“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I Peter 4:10
On October 1st, I had the privilege of doing a presentation on Edible Flowers for the District VI Judges Council of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, composed of National Flower Show Judges.
The flower garden has been the cook’s extended kitchen for generations around the world. More than 70 plants produce flowers which are safe to eat including all the culinary herbs except parsley. There are a few rules however for safe use:
· Eat only flowers identified as safe and edible in at least three references. Just because a flower is served with food does not mean it is edible.
· Eat only those flowers grown organically or treated with organic pesticides like those used on fruits and vegetables. Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, garden centers or flowers picked from the side of the road.
· Eat only the petals, remove pistils and stamen unless blooms are small such as lavender, violets, scented geraniums, etc. The white base of the petal on many flowers may have a bitter taste and should be removed from flowers such as chrysanthemums, dianthus, marigolds, and roses
· Taste first. There are many varieties of any one flower. Flowers taste differently and have different flavors when grown in different locations. Rinse flowers in running water before tasting
· Eat only in small quantities and introduce gradually one variety at a time only if you do not have allergies, asthma or hay fever
A baker’s dozen of my favorites were shared with the group and a list with more information can be found on an earlier post All About Flowers.
The new Director for 2013-2015, Judi Jodoins, is a friend and this was her first meeting, so I also prepared an Edible Flower Tasting Tea for the judges to share following my presentation! Although only a few edible flowers are blooming in my garden, I was able to use a few fresh ones along with some dried in the following recipes which highlight individual edible flowers and combinations:
CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP: Sauté 5 peeled & seeded cucumbers, 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves chopped garlic in 2Tbs oil for 5 minutes until onions are transparent. Stir in 4c chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until cucumber is soft. Transfer vegetables to food processor and process until smooth. Stir in 1/2c chopped fresh dill and season. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours. Stir in 1c half & half before serving and garnish with dill or prepared borage or dill flowers.
CHICKEN SALAD CUPS: Combine 1c chopped chicken, 1/3c chopped celery, 1/4c dried cranberries, 1/4c chopped toasted pecans, 1Tbs chopped Texas tarragon and 1/2c plain yogurt and refrigerate to blend flavors. Add 1Tbs Texas tarragon flower petals then fill phylo cups.
HERBES DE PROVENCE TRIANGLES: Beat 4oz cream cheese until smooth, stir in 1tsp Herbes de Provence with lavender and refrigerate a few hours. When ready to use, allow to soften to spreadable consistency, then spread a thin layer on pumpernickel bread triangles. Top with sliced grape tomatoes.
SAVORY CONFETTI PINWHEELS: Cream together 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2c grated Asiago cheese, 1/2 c edible flowers such as nasturtium, tarragon, chives and calendula, 1tsp cracked pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Spread on 4 flour tortillas, top with fresh spinach and then roll up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 1” slices to serve.
BLUE CHEESE-PEAR BRUSCHETTA: Slice 1 multi-grain Baguette on the diagonal into 1/2" slices. Lay out slices of bread on cookie sheet and brush with 3-4Tbs olive oil. Toast in oven at 400 degrees about 2-3 mins. Spread with a warmed combination of 2oz cream cheese & 4oz blue cheese. Slice 5 pears and layer on top of cheese. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with a few fresh chopped herbs/herb flowers (rosemary, thyme, marjoram).
CALENDULA & CHIVE PINWHEELS: Cream together 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese, 1/3c red & green bell peppers, 1/2c calendula petals, 2Tbs chives and 1tsp garlic herb seasoning. Spread on 4 flour tortillas, then roll up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 1” slices to serve and garnish with a chive floret.
PINEAPPLE MINT PINWHEELS: Combine 8oz softened cream cheese with 1/2c drained pineapple and 1Tbs fresh or 1tsp dried mint and 1Tbs chopped pineapple sage flowers. Spread on 4 flour tortillas, roll up, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Slice into 1” pieces to serve.
ROSE PETAL PINWHEELS: Combine equal amounts butter & rose geranium jelly, spread on 4 flour tortillas, top with fresh rose petals then roll up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 1” slices to serve.
SCONES & FRUIT
BASIC SCONES: Combine 2 c flour, 1/3 c sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp baking soda and 1/4tsp salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in 8Tbs butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1c sour cream or yogurt to dry ingredients until they are moistened. Knead on floured surface until dough holds together. Divide dough in half and pat out each into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6-8 wedges. Place on greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 mins or until golden brown.
1/2c dried cranberries
2tsp gated orange peel
Follow directions for basic scones adding cranberries and orange peel to dry ingredients before cutting in butter.
MULTI GRAIN SCONES:
1/4c chopped walnuts
Follow directions for basic scones adding oatmeal, walnuts & cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
FRESH FRUIT TRAY (Strawberries, Red & Green Grapes, Orange Slices)
BANANA BALLS: Cut bananas into bite-sized pieces, then dip balls in yogurt and roll in shredded coconut. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving. Note: The yogurt keeps the bananas from turning brown, but they won’t last long because they are addictive!
SWEET CONFETTI TEA CAKES: Combine and chop 1/4c fresh sweet edible flowers such as rose, lavender, roselle, jasmine and violas. Combine 1 cake mix with 1 1/2c yogurt, 2Tbs orange juice concentrate and 1tsp almond extract, then blend in chopped edible confetti, 1Tbs grated orange rind and 1/4c chopped toasted almond slices. Place in greased mini-muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins. Cool, turn upside down and glaze with powdered sugar mixed with a little orange juice. Garnish with toasted almond slice or sugared violets.
LAVENDER HONEY BUNCHES: Combine 3c quick oats, 2c flaked coconut, and 1c flour. Bring 1c butter, 1/2c honey, 1c brown sugar and 1tsp lavender to a boil, then pour over dry ingredients. Drop by spoonful into mini muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 12-15 mins. or until lightly golden. Cool in tins 15 mins.
CALENDULA CORNMEAL CRISPS: Cream 1c butter, 1c sugar and 1/2c fresh or dried calendula petals in food processor, then add egg and mix well. Add 1/2c chopped pecans and 1/2c dried cranberries to butter mixture, then add 2c flour and 1/2c cornmeal plus ½ tsp nutmeg, 1tsp baking soda and 1tsp vanilla. Roll into two logs, wrap & refrigerate overnight. Slice, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 10 mins.
CHOCOLATE MINT TRUFFLES: Place 14oz semisweet chocolate chips in bowl. Bring 1c heavy cream and 1Tbs spearmint to scalding point, strain and discard leaves. Add to chocolate and allow to sit 1-2 mins before stirring then gently whisk until smooth. Pour into small bowl, cover and refrigerate several hours. Use melon baller to make truffles. COATING: powdered sugar and mint blossoms.
PINK LAVENDER LEMONADE: Steep 1Tbs roselle and 1Tbs lavender blossoms in a quart of boiling water for 5 mins. Strain and use liquid to prepare frozen lemonade.
HOT HERBAL TEA
HONEY-BOS - This South African elixir is a naturally sweet & full-bodied blend of rooibos and honeybush
LADY EARL RED - Sweet, fruity, floral herbal version of the classic Earl Grey
Some additional recipes can be found on this earlier presentation post along with information on my booklet on edible flowers.