Or, What A Girl Smells. I decided to write this post one morning while I was running. I realized that, every day, I reach out and try to run my hands up the stalks of the “lucky” lavender bushes that dot my route, until I reach the flower, and then I sniff my hand. I don’t ever snap them off, just scent my hand. Lavender is a calming scent and maybe because the early morning is my peaceful time, I am readying myself for the day. I do the same thing with the rosemary bushes in my front garden, the licorice-y scented basil in the backyard, the vanilla I pour into batter, the lemons that I zest and squeeze and even the garlic which lingers on my hands, sometimes too long, after I’ve cooked with it.
I love the smell of the orange blossoms in the evening, even the smell of coffee beans, (although I don’t like coffee) but the scent of almonds and almond paste is probably my single favorite smell. The scent of food, whether good or bad, can highten or detract from our eating pleasure. Maybe that’s another reason why I prefer eating at home and why cooking is so pleasurable. Maybe it’s because all of the senses come together, the smells wafting through the house, the taste, even the visual. Have you ever noticed that realtors will bake cookies or put a pot of cinnamon and cloves on the stove during an open house? That’s to give us, the potential buyer, an idea of what that house would be like if it were a home. The more time I take to enjoy my food, both the cooking and eating of, the more pleasure I get from a meal. So next time you cook, stop and smell the food.
These Rosemary Walnuts, from Bon Appetite, are quick to make when you need an appetizer. You can also package them prettily, and give them as a hostess gift.
Melt 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter with 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper.
Pour this mixture over 2 cups walnut halves, tossing to coat them.
Bake the nuts on a cookie sheet at 350* F. for 10 minutes.
The Lavender Shortbread is a fragrant twist on an old Scottish classic. The recipe comes from Copia, The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, in Napa, California, which closed in 2008.
12 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons very finely chopped lavender florets, fresh or dried (you can use lavender from your yard as long as it’s pesticide free. Other wise, you can purchase culinary lavender at Cost Plus or other specialty shops.)
2 1/3 all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 325* F. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter, sugar, lavender and salt until light and fluffy. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix on low speed until incorporated. Divide the dough in half. Flatten into squares and wrap in plastic. Chill dough until firm. On a floured board, roll or pat out each square to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut the dough into rectangles, pricking each rectangle with the tines of a fork several times. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until pale golden (do not brown). Cool slightly, then transfer to a rack. Makes about 4 dozen. (Recipe can be cut in 1/2)