Image from the Atlantic
When your guests ask what's for dinner, you can say marigolds, primroses and violets. Just as the use of fresh herbs has come back into fashion and has proven to be more than a passing fad: edible flowers are all the rage.
The flowers are tasty, fresh and couldn't be more local: straight from the garden. There are some cookbooks out now which show how edible flowers on food are more than just pretty.
Image from lagusta's luscious
For example, marigolds, which are in bloom now, can be eaten in many different ways.
They can be served as petals or leaves, raw or blanched, fresh or dry, sweet or savory. According to "The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery" first published in 1973:
To prepare marigolds: Pull entire petals from the stem, and as you hold them firmly in your hand, with scissors cut off the white (or pale greenish) "heels," as this could give a bitter taste if not removed.
It includes recipes for marigold cheese soup, cucumbers with marigolds and marigold cheese sticks. Marigolds taste delicious sprinkled on top of a baked potato with butter.
Other chapters include recipes using carnations, gardenias, tulips, and clover--something we all have lots of right now.
Images from Kathy Brown
The cook book Edible Flowers has many recipes and ideas for cooking and eating flowers. The author has a huge garden in England where she grows all kinds of edible flowers, so she has lots of views on how to use them.
Rosemary flowers are as tasty as the leaves, but also taste slightly sweet. Lavender flowers added to a chicken casserole add a nice flavour. Roses have been used since the sixteenth century. The good ones are the scented ones, because it's the scent that translates into taste. She makes rose petal cakes with fresh rose petals mixed into the butter icing. Rose petal sandwiches sound pretty exotic for lunch tomorrow...
Chefs at restaurants are getting into the act too. One chef in Cumbria grows flowers in his organic garden and forages for dog roses in the countryside. He makes hawthorn blossom champagne, and elderflower cakes, which he serves with violet ice-cream. And he has made an ox-eye daisy puree, which is served with new potatoes, and a daisy soup.
Another in Amersham makes rose petals pickled in vinegar, "which makes a light, floral dressing" and gorse flowers "that taste almost banana-y".
More on Cooking with Flowers
Weekday Vegetarian: Cooking with Dandelions