I love to promote the many uses of this purple flower that thrives in the Ojai Valley’s Mediterranean region. Lavender grows very well in this climate. the plant needs at least 6-8 hours of daily sun exposure and prefers warm, moderately dry climates, mild winters and sunny summers. Originating from Mediterranean countries, where the average temperatures of 68-86°F (20-30°C) during spring-early summer are common. It is now May in Ojai, awakening from their dormant winter stage, this is the time the shrubs flourish, often without large amounts of water. Their gray-green foliage is drought tolerant, which makes it a great plant for the area. Come mid to late June they will be overgrown and ready for harvesting with beautiful long spikes of richly colored florets. The flowers and leaves can be used fresh, and both buds and leaves can be used dried. Culinary Lavender is a member of the mint family and is close to rosemary, sage, and thyme. It is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory. English Lavender (l. angustifolia and munstead) has the sweetest fragrance of all the lavenders and is the one most commonly used in cooking. The uses of lavender are limited only by your imagination. Culinary Lavender has a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying.
I have been cooking with lavender for years, in sweet and savory dishes alike, I have dedicated an eb=ntire chapter in my A Taste of Ojai II, Flavors of the Valley Cookbook and I want to share with you my favorite lavender-lemon shortbread recipe made with olive oil.
Lavender-Lemon Olive Oil Shortbread
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground culinary lavender
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Honey Glaze Recipe follows in Notes
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour, powdered sugar, salt, lavender, and lemon zest. Pour in the olive oil and stir until all of the dry mixture is incorporated. Do not overmix. Add more oil if needed.
- Transfer the dough into a 9-inch pie plate or a 9 ½-by-13-inch baking pan. (I use Pyrex baking dishes or a ceramic dish that doesn't require oiling your pan.) Use your fingers to press the dough evenly into the dish. With a metal spatula or large knife press down all the way into the shortbread dough to score the size pieces you want. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork to create that authentic shortbread look. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake until the surface is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Carefully re-score immediately after removing them from the oven. Allow to cool.
- Gently break the shortbread into pieces, and place on a serving plate, then drizzle with Honey Glaze.
1/4 cup honey,
1/2 teaspoon ground lavender,
2 tablespoons powdered sugar Combine butter, honey, lavender, and powdered sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.
Stir to combine evenly, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and drizzle over baked shortbread.