Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

I would like to thank my Blogcritics Editor Caitlin for choosing to tag my new article as an Editor’s Pick. It means a lot as this week’s article is an awfully personal affair.

In conjunction with the article I am glad to announce that from now on all ingredients used in the production of dishes on LC will be sustainable, organic, and seasonal. I wanted to mention it this one time, because I will not constantly write it on every post. This only applies to when I cook. I never have, nor ever will, censor any material graciously donated by a guest poster. Those of you that have guest posted know that I extend Carte Blanche.  Here is the breakdown.

Dairy products – organic
Produce – organic & seasonal
Poultry - cage-free & organic
Beef – grass-fed & organic
Seafood – sustainable only

For more comprehensive insights into my thought process please check out my article on BC…

Sending Out An SOS: Sustainable Organic Seasonal

Guest Post Spotlight

Today I am honored to welcome Deana from Lostpastremebered. She is a historian, cook, and fabulous writer. Recently she joined our team at Blogcritics and has already made her mark with some awesome articles. Here is the link to her Author's Page. I have thoroughly enjoyed following Lostpastremembered as it offers great food and history. What more do you want? Please check out her blog and sign up to follow her fantastic posts.


Hello, I'm Deana from Lostpastremembered. Many thanks to Lazaro for asking me to guest blog on his wonderful Lazaro Cooks site. I am so impressed by the way he pulls all of us together and introduces us all to new bloggers we may not have known. He is a bit of a Matchmaker, isn’t he? I decided I would share something unusual but very delicious with his readers. It is one of my favorite recipes and I threw in a little history too!


Ancient Romans used Lavender to scent their baths and the word lavender comes from the late Latin, lavandarius, from lavare to wash. Lavender is actually a member of the mint family that grows in Europe, India, Africa and Arabia as well as the US. I just love it. I love the freshness in the scent of the leaves and flowers and I love the flavor it adds to food. I know many of you will find it odd to think of it as a spice and not a perfume, but it is a regular addition to the blend herbs de Provence. It is used in many dishes both sweet (mmm blueberrys, chocolate) and savory (game, cheeses).

Queen Elizabeth I

The English love lavender. Queen Elizabeth always had a lavender conserve on her table and drank lavender tea for her migraines. A recipe for the conserve was given in The Queen’s Closet Opened in 1655: "Take the flowers being new so many as you please and beat them with three times their weight of white sugar after the same manner as rosemary flowers; they will keep one year."

Nicholas Culpepper

In 1653, Nicholas Culpepper in his Complete Herbal had a recipe for Spiritus Lavendula compositus MatthiƦ
: Take of Lavender flowers one gallon, to which pour three gallons of the best spirits of wine, let them stand together in the sun six days, then distil them with an Alembick [still] with this refrigeratory.

I came across a recipe in Food & Wine 5 years or so ago for meatballs with lavender. It was love at first bite. I made it for the first time when I had a friend’s business partner over for dinner and wanted to make something unusual since he told me he had an adventurous palate. Lavender meatballs? For eons, French shepherds have grazed their flocks on lavender fields to scent the meat and milk of their sheep with the delightful herb… adding it after the fact is not that big a stretch. And for these meatballs, it wasn’t just the lavender it was also the lemon zest and fennel and red wine that made these something special. When I don’t have lamb handy I make it with ground turkey and the result is delicious. Did I forget to tell you about the Arugula pesto?

It was a brilliant success. The flavors were spectacular together.


Based on a recipe from Food & Wine Serves 4-6

1 pound ground lamb
¼ pound ground pork
(OR 1 ¼ pound ground dark meat turkey instead of lamb and pork)
½ medium onion, minced
2 T of dry red wine
1-2 T vin cotto* (optional)
1 tablespoon minced parsley
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon crushed lavender
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 6-ounce bunch of arugula, roughly chopped plus extra for serving
½ cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup cooked fava beans or peas (optional)
1 ¼ pounds fresh tagliarini or ½ pound dry whole wheat spaghetti

*vin cotto is a reduced wine that is sweet with a deep full flavor

In a bowl, mix the meat with the onion, wine, parsley, zest, thyme, fennel, lavender and red pepper. Add one-third of the garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until browned, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until no trace of pink remains. Transfer to a plate.

In a food processor, puree the arugula with the almonds, 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and garlic. Scrape the pesto into a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta; transfer it to bowl. Toss the pasta with the pesto and 1/2 cup of the cooking water; add more water if the sauce is dry. Serve with the meatballs and more Parmesan and olive oil.


  1. Deana,

    Thank you so much for this informative and fantasic post. I am a big fan of lavender and feel that is underused in many home kitchens because people just do not understand it. The meatballs are gorgeous and the dish is presented flawlessly. Another A+++ post.

    Be well

  2. Fantastic guest post Deana and Lazaro! Lavender is perfume not spice...till now for me:)

    One of my preferred essence - don’t know the foodie-version. Lavender meatballs? Mmm so interesting to try!



  3. Oh wow what an amazing post! We have a lot of lavender growing in our backyard and I would have never thought to add it to cooking. This looks great, I love all the different flavours in this.

  4. Wow, I learned a lot from this post. Very interesting information about lavender and how it was used back then. I actually never knew it was a member of the mint family. And what a beautiful meatball dish. Thank you for sharing Deanna!

    Thank you Lazaro for another great and interesting post.

  5. Great post, full of information.
    I am in love with this delicious and very original recipe "Tagliarini with almond-Arugula pesto & Meatballs".
    Awesome photos too ♥

  6. I love that you're going organic Lazaro! That's just so awesome. I try to as much as possible...and it tastes so much better.

    Awesome guest post! I love the sound of that pesto!

    (And in response to your I can't actually meringue or salsa...but with enough glasses of wine..I can fake it.)

  7. First off...Lazaro, although I do not always find it easy to integrate the concept of sustainable, organic and seasonal...I am always conscious of this better way of living...and have implemented many changes.
    Therefore, I truly applaud your efforts and sharing this process with your readers.

    Deana...truly enjoyed the post...I love strolling amidst the Lavender the aroma...however, I've never been a fan of it in my food. I do appreciate your culinary skills that have brought you to successful experiments with your chosen key flavour ;o)

    A very pleasant read and recipe. Thank you,
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  8. I love Deana's blog, so well researched and beautifully written with amazing recipes. It makes me long to be part of another time. Lavander is special for me as it conjures up memories of holidays in Provence. Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

  9. I learned alot from this post especially from the lavendar very informative and interesting ! thanks for the great post Deana

  10. When we visited the south of France the fields were full of lavender. Lavender was everywhere in the markets. At home we began to grow lavender in our herb garden.

    Thank you Deana for a way to incorporate lavender into our kitchen and thank you Lazaro for another spectacular guest.

  11. wow i love the photos and the infusion of herbs with that dish. i need to start combining herbs more!

  12. This was a great post and very informative! I love lavender and do not use it enough in cooking, but will make an effort now. Have a great holiday weekend!

  13. Gorgeous dish! I can just imagine how nicely the lavender would complement the lamb! I love using lavender and sneak it into lots of dishes. Often people notice it, but can't distinguish exactly what it is! It a fun little table game!

  14. Lazaro - Congrats on being chosen Editor's Pick, that's pretty amazing!

    Deana - As always, gorgeous post! I actually just recently bought (for the first time!) some dried lavender and made shortbread with it. These meatballs sound incredible!

  15. What a great post. A good friend of mine just brought me some lavender so I can make some herbs de Provence, its the only time I use them for. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe now I have another use for them.

  16. Hi Deana, yes he's quite a matchmaker! :) Nice to meet you. I love lavender! It's my favorite scent. I wondered the other what I can use dried lavender with. This is perfect. I like any "green goodness" and with my fav scent; oh yes!

  17. Very interesting post! I love lavender and used to grow a lot of it in Colorado. I put the dried flowers in sachets as gifts to friends for their undergarment drawers. One of my favorite teas is the lavender earl grey which is great as an afternoon tea.

    Your meatballs sound amazing! They must be so fragrant with all the herbs in it.

  18. Deana, your post was so informative and your recipe has such exquisite flavours. I have never used lavender before in my cooking but will now, thanks to you. Your enjoyable post was a treat to read as I sipped my morning coffee!

    Lazaro Cooks! Fantastic guest post as always :)

  19. What a wonderful post. Love the lavender pic and the recipe is fabulous

  20. Hi Deana

    Thanks for sharing this outstanding recipe with us. It sounds utterly divine and I can only describe the combination of flavourings and aromas as heady! I think I would feel like a queen, eating this!! The pictures are gorgeous and the history behind the herb, fascinating!

    Thanks Lazaro for sharing the spotlight with Deana so she can share this marvellous recipe with us :)

  21. Thanks for such an interesting post, I love reading about the history of herbs and I love lavender in my garden because it is a beautiful flowering shrub that the deer in my neighborhood won't eat!

  22. Lazaro-Love the SOS post on blogcritics. I hope everyone is doing their part in trying to make the world a better place, I know I am becoming more and more conscious of the footprints I leave behind.
    Deana, your posts are always so informative. I am one who always associated using lavender in sweets exclusively. You've opened my eyes to new ideas.
    Thanks to both of you.

  23. Deana always does a fantastic blog! I have never thought to put lavender in meat. I guess we use herbes de provence, and it usually has lavender in it. I will be trying this with lamb when it arrives from my farmer in November - to keep with your sustainable and local theme, Lazaro.

  24. Well, I am a huge fan of Deana's blog, and this guest post is as great as I've come to expect.


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