15 July 2010

(My World is Blue) with Lavender-Infused Potatoes with Garlic and Fennel

As mentioned earlier this week it was time for another personal challenge here at More Than Burnt Toast. I love to create a menu around an ingredient or an idea. As you are reading this I am continuing the B-day celebrations in Vancouver (such is the power of Blogger) but I wanted to continue to share my experiences with cooking with lavender with you all. For the past week I have taken on the challenge of creating a menu from beginning to end... from salad to dessert... using culinary lavender and infusions, each recipe incorporating a new technique.

One of the pleasures of having lavender in the summer garden is thinking up new ways to use it. I started this challenge off with a Nectarine and Lavender Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions as a first course. Fresh lavender flowers were used to impart their unique flavour. Our next technique used the stems of the lavender for an entree of  Lemony Shrimp and Garlic on Lavender Stems. These shrimp skewers get their hint of lavender flavour from the skewers themselves. Today I am using a third technique by creating a lavender infused olive oil for a potato and fennel side dish I found at Cooking with Corey that married well with the shrimp. Many of us associate lavender with a floral taste but it is interesting to note that it is part of the mint family and can be substituted for rosemary in almost any dish.

Unless you are from France the fact that has surprised readers the most is that lavender lends itself to savoury dishes, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Release the flavour by using an herb mill or mortar and pestle to break up dry lavender to release its aroma before using in as an ingredient in a recipe. In The Lavender Garden, Robert Kourik suggests that lavender foliage can be substituted for rosemary in almost any dish. Both are members of the enormous mint family, and both have a powerfully aromatic flavour with resinous undertones. His recipes include one for lamb chops cooked over lavender sprigs and garlic and another for boneless chicken breasts laid on top of fresh lavender stalks and cooked on a cast iron griddle over an open fire.

Lavender has become a popular ingredient for cooking for both sweet and savoury dishes but a little goes a long way. Keep in mind that too much lavender, as with other herbs, can overpower a recipe. Use it sparingly. Start out using small amounts and experiment a bit until you find what amount works best for your taste and in a particular recipe. Meantime, consider it as a complimentary background flavour, similar to the use of vanilla.

Wherever your culinary experiments take you, the real secret is to use lavender with the greatest restraint, particularly if you are substituting the dried flowers for fresh blooms: A good rule of thumb is to use half as much dried lavender as you would fresh. And if you buy lavender, be sure that it is culinary, unsprayed quality.

My own inspiration came from a beautiful farm property with sweeping views of Okanagan Lake the Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm . The McFadden family reinvented their heritage property into an agritourism business which today features over 60 varieties of fragrant lavender. Row upon row of gentle waves of icy blue, mauve, and deep violet billow all around you with themed herbal gardens and an array of whimsical vine sculptures.

This potato dish complimented the shrimp well with it's subtle hint of peppery lavender. I added some of the fennel fronds in for good measure. Next comes dessert which is something we associate with lavender more readily.......so stay tuned:D

**Lavender-Infused Potatoes with Garlic and Fennel**
Cooking with Corey

Ingredients for Lavender-Infused Olive Oil:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds

Ingredients for Potato Fennel Dish:

1 tablespoon lavender-infused olive oil (created from the above concoction)
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 medium-sized red potatoes, sliced into 1/4" rounds, with skins intact
1 small fennel bulb with stalks and fronds intact
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
sea salt, to taste (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
pepper, to taste (approximately 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 cup water (optional, add as needed)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley (for garnishing)

To make the lavender-infused olive oil, put dried lavender buds into a small glass jar and pour olive oil on top. If necessary, add more olive oil to completely fill the jar to the top. Put lid on jar and tighten. (If you don't have a lid, tightly stretch plastic wrap over top of jar and then place rubber band around top lip of the jar.) Keep out of direct sunlight, placing jar in a dark place like an unlit cabinet. Please note: Jar must remain in this location for 1 week before using. So you might want to plan to do this step in advance. LOL!

After 1 week, remove jar and place contents into a strainer, with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Press spoon against strainer to extract excess olive oil. Pour contents of bowl back into jar and seal. Place aside.

 Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes, then drain and set aside. Potatoes should still be slightly hard to the touch; they shouldn't be cooked all the way through at this point.

 While potatoes are cooking, remove fronds and stalks from fennel bulb, separating the fronds and putting them in a small dish. Reserve stalks and put back into the refrigerator for future use. (Although this recipe doesn't make use of the stalks, they can be incorporated into recipes like fennel bean soup, etc.) Chop fennel bulb into crescent-like slivers and put aside.

 Pour 1 tablespoon of the lavender-infused olive oil into a large sauté pan. Seal the jar tightly and return to unlit area. (The remainder of the lavender-infused olive oil can be used for culinary or cosmetic purposes.)

Add garlic and cook on medium heat for about a minute or so. Do not brown garlic.

Add sliced potatoes and cook until they are just starting to brown. Then add fennel to pan and cook until tender. Stir continually and add a dollop of water if necessary, so that ingredients don't stick to bottom of pan and/or burn.

 Add lemon juice, oregano, and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

 Cook until all ingredients are soft and tender. (Watch pan carefully while you cook, so that ingredients aren't accidentally overcooked or burned.)

Garnish with parsley and serve.

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  1. You are with lavender like I was with rhubarb! Love all the ideas. I will be using it much more now. Still haven't made my contribution to the competition.

  2. What a fabulous potato dish! Very original and fragrant!



  3. I recently picked up some lavender infused oil that can be used in baking - must give this a go

  4. Thos efingeling potatoes look so fresh and young and you treated them so well with the lavender, garlic and fennel. Enjoy the birthday celebrations, Val!

  5. This dish looks awesome. I am up for trying it :)

  6. Sounds like a great combo to me, Val. I adore roasted fennel to begin with and paired with fingerlings it looks great. With the strong flavor of the fennel and garlic, I would think the lavender-infused oil would be marvelous.

  7. I think this is my favorite lavender recipe yet! I will definitely be making this with the lavender I just received from a giveaway. I'm also going to have to check out Robert Kourik's website for some more ideas!

  8. I adore this post and the recipe!

  9. You are really tempting me with this recipe, Val. I think I'm going to end up liking lavender after all. Pairing it up with fennel really sounds delicious.

  10. Valli: The recipes look delicious and the photos are breathtaking. Thanks for such a lovely read this morning.


  11. Potatoes, I can always do potatoes! With lavender will be different but sounds good. Great photo!

  12. What a fabulous way to handle potatoes. I love the way they look on the plate and I'm sure they taste every bit as good as they look. Have a fabulous day. Blessings...Mary

  13. One of these days I am definitely going to cook with lavender. Right now I've only experimented with lavender honey.

  14. We have huge bushes of fragrant lavender here and I had zero idea on how to use them other than in a sachet for the linen closet! Thanks for some great ideas!

  15. Wow I have been looking for a blog with lavender recipes and now I have found one :-)
    I have just set up an all things lavender blog and would like to share some recipes with my readers.
    Could I share some of yours and provide a link back to your site?
    My blog is at www.lavenderuses.com
    Patricia Perth Australia

  16. How could I have forgotten to plant lavender in my herb garden!!! Aargh! Next year... I have just the spot for it!

  17. lavender is so beautiful! these taters look great, and i'll bet they smelled AMAZING with all those herbs fighting it out for center stage. :)

  18. These potatoes looks amazingly tasty!
    I will definitely try the lavender infused olive oil!

  19. I have a dish in the oven now that uses quite a bit of fresh rosemary: the next time I make it I will try using some lavender as well. I am curious to taste the result. Thanks for all these great ideas about using lavender.

  20. Val...thank goodness we know what a great lady you are...or else I'd start thinking that you were a lavender pusher LOL.
    Jokes aside...I'm thinking potatoes and fennel...both on my favorite list...just maybe...you could sneak in some flower at me after all ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  21. I don't think I've ever met a potato I didn't like. Made with lavender-infused oil? I'm game to try it!

  22. This is just perfect, Val. I love finding new uses for culinary lavender, and since I'm such a fan of the potato, this will work nicely indeed!

  23. A stunning fennel & potato dish infused with so many stuning aromas!!

    MMMMMMM,...fab food!

  24. Love lavender but have never cooked with it- this recipe looks lovely and I just happen to have some lovely lavender growing outside. Thanks for sharing :)

  25. I want a large plate of this.

  26. Vall I really love potatoes and love this recipe, huggs, gloria

  27. Wow, potato with lavender? It sure looks and sounds SO good! Need to get lavender :-)

  28. I can imagine that the sweetness of the fennel is fabulous with lavender. I always have lavender in the yard, but always go for the rosemary. I need to bee more experimental, don't I?

  29. that lavendar farm looks so enticing - what a beautiful purple blanket

    i've always loved the smell of lavendar, but i anm still squeamish about adding it to my food (!)

  30. Oohhh!! Love the look and flavours of this! I can't get lavender here and would love to experiment with it....

  31. Val, I've just started to use lavender more and more in my cooking too and it is fabulous! We grew lavender in our herb garden last year, but the extreme cold got it this winter and I couldn't find any new plants to replace them with.

  32. I've never used lavendar but this has inspired me to give it a go! :)

  33. Aside from the herbes de provance mixes that include lavender, i've never cooked with it myself. You are definitely inspiring me to do so, especially with potato dishes - a woman after my own heart!

  34. Interesting! I'd never thought to use lavender in a savory dish. I've only used it in cookies and ice cream (honey lavender is my daughter's favorite). You're right - a little goes a very long way. Too much and I feel like I'm munching on lavender stalks.

  35. I love experimenting with lavender in my cooking. This recipe looks wonderful!

  36. This is delightful. Not just lavender but fennel too. It challenges my taste buds in new ways.

    I also love the idea of the lavender skewers. When you say that lavender can often be substituted for rosemary it makes great sense and gives me some fun ideas.

  37. I really love this blue theme and can't get over how fabulous each and every dish sounds. Bravissima!!


  38. Am lovin' your blue lavender world. I have a TINY stash of lavender that I guard with my life!


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