A few weeks ago while my brother was in town we drove over to Cherry Valley to attend the Lavender Festival at the Highland Springs Resort. None of us had eaten anything that morning because we were so excited about trying all the lavender-infused goodies at the ranch, and when we arrived right when the festival opened, we were told that none of the food booths opened for another hour. Slightly perturbed and incredibly hungry, we wandered around the grounds looking at the cute farm animals, admiring the long flowing fields of lavender, and sneaking extra samples from the syrup & olive oil booths until the food booths finally opened.
|This is what happens to a person after 15 hours without food.|
The grill wasn’t warmed up though, unfortunately, so we had to wait another 20 minutes to get the sandwiches, which was when I broke down and got an ice cream cone. (My coping mechanisms are strikingly similar to a 4 year-old’s). That tasty lavender honey cone managed to hold me over until the sandwiches were ready, and when they came out we all inhaled them. We looked like a ravenous pack of dogs ripping apart those delicate lavender beef brisket subs like we hadn’t eaten in days, when in reality it had only been like 15 hours. But still, that is a pretty long time to not eat.
One of my favorite lavender food items was the Lavender Syrup. They had samples of it in tiny cups with a cube of plain white bread in it, and even on regular bread it tasted fantastic, so I went about dreaming of how wonderful it would taste on something decadent like home-made french toast or a nice baked custard. (The baked custard stuck with me, since my favorite Greek dessert of all time is baked custard wrapped in filo dough soaked in syrup.) So, because I am a bit of a cheapskate and prefer to do things myself when possible, I decided to make my own lavender syrup and drizzle it over a custard pie. I made the pie the weekend after my brother left and it definitely hit the decadent mark. Rich, creamy, and with the wonderfully sweet lavender syrup soaked in, it made for a real treat.
1/2 Cup Water
2 Teaspoons Dried Lavender
8 Egg Yolks
4 Eggs, whisked
3 Cups Whole Milk
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Semolina
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Begin by making the lavender syrup. Bring the ingredients to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Then pour the syrup through a sieve and discard the lavender. Place the syrup in the refrigerator to cool until use.
To make the crust, mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into roughly pea-sized pieces over the bowl, allowing the butter pieces to fall into the dry ingredients. Pour the cold water into the bowl and mix the dough together with your hands, kneading until everything is completely blended. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until you roll it out later.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To make the custard, heat the milk in a large pan over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the semolina, sugar, butter, and salt and mix well. Continue to warm the mixture over low heat until it thickens, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and egg yolks. Then mix 2 cups of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly. Then mix the egg mixture back into the milk mixture in the saucepan and continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly and still not allowing the mixture to come to a boil. Remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and set aside.
Roll out the crust until it is about 1 cm thick and then place it in a well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch spring form cake pan, pressing it into the edges until secured. Pour in the custard and bake in the oven until the custard is set, about 1 hour.
Immediately upon removing it from the oven, poke several small but deep slits in the top of the custard with a small knife (this is to help the custard absorb the syrup) and then pour half of the syrup over the pie. Allow the custard to soak up the syrup for 30 minutes, and reserve the remaining lavender syrup to drizzle over your other favorite treats. Toss together the dried lavender and powdered sugar and sprinkle it over the top of the pie as a garnish before serving.