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Monday, February 25, 2008 

Lavender

Not just for bathsalts anymore!

Lavender, or "blue gold" has been used throughout the world for medicinal and culinary uses for thousands of years yet only since the 20's has it been commercially produced and available in the U.S.

While browsing through a used book store here in town, The Book Den, I ran across a little soft covered book that attracted my attention. (Yes...of course I had to purchase it....)
The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley is a delightful little find. It's chockful of wonderful recipes involving lavender...some that I would never have imagined.

Lavender Lemon Buttered Carrots.
Hawaiian Macadamia Lavender Rice.
Cantaloupe, Mango, and Asian Pear Salad with Lavender Cilantro Dressing.
Lavender Pecan Chicken Skewers with Rhubarb Apricot Dipping Sauce.
Veal Scaloppine and Artichoke Hearts with Pomegranate Lavender Sauce.
Chili Lavender Turkey Pot Pie with Spicy Crust.

Can't find culinary lavender? Penzey's carries it, as does Dean & Deluca. Clairmont Farms up in the Santa Ynez Valley sells it. In June, Ojai will celebrate it.

Of course...I'll just go ahead and eat it!
This version features lavender in both the crust and filling, making an all-time favorite even better—and perfuming the kitchen with the most enticing aromas.

Makes 6 servings

Lavender Pie Dough (recipe follows)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon dried ‘Provence’ lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups pitted fresh or frozen cherries
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Lavender Sugar

Prepare the pie dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, tapioca, lavender, salt and cinnamon.
Place the cherries in a large saucepan and stir over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until slightly softened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a large bowl. Add the sugar mixture to the cherry juices in the pan and simmer, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Pour over the cherries, add the vanilla, and stir to mix. Let cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into an 11-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving a ¾-inch overhang. Pour in the filling, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill.

Roll the remaining dough into an 11-inch round and use a sharp knife or fluted pastry wheel to cut it into 1-inch-wide strips. Working on a sheet of parchment paper set on a baking sheet, weave the pastry strips in a close lattice pattern. Refrigerate or freeze the lattice for 20 minutes, or until firm.

Brush the edge of the filled shell with cold water and slide the lattice off the parchment and onto the pie. Let stand for 10 minutes to soften the lattice. Trim the edges flush with the rim of the pie plate and crimp decoratively. Gently brush the lattice top with cold water and sprinkle with lavender sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbles. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

If you’re using fresh cherries, you’ll need about 3½ pints.

Lavender Pie Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried culinary ‘Provence’ lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
¼ cup cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, lavender, and salt. Pulse to mix. Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; do not overprocess. Add the water and pulse until the dough starts to clump; if the dough is not clumping, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Gather the dough into ball and divide in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Believe it or not I have that cookbook as well. I must admit that I have not made any of the recipes but I love lavender and in the South of France it is not unusual to have that flavor in your food. I must try some of them.

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