I have some lavender bushes in the garden. They last well and smell wonderful. I have always considered lavender a herb, but can't think how it is used in cooking.
If people have any good recipes for lavender I would love to know.
First, a couple of notes on cooking with lavender:
-The leaves as well as the flower blossoms are edible.
-If you don't grow it yourself, make sure that you only use lavender that has been produced for culinary usage (often found in bulk form at health food stores). If it isn't sold in a food store, don't use it (such as that in craft stores).
-A little goes a long way. Too much and your mouth will taste like it was washed out with soap.
Now for some of the items I have done with it:
Lavender ice cream (Lavender & Honey even better!) is a common use. Infuse the cream with the lavender buds by bringing it to a simmer and then take off the heat and cover, letting sit for about 30 minutes.
Lavender orange sorbet (infuse lavender buds into the orange juice).
I've also used lavender and thyme in an herb past rub for roasted lamb.
"English Garden Madeleines" using dried lavender and rosewater in the madeleine batter.
I did a presentation on culinary uses of lavender a dozen years ago and don't quite recall what else I did with it but should be able to pull out the recipes I mentioned above.
If you'd like the recipes, email me at: email@example.com and I'll forward them to you.
Lavender goes well with apples, bitter citrus fruits, honey, basil, and coriander. If you buy it instead of growing it, be sure it is food grade, since ornamental growers tend to spray lavender with pesticides.
Some dishes using herbes de Provence assume that you are using a mixture containing lavender, so searching for herbes de Provence should also help find recipes. A simple thing to start out with may be lavender lemonade
The TGRWRT blog event asked readers to combine lavender and apples in a dish. The results of the TGRWT event contain several new recipes that use lavender, some sweet, some savory. I participated in the event, but later modified a recipe from the very talented Witt Sedgwick to create an apple lavender risotto.
one of the best cookies I've had was a lavender shortbread cookie.
I had a lavender lemonade at a wedding recently. I'm not sure if they did anything more complicated than throwing a sprig of lavender in the glass to use as a "stirrer." The light infusion and the lavender smell definitely brightened the drink.
You can spice deserts and cooked dishes.
It goes well with Yogurt fish sauces and with rice, with cakes and various cremes.
Try swapping it for rosemary when roasting a leg of lamb. To roast lamb I usually make about 20 incisions in the lamb, and into each press an anchovy, half a clove of garlic and a spring of rosemary or lavender, seal the slash with some butter. Roast in a tray with a good glass of white wine and some oil, basting it a few times while it cooks.
I use it when grilling pork chops or steaks. Just cut 4-5 sprigs per chop, and drop it on top when you add the meat to the grill. it will burn up as the meat cooks, but it imparts a nice subtle flavor to the meat.
A note of caution: If you didn't plant the lavender in your garden and consequently don't know if it's been treated with pesticides, you shouldn't use it in your baking and cooking. I use lavender in herb crusts on meat, in baking a variety of breads and cookies, and in jellies and sorbets. It's also delicious in some tea blends (from which I make ices in the summer).
As mentioned above, the lavender lemonade is wonderful. However, to make mine, I use a bit more than just "a sprig" and I mix it with chamomile flowers and honey with a few lemon balm leaves thrown in (as well as the lemon juice of course) for that fresh, 'grass-y' hint and steep that for a while, strain it and pour it over ice. Sometimes I add a splash of cognac. One would think of heaven...honestly! I've made lemon-lavender butter cakes as well that were lovely. The lavender french sables are the best! I've founf that it pairs fairly nicely with either rosemary and/or thyme for lamb as well.
DIY Herbal Tea: 1 cup or so of boiling water, 1 tsp dried lavender, honey and/or lemon to taste. Steep 5 minutes then strain.