Monday, February 16, 2009

For the Love of Lavender

My new found love of culinary lavender is quite well-known amongst my friends by now; it seems that whenever I talk about food lately, I'm describing the latest lavender Earl Grey tea I've tried (Revolution Tea has a blissful blend that is strong and aromatic), or the dark chocolate with lavender I ate (for this, Dagoba Organic chocolate), or the lavender-iced cupcake I enjoyed not too long ago. Even the chocolate shop where I work part-time recently debuted a specialty lavender hot chocolate, with the signature hot chocolate base, homemade vanilla whipped cream, and a sprinkling of culinary lavender buds on top, giving the drink a floral quality without being overpowering.

Lavender just seems to go well with so much in the foodie world, both in sweet and savory dishes. As I've looked for recipes, I've seen lavender sauces matched with duck and pork, it's included in beef Carpaccio dishes, paired with goat cheese in tarts, and roasted with tomatoes. For the majority of people I've spoken to, though, using lavender in foodstuff generally is a bit too adventurous. I, however, am all about adventure, which explains the wide range of ingredients that my baking cupboard contains.

Today was a beautiful day off from work (thanks, President's Day!) and as I walked through Woodland Park here in Seattle, my mind wandered to my baking, and why I have so quickly warmed to all things lavender. The reason, I mused, is that the very essence of lavender is soothing and calming, and what better way to infuse these properties into my life than to literally consume them? I know I was not considering this when I took the first sip of lavender tea or when I excitedly helped to put together the lavender hot chocolate at the shop, but it makes sense to me. I, like many others, use lavender body lotion and lavender candles to soothe myself at the end of the day: these things help me to relax and re-center myself. If I use lavender for these reasons, then why not take it a step farther by suffusing my diet with the herb? What other healing herbs can I make a mainstay in my kitchen, then?

It's a beautiful flower in sight and smell, and equally so in taste, as I'm discovering day by day.

This lavender recipe comes from Hood River Lavender in Oregon and is a wonderfully fragrant, bready dish that showcases lavender very well.

Lavender, Rosemary, Garlic and Olive Focaccia

1 pound pre-made pizza dough
2 Tbsp olive oil (extra-virgin)
¼ cup pitted & chopped black olives
2 tsp chopped lavender buds
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp coarse salt
ground black pepper to taste

1. Lightly oil a large baking sheet. On a work surface, roll pizza dough out into an 8 x 14 rectangle. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel, let rise at room temperature for 20 min. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. After final rising on baking sheet, make dimples in dough with finger tips. Brush on 2 Tbsp olive oil; then add mixture of: 2 tsp chopped lavender, 2 Tbsp rosemary, 2 cloves minced garlic and chopped olives. Press into place, sprinkle with 1 tsp coarse salt & black pepper to taste. Bake 12 – 15 min. or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Cut into pieces to serve.

1 comment:

Lavender said...

I am a huge fan of focaccia anyway, but with lavender and rosemary this sounds unbeatable! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for posting it.