Luscious lavender

Andrea Rogers’ famous lavender shortbread cookies.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies among homegrown lavender by Andrea Rogers. —Lexi Pline

You know summer is here when each Saturday our local artisans, chefs, bakers, agriculturalists, craftsmen, and more fill the booths of the West Tisbury Farmers Market. Each year brings both the new vendors who introduce fresh goods and ideas, and the vendors who have been around since the very beginning, selling exactly what keeps us coming back year after year. Andrea Rogers has brought her lavender-based goods to the market since the 1980s. She crafts and sells lavender in sachets, bunches, sleep-aid pillows, and recipes, one of which she was gracious enough to share with us.

Gardening and growing food has always been a part of Andrea’s ancestral roots. Her father grew up on a farm in southern Italy, and while his move to the U.S. meant he would have a much smaller piece of land to cultivate, he utilized every inch. He saw no purpose in using his space to grow anything but sustainable food, but he gave in to his daughter’s interest in flowers, specifically lavender. This is where Rogers’ love for the flowering perennial and useful herb began. “After moving to the Vineyard in 1986, I discovered that lavender grows very well here. A few years later I joined the West Tisbury Farmers Market. I found people loved lavender as much as I did; the more I grew, the more I sold,” she explained. Customers often ask what her secret is to growing so successfully and beautifully, so this year at the market she will also be offering cards with grow tips.

One of her biggest sellers and a market staple is her Lavender Cookies. While it would be hard to match the work of this lavender guru, she has shared her secret and given us her recipe. So whether you can’t make it up to the Farmers Market this summer, or you just can’t wait for Saturday to come around, give this recipe a try. Lavender is as tasty and beneficial as it is wonderfully fragrant.

Andrea’s Lavender Shortbread Cookies

1½ cups butter softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup sifted confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh lavender flowers or 1½ Tbsp. dried.
handful fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ cup flour
½ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt

In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.

Add lavender, mint, and lemon zest.

Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt; mix into the batter until well blended. Divide dough into two balls, wrap in two large pieces of parchment paper and flatten to about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Spread parchment paper out with dough in the center and add another piece of parchment paper on top, then roll out dough between the two pieces to ¼-inch thickness. Cut shapes with heart-shaped cutter. Place cookies on sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Cool and transfer to wire racks. Place fresh lavender sprigs on top and serve.