September 27, 2009

Honey-Lavender Ice Cream

I taught a Girls Night Out cooking class last night that featured all recipes with lavender. Here was the menu:

Lavender Tangerine Mimosas
Garlicky Lavender-Curry Hummus with Baked Pita Chips
Spinach Salad with Baked Goat Cheese & Lavender-Lemon Vinaigrette
Lavender Crab Cakes with Creamy Honey-Mustard Sauce
Lavender Couscous with Artichoke Hearts & Pine Nuts
Lavender-Honey Ice Cream
Lavender Sugar Cookies

All recipes, except the cookies, came from The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley.  The crowd favorite was the ice cream (recipe below).

In a post from January, 2008, I admitted that I love eating lavender, thanks to my friend Sue, who introduced me to lavender "better butter" a few years ago. As I wrote in my Christmas Cookie post, if you've never eaten lavender-laced food, you must try it.
Lavender makes fragrant and tasty breadsdrinks, and desserts like cookiescakes, or custards. It goes particularly well with chocolate or green veggies. I like lavender mixed with melted butter then used as a dip for steamed artichokes and sprinkled on roasted asparagus or sauteed peas.

photo from Winding Brook Estate

According to What's Cooking AmericaFlowers and leaves can be used fresh, and both buds and stems can be used dried. Lavender is a member of the mint family and is close to rosemary, sage, and thyme. It is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory.
English lavender has the sweetest fragrance of all the lavenders and is the most commonly used in cooking. [...] Lavender has a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying. In cooking, use 1/3 the quantity of dried flowers to fresh. 
Note: Adding too much lavender to your recipe can be like eating perfume and will make your dish bitter. [...] A little goes a long way.

You can buy lavender from upscale spice shops like Penzey's or The Spice House.  I ordered a large container of dried lavender from Amazon, but when I searched there today, I didn't find any.  If you live in the St. Louis area, you can harvest your own lavender at Winding Brook Estate Farm in Eureka, Missouri. They are harvesting through October 25 and are open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10-4.

Lavender-Honey Ice Cream

photo from foodrambler

Makes about 4 cups

3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon lavender buds
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or paste
10 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, honey, lavender, and 3/4 cup of the cream.  Heat, stirring often, until small bubbles start to foam around the edge. DO NOT BOIL. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks & sugar. Beat until the mixture is a lightly lemony yellow.

Slowly beat in the milk mixture.  Pour back into the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Strain into a medium bowl.  Stir in the vanilla & remaining cream.  Chill before freezing in an ice cream machine.

September 12, 2009

Chicken Liver Toasts

I've learned to like liver lately. I've made fried chicken livers, creamy pate, and chopped liver crostini. But, my favorite recipe so far has been the chicken liver toasts from A Platter of Figs. It's an easy recipe which results in a creamy spread that has complex flavor without the gaminess that is so common with liver. The original recipe calls for duck livers, though I used chicken livers. I bet it would be even better with rabbit livers. I've heard they're tasty, but I didn't have the pleasure of trying any when Jerad made them recently.

Chicken Liver Toasts

slightly adapted from A Platter of Figs

1 pound chicken livers
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces chopped prosciutto
2 large shallots, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
A splash of dry sherry
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Trim the livers, blot on paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the prosciutto and shallots and cook until the shallots are nicely browned.
  • Add the livers and turn up the flame. Stir well and continue cooking, shaking the pan occasionally, until the livers are cooked through but still a little pink. Slice one to check.
  • Add the thyme and sherry, then transfer the contents of the pan to a cutting board. Let cool to room temperature.
  • With a large knife, chop the livers to a rough paste, then put the paste in a small mixing bowl. Mash the butter into the paste with a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep at cool room temperature until ready to serve (up to 2 hours), or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving. Spread on toasted baguette slices.

September 7, 2009

Spiced Dove Breasts with Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Last night, I was catching up on all of my DVR'd episodes of The F-Word, and in one episode Gordon Ramsay goes pigeon hunting. He sears the boneless breasts then serves them on top of what he calls a summer vegetable casserole (pan roasted leeks, beets, asparagus, carrots, broad beans in a chicken stock/red wine vinegar reduction with pancetta, garlic & tarragon).  

And since I have a bunch of fresh dove breasts (and a few pigeons) in my fridge, I decided to give his recipe a try tonight.  But then...

As I was browsing the recipes archives at London's Channel 4 (Ramsay's British home base), I came across a more interesting recipe for wild bird...pigeon breasts marinated in yogurt & spices, served with a warm butternut squash & arugula salad.  I figured this would be the perfect dish to coax autumn out from under the rainy, humid weather we've been having.

After marinating for a few hours, the dove was very tender and really not gamey at all. We usually cook dove either dredged in flour and browned or wrapped in bacon and grilled, but I think I like this recipe the best.

Spiced Dove (and Pigeon) Breasts 
with Roast Butternut Squash Salad
slightly adapted from delicious magazine

Wild birds like pigeon & dove can be cooked briefly and eaten while they're still a little on the pink side.

Serves 4


  • 16 dove or 8 pigeon breasts (boneless)
  • 3 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika (smoked, if possible)
  • 1 medium butternut squash 
  • 2 red onions
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • toasted pumpkin seeds, optional

1. Put the dove or pigeon breasts, yogurt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ginger, cumin, salt and paprika in a shallow ceramic dish and marinate for at least 2 hours (or preferably overnight).

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel the squash & cut in half lengthwise.  Discard the seeds and cut the squash into bite-sized cubes. Toss in the remaining olive oil and add a little salt & pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until slightly browned and crispy at the edges. 

3. Meanwhile, slice the red onions and toss in a bowl with the lemon juice and the olive oil. Season lightly. Gently mix the onion with the squash and arugula leaves to make a warm salad.

4. Heat the butter in a wide-bottomed frying pan and sear the dove breasts for about 2 minutes (3 minutes for pigeon breasts) on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Cut each breast in half on a bias and serve with the butternut salad and an extra drizzle of olive oil, if you like. 

Kelly's note: I added a sprinkle of toasted pumpkins seeds to my salad, too. I also left out the raw onion, but I think it would be good with some caramelized onions.

September 1, 2009

Grilled Fry Bread (and my panzanella recipe)

School has started again, which is why it’s been a while since my last post. People who aren’t teachers usually have no idea how time-consuming being a teacher really is. Between the lesson planning (always trying to come up with new & exciting projects, which students won't even do most of the time), reading & paper grading (the curse of an English teacher), there is little time for much else. Right now, I am teaching three different classes, including an American Studies class that is new to me. It’s a team-taught English & history class that we organized into themed units instead of chronological like usual.

Even though I’ve been busy with school for the past three weeks, we’ve still had some home-cooked meals...sausage & peppers with polenta, grilled London Broil, mustard chicken, panzanella. I’ve been making a lot of panzanella, my favorite summer recipe and a great way to use of overly ripe, late season tomatoes.

First, cube a baguette or other crusty loaf of bread (day-old works best but fresh is okay). Toss it with some olive oil, truffle salt, & pepper. Toast in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned & crunchy. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes, add to a bowl & sprinkle with Kosher salt to let the juices flow. Add the toasted bread cubes & toss. Add diced mozzarella (or those tiny mozzarella pearls) & fresh basil (or chopped fresh rosemary). Taste. Add more salt & pepper if needed. If your tomatoes are particularly juicy, you may not need much else. If not, you can drizzle in some extra-virgin olive oil & a splash of red wine vinegar. I even like leftover panzanella the next day. If the bread is crispy (and old/dry) enough, it won’t get too soggy overnight. I even ate leftovers topped with a fried egg for breakfast.

I wanted to try a zucchini pasta recipe from the Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook last week, but I ended up making angel hair pasta with prosciutto & tomatoes in a rosemary cream sauce (an off-the-cuff kind of recipe) instead. I’ll get to that zucchini this week. I’m also thinking of making some moussaka with the farmers market eggplant I bought on Saturday.

I DID make one new recipe recently...grilled fry bread, from a Mexican grilling class I taught at Kitchen Conservatory.

Grilled Fry Bread

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons Crisco
2/3 cup hot water, or more if needed
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

  • Place the flour, powdered milk, baking powder, & salt in a mixing bowl and whisk.
  • Add the shortening, cutting it in with a pastry blender. The mixture should be the texture of cornmeal.
  • Add enough hot water to obtain a soft, pliable dough.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap & let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8 even pieces & roll each piece into a ball.
  • Working on a lightly floured surface, roll a ball into a thin disk 5-6 inches across. Place the disk on a floured baking sheet, then repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Keep the rolled-out dough covered with a damp cloth until your are ready to grill.
  • Heat a grill to high (or heat a grill pan on the stovetop). When ready to cook, brush oil onto the grate or pan. Brush the top of each disk with oil. Place a few disks, oiled side down, on the hot grill. Brush the other side with oil.
  • After 2-3 minutes, the bread will start to puff & blister and the bottom will become golden brown. Turn the bread over and grill the other side for 2-3 minutes longer.
  • Serve at once.
You can use this bread as a base for tacos (fill or top with meat, beans, & veggies), or you can sprinkle them with cheese to serve with a meal (add tomatoes for a meal). If you roll them out thin, you can crisp them on the grill until they are like crackers.