There was also the problem that not only did our little lavender plant not produce many flowers at all this year, but I didn’t harvest them. All we have is lavender leaves.
However, I was pretty sure that the leaves could be eaten as well. I did a little googling and being a firm believer in “Everything on the internet is true”, I was very happy to see that on Hub UK, Linda Stradley wrote the following:
The uses of lavender are limited only by your imagination. The flowers add a beautiful color to salads. Lavender can also be substituted for rosemary in many bread recipes.
The spikes and leaves of lavender can be used in most dishes in place of rosemary in most recipes.
With that information, there was nothing really to stop me. Initially, I was going to use a recipe I found in one of our cookbooks or on the internet. I didn’t really see much that excited me in the cookbooks. I was vaguely intrigued by the idea of this lavender focaccia. I got a little more excited by this apple tart and these scones.
But then in the end, last night before dinner, with the deadline quickly approaching, I decided to just wing it. We had some goat’s cheese in the fridge and a couple of golden delicious apples (Ontario grown) on the counter. I decided to make a savoury tart with apples, cider vinegar, goat cheese and lavender leaves.
Of course, I had NO idea how much lavender to use. And I was really concerned that the lavender would completely overpower the apples. Especially after reading what “What’s Cooking America?” says about lavender:
Flowers and leaves can be used fresh, and both buds and stems can be used dried. […] Adding too much lavender to your recipe can be like eating perfume and will make your dish bitter. Because of the strong flavor of lavender, the secret is that a little goes a long way.
I was relatively certain that the apple and goat cheese combination would be good. But I was quite worried that the addition of lavender would make the tart horribly perfumed, especially as I was cutting the sprigs from the plant. The idea of eating a tart that smells of an elderly lady’s potpourri was quite distasteful! So instead of using lavender in both tarts, I made one plain apple tart and one with lavender.
Apple Tarts with Goat’s Cheese and Lavender Leaves
makes 2 tarts
- ½ c unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp lard
- cold water
- apple cider vinegar, to taste
- sugar, to taste
- 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh lavender leaves, chopped finely
- goat’s cheese
- Stir flour and salt together in a small bowl. Cut the lard in. Add a little cold water and stir together just enough to form a ball. (Handle as little as possible.)
- On a floured board, roll the dough out into a square. Put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the apples.
- Turn the oven to 425F
- Put a splash of cider vinegar into a small bowl. Sprinkle a little sugar in. Peel, core and slice the apple and add them to the bowl. Add more vinegar and sugar to make sure that all the apple pieces get coated.
- Chop the lavender leaves.
- Retrieve the pastry from the fridge. Divide the apple slices evenly onto one side of each rectangle of pastry. Crumble on goat’s cheese. Scatter the lavender leaves over top of one of the tarts.
- Fold the pastry over and seal the edges. Slash the top (be careful not to puncture right through the bottom of the pastry. Transfer the tarts to oven proof dishes. (You could also put them on a parchment covered pan.)
- Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350F and continue baking another 20 minutes or so. The tarts are done when the apples are bubbling.
We ended up having these for dessert rather than as a starter. I think they would work well either way. And how did the tarts taste? Well, rats. I really wanted to say that apple and lavender is the most amazing combination and that I can’t believe how fabulous it is. I was very excited that I might have discovered a use for my lavender!
But alas. No. I must tell the truth. I couldn’t taste the lavender at all. The apple was most definitely the prominent flavour. Either the tart really needs the lavender flower or I didn’t use enough lavender at all. (I really thought that two sprigs worth would have been enough for one tart!)
The filling was pretty good, in spite of having no lavender flavour at all. And there was the tiniest hint of lavender wafting out of the tart just as I pulled it out of the oven. But when the tarts had cooled, the lavender disappeared entirely. Perhaps I should have chopped the leaves more coarsely?
The tarts were not quite as savoury as I would have liked. The goat’s cheese was on the mild side so it’s flavour got lost as well. (I’m wondering if a blue cheese might not have been a better choice.) And in retrospect, I could have added a little onion as well.
You may have noticed that I haven’t said much about the pastry. It was flaky and crisp and golden and I should have used less salt!! Way less salt!!! Alas, I put far too much salt in the pastry (this is what comes of halving recipes and NOT using measuring spoons!). While I like the combination of sweet and salty, this just ended up being salty.
Will I try the combination again? Maybe….
Malus domestica & Lavandula angustifolia
They Go Really Well Together (TGRWT) is an event conceived by molecular gastronomist, Martin Lersch (blog.kymos.org). The idea is to pair flavours based on the chosen ingredients’ content of volatile aroma compounds.
I have NO idea about volatile aroma compounds except that it has something to do with how the things smell, and hence, taste. I know very little about the science of it (I think I was away that day in school…). Googling about it either offers zillions of pages about essential oils or scientific .pdf files that I am ill equipped to even open, let alone read… The following is about as advanced as I can manage.
An essential oil is any concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants, which are called aromatic herbs or aromatic plants.
And, of course, I do get the concept of how the two senses, taste and smell, are closely linked….
Read more about lavender, apple, etc.:
- read about growing lavender
- Wikipedia – lavender
Wikipedia – apple
Wikipedia – Essential oil
- Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages – Lavender
- Plants for a Future – Lavandula angustifolia
Plants for a Future – Malus domestica
- Culinary Lavender – Cooking with Lavender
- Production and Development of Volatile Aroma Compounds of Apple Fruits at Different Times of Maturity
- Practical molecular gastronomy: Learn how to control taste and flavor
Colour Me Happy – I’m hosting TGRWT #6 […] I’m already drooling and painting a mental picture with this month’s pairing: Apple & Lavender! […] [T]he possibilities are endless, so get your palettes out, and your aprons on, and start working on your masterpieces. You have until October 1st . Don’t forget to make them 4-D artworks: colour, smell, taste, and styling, and let us know how you did it. […] Readers will be particularly interested in how the flavour pairing worked out, so make an attempt at describing the taste and aroma and whether you liked it or not.
For more information about TGRWT and complete details on how to participate, please go to:
edit 6 October 2007: Inge has posted the roundup. People have really come up to the plate with sweet and savoury dishes using apple and lavender! Do take a look: