It all started during the Easter market a few weeks past. A stand with lavender-based products was also selling bunches of dried lavender.
I was feeling the spring in the air and had a strange desire to buy a bunch of flowers. Now, some may question why this desire is strange, so I must reveal that I consider myself to be an anti-cut-flower kind of girl. They die. They belong outside anyways, what are they doing in a vase on the table with a greatly reduced life-span than they would outside? I don't know, it's a practical thing I suppose.
On the other hand, flowering plants and herbs offer one's dwelling both a bit of living greenery AND their more practical nature. Most herbs surprisingly do just fine tended by my thumb, which, sadly, only has a hint of a green hue to it. More like a green desire really than any deeply saturated green-coloured knack.
Lavender is the one plant for which I deeply yearn for a garden. Fresh veg I can get a good variety of at the market, herbs are on the windowsill. Lavender I hear, however, has a deep-root growing requirement that would make me have to convert a big barrel of a garbage pail to grow one plant. And who wants lavender growing from a garbage pail?
A dried cluster of fragile lavender buds peeking over their brown paper wrapping, however, offers me both the fulfilled feeling of being a girl strolling around the central market holding a bunch of flowers AND that practical value. You see, I've been yearning to cook with lavender. I had a nice little chat in Czech with the man tending the stall who (I think) assured me that it was food safe, without nasty sprays and so on.
I thought a lot about what the first lavender infused dish will be and decided on following a recipe I found for a Lavender-Scented Custard Tart.
It was created by Marcus Wareing, the British chef who made this for the Queen's 80th Birthday. Yep, the Queen. He made dessert for the the Queen's birthday. One doesn't mess around with a recipe like that. I kept it exactly as is. And you know what? I can see it being absolutely adored by anyone, royalty or non-royalty.
The lavender steeps in the cream overnight (or in my case, two nights.) His recipe calls for fresh lavender, but I just doubled up on the dried lavender and it imparted a subtle but noticeable flavour. The custard was sooo smooth and the pastry crust was crispy, crumbly, and lemony. It's only a pity that I made this with significant doubt of my custard tart abilities and thus didn't plan on sharing with anyone. Or maybe that wasn't such a pity after all. Yum!
For the recipe, please see the write-up in The Times
(Edited Note: I tried to make it again, and to my dismay, one now needs to be a subscriber of the The Times to access the recipe. A little googling resulted in a repost of it on Nigella's site)
Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy.