I’ve been traveling! First to Mesa, Arizona, to present the Keynote and a follow-up culinary workshop at the U. S. Lavender Growers Convention. Then last Sunday on to Phoenix to teach a quick class on my new book, The Art of Cooking with Lavender. Due to the warm weather and bright afternoon sun, I was glad I decided to feature my Gourmet Lavender-Fruit Syrup. I used it to dress a refreshing fruit salad, plus to add fine flavor and color to the sprightly lavender-lime ginger cooler shown in the close-up below. BTW, the vivid color comes from the raspberries and purple lavender–they both turn orangish from the acid in lime juice. I was also thrilled that the event was sold out and that the audience was really eager to start cooking with lavender. (Learn all about or purchase my new book here.)
The Phoenix event pictured here was hosted by Botanica, a charming shop in the very popular pastoral dining location called the Farm at South Mountain. This bucolic park-like getaway right in the city is owned by well-known local restaurateur and caterer, Pat Christofolo. As you can see, the outdoor demonstration site was a charming pergola that’s right across from the Botanica shop (by the flowers in the background). It seemed a perfect spot to talk about lavender. It was serene and adorned with a natural, graceful canopy of vines and trees. Behind the scenes helping to keep things running smoothly for me were Courtney Gardenier, of Botanica, and Candy Lesher, a professional chef, Arizona media personality, and current President of the Phoenix chapter of the Les Dames d’Escoffier culinary organization. Many, many thanks to you both! (The pic of Candy below left was taken while she was teaching an earlier class at the Botanica patio.)
There is always a chance that the weather will rain on your parade with outdoor cooking events. So I felt very lucky it cooperated that day. Well, mostly anyway…. If you look closely at the top pic, you’ll notice that my hair is windblown and my sweater is flapping in the breeze. So… participants couldn’t really harvest their own dried spikes of culinary lavender as I’d planned. As soon as they pulled the buds from their stems the flavor-packed little goodies just blew away! (Fortunately, I had some extra culinary lavender buds we could give out to replace what were lost. I did point out that not all lavenders are edible–always ask for angustifolia lavenders, aka English or true lavender. The so-called Spanish, or Stoechas lavenders and tooth-leafed or Dentata lavenders are too bitter and are not edible.)
The wind also made preparing the Gourmet Lavender-Fruit Syrup a little tricky because the burner flame kept flickering or blowing out! But after taking the photos here, my husband, Charlie, set aside his camera, found a large square of cardboard, and held it up to shield the burner from the sudden gusts of air. (Where there’s a will, there is always a way!) Actually, the breezes helped cool us off, plus they added a feeling of fun and whimsy that we all enjoyed. Oh yes, the syrup, fruit salad, cooler, and lavender scones Candy had generously made from the book were all a hit. Everybody went home excited, armed with lots of ideas, and ready to take advantage of the lovely spicy, fruity flavor of lavender. Here’s the Gourmet Lavender-Fruit Syrup recipe so you can get started on you lavender culinary journey.
For more free lavender recipes, beautiful pics, tips, and discount purchase of The Art of Cooking with Lavender go to: www.nancyslavenderplace.com
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, or pitted, chopped (unpeeled) peaches or nectarines, plums, or apricots
- 2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Stir together sugar, water, and fruit in a medium, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, then boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or till fruit is softened. Soil, stirring, then boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or till fruit is softened. Stir in lavender buds and lemon juice. Set aside, covered. Let steep at least 1 hour, or up to 4 hours; taste occasionally until desired flavor is reached. Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve; press down to push through as much liquid as possible. Rinse out saucepan; add sieved syrup and bring it back to boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cool slightly. Pour into a very clean storage bottle. Store, airtight and refrigerated, up to 3 months. Makes a generous 2 cups.
- For more free lavender recipes, beautiful pics, tips, and discount purchase of The Art of Cooking with Lavender go to: www.nancyslavenderplace.com
For another tempting recipe, try a lavender buttercream frosting here.