"Awake! awake! for the summer wind
Hath bidden the blossoms unclose,
Hath opened the violet's soft blue eye,
And wakened the sleeping rose.
And lightly they wave on their slender stems
Fragrant, and fresh, and fair,
Waiting for us, as we singing come
To gather our honey-dew there.
Then spread each wing,
And work, and sing,
Through the long, bright sunny hours;
O'er the pleasant earth
We journey forth,
For a day among the flowers!" - Louisa May Alcott, Flower Fables
LMA, to the rescue. Sometimes, when the words are escaping me, and I don't feel that I am doing justice to my thoughts, I look to Louisa and she always seems to know what I am trying to get out. Other times, when I am in need of inspiration and am desperately trying to get the random and sometimes crazy ideas I have in my brain to come out my fingertips, I need that drive to Concord (preferably in the rain) to push me in the right direction.
And other times, much like today, I am not feeling the creativity in my writing. I just can't form a coherent theme - or sentence. And in these days I fall back on the food. On the kitchen and the ingredients, the flavors and the seasons. Today, the recipes have come together, but the writing has fallen flat. Its in those days I am thankful for Louisa.
I'm always thankful for Louisa.
Here is an edible flower themed luncheon, designed for you by the spring and all she has to offer. Renee from Will Frolic for Food has put together an amazing group of bloggers, all cooking and baking things with edible flowers for a little spring "virtual pot luck". Check out all of the bloggers and their flower links at the end of the post! Of course I couldn't pick just one thing to make - so I prepared a little meal. I hope you can spend some time in it, as I am savoring the beginning of spring here in New England.
Also, a little bit of exciting news if you are a Boston resident (or anywhere really, if you want to take a little road trip…), Betty of Le Jus d'Orange and I are hosting our very first workshop together at Olives and Grace, this Saturday, May 9th. We will be there from 9am-12pm, doing a fun little live shoot, playing with edible flowers and baked goods. Come on over if you are around - we would love to see you!
A few notes on the edible flowers I used in this recipe: So, edible flowers. They sound whimsical and delicious, fairy food - (and they are, all of those things!) - however, it can be quite dangerous to go foraging for flowers to eat if you have not done your research. All of the flowers I have used are safe to eat - but you might want to do some education on your own. I am by no means a foraging expert. In fact, I know very little. I suggest using this guide by forage expert Russ Cohen (who coincidentally went to high school with my dad...) for all of your foraging questions. I used lots of rose petals in my cooking, because I know that they are 100% safe. I also used lavender and pansies, because they, too, are widely known as edible plants. I branched out a bit by using day lily tubers and shoots in a few of my dishes. I used this website to identify our (extremely invasive) day lilies, and I also spoke to a few of my gardening friends. If you have day lilies, or know where to find some (which is basically EVERYWHERE in New England…seriously, come over, I will send you home with hundreds…they are suffocating me up here) and are interested in using them in your kitchen - DO YOUR RESEARCH! Don't make a mistake that could get you very sick. There are cultivated species of day lilies that are not edible, so, just be careful.
Happy spring everyone. Now go eat some flowers. (…safely, please!)
• edible flower links •
Baking Magique | Salted Lavender Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies (Gluten Free)
The Bojon Gourmet | Hibiscus, Rhubarb + Yogurt Ice Pops
Bread + Barrow | An Edible Flower Luncheon
Dunk & Crumble | Strawberry Lilac Pavlovas
Fix Feast Flair | Mini Pistachio-Rose Olive Oil Cakes with Lemon-Chamomile Whipped Cream
Ginger and Toasted Sesame | Hwajeon: Sweet Matcha Rice Cakes with Fresh Flowers and Honey Syrup
Kale & Caramel | Ricotta & Basil Stuffed Nasturtiums
Le Jus d’Orange | Rose Hokkaido Cupcakes with Pistachio-infused cream
A Little Saffron | Raspberry Rose Fizz
London Bakes | Strawberry + Rose Cake (Gluten Free)
Snixy Kitchen | Chamomile Honeycomb Ice Cream
Top With Cinnamon | Lime, Mango and Elderflower Cakes
Vegetarian Ventures | Breakfast Sweet Potato with Hibiscus Tea Yogurt & Turmeric Granola
Vidya Living | Rustic Rhubarb, Strawberry & Chamomile Galette (Gluten Free)
Will Frolic for Food | Lilac Lemon Grapefruit Sherbet (Vegan)
• An Edible Flower Luncheon •
Rose Milk and Honey Marinated Lamb served with a Spicy Rose and Strawberry Rhubarb Chutney
Daylily Tuber and White Sweet Potato Puree
Dandelion Greens and Daylily Shoots Salad with Pansies and a Rose' Rose Vinaigrette
Elderflower Rose and Gin Spritzer
Lavender Earl Gray Pots de Creme
• Rose Milk and Honey Marinated Lamb •
• 1 quart of whole milk
• 1/2 cup local honey
• 1 cup of chopped rose petals
• 1 Frenched rack of lamb, trimmed
Heat the milk on the stove top until it starts to bubbe around the corners, but not until boiling. You want it hot, but not over cooked. Remove from the heat.
Add the rose petals and honey to the milk and allow to steep for about ten minutes.
Once the milk mixture has cooled slightly, pour it over the lamb. Marinate the lamb in the milk mixture in the fridge, covered, for an hour but better yet, over night.
To cook the lamb, preheat the oven to 450F. Discard the marinade and place the lamb in a large cast iron skillet with a splash of olive oil or vegetable oil. Sear the lamb on each side for a few seconds, just until it is golden brown and slightly crispy. Transfer the whole skillet into the oven and cook for about 12 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 135-40F.
Let the lamb sit for about ten minutes before slicing between each bone. Serve warm.
• Spicy Rose and Rhubarb Chutney •
• 3 stalks rhubarb, chopped
• 2 cups strawberries, chopped
• 1/2 red chili pepper, diced small (teeny tiny - no one wants a big bite of that!)
• 1/2 habanero pepper, diced small (see note above)
• 1 cup rose petals, chopped
• 2/3 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Cook until the rhubarb and strawberries have broken down and are blended together. Remove from heat and transfer chutney into a glass jar. Cool completely in refrigerator, about 2 hours or over night.
• Daylily and White Sweet Potato Puree •
• tubers from about 4 daylily plants - enough to fill 1 cup
• one medium white sweet potato
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• salt and pepper to taste
Place a large pot with water
Separate the tubers from their stems and leaves. Save leaves for salad.
Wash and trim the tubers so that they are removed from the majority of their dirt. It is an arduous task, but in some strange way, relaxing. Just go with me on this one.
Peel and chop the potato in to small chunks - roughly the same size of the tubers. Place in the boiling water and boil until the are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Note: I noticed that the tubers were not the same consistency as potatoes - as others have claimed - they feel more like an onion inside, with a potato skin outside. I suggest that when the potatoes are done, the tubers will be as well, even if they aren't easily pierced with a fork.
Strain the potato and tubers, return back to the pot. Add the butter and cream. Using an immersion blender (or in batches with a standard blender) puree until the potatoes and tubers are creamy and silky. Add salt and pepper to taste.
• Rose' Rose VInaigrette •
• 1/2 cup rose' wine
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons rose water
• 1 tablespoon white vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/2 finely chopped shallot (about 2 tablespoons)
• pinch of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until fully incorporated.
Lightly whisk before each use.
This dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
• Dandelion Greens with Daylily Shoots and Pansies •
• 2 cups of dandelion greens, rinsed and chopped
• 1 cup of rinsed and chopped daylily shoots
• 1/2 shallot, sliced fine
• 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola
• pansies, just for fun, as many as you would like
• Rose' Rose Vinaigrette (see above)
• dash of salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the dandelion greens and daylily shoots in a large bowl, toss with dressing until each leaf has a light coasting. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
Place the dressed greens on a plate, top with a bit of shallot, gorgonzola, and a few pansies.
Serve before the greens become too wilted.
Note: Dandelion greens are very bitter. I adore them, but I also like weird things. If you don't like the taste of bitter things, I would opt for a nice spring greens mix instead of the dandelion greens. If you aren't sure, go ahead and try them! We all need to break out of our comfort zones once in a while, eh?
• Elderflower Rose and Gin Spritzer •
• 1 cup gin
• 1/4 cup elderflower syrup
• 2 tablespoons rose water
• sparkling water
• rose petals for garnish
Combine the gin, elderflower syrup and rose water in a carafe. Stir to combine. Add ice and enough sparkling water to cover ice. Stir and add rose petals to garnish.
• Lavender Earl Gray Pots de Creme •
adapted from Joanne Chang for Fine Cooking
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup loose leaf earl gray tea
• 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 8 egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Heat the cream and milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles start to appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla, tea and lavender and stir to combine. Steep for about ten minutes.
Strain the cream mixture and discard the tea and lavender. Set the cream mixture aside.
Whisk the sugar with the egg yolks until smooth, then slowly add the hot cream mixture to the eggs and sugar in a thin constant strand.
Arrange your ramekins in a deep baking dish. Pour warm water into the baking dish, enough to come half way up the ramekins. Fill your ramekins about 3/4 full with your mixture. Cover baking dish with foil, and bake until just set - about 25-60 minutes.
Note: I know that is a large difference in time, but it all depends on the thickness and depth of your ramekins, and what kind of a baking dish you are using. Mine took about 55 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the ramekins cool in the water bath. Remove from the water and allow to cook in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. Serve pots de creme directly from their ramekins.
Listening to: Sampson by Regina Spektor