Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cooking With Herbs

I adore teaching cooking classes and most of my classes are taught at life+style in our little town.    Most of the classes are "open" classes where anyone who wants to pay the fee can come, eat and learn.

But Monday last, I taught a special class -- for the Laurels of Nevada.    And on one of my favorite subjects --

Cooking With Herbs.

I always come early so that I can set up and compose . . . so that when the classes start I am calm and organized.

Like a dinner party before the guests come, the cooking class before the student's come, is always that perfect time when everything is in it's place and there is an air of expectancy.    For there will be more to come!

A big bouquet of herbs from my garden . . . to add flavors to the dishes that I'll demonstrate to the class and that the students will taste!

My notes, all laid out.   Even though I'm knowledgable and passionate about herbs, I still like notes . . . in case I would forget something!

The food that evening . . .

A salad plate with chicken salad -- three ways (plain, with dill, with sage), a pasta salad with tomatoes, cucumber and green onion and a basil vinaigrette and a fruit salad with a cinnamon basil syrup.    And my famous herbed rolls.

A whole tray . . . for there could be seconds.

And there is no "Cooking With Herb Class" without dessert.    I adore herbal desserts.    That night, I served . . .

Chocolate lavender cake with a chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of fresh lavender.

There was enough left that we, Jim and Cynthia, Rosemary and I, could have a piece -- it was our supper!


2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t. fleur de sel
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. kosher salt
2 T. lavender buds
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. good quality semi sweet chocolate chips


1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream
Additional lavender buds for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 324.    Butter and flour bundt pan.    Put milk in sauce pan and scald.    Turn off heat and add lavender buds.    Let cool.     When cool, strain lavender buds from milk, add additional milk, if necessary to make 1/2 cup.    Whisk milk and sour cream (or yogurt) together.    Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar.    Beat in eggs, one at a time.    Add vanilla.    Reduce mixer to low and add flour and milk mixture alternatively until just combined.    Fold in chocolate chips.    Spread in prepared pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes.    Let cool 10 minutes and then invert on cooling rack.

For the ganache, bring cream to a simmer, remove immediately and pour over chocolate chips.    Whisk until combined.    Let cool a couple of minute before topping cake.     Sprinkle with additional lavender buds if desired.

NOTE:    This is a good chocolatey cake and the lavender adds an additional depth of flavor.    You can make it without the lavender -- for it is a really good cake!

It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.


Rebecca said...

It all looks SO tasty - especially the chicken salad...I would love to take a few of your classes. This one sounds most interesting!

Martha said...

If you're not far far away I'm doing another one in May -- watch my sidebar for more details!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I can't wait to have more fresh herbs in my garden! So far, there's only chives, parsley and oregano to pick. Everything looks delicious!

Pondside said...

It would be so much fun to attend one of your classes - I'm sure you are the best teacher! Your passion for your subject would be infectious.
I can't wait for my lavender to bloom and to try this cake!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Martha, I would love to be a student in your cooking classes! Everything sounds beautiful!
Chocolate and lavender... I would not have put that combo together, but it looks scrumptious!

Rowan said...

It all looks good, it would be fun to attend one of your classes, your 'just before the class starts' table looks so inviting.

Taste the Rainbow said...

Perfect Martha, as always.

Taste the Rainbow said...

Perfect Martha, as always.

Southerncook said...

Wish I could join in one of your classes as well. I'm sure they are very imformative. I planted some French Sorrell a few months ago for the first time and I am anxious to use it. It is looking great and a French Sorrell sounds sooooooo yummy. The rest of my herbs are doing well too but I need to plant my basil. I already have the plants just need to find the time to do it. I also have to replace a couple of parsley plants, I cannot do without my parsley.


Southerncook said...

I meant to say, a French Sorrell Soup sounds yummy.


Bernideen said...

i wish I could have been on one of those stools - delightful class I can tell!

Bernideen said...

also...I was out this morning and the thyme, parsley, oregano, mint, chives and rosemary have weathered the winter. I will have to buy basil and cilantro.

lindaraxa said...

Another great chocolate dessert and a keeper.

All my herbs are in place, except the chives which I have had to replace already due to aphids, the little buggers!