Lavender is Blooming

It is that time of the year when the lavender field is in full bloom and a wonderful fragrance surrounds you.
Often thought of as a relaxing aromatherapy oil yet there are so many ways you can incorporate the beloved lavender herb into cooking.  
Here are a few recipes that I thought of while out walking in the lavender fields today.

Lavender Sugar
Add 2 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender to 5 cups of sugar.  Mix both ingredients in an airtight container and shake well – I like to use glass jars so I can see the lavender.  Strain out the lavender and use in all your favorite cake, cookie, fruit, and drink recipes – makes a great holiday gift!

Lavender Lemon Bars
1 cup of flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
½ cup of butter softened
¼ powdered sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon rind chopped
½ tablespoon dried culinary lavender
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, butter, and powdered sugar.  Press into ungreased square pan – building up mixture ½ on edges. Bake for 20 minutes – should be a light golden brown.  Beat remaining ingredients until light and fluffy for about 3 minutes.  Pour the over the hot crust.  Bake for another 25 minutes, until no indentation remains when touched lightly in the center.  Cool and cut into squares – enjoy with Lavender Lemonade – recipe below

Lavender Lemonade
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of dried culinary lavender buds
1 cup of lemon juice – 8 lemons
outside peel of 4 lemons – not the white yellow part only  
To make the simple syrup start with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water bring to a boil – reduce sugar amount if you are using Meyer lemons or if you prefer your lemonade less sweet.  Seep 1 tablespoon of dried culinary lavender buds in boiling mixture until the buds lose almost all their color – strain out buds.  Combine with 1 cup of lemon juice, and then add more water and ice to dilute the lemonade to your taste.  Proportions will vary depending on how sweet and strong you like your lemonade, and how sour your lemons are to begin with.  Late season lemons are less sour than early season lemons.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies
2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon of chopped culinary lavender flowers
1 cup butter
¾ cup of sugar
2 springs of lavender
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Blend butter and sugar till fluffy add dry ingredients. Gather into a ball and transfer to a light floured surface – knead until it just comes together about 5 times.  Divide dough into half 5-inch disks – place on parchment paper.  Refrigerate if dough needs to firm up.  Score into 6 wedges by pricking with fork.  Place a sprig of lavender on each piece and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake in the middle of the oven 20-25 minutes

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