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by Ann Carli
Did you ever see an arugula blossom, Pale yellowcream, with crimson webveins Linking its four petalwings to tiny sixpronged crown? You would have liked its sweetspice fragrance, Admired its wandstalk, pungent like its leaves. But you left before it flowered And I wonder if you ever saw arugula in bloom.
Kitchen Companion: Arugula
ARUGULA ARUGULA BISQUE
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria): Roquette or rocket by its other names is one of the easiest greens to grow. This member of the mustard family has long been harvested in the wild in Mediterranean countries, and is today commonly included in lettuce mix. The peppery tasting leaves are delicious on their own or added to mesclun, a blend of specialty lettuces and herbs. A warm spell will often trigger arugula to explode into a profusion of tiny soft white and pastel blossoms. Pick the flowers leaving the leaves intact, and you may well get a second harvest a few weeks down the line. Arugula does double duty in this velvety soup.
3 cups chicken broth, divided use
In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups broth and the potato to a boil, and cook until tender. Add the arugula and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the scallions until translucent. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
In a blender, purée the scallions and the potato, arugula, and cooking liquid in batches until smooth. Return the purée to the saucepan and stir in the remaining cup of broth. Simmer until heated through (do not bring to a boil), and stir in the cream. Season with mace, salt, and pepper. Serve hot, sprinkling each bowl liberally with arugula blossoms.
Kitchen Companion: Basil
TOMATO RAINBOW WITH BASIL BLOSSOMS
Among the 150 varieties of basil (Ocimum basilicum), which is a member of the mint family, you will find names like cinnamon, lemon, or licorice -- each one with a slightly different aroma. Basil, which the Ancient Greeks considered the king of herbs, ranks among the most popular of culinary flavorings. From green varieties to those with dramatically ruffled purple leaves, basil flavors dishes the world over. In India, certain varieties are considered sacred and dedicated to the gods Vishnu and Krishna. In Italy, the art of making basil pesto is as highly regarded as that of cooking perfect pasta. The French call basil herbe royale and use a sweet variety to enhance the flavor of soups, stews, and salads. This dish is especially striking when made with slices of colorful heirloom tomatoes.
2 large red tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
On a pretty serving platter, alternate the red and yellow tomatoes with mozzarella. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil leaves and blossoms. Serve at room temperature.
Kitchen Companion: Begonia
QUINOA, BEGONIA & CRAB VERRINE
While begonias (Begonia tuberosa) liven up gardens and patios in a kaleidoscope of colors, their beautiful blossoms can also brighten up any finished plate. Their petals have a delicate crunchy texture and citrus-like flavor and are a wonderful addition to this dish featuring quinoa, the ancient grain native to the highlands of Bolivia and Peru. Quinoa, which retains a pleasing crunch even after it is cooked, is considered a "superfood" -- packed with nutrition in the form of protein, iron, and fiber, and naturally gluten-free. A verrine (from the French word verre, meaning glass) is a dish presented in a jar or glass.
1½ cups chicken broth
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil, stir in the quinoa, and cover. Reduce heat and cook just until the quinoa still has a bit of a bite and all the liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Let cool 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the teriyaki mayonnaise. In a blender, combine the green onions, mayonnaise, yogurt, and teriyaki sauce, and process until smooth. Reserve 4 tablespoons for garnish.
Gently combine the teriyaki mayonnaise, cooked quinoa, carrot, crabmeat, corn, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and petals. Divide the mixture among 4 glasses and top each with a tablespoon of the reserved teriyaki mayonnaise and a fresh begonia blossom.
Kitchen Companion: Borage
BAKED SALMON WITH BORAGE RAITA
The blue, star-shaped flowers of borage (Borago officinalis), also known as starflower, have a cool, cucumber-like flavor that enlivens a salad or a sauce. Legend has it that Celtic warriors drank a glass or two of borage wine before battle to increase their courage. Indeed, researchers have found that borage stimulates the production of adrenaline. Nowadays, some herbalists prescribe infusions of borage flowers as a diuretic, or to relieve fever and bronchitis, among other ailments. In the Middle East, borage is distilled into a fragrant water. The exuberant plant grows into graceful bushes that often bear sky-blue blossoms alongside bright pink ones, all on the same stem. Borage blossoms' color and flavor complement raita, a yogurt-based condiment common in Indian cuisines.
4 (4-ounce) salmon steaks, skin on
Combine the salmon steaks, lime juice, sesame oil, paprika, ginger, parsley, and garlic in a resealable plastic bag. Marinate, refrigerated for 8 to 24 hours.
Make the raita by combining sour cream, yogurt, cucumber, most of the dill (reserve some for garnish), green onions, and curry powder. Taste and season with salt, if needed. The raita can be made up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated in a covered container. Gently stir in 12 borage flowers just before serving.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a baking dish, place the salmon steaks, skin side down, and cover with marinade. Bake until opaque and flaky, 8 to 9 minutes.
Plate each salmon steak, and top with raita and remaining minced dill and borage blossoms.
Kitchen Companion: Calendula
TURKEY CALENDULA ROLL-UPS
Calendulas (Calendula officinalis), also called pot marigolds, are cheery flowers that have had both culinary and medicinal uses for centuries. Throughout the ages, tinctures, oils, and salves made from calendula blossoms have been used to treat headaches and toothaches, and even to stop bleeding. In the 16th century, those who drank a potion made from marigolds were reputed to be able to see fairies! In mild climates, the calendula's bright flowers paint gardens in infinite shades of orange and yellow almost year-round, and their dainty petals add a golden hue and tang to soups, grains, or scrambled eggs. German cooks commonly used calendulas in their soups and stews, which explains the nickname pot marigold.
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, horseradish, pickle relish, and pickle juice. Stir in the apple and calendula petals. Lay a tortilla flat and spread the mixture evenly over the surface, leaving the edges free of filling. Cover with a layer of turkey and micro greens. Roll up the tortilla jelly-roll style. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill. Repeat. Roll-ups will keep up to 3 days refrigerated. To serve, cut diagonally into 1½-inch slices and garnish with more petals.
Kitchen Companion: Chives
HERB CHEESE & CHIVE BLOSSOM TART
SERVES 4 TO 6
We have the Chinese to thank for introducing chives (Allium schoenoprasum) to the Western world. This diminutive relative of the onion has been used in cooking for more than 5,000 years. Early American colonists assigned magical powers to chives, hanging them in bunches at their front doors to ward off evil spirits. Chives are among the most common of herbs and are one of the fines herbes of French cuisine, which also include tarragon, chervil, and parsley. They are perennials, and when you grow your own, you have the advantage of being able to use the aromatic blossoms as well as the slender stems in your dishes. Instead of chopping fresh chives, snip them with a pair of kitchen scissors. To speed up this recipe, substitute a frozen pie crust, if desired.
FOR 2 (9-INCH) PIE CRUSTS:
FOR THE FILLING:
CRUST: Coat a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray or butter and set aside. In a large bowl combine the butter and cream cheese with a fork until well blended. Gradually add the flour and salt, mixing until a firm dough forms. With your hands, shape it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Separate the chilled dough into 2 equal parts. (You will only need 1 part for this recipe, so refrigerate the remaining dough for another use, or double the filling and make 2 tarts.) Roll the dough into a circle on a floured surface and pat it carefully into the prepared pan.
FILLING: Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, combine the herb cream cheese, plain cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs until smooth. Gently stir in the chive petals. Pour the mixture into a pie shell and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffy and light brown. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Decorate with additional fresh chive blossoms. Serve hot or warm.
Kitchen Companion: Cilantro
TOFU LETTUCE TACOS WITH CILANTRO & MINT
Coriander/cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is a pungent annual herb with delicate green leaves, lacy white flowers, and an intense flavor. In North America, the leaves of the plant are referred to as cilantro, and the seeds, coriander. In other parts of the world, the leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, and Chinese parsley. Leaves and flowers are generally used raw, as their flavor fades quickly when cooked. This is one of my favorite light dinners!
Note: Saifun bean threads can be found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores or online, and baked tofu can be found in the refrigerated sections of most grocery and natural food stores.
1 tray Saifun bean threads or cellophane noodles
Soak the bean threads or noodles in hot water until soft, and drain. Using scissors, cut the threads into ½-inch pieces. Place the threads in a bowl and sprinkle with sesame oil. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the minced mushrooms with diced asparagus, if using, teriyaki sauce, and ginger root. Set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the garlic, tofu, and mushroom mixture until hot, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bean threads, oyster sauce, and nuts. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the onions. Remove from heat.
To serve, plate the lettuce leaves and fill with the tofu and bean thread mixture, or serve family-style. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves, blossoms, and minced mint. Serve with sauces on the side.
Kitchen Companion: Daylily
CHILLED LILYED MELON & MANGO SOUP
Daylily (Hemerocallis species and cultivars) live a mere 24 hours. This graceful native of Asia, one of the few edible lily varieties, has long been prized for its color and beauty, as well as for its culinary properties. The petals are crunchy and fresh testing, much like a crisp lettuce leaf. In China, tiger lily buds (Hemerocallis fulva), or "golden needles," are dried and added to soups or stir-fries. Beautifully presented, this chilled melon-mango dish makes a light and refreshing summer starter or dessert.
1 mango, cubed
In a blender, purée the mango, melon, and orange juice in batches until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. Rinse the blender and purée the strawberries, sugar, and orange liqueur. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. Chill the purées for 2 hours before serving. To serve, ladle the melon mixture on one side of a shallow soup bowl. Ladle the puréed strawberries next to it without mixing. Cut 1 daylily into thin strips and sprinkle on top. Decorate each bowl with a whole flower and serve immediately.
Kitchen Companion: Dianthus
Dianthus come in myriad colors. The genus includes about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia. Common names include carnation (D. caryophyllus), pink (D. plumarius and related species) and sweet william (D. barbatus). This diminutive beauty adds a light nutmeg-like scent as well as a colorful touch to many dishes, including green salads, Jell-O molds, and one of my favorite easy recipes, compound butters. You can make this with all sorts of flowers, including violas, calendulas, roses, society garlic, and of course your favorite herbs (and their blossoms). Make several logs and preserve them in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Try these flavored butters as lovely toppings for a grilled steak or piece of barbecued fish, or why not try one in place of the raita on the baked salmon on page 18?
½ cup dianthus blossoms, separated into petals
In a small bowl, gently mix the petals and butter with a fork. On a sheet of plastic wrap, roll the butter into a small log shape. Pat the ends and sides of the roll until it is smooth. Press the flower petals around the outside of the butter log before wrapping it up tightly in the plastic wrap. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Kitchen Companion: Dill
SMOKED SALMON CANAPÉS WITH MUSTARD-DILL SAUCE
The word "dill" (Anethum graveolens), according to Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, is derived from the Norse dilla, "to lull," alluding to the plant's sleep-inducing qualities. The Ancient Greeks used dill as a cure for hiccups! Eastern and Northern Europeans use this versatile herb's feathery fronds in a number of specialties from marinated herring to goulash. Like shooting stars on a stem, the fragrant dill's tiny yellow blooms provide a lovely garnish. They are also an excellent seasoning for soups or dips. Dill seeds are used for pickling or baking. This appetizer is my adaptation of the traditional Swedish gravlax.
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, sugar, vinegar, water, and oil until smooth. Stir in the dill. Set aside. Cut the bread into desired shapes and sizes and arrange on a serving platter. Top with salmon slices and mustard-dill sauce. Garnish with sprigs of dill and dill blossoms.
Excerpted from "Edible Flowers"
Copyright © 2015 Chefs Press, Inc..
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Table of Contents
Arugula Arugula Bisque,
Tomato Rainbow with Basil Blossoms,
Quinoa, Begonia & Crab Verrine,
Baked Salmon with Borage Raita,
Turkey Calendula Roll-Ups,
Herb Cheese & Chive Blossom Tart,
Tofu Lettuce Tacos with Cilantro & Mint,
Chilled Lilyed Melon & Mango Soup,
Smoked Salmon Canapés with Mustard-Dill Sauce,
Melon Marbles with Raspberry Coulis & Feijoa Blossoms,
Grapefruit, Avocado & Fennel Salad with Greek Olives,
Lamb Tagine with Fava Beans & Fennel Four Ways,
Geranium Yule Log,
Agua de Jamaica,
Cherry Clafoutis with Lavender Blossoms,
Lemon Verbena Tea,
MIXED BLOSSOMS & PETALS,
Puff Pastry Croustade with Pears, Candied Walnuts & Gorgonzola,
Stephenie's Bloomin' Ice Cubes,
Mulhalbia: Orange Blossom Custard with Grilled Mangos,
Naranjada: Orange Blossom Orangeade,
Orange Blossom Preserves,
Passion Fruit Mousse,
Rose Petal Sorbet,
Saffroned Risotto with Peas,
Mouclade: Mussels in Champagne-Saffron Sauce,
Polenta Stacks with Sage-Garlic Butter,
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Garlic Flowers,
Salmorejo: Cold Tomato Soup with Garlic Two Ways,
Chocolate Moussed Tulips,
YUCCA & ZUCCHINI,
Quesadilla with Pico de Gallo,
Zucchini Blossom Frittata,
More Kitchen Companions,