Posts Tagged lavender

Vanilla Bean & Lavender Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches

I like to think of this dessert as peaches and cream, all grown up.

My husband, however, describes it as “milky jello.”

The funny thing is, he’s kind of right. Panna cotta is essentially milky jello.

However, I don’t think that description does this dessert justice. This panna cotta is light and creamy, sweet but not cloying. The addition of honey, lavender and vanilla give the dish a subtle and lovely complexity. In addition, it’s the perfect summertime dessert, as it requires very little cooking.

And it should be said that this dessert is just really, really pretty. Not only does it taste good, but it’s just so lovely to look at.

Therefore, I implore you, friends: go forth and make this milky jello!

Vanilla Bean and Lavender Panna Cotta with Fresh Peaches
(Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes)
Makes 4 small panna cottas

For the panna cotta:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons honey
1.5 teaspoons culinary lavender
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

For the peach topping:
1-2 peaches, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon raw sugar

Method:
Prepare four small dishes (cups, mugs, ramekins, etc) by greasing them with a small amount of canola or vegetable oil. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water. Allow the gelatin to ‘blossom’. Let sit for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, cream, and honey over medium-low heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, and scrape out all of the vanilla seeds. Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add in the scraped vanilla pod and the lavender. Heat for 10 minutes, or until the milk is warmed all the way through and the honey is dissolved and combined with the cream.

Strain out the vanilla pods and lavender, using a mesh strainer or cheese cloth. When the milk mixture is still warm, stir in the gelatin mixture until combined. Pour contents into the containers. Refrigerate for 6 hours (or overnight), until set.

30 minutes prior to serving, slice the peach(es) and toss with sugar, lemon juice, lavender and thyme. Allow the peaches to sit for 30 minutes or more, in order to get the juices flowing.

When ready to serve, remove the panna cottas from the fridge and top with a spoonful of the peach mixture. Enjoy!

Online Bakesale for Japan.


(Image courtesy of Bakesaleforjapan.com)

There are no words that can begin to describe the devastation that Japan has experienced in recent weeks. My heart is heavy. A country now lies in ruin, and I can’t help but feel so small and powerless.

Yet, in the midst of this tragedy, there have been moments of beauty. People are coming together from all over the world to help those affected by this disaster. And while my contribution may be small, I take comfort in knowing that I am part of something much larger. I am but one small part of a worldwide effort. We want to help Japan, in any way that we are able.

So when Sabrina @ The Tomato Tart asked me to participate in an online bakesale to help Japan, I was floored! Here was a way that I could help Japan, while putting my love of baking to good use. It felt like the perfect way for me to get involved.

Now, here’s how you can get involved: On March 30th, go to TheTomatoTart.com and buy some baked goods! Really, its as simple as that. Let me explain further…

Online Bakesale for Japan: “Let’s Raise Some Dough!”

The online bakesale will take place on March 30th on The Tomato Tart site. There will be baked goods from 60+ bakers from all over the world. Bid on any item(s) you like, and the goods will be shipped to the winning bidders by April 11th.

All proceeds will go to the Second Harvest Japan food bank, a fantastic organization who are providing food and rations for countless people in Japan. Our goal is to raise $2,500.

Here is a preview of my bakesale items:

For the sale, I will be making/selling one dozen of my Salted Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies. This is a rich and buttery shortbread cookie with hints of lavender, wildflower honey, and sea salt. The cookies are simple and elegant, and are completely unique in their flavor. Made with organic butter from Portland, OR, culinary lavender (grown by my mother-in-law!), and organic raw wildflower honey from Sandy, OR. (Note: the shape, size, and packaging of the cookies may vary due to shipping considerations. I will do all that is within my power to ensure the delivery of whole and beautiful cookies!)

I chose to make a salted honey lavender shortbread for the bakesale for many reasons. For one, I’ve made these cookies before and absolutely loved them. They are subtle, simple, and delicious. In addition, I think these cookies are quite unique and should stand out amongst the crowd (and attract bids!). Finally, I’m making these as I feel the shortbread should be relatively easy to package up and ship across the country, while remaining in one piece!

If you’d like to make your own lavender shortbread cookies, click here to go to the recipe. (But why would you want to make them yourself when you can have me make them and have the proceeds go to Japan?!)

So, again, be sure to stop by The Tomato Tart on March 30th as there will be a gorgeous selection of baked goods to purchase! This is a fantastic cause, and I do hope you’re able to participate. Thank you!

**Note: there is an actual physical bakesale happening in Portland on April 2. Baked goods from a host of amazing people (including my fave, Kim Boyce) will be for sale at Barista (Pearl district) and Ristretto roasters (on Williams). Sadly, I’ll be out of town on April 2, so I can’t participate. But, all of you Portlanders should go and support!

Salted Honey Lavender Shortbread

Here’s the thing about hand-making most of your Christmas presents: its a lot of work. But let me be clear: I am not complaining. I know that I made the choice to hand-make my gifts. And in making that choice, I knew it would take time and energy. I did my best to budget my time and take on projects that weren’t too crazy and I did my best to enjoy the season. But, at the end of the day, you do have to put some time (and love) into handmade gifts. And when all is said and done, it can be a bit exhausting.

However, I feel that it is totally worth it. (My kitchen, on the other hand, might not feel the same way. It is a complete and utter disaster!) I ended up giving a my family (and a few friends) a combination of gifts. Not all were handmade, but I did my best to make the majority of my gifts. So, this is what I ended up making this year: cranberry orange liqueurs, spicy brown mustard, cranberry pear chutney, and salted honey lavender shortbread. And for non-food gifts, I even made my own scented reed diffusers! I was quite pleased.

So Christmas day has come and gone, and it was just wonderful. I got to spend quality time with my family, cook delicious things (I roasted a duck!), and came away feeling so spoiled and loved. In the spirit of over-sharing, I will now tell you a few of the things I received (in no particular order): a vintage bacon press (!), fresh Oregon black truffles (!!!), homemade wine jelly, a Blazers Jersey (LaMarcus! #12, baby!), vintage cookbooks, a peacock painting (by my extremely talented youngest sister), a Peugeot pepper grinder (with a lifetime warranty!), a meatloaf pan (from my father-in-law, who says that no chef can be without a proper meatloaf pan) and so much more. Upon closer inspection, it seems that my Christmas gifts speak volumes about me. Namely, that I am a nerd.

So, then, this nerd would like to share with you a recipe for salted honey lavender shortbread. While I gave out this shortbread for Christmas gifts (and yes, I know it is much to late to post about gift ideas), this shortbread is one for all occasions. It is simple, elegant, and I love the subtle floral element that the lavender brings to the buttery shortbread. In addition, I used culinary lavender that I got from my mother-in-law (she grows her own, and it is amaaaaaazing.) and so I have the distinct advantage of using the best lavender on the planet. If you are really really nice to me, I might lend you a little so that you can make this recipe.

Salted Honey Lavender Shortbread
(Adapted from Evil Shenanigans)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons honey (the better quality honey, the better the taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon culinary lavender
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt, or to taste

*NOTE: I thought that my first batch of cookies came out a bit dry and so for my second batch, I used less flour than the original recipe calls for. However, I wasn’t baking at my house so I didn’t have access to a stand mixer, and my problems with the dough could have resulted from the lack of a proper mixer.

Heat the oven to 350 F and spray an 8 x 8″ pan with non-stick spray, line with parchment paper leaving a three inch overhang on either side, and spray the parchment. (*I didn’t have parchment paper onhand, so I buttered and floured the pan, and that worked just fine.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, cornstarch, honey, kosher salt, vanilla, lavender, and butter. Blend on low speed until well mixed and smooth.

Press the dough evenly into the pan. Prick the top well with a fork, making sure not to press the fork completely though the dough.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of the cookies feel firm with lightly pressed and they are golden brown all over. Allow the cookies to cool five minutes then evenly sprinkle the tops with sea salt. Allow to cool for and additional thirty minutes in the pan.

Using the parchment overhang lift the shortbread from the pan (or, skip this step if you didn’t use parchment). Using a sharp knife, cut into squares. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Sprinkle with additional lavender and salt if you so desire.