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."
In 1653, Nicholas Culpepper in his Complete Herbal had a recipe for Spiritus Lavendula compositus Matthiæ : 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.
TAGLIARINI WITH ALMOND-ARUGULA PESTO & MEATBALLS
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.