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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Love that lavender: Fragrant herb, in full bloom, is a culinary delight

By Jennifer Graue





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) With its delicate, purple flowers and woodsy, floral scent, lavender is more often known for its role in bath and relaxation products, rather than for its culinary uses. But that's changing.

Lavender has popped up on menus at several San Francisco area restaurants. There are lavender-kissed almonds adorning a fig tart at Oakland's Commis, a lavender creme brulee at the appropriately named Lavanda in Palo Alto, and an avant garde lavender nitro foam at Palo Alto's new Baume.

Ed Higgins, the chef at Quattro at Palo Alto's Four Seasons, attributes lavender's rising popularity to the growing number of chefs who tend their own restaurant gardens.

"It's easy to care for," he says. "You have both buds and flowers to work with as a flavor component and as a garnish."

For his part, Higgins features lavender in a chilled carrot soup that he sweetens with lavender honey and garnishes with lavender flowers, provide a striking contrast to the orange puree.

Lavender's not limited to fine dining, either. Patrons are getting licks of lavender at ice cream parlors that feature gourmet flavors, and sipping lavender milk tea at a few boba tea shops.

Gary Meehan has been growing lavender for almost 40 years at Bonny Doon Farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and he says he has noticed more home cooks using lavender, too, as they become aware of lavender's distinctive culinary qualities.

"It adds a flowery essence to sweet things, but to savory things it's an herb," says Rebecca Rosenberg, the owner of Sonoma Lavender.

Rosenberg recently hosted the Sonoma Lavender Food and Wine festival in Kenwood. On the first day of the festival, 10 local chefs used lavender in dishes as diverse as lavender salmon salad, Thai lettuce cups with lavender-mango chutney, and lavender cupcakes.

The same day, Matanzas Creek Winery in nearby Santa Rosa hosted its own lavender festival, featuring dishes such as lavender roasted pork shoulder and chocolate and lavender pot de creme.

Both festivals happened just as lavender season hits its peak, typically the end of June, although Meehan says the cool, damp spring will likely delay his harvest at Bonny Doon until July. Meehan cuts all five acres of his lavender by hand, waiting until the buds are almost ready to burst open, then hangs the stalks to dry.

Because it is most often dried, you can use lavender for cooking year round, but when it comes to figuring out what flavors to pair it with, it helps to think seasonally.

"Lavender has a nuance that's best appreciated in spring and summer when you're eating lighter foods," says Quattro's Higgins. "There's a natural harmony in foods that grow in season together."

At this time of year, that means strawberries, blueberries and apricots. But lavender also pairs well with fish, and you can use it in place of rosemary when roasting chicken, which is what Bonny Doon Farm's office manager Anita Elfling did recently. She combined the fragrant herb with salt, pepper and honey and rubbed it under the skin.

"I only used four things, but I swear it tasted like I used 45 ingredients," she says.

When it comes to baked goods using lavender, most recipes trend toward sugar cookies, shortbread or shortcake, but lavender also lends a mysterious, almost intoxicating note to chocolate. Slip just a little into brownies, and everyone will want to know what your secret ingredient is.

The key with lavender, though, is to not go overboard. It's definitely one of those ingredients where less is more — it should add just a subtle background note to the dish — and the best way to add lavender to recipes is by infusing it into other ingredients.

You can buy lavender sugar at specialty markets, but you can also make it yourself by layering sugar with whole heads of lavender. After a few days, the sugar will be lightly scented by the oils in the lavender. An even quicker method is to grind a tablespoon of lavender buds with a cup of sugar.

Liquids can also be infused with lavender. Pour boiling water over lavender buds and let it steep, then use the cooled water to make delicately flavored lavender lemonade. For lavender creme brulee, heat the cream with some lavender buds; strain before continuing with the recipe.

Lavender salt is made by adding dried buds to a salt grinder. This is an ideal way to add a hint of flavor to fish or vegetables.

Regardless of how you use lavender in your cooking, it can be soothing, surprising or sophisticated — and sometimes all three at once.

"For someone who is interested in new and different tastes," says Rosenberg, "lavender can expand your culinary pleasure."





LAVENDER BROWNIES

Makes 16

NOTE: Adding a tablespoon of lavender buds to 1 cup of sugar yields a very light lavender aroma. For more intense flavor, add another teaspoon of buds


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lavender buds

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 325. Put sugar and lavender buds in a food processor and pulse together.

Set a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add butter, lavender sugar, cocoa and salt, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and the mixture becomes fairly smooth and hot. Remove from heat and let cool until the mixture is warm.

With a wooden spoon, stir in vanilla, then add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. The mixture will be smooth and shiny. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated, then stir the mixture vigorously for 40 more strokes. Pour into an 8x8 baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil, making sure two ends overhang the edges of the pan.

Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a bit of batter on it. Let pan cool completely on a wire rack, then use the ends of the foil or parchment to lift the brownies out.


LITTLE LAVENDER BASKETS


Recipe from Chef Tony Ounpamornchai
SeaThai Bistro, Santa Rosa, Calif.


Serves 10-12


  • 10-12 leaves romaine lettuce

  • Spicy mango-lavender chutney

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 ripe mango, diced

  • 1/2 cup pickled garlic, peeled

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground fresh chili paste (sambal oelek)

  • 1/2 tablespoon lavender flowers

Filling:


  • 2 ounces fresh egg noodles, fried until crispy

  • 2 shallots, finely diced

  • 1/2 cup cilantro

  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • 1 cup roasted cashews

  • 1/2 cup English cucumber, diced

  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers (not buds)


Puree all the chutney ingredients and place in a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture boils, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely. (Note: This can be made in advance.)

Toss all the filling ingredients together with the spicy mango-lavender chutney sauce and serve, wrapped in leaves of romaine lettuce, as an appetizer.


LAVENDER-SMOKED SALMON FILLETS

Serves 6


  • 6 5-ounce salmon fillets

  • 1 1/4 cup water

  • 1 ounce table salt

  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper

  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 4 ounces uncooked rice

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • Handful of lavender stalks and a few flowers


Make a brine by heating the water and ounce of salt until the salt dissolves. Let cool. Then soak salmon in it for 30 minutes. Remove salmon from brine, rinse with water and pat dry.

Meanwhile, toast the sea salt and peppers in a pan. Let cool, then grind and rub on salmon fillets.

Line a wok with two layers of foil, and put rice, sugar and lavender in the bottom. Place a lightly greased rack on top and arrange salmon fillets on it. Cover the wok with a lid and seal with foil or damp paper towels.

Place the wok over medium high heat, and once the sugar and rice have begun to smoke—which you will smell more than see—resist the temptation to open the lid. Let it smoke for 15-20 minutes. Remove wok from heat and, with the lid still on, leave for 15 minutes. Serve salmon warm or cold.

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© 2010, Contra Costa Times Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.