Many of our favorite flowers-roses, pansies, chrysanthemums, hollyhocks and hibiscus, to name a few-offer us more than their stunning colors, sweet scents and pretty faces. They are also edible. And not only that, they have distinctive flavors. Some are have fiery tastes, some are sweet, others herbal. Nasturtiums have a delightfully peppery taste, something like horseradish. Chive blossoms burst forth on the taste buds like a mild, sweet onion-similar to the plant itself, but fresher and a tad sweeter. Violas and pansies are mild and remind some people of grapes, while roses taste sweet and perfumey.
Who knew that borage flowers have a sweet cucumber flavor, that chrysanthemum flowers and leaves taste like mild cauliflower or that fuchsias are tart and lemony?
Jay North and his late wife Pamela North, veteran organic farmers and innovators in the organic industry have compiled a wonderful small book about how to use edible flowers in the kitchen. Their Guide to Cooking with Edible Flowers is a delightful, well-researched book brimming with inventive, surprising and charming ideas for using edible flowers in a wide variety of dishes, both decorative and tasty.
Drawing on edible flower lore both ancient and modern, Guide to Cooking with Edible Flowers contains over 30 edible flower recipes, from Dandelion and Bacon Salad and Fried Hibiscus Blossoms to Pansy Honey Custard and Rose Petal Jam. There are also tips: Add nasturtium blossoms to an egg salad sandwich. Pour scented geranium petals into cake batter. Place violas on butter cubes. And more.
The book also explores the world of herb blossoms. It offers brief histories, descriptions, and again - wonderful recipes and ideas. You'll learn tips for using the blossoms of common herbs like garlic chives and onion chives along with more uncommon herbs, such as opal basil, bee balm, and lemon thyme. Who could resist an invitation to try Red Snapper with Opal Basil Flower Pesto or Anise Hyssop Roasted Chicken with Pineapple Sage?
The Guide to Cooking with Edible Flowers is illustrated with full-page photographs and Pamela North's enchanting folk art paintings.
One can't peruse the book without smiling-and dreaming of heading out to the garden and then, blossoms in hand, straight into the kitchen.