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Recipe: Cinnamon toast with lavender strawberries

June 25, 2008

Total time: 25 minutes, plus steeping and macerating time

Servings: 4

Note: This recipe makes more lavender syrup than is needed; you can use it as a sweetener in iced tea, lemonade and cocktails. You also can buy lavender syrup at Surfas in Culver City and Monsieur Marcel in the Original Farmer's Market. Fresh, organic lavender is generally available at farmers markets and select nurseries. Dried lavender is also available at farmers markets, as well as Surfas in Culver City and Nicole's Gourmet in Pasadena. Lavender simple syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh, organic or dried culinary lavender

In a small saucepan, heat one-half cup of water with the sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat. Stir the lavender and allow the mixture to steep for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Strain it into a clean jar and refrigerate. This makes about three-fourths cup syrup; it will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.

Lavender strawberries, grilled toast and assembly

2 pints strawberries

1/4 cup lavender simple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh organic or dried culinary lavender

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, softened

4 slices rustic bread, such as ciabatta, sliced 1/2 -inch-thick

1/3 cup crème fraîche (optional)

1 tablespoon lavender syrup (optional)

1. Hull and slice the strawberries lengthwise into one-eighth-inch slices, and place in a medium bowl. Stir in the lavender syrup and lavender. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature. (If you are preparing the strawberries in advance, refrigerate the covered bowl, then bring to room temperature before serving.)

2. Line a tray or baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. In small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, then cut in the butter with a fork and mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Spread one side of each slice of bread fully and evenly with a light coat of the prepared butter. Flip the bread over and repeat with the other side.

4. Using long-handled metal tongs, place the bread slices on an oiled grill over medium heat. Grill 30 to 45 seconds to establish grill marks and allow the seasoned butter mixture to start to melt, then rotate a quarter turn and grill an additional 30 to 45 seconds for another set of grill marks. Flip the bread over and repeat with the other side. Remove and reserve.

5. Divide the strawberries evenly into four dessert bowls. Stand one slice of toast in each bowl. If desired, garnish with a spoonful of crème fraîche and drizzle with lavender syrup.

Each serving: 268 calories; 4 grams protein; 43 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 23 mg. cholesterol; 168 mg. sodium.

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