Lavender. My New Secret Weapon.

Most people probably cringe when it comes to even thinking about using lavender in cooking. I have really grown to love it. A little goes a long way. That’s the secret. If you end up using too much, it’s like eating a mouthful of flowers.

Aside from use in cooking, lavender is also used for medicinal and therapeutic uses. Here are some other fun facts:

  • Lavender belongs to the mint family
  • It was once used in the mummification process
  • France is the #1 producer of lavender
  • In France, baby lambs are still sent to fields of lavender in order to promote more tender and fragrant meat.
  • Many members of royalty including Queen Victoria were huge fans of lavender. She actually had lavender in every single room, and was responsible for popularizing lavender throughout England.
  • Lavender can be used as a sleep aid. I can attest to this! More to come in my next post…

The use of lavender in food and beverages is popping up everywhere. They’ve got this amazing lavender vanilla latte at Dogwood Coffee. I swear it boosts your productivity by 1000%. The Birchwood Cafe also has a lovely mint lavender sparkling water. Seeing lavender actually work really triggered my curiosity. So I decided to initiate my own lavender cooking challenge.

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Dogwood Coffee’s lavender vanilla latte.
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Birchwood Cafe’s mint lavender sparkling water.

I purchased a small quantity of dried cooking lavender (this is important) from my local co-op. Its home is in my pantry and not in the spice drawer because it is sooooo fragrant!

Since I’ve never used lavender in my cooking, my Flavor Bible came into very good use. Lavender can be paired with a variety of ingredients including chicken, fruit, honey, lemon, meats like beef/lamb/steak, orange, potatoes, rhubarb, rosemary, mint, and thyme, just to name a few. A common theme in the recipes that I made is the use of lemon paired with lavender; lemon and lavender are truly the bestest of friends.

The first recipe I created was grilled chicken with a rosemary-mint-lavender salt rub. I was very excited about developing a grilled recipe because this forced me to actually put my new grill together that had been sitting in its box since Christmas. And this recipe (and grilling in general) is so easy! To make the salt herb rub, I combined 1/2 t of dried lavender with 1/2 t kosher salt. And then I mixed in a sprig of fresh rosemary and a couple of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped beforehand. Keep in mind, these are amounts for just 1-2 chicken thighs. Adjust accordingly.

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Then I used a knife to create numerous slits on the top and bottom surfaces of two chicken thighs, and rubbed the rosemary-mint-lavender salt rub onto the surface and in the slits on both sides. I grilled it until browned on the surface and chicken was no longer pink. And the secret finishing touch was to squeeze fresh lemon juice over the chicken prior to serving.

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Not the most attractive picture. Grilled chicken with a splash of lavender (plus a rather unpleasant but delicious cold beet salad).

Lavender is also wonderful in baked goods. I ended up making lemon bread. The bread has great flavor, but make sure that you don’t over bake the bread, or it will be dry and crumbly. I mostly followed the recipe, with the only modification being to add dried lavender to the glaze. The easiest way to incorporate the lavender was to grind the 2 T sugar with 1 t dried lavender, breaking up the lavender. And then continue following the recipe for the glaze, and drizzle over the tops of the loaf/loaves.

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Tiny lemon loaves with a hint of lavender.

Who knew lavender could be so multifunctional and delicious!

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