It’s that time of year in Colorado. After months of skiing and sledding and staying indoors, people are excited to see the sun again. And despite the tug-and-pull of cold, wet days between dry, sunny ones – the people have declared it: Spring is here.
And lavender is on the menus.
Yes, all of the menus – Lavender drinks are bringing a chic, floral touch to the bar, while lavender deserts continue popping up as the sweet stars of the show. In fact, the Specialty Food Association deemed floral infusions one of 2016’s Top 10 Culinary Trends – lavender being a perennial favorite.
This versatile flower has even made its way into the main course – from light and fresh dishes like this Arugula and Les Frères Salad with Lavender Honey and Lemon Vinaigrette to more rich and savory encores like Ellen Sullivan’s Lavender Tenderloin.
Herb blossoms carry the breath and essence of their parent plants, making herbal buds rich with flavor and aroma. Lavender buds are special in that they dry so well. Dried lavender blossoms hold their potent scent and taste for years, their essential oils contained within the budding petals.
As a member of the mint family, lavender has a complex, woodsy flavor that pairs well with many different flavors.
It offers sweet treats a hint of savory tang that bring out the deeper tastes that might be hiding beneath the sugar. Of course, lavender is a powerful and potent herb, so a pinch is often all you need. Let lavender flavors lag subtly in the background of your deserts for a more interesting culinary experience.
From pastries to pound cakes, this potent herb is finding its stride in all sorts of recipes. In María del Mar Sacasa’s Lavender-Earl Grey Flourless Chocolate Cake, she steeps loose Earl Grey tea leaves and dried lavender blossoms in water before stirring it all into chopped chocolate and butter, creating a luxuriously glossy mixture; she works it into a meringue batter that puffs like a soufflé as it bakes.
Kelly Carámbula welcomes the spring season with a bubbly lavender cocktail brightened with lemon. In her Lavender French 75, gin highlights the herbal flair, and the culinary world is catching on to this lavender-gin paring.
As lavender gains popularity, culinary artists are discovering new ways to bring out the robust nature of the flower. Lavender buds have certainly proved that in caring hands, their flavors and aroma are meant for much more than the tops of shortbread cookies… not to say that we’ve had enough of these classic treats.
How are you infusing your kitchen with lavender?
Does the richness of lavender inspire your chef to invent new creative meals? Tell us about lavender’s place in your restaurant, food truck or home kitchen in the comments below.