You might think that cooking with flowers is pushing the culinary envelope. It’s perhaps reminiscent of the long-gone hippie era and its ethos of peace, nut loaf and free love. Well, consider this: we often eat flowers and don’t think of it as one bit retro or bizarre. Cooking with Flowers is a floral introduction.
We all eat cauliflower, broccoli, we drink elderflower wine (if we have to), and rosewater is the flavouring for Turkish Delight. This beautiful book introduces some attractive and delicious dishes that will encourage the home cook to look at his/her flowerbed as an out-door extension to the larder.
One might think that flowers taste too perfumed, too exotic, and too sweet. Assess each petal on its own merits. Yes, a rose will always offer that iconic flavour but the pronounced fragrance works well with a frosting or a syrup drizzle over an otherwise ordinary cake. I have used rose jam as a key ingredient of an Asian rice pudding.
One of the most simple yet most striking is a presentation rather than a recipe. It’s tulip ice cream bowls. One removes stamens and pistils (those pointy bits in the centre of the flowers) from pink tulips and places a round scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle, with a scatter of red berries around. If one used a flower of another colour then the effect could be quite different. A yellow tulip with perhaps a chocolate ice cream could be served alongside mango, or caramel-coated bananas.
A stunning and easy recipe is that for pansy petal pancakes. The flowers maintain their vibrant colour when cooked in the batter; these pancakes are versatile and would work well as a unique garnish to fresh fruits, berries and sorbets. One can also make syrup from blue or black pansies, and it truly is a colourful and delicious talking-point.
Cooking with Flowers isn’t outlandish. It offers pastel-coloured innovation. Its recipes are inspiring and accessible – they will encourage the reader to try different blooms with different recipes to unique effect. We might become a bit more adventurous with the bounty of spring and summer. This would be a marvellous gift for any cook or gardener.
Cooking with Flowers – Sweet and savoury recipes with rose petals, lilacs, lavender, and other edible flowers
Author: Miche Bacher
Publisher: Quirk Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018