Thursday, July 3, 2008

The lavender is in bloom!

Yes, the beautiful lavender is now in bloom in Provence. It will last until about mid-August. We went to the Abbaye de Sénanque this week where I took this photo. It inspired to me to post the following recipe for lavender ice cream. Just the smell of it is heavenly! Lavender is very useful-- the scent is relaxing and is used in soaps, shampoos, and lotions. Baked brie with lavender honey on top is so good. At Châteauneuf-du-Pape (see link above), Jean Baptiste, who did our wine tasting, shared a recipe for lamb-- prick the top of the lamb with a fork and brush it with lavender honey. Brown the lamb in olive oil, then bake in the oven. Ask at your favorite wine shop for a wine that goes well with lamb and you are set. If you are in Durham, North Carolina, visit Seth and Craig at the Wine Authorities on University Drive. They won't steer you wrong. Lavender oil can be used to relieve burns. I picked up a pan without the aid of a potholder one night and burned my hand. I put lavender oil on it and the pain was totally gone. Putting a few grains on the floor when you vacuum will make your whole house smell good.
Okay, recipe time! The recipes are courtesy of Érick Vedel, Cuisine et Tradition Provençale.

Lavender Ice Cream - Glaço à la lavando
(Serves 12)
1/2 liter or 1 pint milk
1/2 liter or 1 pint cream
12-15 grams or 1/2 ounce lavender grains
3 egg yolks
120 grams or 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup lavender honey

Boil the milk and cream, add the lavender grains and let infuse for up to 12 hours. Strain the milk and warm it. Add the sugar and stir well. In a separate bowl, blend the egg yolks, then slowly add the warmed milk and sugar mixture to the egg yolks, whisking as you do so. Pour this mixture into a double-boiler and heat gently, stirring until thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in the lavender honey and chill for 5-6 hours (or overnight). Pour into an ice cream machine. Put in the freezer. Enjoy!

Green Beans in Parsley - Haricôts Verts au Persillade
1 kilo (2.2 pounds) fresh green beans
Coarse salt
Olive Oil
3 grated or minced garlic cloves
Juice of half a lemon
Bouquet of fresh parsley

Prepare the beans by snapping of the ends. Either steam or boil them until tender, about 6 minutes. Cool them down in cold water and put aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the persillade.
Chop the parsley finely.
Grate the garlic on the tips of a fork in lemon juice. Mix together with the parsely. Just before you are ready to serve, heat a large frying pan with a layer of olive oil, toss in a handful of beans. Toss until evenly heated, then add some of the garlic mixture. Toss and heat over the flame. Add a pinch of the salt, toss, and place in a serving dish. Repeat until all the beans are done. Serve immediately. (These are also really good served cold!)

Bon appétit!

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