Experience some of summer’s freshest flavors in this salad. Crisp mixed greens are combined with a ripe sliced peach, chopped green onions, creamy goat cheese, and a homemade lemon-lavender-ginger dressing. It’s all about contrasts and balance in this salad, where you combine crunchy greens with the smooth peach and goat cheese, and invigorating lemon juice with soothing lavender, ginger, and honey. The result is a flavorful and refreshing salad that works great as a light lunch or a side to a more substantial meal.
Make a weekend breakfast special with this lovely berry breakfast cake. It’s full of fresh blueberries and black raspberries, and it’s sweetened with the subtle flavor of homemade lavender sugar–a taste of summer in every bite!
The lavender in our garden is thriving. I’m kind of surprised, considering how hot and dry this past month has been, but I am happy to see it. It is gorgeous and it smells so good! I’ve been wanting to use it in some way, and then recently I came across a post by Laurie, of the blog ten.times.tea, for lilac sugar. The lilac sugar sounded so good and looked so pretty, it made me want to try lavender sugar. I found that there is lots of information out there about making your own lavender sugar. What a fun and simple way to use lavender, and what a subtle flavor the lavender gives the sugar. You can use lavender sugar to sweeten tea or flavor lemonade, and you can use it in baking.
At the same time that I have been wanting to use my lavender, I have been wanting to bake with fresh berries–the blueberries that are in season now, and the black raspberries growing wild all over my yard. So I made this lovely berry breakfast cake, sweetened with my own homemade lavender sugar. It is so delicious and festive for a summer breakfast! The breakfast cake recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson. The only thing I changed was that I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries, and I used lavender sugar instead of traditional white sugar, and butter from grass-fed cows instead of vegetable shortening. I am very happy with the result! The lavender sugar is not essential in this recipe–if you don’t have extra time, conventional sugar can be used just fine, and any kind of fresh berries would work.
The Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook is such a gentle reminder of the beauty in using the food growing around us, and also the simple elegance of hospitality. Such a simple gesture as making a cake or a salad or a plate of sandwiches for others can be so satisfying to both the giver and the receivers. We have had the opportunity to extend some old-fashioned hospitality to a variety of people this past week, and it has been so much fun to get together with old friends who now live far away, and to have friends of our kids in our house and around our table.
Life can get very fast-paced and over-scheduled these days, and it’s so nice to slow down sometimes to cook and bake, to pick lavender and make lavender sugar, or spend the whole afternoon at a nearby lake. To eat breakfast on the porch or a picnic dinner at a park, and let the dinner and conversation last till dark. Sometimes it takes guests and hospitality to make us slow down, and what would we do without it. We need to do more of it.
I hope you all have a great weekend! It is mid-summer, and feels every bit of it to me. I look forward to checking out some new recipes at Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week! If you are ever in a food rut, that is a great place to go to check out some really interesting blogs.
Pick a handful of lavender. Remove the blossoms and buds from the stems and measure out 2 tablespoons. **If you wash the lavender, or if it is damp when you pick it, make sure it is completely dry before you combine it with the sugar. (If you don’t have access to lavender in your garden, you can buy culinary lavender buds at health food stores or specialty food places.)
Place the lavender buds and the cup of sugar in a food processor (I used a blender). Pulse or blend for a couple of minutes, stirring in between pulses, till the sugar and lavender are well mixed and the lavender is broken down a bit.
Spoon the lavender/sugar mixture into a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Let the mixture sit, covered, for a day or at least overnight. Double or triple the recipe if you want to make more lavender sugar. Use this delightful sugar to sweeten tea or lemonade, or use it in baking. Enjoy!
For the berry breakfast cake:
3/4 cup lavender sugar (you can use regular white granulated sugar if you prefer)
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, soft and at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of fresh berries (I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the lavender sugar, egg yolks, and butter until creamy. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Add the unbeaten egg whites and stir until well mixed. Add the milk and vanilla and stir to mix again. Fold in the berries. If you are using blueberries, gently stir in a bit of flour to the blueberries before folding them into the batter, so they won’t sink to the bottom. Gently stir until the berries are combined with the batter. Spoon the batter into the baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden and the center springs back to the light touch. Serve warm. Enjoy!
This luxurious whipped cream is infused with a subtle hint of lavender. It turns a serving of fresh fruit into a wonderfully indulgent treat. Lavender seems to be all the rage this summer, so I have been inspired to make something with it too. We have lots of lavender flourishing in our garden, and I like to pick the flowers and put them in vases to make the house smell good, but I had never used it in food until I made this whipped cream. I am so happy I tried this recipe, because I absolutely love it. Sometimes it feels so good to make something special and delicious, even if (or especially if) it is impractical and not completely necessary. I often get bogged down in the necessary duties of life, and need to be reminded to lighten up! Making this whipped cream did that–it was just for fun and pleasure. I felt like I was stepping back in time a bit to make this, back to when people took the time to soak the lavender flowers in whipping cream overnight, and then whipped the cream by hand until it fluffed up into delicate peaks of sweetness.
The lavender makes this a special whipped cream, and I was happy my making of this coincided with a visit from some special friends I don’t get to see very often. A very dear college friend (and former cross country teammate) and her sister visited our house yesterday. One of them lives in Spain and the other lives in Senegal, so it was such a treat to have them and one of their daughters at our table, taste-testing the whipped cream for me (they liked it a lot). I loved visiting with them, talking about old times, and hearing about the different cultures and food traditions in the countries they now call home.
I stumbled upon this recipe for lavender whipped cream in a wonderful cookbook, called Cranbrook Reflections: A CulinaryCollection. I say stumbled upon because my kids and I happened to be at a library that was having a used book sale, and because I love collecting cookbooks, I gravitated to the cookbook section and found it. In any case, I will be making this whipped cream again, since we have a great supply of lavender and I want to try it with all the upcoming seasonal fruits.
It tasted delicious with watermelon chunks and blueberries, though the watermelon made it a little watery at the bottom of the jar. It also tasted wonderful with just blueberries, and as they are not as full of liquid, there was no water at the bottom. I can imagine it would also be great with raspberries, peaches, and of course strawberries. As long as you plan ahead a few hours to make time for the cream to absorb the flavor of the lavender flowers, this whipped cream is really easy and fun to make. I am sharing this post over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday site with a bunch of inspiring bloggers.
3 tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers, without the stems (or 1 tablespoon of dried lavender flowers)
1 tablespoon of sugar
Pour the cup of heavy cream into a small bowl. Add the lavender flowers. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours so the cream absorbs the flavor of the lavender flowers. Then pour through a wire mesh strainer (or if you don’t have one, you can also use a colander with small holes) to carefully remove the flowers from the cream. Beat the cream in a bowl until it is almost stiff, and then add the sugar gradually. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat. The first couple of times I made whipped cream by hand, I pretty much made butter because I beat it too much. Keep an eye on the texture and stop when the peaks form. Garnish with fresh lavender flowers if you wish. Use this whipped cream to top any kind of fruit. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from Cranbrook Reflections: A Culinary Collection.