Lavender

Lavender is not only a stunning purple flower, but also a cracking herb.

Many people choose not to use this herb as a food as the flavour can be particularly intense. It is commonly used in soap and is associated with bathrooms across the land. However, there are multiple culinary uses of lavender that go way beyond lavender tea (that said, lavender tea is perfect for a relaxing warm drink, perfect before going to bed.)


Uses in the Garden

Lavender is a perfect herb for attracting bees to the allotment. They love the stuff. I would recommend planting near where you aim to grow outdoor chilli peppers or cucumbers as this will encourage the bees towards these flowers. They are a must in most gardens and allotments as bees and other pollinators love them! in fact, I am sure I saw a slightly drunk bee clinging onto one of the flowers for dear life (I imagine it was saying something like ‘I love you…. I will never let you go… let’s get married…. hick!’)

So, without any further ado, let’s look at the recipes:


Drinks

Lavender and Berry Slush

This is a fantastic recipe that is tart and sweet, giving you a very pleasant lip-smacking experience!

  • 1 handful of blueberries,
  • 1 handful of red currents
  • 1 handful of white currents (or red currents if you cannot find white currents)
  • 1 handful of blackberries
  • 1 handful of raspberries
  • 1 sprig of lavender, stem removed.
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Enough crushed ice to fill the blender (about 500g)
  1. Firstly, freeze all of the fruit together.
  2. Place all of the frozen fruit in a blender together and add the sugar and lavender. Blend together until smooth.
  3. Add the crushed ice to the blender and blend again with the berry mixture.
  4. Once at a nice consistency, decant into glasses and decorate with a second sprig of lavender.

Main Course

Roasted chicken with Herbs De Provence, Lemon and Lavender

The classic roast chicken with a twist. I would serve this with sides of roasted new potatoes, fresh cooked peas and some crunchy broccoli. As with all roast chicken meals, the gravy can be the make or break, and the use of lavender here needs to be delicate. But this lavender can elevate the flavours to new heights.

With chicken, those with more flavour work well with this dish, so free range are good. If you can you choose an older bird, this will also will increase the flavour.

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE HERB MIX

  • Several sprigs each of thyme and lemon thyme
  • A branch of rosemary
  • Several sprigs of marjoram
  • Several fennel fronds
  • 4 sprigs of lavender
  • A tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 sprigs of summer savoury (do not replace with winter savoury as this can become very bitter).
  • Salt and pepper

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE CHICKEN

  • 1 large chicken
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of lavender
  1. First, prepare the herb mix. Take off the thyme leaves from the stem and place in a bowl, add the chopped marjoram leaves, the leaves of the rosemary, and the chopped summer savoury leaves.
  2. Chop up the lavender flowers finely and add to the herb mix. Add the lemon zest. Give a few turns of black pepper and some salt (to taste). Once all the ingredients are in, mix well.
  3. Once the herb mix is prepared turn to the chicken. Check the skin for any missed feathers. And then fill the bird. Put several holes in the lemon with a fork and then place it, the three bay leaves and 2 sprigs of lavender into the cavity.
  4. Chop the onion and garlic coarsely and place into the base of a roasting tray.
  5. Place the chicken into the roasting tray on top of the chopped onion and rub oil into the skin all over.
  6. After rubbing on the oil, add the herb mix to the outside of the chicken. Rub it into the skin and especially into the crevices around the wings and thighs.
  7. Roast in the oven. This depends on the size of bird you use, but I would suggest 30 minutes at 220 degrees C (475 degrees F) and then another 20 at 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). You want to ensure that the meat is cooked all the way through, so pierce the thigh joint as this is the thickest part of the meat and see if it is running clear and the meat is white/brown. if at all pink leave for another 5-10 minutes.
  8. Once cooked, take the chicken out and rest for 10-15 minutes before carving (or better, serve as the whole bird and carve on the table). Use the drippings from the bird and the onion and garlic to make a gravy. Add a tiny bit of the herb mix (if you have some left) and some water to the roasting tray. De-glaze the tray and pour the mix into a saucepan. Add a single portion of chicken stock and reduce down. To make it thicker you can add cornflower.

Dessert

Lemony Lavendery Ice-cream

What a joy to eat! The floral lemony flavour is perfect with a gin and tonic watching the sun set over your desired horizon. Personally, mine is the sea near the bay of Naples. Blue sea bliss!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
  • 4 flowers of Lavender
  • 200g (7 oz) caster sugar
  • 250ml (8 fl oz) milk
  • 250ml (8 fl oz) double cream, chilled

METHOD

  1. Combine the lemon zest and sugar and grind as fine as you can (mortar and pestle or food processor).
  2. Chop up the lavender flowers finely and mix through the zest and sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the zest mixture and milk until sugar has dissolved, then stir in the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until stiff.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture until blended.
  5. Pour the mixture into a loaf tin, and cover. Freeze until solid.
  6. When serving use a warm spoon to quenelle. I enjoy with a couple of ginger biscuits (ginger nuts are perfect!).

And that is all for lavender week. See you soon!