Eat it with flowers

Penelope Maguire. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Penelope Maguire. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Penelope Maguire has joined the Fresh team to share her knowledge and passion for vegan cooking.

With the colder days approaching, what better way to add a pop of colour and show that little bit of extra care and attention than adding edible flowers to your meal?

Edible flowers don't just have to be added for decoration as often they can really stand out as a flavour in their own right: the spicy pepperiness of nasturtiums, the cucumbery freshness of a borage flower, the subtle tang of wood sorrel blooms and the pungent oily notes of rosemary petals. Flowers can be used to flavour soups, dressings, oils, spice rubs and beverages and can leave people asking, ‘What is that flavour?’.

An autumn morning flower forage can be a wholesome way to build a deeper connection to the food you eat and bring some joy and beauty to the dinner table.

When venturing out with a basket in hand this month you can find nasturtium (try pickling the buds in vinegar), yarrow, calendula, borage, cornflowers, pansies, rocket flowers, daisies, roses, pink clover, fuchsia and many more.

But be careful, not all flowers are edible. If if doubt, it’s best not to use them.

These simple and versatile edible flower recipes will arm you with some culinary tricks to keep in your pantry and use to brighten up the winter months.

A trained naturopath, medical herbalist and holistic nutritinist, Penelope Maguire (nee Baldwin) undertook the culinary arts degree at Otago Polytechnic before opening a vegan-focused grocery store and then Kind Company cafe last year.

Lavender or rose geranium sugar

Keep this in the pantry to be used in cakes, breads, cordials, iced teas or on pancakes. It also makes a lovely gift.

4 cups caster sugar

2 Tbsp dried lavender petals or a

handful of fresh or dried lavender flowers (Lavendula angustifoliaworks best, but all lavenders areedible) or ¼ cup finely chopped fresh rose geranium leaves and flowers

Optional

zest of one lemon

Method

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.

Pop in a pretty jar and place in a the pantry for at least a week to allow the flavour to develop.

Pressed flower lavender shortbread

200g dairy-free butter (Nutalex or Olivani)

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

zest 1 lemon

100g lavender sugar

275g plain flour, sifted

25g cornflour, sifted

soy milk to glaze

edible flowers and leaves

Optional

½ tsp dried lavender

Method

Heat the oven to 160degC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter, vanilla, lemon zest and sugar together. Stir in the flours and dried lavender, if using, and mix into a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest and firm up.

Once the dough is chilled, roll out to approximately 0.5cm thickness and cut into shapes. Brush with soy milk and press an edible flower into each biscuit. Place on the baking sheet, sprinkle with a little extra lavender sugar and bake for 12-15 minutes until just turning golden at the edges but still pale in the middle. You want to keep the colour of the flowers.

Leave to cool and store in an airtight container for a week or freeze for up to three months.

Pink lemonade cordial

Taken hot, cold, sparkling or drizzled on ice-cream, you'll want to make this over and over again.

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers (from health

food stores)

zest and juice of 3 lemons

Optional

¼ tsp citric acid

Method

Dissolve sugar into water, bring to the boil.

Add hibiscus flowers and lemon zest.

Simmer for one minute then allow to cool and infuse, with lid on for three hours or overnight.

Once cooled, strain and add lemon juice and citric acid (this will help it keep a little longer).

Pour into sterilised bottles and keep in the fridge for up to a year.

Pink "turkish delight" G&T

30ml gin

30ml pink lemonade cordial

30ml lemon juice

5ml rose water

tonic water

1 dropper bitters

ice cubes with flowers in them

Method

For the prettiest cocktail, take a large wine glass and dip the rim in lemon juice, then some lavender sugar. Fill with flowery ice cubes.

Add gin, cordial, lemon juice and bitters, then top with soda and stir with a straw.

Decorate with a little pink rose and a twirl of lemon zest.

Delicious cooked with roast potatoes or rubbed into the flesh of aubergines and zucchini (or even fresh pineapple) before putting on the barbecue.

You can dry the flowers yourself or get from health food stores, online or from specialty grocers.

Dried petal spice rub for vegetables

1 Tbsp flakey salt

1 Tbsp sweet paprika

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp whole cumin

1 Tbsp whole corriander seed

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground white pepper

½ tsp ground clove

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (leaves and/or flowers)

1 Tbsp dried lavender flowers

¼ cup dried rose petals

1 Tbsp dried calendula petals

handful of small dried rose buds

Method

Place all ingredients apart from the dried rose buds and a small amount of the dried flowers in a coffee grinder or food processor to combine.

Stir through the whole petals and rose buds, pop in a pretty jar and add to anything and everything.

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