This week, I am participating in my first Weekend Herb Blogging Event.
I know it's not the weekend, but it's close enough. Especially since so many states are taking it down to four-day work weeks.
Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen has been doing this for over three years, which I think is amazing. I'm a creature of habit, but I can't commit to a nail polish color much less an event that takes place the same time every week.
This week, Srivalli of Cooking4AllSeasons is the gracious hostess.
You want to hear it? Here it goes...
I have recently gotten into some lavender.
A fellow blogger was gracious enough to cut some for me and I've been trying to incorporate it into as many things as possible, to bring out it's delicate, unusual scent and flavor. According to my favorite book, Culinary Artistry, lavender pairs well with fruit, ice creams, lamb, rabbit and stew. I'm not ready to dive into the latter three of the group, so fruit and ice creams, it is!
Berries are on my mind because they were on sale at the grocery this week (4 pints for $6) and I don't like them much. I like their flavor, but the texture gives me the willies. It's something I think they call squidgy. If I could just get past the initial biting down, masticating and swallowing thing, I'd be fine. The same goes with shrimp, oranges and rare meats.
I took a few for the team and made a sugar-free/fat free lavender sour cream blueberry ice cream. It was so smooth, creamy and delicious, that I really wish I could get get on the berry train more often.
Sugar-free/Fat-free Blueberry Lavender Sour Cream Ice Cream1 cup fresh blueberries
makes a scant pint and a half
makes a scant pint and a half
1/8 cup Splenda or Z sweet (erythritol)
2 cups nonfat milk
3 Tbsp fresh or dried culinary lavender
1 pkg sugar-free/fat free white chocolate pudding
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
juice of 1 lemon
Put the blueberries, lavender and Splenda, into a medium nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture boils and the berries pop and soften, about 3 minutes. Alternatively, use your microwave to produce the same results (I did).
Strain blueberry mixture into a new bowl or puree the ingredients in a blender or food processor and then add back to the bowl. Add the nonfat milk and pudding mix. Whisk until all is incorporated. Stir in sour cream and lemon juice. Taste and add more Splenda or other sweetener, if needed. Refrigerate mixture until chilled (about 30 minutes). Alternatively, freeze this mixture to make a churn-free version of this recipe. Otherwise, after chilling, churn according to ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.
Next was a lavender chocolate cake. Last fall, I picked up a little square of New Tree Tranquility chocolate from Sur La Table. It's luscious lavender chocolate is lifted with a bit of lime. I saved the box (it's the size of a matchbook) so every time I look at it, I can remember the taste. I read the ingredients, vowing to recreate my own bar of chocolate. The chocolate bar hasn't happened, but cake is so much better than a chocolate bar anyway!
I combined a whoopie pie recipe from my friend, Adam, with my personal chocolate cake recipe to produce some rather moist cakes. I think put too much sour cream and milk. But it's nothing that a little flat icing and a few squidgy blueberries couldn't solve.
Chocolate Lavender Cakes
1/2 cup Smart Balance, softened
3/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 cup Eggbeaters
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bran flakes
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp culinary lavender
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and Splenda brown sugar together with a hand mixer or by hand, until smooth and creamy. Add the Eggbeaters slowly, until incorporated. In medium bowl sift the dry ingredients: flour, bran, cocoa powder and salt. Stir well until everything is evenly distributed throughout. Set aside.
In a small bowl or sauce pan, stir together milk and lavender. Microwave milk for 3 minutes or bring milk to a boil and remove from heat. Let milk and lavender steep for 4-5 minutes. Strain. Add vanilla and sour cream. Alternate between wet and dry, pour the dry ingredients and the milk mix into the creamed Smart Balance and Splenda, mixing by hand or with a hand mixer until all is incorporated. Drop the batter on the baking sheets by heaping tablespoon full, and leave 2" for the batter to spread out. The done cakes should look like little cakey cookies, and be somewhat firm to the touch. Let cool on the pans for 1-2 minutes, and then cool on wire racks.
Last, but not least: Lavender-smoked white peaches with clover honey
This was a masterpiece. I've been toying with my smoker for a few months now and I've had some disasters, some hits, and more than a few misses. These peaches were right on.
I mixed alder chips with 2 Tbsp dried lavender buds and smoked the peaches for about 10 minutes. In the photo, I put them atop a low-fat sugar cookie and drizzled the clover honey. I just had give myself a reason to use my fingers to eat it!