2008-07-14

Cooking With Lavender...


This is a picture of the lavender growing in our yard. Smells great... and attracts bees which I know is important for pollination (but me no likey bees, sorry, don't hate me). A couple of days ago I posted about having purchased some culinary lavender and wondering what to make with it. I did a bit of experimenting and ended up with two dishes that turned out very well... a chicken main dish and a lovely dessert. Recall in this post here that I mentioned my dilemma. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed ideas/recipes in the comment section and via email - I will be making more dishes soon because the two I made were very successful :)


Lavender Creme Brulee
recipe from What's Cooking America
4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter (6-ounce) custard cups and set them into a glass baking dish. If cooking custards in a metal pan, cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of newspaper to ensure an even temperature on the bottom. Place custard cups in a shallow ovenproof roasting or baking pan.

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, add cream and the lavender flowers; heat just to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow lavender flowers to infuse with the cream for 5 minutes. Strain cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove lavender flowers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until light and creamy. Slowly add the strained cream to the egg mixture, blending well. Divide custard mixture among the custard cups.
Bring the water for the water bath to a light simmer on top of the stove; carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come half-way up the sides of the custard cups. NOTE: The most common mistake people make in baking a custard is not putting enough water in the hot-water bath. The water should come up to the level of the custard inside the cups. You must protect your custard from the heat.

Baked 60 minutes or until set around the edges but still loose in the center. The cooking time will depend largely on the size of the custard cups you are using, but begin checking at a half hour and check back regularly. When the center of the custard is just set, it will jiggle a little when shaken, that's when you can remove it from the oven.

Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, sprinkle approximately 2 teaspoons of remaining sugar over each creme brulee. For best results, use a small hand-held torch. Hold the torch 4 to 5 inches from the sugar, maintaining a slow and even motion. Stop torching just before the desired degree of doneness is reached, as the sugar will continue to cook for a few seconds after flame has been removed.

If you don't have a torch, place creme brulees 6 inches below the broiler for 4 to 6 minutes or until sugar bubbles and turns golden brown. Refrigerate creme brulees at least 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings (depending on size of custard cups).




Glazed Lavender Chicken
adapted from Lavender Chicken Stir Fry

One day ahead make the lavender cooking oil by placing 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil in a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons dried crushed culinary grade lavender flowers, 5 large garlic cloves, crushed and 5 sprigs of rosemary.
Warm for 10 minutes and steep for 6 hours. Strain and store in an airtight container.

Take thin-cut boneless skinless chicken breasts and marinate for 2 hours in a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons orange marmalade, 2 tablespoons honey and 3 tablespoons of the lavender cooking oil.

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a casserole dish with 1-2 tablespoons of lavender cooking oil. Remove chicken from the marinate and place in prepared dish. Pour remaining marinate into a saucepan and heat until a minimum of 175F then remove from heat and set aside. If you're at all concerned about salmonella even after heating, simply toss out the marinade and make a new batch. Place casserole dish in preheated oven and cook uncovered for 25 minutes turning once. Brush chicken with marinade and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked thru.

The recipe for the saffron rice can be found here.

Have a delicious day :)