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Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Touch of Calming Lavender

I was a little discouraged by the shape of my tomatoes when I got home. They look dreadful...not enough water but, with all the rain the past two days, here's hoping. I have a fabulous homemade fruity catsup I am chomping at the bit to make, but these are all I have so far to work with...

What did look great were my herbs, especially the rosemary and lavender and a robust dwarf lemon basil, delicious on scrambled eggs this morning.

Years ago I found a fabulous organic vinaigrette with lavender and drained the bottle for every last drop. This weekend, I am going to make my own. I have been adding sprigs of rosemary to my basic vinaigrette and love it and I am really excited about this lavender version. Plus, with the news so horrible this week, I could use some of the calming effects from the lavender. My heart goes out to the Gulf, the campers in Arkansas, our troops and so many others this week. And, I am anxiously waiting for my daughter to wake up and call and sound much better. She was sooooo sick all day yesterday and last night.

Here is how I make vinaigrette. Classic vinaigrettes are a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar or citrus juice, but I play around with this some. The real secret is in the delicate flavor added by the shallots. Wonderful. Also, I like to play with the vinegar, using balsamic, sherry or fruit vinegars and the oils, using walnut occasionally.

Basic Vinaigrette with Lavender

Peel and mince a shallot and put in a glass jar with 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Let stand 15 minutes. This will make the flavors in the shallot mellow and sweet. Then, add in 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, some fresh black pepper and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Shake it all up in the jar, then taste. Add more salt if you wish and a good teaspoon or more of lavender blossoms and several sprigs of fresh lavender leaves. Taste again, this time with a fresh lettuce leaf so you know how the flavors will be in salad. Marjoram and savory would be nice additions here as well. Let sit awhile at room temperature to let the flavors infuse and taste again before serving, adding in whatever else you wish. Store in 'fridge.

I am really fond of all citrus flavors and so I always use at least half fresh citrus juice for the acid. When using lemon, lime or orange juice, I always add in the zest. It is so flavorful and I love the texture it adds, too. Think I'll go toss up a salad and calm myself down a bit.

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