Tonight I am starting my run-up to the Memorial Day Weekend. Actually, I started last weekend, at the Rancho Santa Fe market. In addition to golden and candystripe beets, tiny celery hearts, yellow and orange carrots from Sage Mountain Farm, which have been basically eaten all week by my family, I zeroed in on some luscious cherries from Nicolau Farms in Modesto. Nicolau has about 50 goats and produces some amazing goat “chevre” cheese, but this week they brought a few “Coral” variety cherries they also grow on the farm~
Cherries are one of those fruits (mostly stone fruits, I think) that can not be forced any time other than “the season,” so that makes the produce all the more special. I will have more recipes as the summer progresses, but while every other vendor has tart cherries, these are dark and delicious. I will make two clafoutis with them this weekend. They looked tempting and got a lot of comments, spilled on top of my basket in the booth Sunday; they had fresh green tree leaves attached; these were indeed just picked~
Certain weekends of the year, such as Memorial Day, call for American Food. But that doesn’t stop me from incorporating a little bit of France into the rest of the meal. I proposed a “lavender day” to Raquel, our Rancho Santa Fe (San Diego) market Manager, so this weekend I will test out a few new ideas on my family based on my beloved lavender, here on top of the Pennsylvania crates Raquel and I bought last week for the market display. They are dated 1934 and the patina is beautiful~
I started this evening making a few gifties for some of my elderly friends and a few of the girls; tomorrow’s deliveries; baked goods are great gifts, especially for those who do not or can not cook; paper loaf pans are fantastic for gifts; you can even get them now online at Target. You can cook up to 450 degrees in them, no mess, and a professional presentation; heck a boxed cake mix baked in these would make anyone happy!!~
I made a trio of lemon-lavender pound cakes; recipe at the end of this post~
When baked, in the paper molds, I add a few sprigs of lavender, an indication of “what it is” and also just a fresh and fragrant touch~
I set each cake in the paper mold on a doilie, then wrap in inexpensive petticoat tulle, as you know je deteste plastique; makes a pretty little presentation, wrapped with a little red white & blue ribbon? You can trim the topknot as short or fluffy as you like~
Lemon Lavender Pound Cake~
2 sticks butter
6 tablespoons dried lavender (will post on this next week; fresh will be ok too but very pungent)
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour (Swansdown or typo 00 European)
3 tbs almond flour or French “powdered almonds”; another post!
1/2 tsp French sea salt (and yes, another post!)
2 tbs lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Generous 1/3 cup lemon juice; you can adjust to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter and half the lavender; let rest for 15 minutes; strain and discard butter solids at the bottom and the lavender buds.
In a mixer, beat the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar until very thick and fluffy; about 10 minutes.
In a bowl, sift the flour and add the sea salt.
Using a whisk, mix the lemon zest and a quarter of the flour mixture into the eggs and whisk gently. Add the rest of the flour slowly.
In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup of the batter with the melted butter and add the vanilla. Add to the remaining batter and mix gently.
Pour into the paper molds. Bake until lightly golden on top. I believe in not over-baking!!
In a pan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water with the other half of the lavender. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and strain. The sauce I get is lavender colored. Brush the glaze over the cakes, inside the paper molds; this is not an overly “sweet” cake; serve with any kind of fresh fruit or berries and lots of whipped crème, e.g. something sweet. This is a good dessert for those who do not like something '”overly sweet.”
Be sure to stop by our Metis blog as well to see the collection of beautiful antique French copper~