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Edible flowers

24 Jan

The weekend was very, very hot.  31 degrees to be exact.  Nothing as bad as Singapore but it’s pretty high for around these parts lately.  This was also evident at the markets.  The fresh vegetables and fruits were deteriorating fast and selling very cheaply.  $1/kg tomatoes, $1/kg bananas, $1/kg pears….  It was a field day for us!  The best buy I got was 3 boxes of edible flowers for $1!  Not that I knew what to do with them but at $0.30 a box, I wouldn’t have wasted too much money if it turned out to be a terrible buy.  If I don’t try them now, I’d probably never try them.  So I ended up with 1 box of begonias, 1 box of marigolds and 1 box of zucchini flowers.

Once I got home, I realised why they were being sold so cheaply.  Any longer in the heat, the flowers would have deteriorated so badly, it wouldn’t be worth a cent.  Trusty ole google came to the rescue to help me decide what to prepare with the flowers.  What I found were:

  1. Zucchini flower patties
  2. Begonia salads
  3. Marigold buns

The begonia salads seemed like the most straightforward dish and fit right in with our dinner menu.  So I set off to work on that.  Not having the ingredients of any recipe I trawled up from the web, I concocted my own salad.  Bubs was terribly excited to see flowers on the plate and I had to do a hurried picture (which explains the blurriness) before he spilled the whole dish.

Verdict?  Begonias have a citrusy, sourish taste and definitely beautify a dish quickly.  It’s a bit of an acquired taste and I found it best balanced against the sweetness of the carrots and the freshness of cucumber.  It went quite well with a sweet vinagrette that I had in the fridge.  I may buy it again if it were going for a song but it’s not going to be a permanent feature on my repetoire.

The next day, I had planned to cook the zucchini flowers.  I then understood why it was recommended that one cooks and eats the flowers on the day itself.  I did toy with idea of stuffed flowers but fortunately didn’t decide to do that as a good portion of the flower petals had disintegrated despite careful storage.  So the patties were great as they required chopped up flowers.  But it also meant that I had so few patties that everyone could only have 1 patty each.

Verdict?  There is a light fragrance to the zucchini flower and a mild taste to it.  The bubs definitely loved it (and pounced on it, persuading all the adults that he HAD to have it all) and that is a definite bonus.  Unfortunately, there are no photos as bubs refused to surrender a single piece for photos.

I still have the marigolds in the fridge.  Am trying very hard to look for another recipe for them instead of the buns.  The recipe doesn’t sound all that yummy and I’m not keen to waste ingredients just to use the flowers up.  Anyone with any ideas or suggestions?  There’s always the back up of marigold tea but that seems hardly exciting!

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Cooking for the smells

12 Dec

I’m from the Northern Hemisphere.  Not that we actually had winter but Christmas in temperate countries have always been associated with flurries of snow, a warm fire place with a nice fire burning and a mug of hot chocolate.  But it’s the opposite in Australia.  Or at least it is supposed to be.  Right now, temperatures have been sub 20s with rain and winds.

Anyhow, I suddenly felt that I needed to have something smelling all warm and comforting for the Yuletide season.  The hubs is extremely sensitive to cheap potpourri with their manufactured “scents” and he’d balk at expensive ones especially since bubs is likely to destroy it all.  So I resorted to cooking up my own potpourri.

It definitely doesn’t have the overpowering smell of commercial potpourri but it is scenting the window side subtly and looks pretty standing there!  I like this combination but it is terribly personal.  Find some combination you like and try it out at home!

Potpourri

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 lime, sliced thinly

1 lemon, sliced thinly

Caster sugar

1 tbs of whole cloves

1/2 tsp of ground cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

2 star anise

1/2 tsp of ground star anise

1 – 2 drops of Lemon essential oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Coat the finely sliced lime and lemons with caster sugar and place in 1 layer on the baking tin.
  4. Bake the lemons and lime for 2.5h until the skin is dry and flesh translucent.
  5. Stir all the ground spices together.
  6. Stir in all the ingredients together except the essential oil.
  7. Add the essential oil one drop at a time to the mixture, mixing thoroughly each time.

Tips

  1. I didn’t have oranges but they would make a lovely display!  Especially blood oranges!
  2. Use fresh citrus fruits that are firm to make slicing easier especially if you don’t have a mandolin.
  3. The essential oils and spice powders make the smell stronger but the powders tend to “shed”.  The glass container you use may start to show this.  Don’t use a basket!
  4. Keep the potpourri away from moisture.  Otherwise the citrus fruits start to stick onto everything and deteriorate!