It's been fairly cloudy and rainy here this weekend- the perfect setup for hot tea, a good book and shortbread. I've been pondering the lavender shortbread combination for a while and the grey skies provided the right amount of impetus to actually get it done.
Lavender is a strong ingredient, heady, and, obviously, floral. It's not an ingredient you see used too often in food. If you can get past your prejudice about lavender being fit only for potpourri and lotion, it just might grow on you as an edible flavor.
I used this Classic Shortbread Recipe as the base for my creation, but of course I made a few changes. I balanced the lavender with a little lemon zest and vanilla extract. It's fairly easy to make if you have a stand mixer; preparation is quick and involves really very little effort. (My favourite kind of baking!)
I didn't chill my dough before I baked it and I think it turned out just fine. It takes an hour or more to bake, but I'm telling you, it's worth it. Shortbread is already decadent (so much butter!) but the lavender and lemon really take this simple pastry beyond normal tea party fare.
Give it a try - even if you're a coffee person.
I'm not a vegan, nor do I really know anyone who is. But I do know people who are allergic to milk. And quite frankly, it sounds excruciating. No ice cream, no cheese, not much of anything really. Which is why I decided I would try to make an ice cream milk free. The key- coconut milk.
Making this ice cream was really quite easier than the coffee ice cream was. Some vegan recipes for ice cream call for additions such as soy milk, tofu or xanthan gum. I decided to just go the easiest (laziest) route possible and use simply a single can of coconut milk.
Now although I could have had just coconut flavoured ice cream, where would the fun in that be? So my additional flavor was matcha. Matcha is a powered green tea; if you've ever had green tea ice cream before, it was made with matcha.
Really, the preparation for this ice cream couldn't have been any easier. I literally emptied the can of coconut milk into a bowl and whipped the matcha in. However, when it came to the churning, a process that should have been easy thanks to technology, I hit a snag. The liquid went only half way up the cylinder and prevented the paddle from turning. I was therefore forced to spend the next 30 minutes hacking and scraping the ice cream down the sides with a spatula.
However, it eventually did reach a nicely frozen stage, upon which I added some shredded coconut before freezing fully. This, like the coffee ice cream, froze solid. I've had some trouble getting it portioned out, but the work is worth it.
The ice cream has seriously rich flavour; the smoky matcha is balanced by the brighter coconut and nothing about it is weak or watery.