmesan cheese, lavender and walnuts into bowl of food processor.

Add butter, in small pieces, and pulse on and off until dough starts to come together.

Bring the dough together to form a ball.  Divide the ball in half and roll into two 12″ logs.  Roll each log in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for 1 hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator and break into pieces and form balls.
Arrange balls on lined baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.  Flatten each ball into a 2″ circle.

Sprinkle tops of shortbreads with Parmesan cheese and smoked salt.
Bake shortbread until tops are dry and edges begin to turn golden brown (20-30 minutes).

Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on racks.  Richard’s were done in 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

LAVENDER - FROM FIELDS TO TABLE - Part 1 - Poached Pears

Part 1
Poached Pears

This is way cool. Our friend Kyle is working on a second lavender cookbook for the annual Ojai Lavender Festival and, like last year, she has asked Richard to try out and adapt recipes using lavender… and I get to taste everything!!!

While growing up, my knowledge of lavender was two-fold.  It was a pretty pastel color and smelled wonderfully.  I knew it smelled wonderfully because my mom always bought Yardley’s lavender soap bars and, to this day, I love that scent.  I know I abandoned Yardley when I was seduced by those Neiman Marcus tuberose bars, but my heart still belongs to my mom’s lavender soap.

As I grew older, I learned that lavender actually grew in vast fields and how beautiful dried lavender smelled in sachets.  I filled my dresser drawers with them.  But eat lavender?  Why?

Well, over the years I found out why.  A hint of lavender in pana cotta comes to mind.  Delicious.  Lavender infused vodka.  Tres smooth. 

But now that Richard has been experimenting w/ lavender, I thought I’d share w/ you the ones that trip the light fantastic on my tongue.

His first foray… lavender-poached pears.  I love poached pears.  I love them even more w/ a hint of lavender.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Lavender-Poached Pears


3 fresh Bosc or other firm pears
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest


Halve, peel, and core the pears.  Toss the pear halves w/ lemon juice to prevent browning.

Tie lavender in a small piece of cheese cloth (or enclose in a mesh ball).

Place the pears in a microwave-safe dish and sprinkle w/ sugar.  Add the water and lavender.   

Cover and cook at full power for 6 minutes, or until pears are fork tender.

Squeeze the cheesecloth when removing the lavender, catching the juice, and add lemon the lemon zest.  Spoon syrup over pears, cover and let stand at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight before servicing.

Richard says that if you feel the sauce is too thin, set pears aside, pour sauce into a small “sauce” pan and reduce it for a bit.

Note:  Only culinary lavender can be used for cooking. 

Serves: 6

Check out Volume 1 of the lavender cookbook.