Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lovely Lavender

My house is undergoing a facelift. With the big wedding coming up next summer we decided that it was time to pay attention to our yard. There's the on again/ off again chance that the wedding might actually take place in our back yard and it wouldn't be a very classy event if we had to place chairs around the rusted kiddie swingset, walking the guests over the cracked, weedy driveway, past the garbage cans, and into the dog's potty, I mean back yard.

We hired a landscape architect to draw up plans and for the last two months we've been living with mounds of dirt, mounds of gravel, and lots of workmen. They got rid of the driveway, the front steps, and lots of sad, spindly plants. One thing I wouldn't let them touch, though, was my lavender. It's wonderful. I grew it from seed and it's survived transplants and has even had baby plants which have been adopted around the neighborhood.

I put three lavender plants into an arid area that we'd ripped prickery bushes out of and it's the only thing that was able to live there. I am not a good gardener. My gardening speciality is being wooed by the bright flats of flowers at the home center while my husband is buying boring things like boards and insulation. I bring the delightful flowers home and put them outside so they'll get sunshine while waiting to be planted. They wait. And wait. And wither and die from neglect in their little plastic condos. So when I'm able to get a plant to grow and stay with me, year after year, I am thrilled. And if the same plant imparts a heady fragrance to the area and sends out dainty little flowers, too, I jump up and down with joy.

It was not until this year, though, that I'd considered the culinary uses of lavender. I saw several posts of other bloggers who'd baked with lavender and the idea intrigued me. But it was my love affair with The Perfect Scoop that motivated me to finally cook with lavender. David's Lavender and Honey ice cream called to me. All summer, it sang a persistent song to me, begging to be made. When I did, it was one of those, "Dang, why did I wait so long to make this?" moments. It's fabulous. Smooth, creamy texture and a subtle, rich flavor that spreads gently in your mouth. I think it's an adult flavor, not in the XXX sense, but in the sense that you wouldn't want to waste it on a child who'd rather have hot pink bubble-gum flavored ice cream. Let them have their nasty, brash flavorings and sit down with a small dish of this beautiful ice cream and savor every spoonful.

Lavender-Honey Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1/2 cup (125 ml) good-flavored honey
1/4 cup (8 g) dried or fresh lavender flowers
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks

Heat the honey and 2 Tbsp of the lavender in a small saucepan. Once it's warm, remove it from the heat and set aside to steep, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Pour the lavender-infused honey into the cream through the strainer. Press on the lavender flowers with a rubber spatula to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard the lavender and set the strainer back over the cream.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Place the bowl on a rubber glove to keep it from dancing around the counter and slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of lavender flowers and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator. The next day strain the mixture, again pressing on the lavender flowers to extract their flavor. This will also impart a subtle purply-grey color to the mixture. Discard the flowers, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.


Sean said...

Porno ice cream... why am I suddenly thinking Tampopo?

Anonymous said...

I love this ice cream. I think it's my new favorite. Peanut butter is old faithful... but this one is so lovely. I just love how surprising it is, and the smooth comforting flavor. Dang, it's only breakfast, and i need ice cream. Curse you tank-mother!!! :-) How am I'm supposed to be losing weight.

Speaking, when are we shopping for your dress?

Aimée said...

Beautiful photos. This looks like such an extravagant ice cream. Hang in there for your landscaping, I've been there!

Anh said...

Lynn, the photos are so beautiful. Well-done for Sarah!

And you have done a lovely job with the ice-cream. I really want a bowl now!

Belinda said...

Lynn...I would never have thought of lavender in ice cream, but it sounds so interesting...and it looks luscious in that beautiful vintage teacup. I enjoyed reading about lavender being your "success story" plant. For me, that plant is salvia...the tall purple kind, and the red pineapple sage, both of which the hummingbirds adore, and which grow like crazy for me, even with my only somewhat green thumb. :-) Hang in there with the will be worth it in the end.

Anonymous said...

Grown up ice cream for sure! It sounds delicious.
Pretty cup too!
You must post some new garden pictures when it is done. I'd love to see how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

Sounds unique and delicious. Unfortunately, I, like Sarah, am trying to shed pounds and ice cream is not conducive to weight loss. So it will have to wait.

Our yard has been in the process of renewal and landscaping for three years now. I'm looking forward to the day when we no longer have large bare patches of earth and a dusty gravel driveway.

Sarah - your pictures are so gorgeous. If your mom ever writes a cook book your pictures would certainly catch plenty of attention and draw many an industrious cook/baker to your mom's delicious recipes.

**doffs her cap and vanishes**

Peabody said...

Oh I am jealous of you getting to have lavendar in your backyard.

Homemade Heaven said...

I too have murdered more plants than I care to remember. My family call me Agent Orange.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sean - I don't know. Why?

Sarah - Hmm, I don't know that I like being called Tank Mother...

Aimee- thank you for the encouragement. The end is in sight!

Anh - Sarah says thanks!

Belinda - I've never seen purple salvia, I've only killed the red kind. Anything that draws hummingbirds is wonderful!

Melinda - I thought you'd notice the cup. ;-)

Gabe - Three years? Ok, I'll stop whining now!

Peabody - When mine has babies I'll share.

Rose & Thorn - Ha ha! I love that! Now my husband will start calling me that, too.

Hungry Hamster said...

I stumbled upon this blog and I must say the pics are really pretty!

Anonymous said...

You did it again! Another great recipe from David. Your pictures are beautiful as always. I am going to try his grape sorbet this weekend since we have a fence full of Concord Grapes! Should be fun!

Kelly-Jane said...

You've beaten me to this one! It just sounds like such a great ice cream, pretty presentation too :)

Dee Light said...

Lavender and Honey Ice Cream, that sounds wonderful!!! I've made a lavender pound cake, but the ice cream sounds even better!!!

Hungry Hamster said...

Thanks! Hope u don't mind me putting a link to your blog.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

It took me until just two years ago to discover lavender for cooking but it sure was a wonderful discovery. I can grow basil like crazy but lavender has escaped me. Lovely ice cream!

Tea said...

"And adult flavor, but not in a XXX sense."

That made me laugh aloud--too funny!