Monday, December 23, 2013

Lavender Shortbread

This year for our annual holiday luncheon with my writing group, we all made recipes from Kathy Gehrt's fabulous cookbook Discover Cooking with Lavender.  This book is a great introduction to cooking with this undervalued culinary herb.

 I remember when  Kathy's  book first came out in 2010.   

We all brought our books to the writing group one week and took this photo.

Kathy and I  are the "foodies" in the group and we did a number of cooking events together.  We each attended the others demos and talks.  We had lots of fun and I learned a lot about cooking with lavender from Kathy. But my favorite stories were always the ones from history.  FYI--Lavender was Cleopatra's secret weapon for luring suitors.  And in the Middle Ages lavender was used as a disinfectant, and the most intriguing bit of folklore: lavender has its own fairy.  Who knew?

For cooking, you should always select culinary lavender because some varieties of lavender are very pungent.  And when you use the wrong variety of lavender in cooking, your cookies could taste soapy. 

Grosso lavender is a more fragrant variety and is best for fragrances and bouquets.  It is also used to make essential oils. 

Ask whether the lavender you're buying is a culinary variety. 

I got bundles of dried lavender at the Lavender Festival in Sequim when I assisted Kathy with a cooking class one year.  Kathy also taught an herb container garden class at Sky Nursery.  

Lavender can also help you relax and get to sleep at night.  I keep a lavender sachet handy for anytime I need to chill out.   I'm sure if more holiday shoppers and drivers stopped to sniff the lavender, we'd all stress less.

Here is the recipe I picked. Overall all this recipe was easy but it turned out better with butter than Earth Balance.  I think if you used a coconut based spread the cookies would hold their shape better. And whatever you do, don't let them overbake!

Lavender Shortbread
(Makes about 20 cookies)

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds, crushed
1 cup unsalted butter [or use 1 cup vegan butter substitute like Earth Balance
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Whisk flour, salt and lavender together in a bowl.  In another bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter until it is smooth.  Add sugar and heat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the lemon zest and juice and gradually add the flour mixture, beating until it is blended in with the other ingredients.

2. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour.  

3. Preheat oven to 350F.

4. Roll cookie dough on a lightly floured board, until dough is about 1/4-inch thick.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Use cookie cutters to cut dough into individual cookies.

5. Place cookies on cookie sheets and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. (This helps the cookies hold their shape as they bake.)

6. Bake shortbread on the middle rack of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown.

Allowing the cookies to firm up in the refrigerator first is an important step.  Don't skip this step.

Celebrate the holidays your way!

My Cooking Assistant is grateful  for any mistakes that come his way.


Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
I would love to have been at the class, it would have been so much fun. I can almost taste these Lavender Shortbread's, can't wait to try them. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and wishing you and Finn abundant blessings in 2014!
Miz Helen

Miz Helen said...

Congratulations Debra!
Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Have a great weekend and enjoy your new Red Plate.
Miz Helen