Romancing with Lavender
Can you smell that? This time it is something familiar to us all: lavender. It is not an indigenous Thai ingredient, but it is one that is easily adapted to Thai kitchens, just like any fragrant flower. So here is my contemporary Thai dessert, Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream. It was born last week from romancing with lavender in my kitchen. It has been three years since I met my friend Kathy Gehrt, cookbook author and the founder of the website Discover Lavender. She opened my world. Like most of us, I wondered how could one eat perfume flowers? The more I learn about how to cook with lavender, the wilder I get. It is an amazing discovery. For a change this post is not directly related to Thai cuisine, but a study of taste as a food lover. One should never stop exploring.
Two years ago my friend purchased a few varieties of culinary lavender plants from the Lavender Wind Farm. This summer the plants took off. They have yielded many flowers, so last Tuesday Barbara and I got together and celebrated our first harvest day. We prepared lunch together and added a lavender accent to everything we had for lunch. We got creative. First I made an avocado and nectarine salad with lavender as a fragrant herb and garnish. Then we added a sweet bread spread with lavender butter, followed by baked salmon with lavender salt, and a lovage and lavender earl grey tea. After lunch we made lavender sugar, lavender infused honey and lavender salt. How lucky am I to have then also returned home with two large bunches of fresh lavender? Please feel free to check out my photos on I Love Thai Cooking flicker.
Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream is ideal to serve in a summer month with a chilled mixture of water melon, honey dew melon and cantaloupe.
For a summery dessert in July there is nothing better than coconut ice cream with a scent of lavender. I have made a few versions and love to keep the coconut with a custard texture as the main flavor followed by a hint of lavender. It is a simple, easy recipe but the trick is to heat the cream mixture above 175 degrees, then after tempering it with the egg, bring it back to the stove top again but do not let it get higher than 160 degrees. When churning the ice cream, I recommend starting with a cold batter then do not churn it more than needed—about 25 minutes or until it starts to form a solid ice cream consistency. Finish the process in the freezer. Follow these tips to get a custard-style ice cream with a soft silky texture. I hope you have a chance to share this coconut-lavender ice cream with your families and friends this summer. Let’s create a romantic flavor and the fragrance of lavender in the air.
Heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and lavender.
Coconut Lavender Ice Cream
Anyone can make ice cream today. All you need is a simple machine and a good recipe to follow. For a lactose-free recipe, simply replace the heavy whipping cream with the same amount of coconut milk.2 cups heavy whipping cream
First you will need to freeze your ice cream churning bowl at least 24 hours beforehand.
Prepare an ice water bath in a container that is larger than the pot.
Bring heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and lavender to a gentle boil and cook on medium-low with a gentle boil for 5 minutes or until it reaches 175 degrees.
Whisk yolks and lavender sugar in a large bowl until they are creamy, light and puffy like ribbon, about 10 to 12 minutes.
While slowly pouring the cream mixture into the yolks and lavender sugar mixture, stir constantly with the other hand to prevent the egg from curdling. Strain the mixture to remove the lavender as you pour it back into the same pot; whisk constantly while cooking on medium-low heat. The setting should keep the temperature below 160 degrees and the mixture should be steaming but never boiling. Observe the texture; watch for it to begin to thicken, changing from creamy and beginning to take on the appearance of a soft custard. When it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, remove the pot from the heat and place it in the prepared ice water bath.
Cool it in the ice bath and and then pour it into the prepared ice cream machine. Turn on the machine and continue according to the machine instructions, usually about 20 to 25 minutes. It should have a texture of soft ice cream. Put it in the freezer for 4 hours before serving.
For further study on making ice cream, please check out the science related to making ice cream by Harold McGee.
Where can you find culinary Lavender in Seattle?
I found culinary lavender at Pacific Food Importers, Inc. By chance you can sometime fine them at some Seattle Farmers Markets. But best of all is if you have sunny spot in your garden, plant your own culinary lavender. Kathy Gehrt recommends the Royal Velvet variety. Next I recommend that you immerse yourself in a lavender world by visiting the Sequim Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington.
- Sequim Lavender Farm Fair (sequimlavenderfarmfaire.com)
- Lavender Sugar Recipe ( how to make lavender sugar from Kathy Gehrt website)
- Pranee’s Nectarine-Coconut Ice Cream (ilovethaicooking.wordpress.com)
- On Food and Cooking, Chapter one: Milk and Dairy Products (npr.org)
- Ice Cream Social Countdown: Mango and Coconut Ice Cream (thefearlesscookingclub.com)
- Lime in the Coconut Ice Cream with Molasses Ginger Cookies (bangordailynews.com)
- Toasted Coconut Ice Cream (afreckleintime.wordpress.com)