So you can imagine my excitement when I learned you could COOK with them! I already published this recipe for Balsamic-Lavender Lamb Chops last week…
Balsamic-Lavender Lamb Chops
…but did you know?
Flowers have been used to cook with for thousands of years in Asian, European, East Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines. It has become very trendy again to use flowers as garnishes, in salads, soups, stews, marinades, sauces, as seasonings, in desserts, and even in beverages…for flavor, color, and aroma.
You do need to either grow your own organic flowers, or buy edible flowers in farmers markets, or I even see them in my local grocery stores these days, because you want to avoid eating flowers sprayed with pesticides, and certainly those that are poisonous (which are many, so be sure to do your research before using any). Here are a few edibles worth mentioning…
Marigolds are a good substitute for tarragon and have also been referred to as “the poor man’s saffron” since the golden-orange petals lend color to the food prepared with them. They have a tangy, peppery flavor that is yummy sprinkled in salads, soups, rice, and pasta dishes.
Hibiscus have a citrusy-cranberry flavor, but can tend to be on the acidic side so use them sparingly in salads. I did a search on hibiscus recipes and found Hibiscus Champagne Jellies, Australian Beef with Red Wine & Hibiscus Syrup Glaze, and Wild Hibiscus Pavlova Supreme. They also make a wonderfully colorful garnish.
Pansy petals have a mild grassy flavor, but if you eat the whole flower you get overtones of wintergreen. Candy them by painting the petals with simple syrup, then allow them to dry before using them to garnish cupcakes as I did below. They are delicious in fruit salads, green salads, and in soups. You can also freeze them in ice cubes for a stylish flair when serving cocktails.
Roses vary in flavor depending on color (the darker the color the stronger the flavor), and variety of rose. Some can taste similar to a strawberries while others resemble more of a sour apple flavor. I used roses to decorate the Floating Island for a Crowd in my Upstairs Downstairs blog entry in May, and I have to admit they were delicious in the creme Anglaise. Other recipes I want to sample include Linguine with Rose Petal Pesto, Grilled Chicken with Rose Petal-Mango Sauce, Chilled Pear & Rose Petal Soup, and Rose Petal Flan.
Jewels-Lemon Lavender Angel Food Cupcakes
“to bring the devil out in him”
decorated with edible pansies
● 1/2 cup cake ﬂour
● 3/4 cup powdered sugar
● 3/4 cup egg white, approx. 6 eggs, at room temperature
● 1/8 teaspoon salt
● 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
● 1/2 cup granulated sugar
● 1/2 teaspoon lavender extract
● 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
● 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
● 2 cups powdered sugar
● 1 tablespoon low fat cream cheese
● 1 teaspoon low fat 1% milk
● 2 tablespoons lemon juice
● pesticide-free culinary lavender, to garnish
1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.
2). Sift together ﬂour and powdered sugar (I repeat this several times to make sure it is well incorporated) in a medium bowl.
3). Beat egg whites with salt with a mixer on high speed until frothy, 1-2 minutes. Add cream of tartar and mix until soft peaks form. Add sugar a little at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
4). Sprinkle a little ﬂour mixture in at a time, and fold gently. Fold in lavender extract and zest. Using an ice cream scoop to get even cupcakes, ﬁll the 12 cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove and let cool completely on a rack.
5). When cupcakes are cool (you will need to frost cupcakes as soon as icing is ready), beat the butter for 5 minutes. A little at a time, add the powdered sugar, scarping down the sides with a spatula as necessary. Add cream cheese, milk, and lemon juice. Adjust ﬂavor and consistency to taste by adding more milk, lemon juice, or powdered sugar if desired. Spread icing onto each cupcake and sprinkle with a pinch of
lavender or edible pansies to decorate.