Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lavender and Cherry Cornmeal Cookies...

Garden update time! The plants have been doing pretty well, save for a large aphid attack - those darn tiny green monsters almost got the best of us. We thought about purchasing a sack of ladybugs to see if they would help, but just never got around to it - a good spray with water knocked most of them off, but that didn't do much to stop them from coming back (we're trying to not use any repellents or sprays - even the natural ones can kill good bugs!). Here are a few snaps of our bounty.

Our carrots have done quite well - we've been pulling them out for a couple weeks now and still have a good couple dozen brewing in the ground.

Kale was a slow start for us for whatever reason, but has actually gone a little bonkers! Here's a bowlful before we used it in a recipe a few days ago.

We just dug this potato out from the bed the other day - our first one! I haven't actually pulled the plants out yet, but we carefully shifted the dirt away to see what was happening underneath and found this guy.

Finally we have a bounty of Swiss Chard to show you - here's about 6 pounds worth, with plenty still left behind on the plants. I have plans to do a repeat recipe (that Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard) with some of the stalks, and Jeff brought in a big bagful into work to share today - not sure what we'll do with the rest yet.

I do also have a new recipe to share with you today - a fun cookie! Let's get to it.

Coarse cornmeal can be used for more than just polenta or cornbread... have you ever thought of using the crunchy bits in cookies? In fact, I could have sworn we had already done just that, but for the life of me I couldn't remember exactly what they were. After going searching through our archives on the site, I finally managed to find that post - it was those Italian Polenta Cookies we made all the way back in '08!

These Lavender and Cherry Cornmeal Cookies are quite different, however, in not only taste and texture, but shape too! I came across the original recipe from one of my favorite blog writers and cookbook authors, David Lebovitz, who in turn adapted it from one of Carol Field’s brilliant books (which, incidentally, looks like it is being revised and printed again with a holiday release date). I didn't make many changes at all to David's version - just two, one being a few drops of extra vanilla and the tiny dried lavender blossoms.

For creating the stiff dough, you'll see I have listed coarse polenta in the ingredients - I went that route as I love the robust crunch the tiny golden pearls add. If you wish for a more sandy (or less gritty for lack of a better word) texture, look for finer dry polenta (think instant) or even regular cornmeal if that's all you have. The dried lavender blossoms can be fairly potent, so I wouldn't suggest using too much - I kept the amount to two teaspoons, which left us with a definite presence, without tasting perfume-y.

As David suggested, you can use any sort of dried fruit that you think you'd like in these cookies - I kept with the theme and went with dried cherries. Unless you decide on a tiny dried fruit like currants, finely chop the pieces - if they are too chunky, the dough can become difficult to slice.

Speaking of slicing, these cookies are cut off well-chilled bricks of dough, making portioning them out a snap. Our method gives you rectangular cookies, but if you'd like round ones, just shape the halved dough into two cylinders instead. Dividing the dough in half first not only makes for more manageable-sized pieces, but it also allows you the freedom to toss one half in the freezer for freshly baked cookies whenever the impulse arises. If you find that the dough starts to crumble at all when slicing it right from the freezer, give it a few minutes at room temperature to soften slightly. We quite enjoyed these as is, but if I were to make any other changes, I think I'd add the zest of a lemon for an extra burst of brightness.


  1. The veggies from your garden are looking really good. Nice cookie also.

  2. Beautiful bounty! My kale and swiss chard are but tiny sprounts yet. Actually, everything is still tiny sprouts, but at least it's growing!

    I've heard - but haven't yet used - that this 'recipe' makes a good natural bug repellant:

    1-2 tbsp liquid soap (or liquid castille peppermint soap as peppermint is a repellant on it's own)
    1 gallon H20

    Combine and spray.

    Recommended not to use more than 2tbsp soap as too much can kill the leaves.

  3. cookie looks so delicious, you harvest nice vegetables.

  4. Joe, your garden is really awesome! My carrots never developed, and I certainly never tried a potato! Way to go!

  5. these look and sound beautiful, thank you.

  6. Helene - Thank you!

    Kristin - I've heard the same, but that will kill beneficial bugs as well, no?

    Raquel - Thanks!

    Melissa - We are surprised with how well the haul has been our first year!

    Tammie - Thank you!

  7. Lucky you having such a bounty of fresh produce! I can only have a small herb garden on my window, but that's NYC for you.

  8. Bakerbynature - We put in a lot of work getting the garden prepared this year! Now, we just need to keep it going.

  9. I think you last used coarse cornmeal in the lime cornmeal cookies a few months ago, no? I followed your recipe for those and really enjoyed them--the glaze kept them so soft for days.

  10. Mindy - Probably so! Thanks for trying those cookies out!