Lavender in bloom is one of the joys of summer. Its intoxicating aroma and vibrant purple-blue flowers bring an immediate, Mediterranean vibe to gardens and pots. In late spring, gallon-sized containers of the coveted Provence variety are fast sellers at places like Marders in Bridgehampton, where they use it frequently in perennial garden installations.
But in Europe, many home gardeners look beyond its aromatic and aesthetic value, where it’s planted alongside other must-have culinary herbs — oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme. Here, the plant’s pretty flower buds are likely to be used not only as a garnish but as a main ingredient to sweet or savory dishes.
“The first thing I did when I built the new wing at the Greenporter Hotel was to plant herbs and a magnificent lavender garden, which is still thriving under the new ownership,” says Deborah Rivera-Pittorino, chef and former owner of the Greenporter Hotel and restaurant in Greenport, NY and author of the recipe blog, Seasoned Fork.
Rivera–Pittorino frequently used fresh herbs at the restaurant for various recipes, but most popular with guests? Her freshly made lavender scones set out at her late summer breakfast buffets.
Today, she still adores the subtle floral aroma and flavor of the herb, using it in her catering and for entertaining at home, harvesting some of her lavender at its peak in July simply for the bright, cheerful color.
“We dried it and placed it in jars to cook with through the year,” she recounts, “not only in the scones but in shortbread cookies, lavender syrup for drinks or to enhance a fruit salad.”
Rivera-Pittorino’s zero-waste approach to cooking comes from over 25 years of teaching sustainable cooking classes on both forks and Shelter Island. From luncheons at the Hampton Classic to vineyard weddings on the East End, using lavender in her recipes has been the chef’s signature.
Set out these lovely scones at an al fresco brunch (perhaps with a bottle of Sparkling Pointe’s 2019 Cuvée Carnaval Blanc, with its just-right complementary floral pop from a little muscat in the mix) and savor the flavor of the end of summer.
Seasoned Fork’s garden lavender scones
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp dried culinary lavender (plus extra for sprinkling)
- 1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract