Although we think of lavender as a perfume, it also has culinary uses. Used culinarily, lavender exudes a nuanced peppery flavor, with a hint of intense aroma. Here the lavender is combined with a bit of vanilla bean to add a familiar background note to the unexpected flavor of lavender. It is especially attractive to garnish these custards with a sprig of rosemary, either fresh or dried.
Because cracked coffee beans are used to flavor the custard rather than powdered coffee, the custards remain classically cream-colored, but have the rich taste of cream-laced coffee. If concerned about caffeine, use decaffeinated beans.
The tart-sweet flavor of orange zest combined with the slightly peppery properties of fresh rosemary infuse the custard mixture with a subtle taste of the Mediterranean, where orange groves abound and rosemary grows wild. The caramelized brown sugar crust, the hallmark of crème brulee, cracks with the first dip of the spoon.
This salad is full of the taste of early summer, with a mix of textures and flavors. Young, firm, zucchinis are cut in thin pasta-like ribbons and marinated rather than cooked. For a heartier dish, cooked fettuccini could be added.
These are easily made with corn off the cob, and when you cook them the kernels might actually pop. The oregano and coarse sea salt add some extra taste and texture.
I love really fresh fish, simply prepared, with just a little olive oil. Meyer lemons, with a hint of sweetness, add a subtle taste to the finished dish. Alaskan halibut is a wonderful choice for this preparation.
Choose large Italian white beans, called Gigande, or substitute white kidneys or great northerns. The Gigande beans have a rich meaty flavor that is complimented by the zest of lemon and the nutty flavor of young arugula.
The gougere is a classic French savory appetizer.
Belgian endive, individually wrapped with thin slices of prosciutto, napped with a rich béchamel sauce, and then topped with grated Gruyere cheese is one of my favorite side dishes at any time of year.
The crispy won-tons, fried earlier in the day make a delicious base for a spicy appetizer. Choose top grade ahi and you won’t be disappointed. If you are reluctant to offer raw fish, you could sear the ahi before dicing it
This utterly simple tart is made with easy-to-use purchased puff pastry. Any seasonal fruit, such as nectarines, or plums can be used, as can thinly sliced apples.
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