Weekends are for baking and today I look out at the garden with its abundance of flora, foliage so very green at the peak of its life cycle, so fertile before the strong heat of the summer hits us.
I love anything that involves cooking from the garden and i am going through a phase of wishing to try everything i see to re-discover all that has been forgotten. In the heart of the Mediterranean, the flavor of our produce is amazing. It is so easy to cultivate cuttings, sometimes even with no roots. The soil yearns to nurture anything that comes into contact with it, roots feed on those unique properties of the Mediterranean earth, while all that is visible above the ground is blessed with the magical rays of sun bestowed to us here, shining on our produce until everything brims with flavor.
I walk through the garden and graze, full of curiousity. It is not a practice to be encouraged as i am often told off about the danger of possibly nibbling on something poisonous but it has become a habit and one which i thoroughly enjoy.
And that is why the cuisine of this region is so popular all over the world. The vibrancy of the food is reflected not only in the color but also in flavors that remain alive until they reach our plate giving our meals depth and character even when food is barely cooked and eaten in the most simple way.
Here we have no need to construct edibile towers, no need to splatter meaningless sauces on plates because the beauty of our food exists in its natural form, its taste, beautiful from imperfections left undisguised, the gift of nature allowed to bloom on our tables as it was meant to be with not too much human manipulation, just a knowledge of combining flavors.
Natural ingredients from this region are superior and food is for cooking, tasting, savoring, a feast for all the senses. Food here is a joy to celebrate, requiring no building sites on our plates, just a blend of flavors that will make an impact and bring to life the most jaded palate.
Each day here we are invited to partake in the celebration of sharing the fruit of our land, a privilege we have received merely by happening to be here, at the right place and at the right time, whatever the reason is that has brought us here…it is a privilege that deserves appreciation.
And this weekend I also baked Hazlenut and Lavender Shortbread Biscuits
I cut lavender from the garden and made some lavender sugar which i have stored in a jar.
To make the lavender sugar, i blitzed together 2 spoons of lavender buds and a couple of leaves with two cups of sugar, giving a ratio of 1 tablespoon to 1 cup.
The taste is divine but i think the color can be improved and I will prepare another jar to compare, without the leaves and without blitzing the ingredients. Just storing them together in an air tight jar and allowing the lavender oil to infuse with the sugar. Drying the lavender before storing would give it a longer shelf life and prevent it from sticking together.
And for the lavender and hazlenut biscuitsyou will need :
300 g plain flour
200 g butter (I reduced the butter content in mine to 150g, not the same ‘short texture’ but the flavor was unchanged)
75 g lavender sugar
A pinch of salt
75g finely chopped hazlenuts
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Rub the flour into the sugar.
Add the hazlenuts.
Add half the sugar.
Mix and mix in the egg using.
Add cold water a spoonful at a time to bind if necessary.
Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour. Take out.
Knead the rest of the lavender sugar together with a few more buds into the dough.
Roll out and use a cutter to cut your cookies.
Place on a greased oven dish.
Sprinkle some more lavender sugar and top and top with a bud.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Don’t let the biscuits brown. Remove the tin from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing with a palate knife.
Sprinkle with some more sugar and leave them to cool completely.