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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

flower power
cooking with edible flowers

(return to food)

The healing powers of herbs were well known during the early Roman times and herbs were used in cooking as well as medicine. We are still discovering today that certain herbs and flowers can play a very useful role in supporting physical health.

The Victorians expressed themselves through flowers. Christina Rosetti wrote a book of nursery rhymes called Sing-Song and, in this book, flowers were used as naturalistic detail and as conventional symbols. It set the stage for meanings in flowers and made a lasting impression so that we all know that a red rose means love; the lily means purity, bluebells mean constancy etc..

The meanings of flowers often differ from country to country. Consider the predicament of this writer when, as a young marketing assistant for a large international firm in northern Italy, I was told by American management that I must market an extensive line of Chrysanthemum-scented bath products in Italy. I looked at them in astonishment. Why? because, in Italy the Chrysanthemum is linked in our minds with death. Italians take Chrysanthemums to the graves of their loved ones and are never used for any other purpose in Italy.

During my research for this article, however, I discovered that Chrysanthemums are said to be a powerful remedy for fatigue or lack of energy. Just holding these flowers can revive one's energies quickly. Concentrating on them can relieve even a prolonged condition of exhaustion.

A further example of this difference is the Dandelion. Often looked upon disparagingly as the scourge of the perfect, well-manicured American lawn, Dandelions were cultivated in European kitchen gardens for hundreds of years. The Dandelion was purposely brought from Europe to the New World by the settlers.

see also...

Edible Flowers : Desserts & Drinks

The Edible Flower Garden

The Edible Flower Garden : From Garden to Kitchen : Choosing, Growing and Cooking Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers : A Kitchen Companion With Recipes

more books...


Vino al Dente di Leone - Dandelion Wine
Dandelion blossoms have a sweet honey-like flavor when picked young. As the flowers mature, the flavor becomes bitter. The green sepals can also be somewhat bitter and should be removed for any recipe in which emphasis is placed on the sweet nature of the plant and for any brewed beverage.

4 quarts Dandelion flowers (remove stem & sepals)
4 quarts granulated sugar
4 quarts boiling water
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 1 orange
1 yeast cake

Add Dandelion flowers to a large stone crock or jar. Cover with sugar. Add boiling water. When water has cooled to lukewarm, add the lemon juice and orange juice. Break up the yeast cake and add to the liquid. Stir well. Cover loosely and let stand 24 hours. Strain through cheesecloth and discard solids. Return liquid to the crock, loosely cover and let stand for 3 days.

Strain through several layers of cheesecloth. return liquid to crock and allow to ferment. Bottle when all fermentation action stops. Keep at least 3 to 4 months before drinking.

Makes 1-1/2 gallons of wine


Tulipani con Formaggio Olandase e Pesto di Pomodoro - Tulips with Dutch Cheese and Tomato Pesto
Like Belgian endive leaves, red and white tulip petals make elegant, edible "holders" for appetizers.

12 dried tomato halves
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 1/2 ounces Gouda or Edam cheese
4 large pesticide-free red or other color tulips, rinsed and drained
2 large pesticide-free white tulips, rinsed and drained

Prepare tomato pesto: In 1-quart saucepan, heat tomato halves and enough water to cover to boiling. Remove from heat and let tomatoes stand until cool enough to handle - about 15 minutes.

In food processor fitted with chopping blade, process pine nuts and garlic until finely chopped. Drain tomatoes and squeeze dry; add to garlic mixture. Process until tomatoes are very finely chopped. Add basil, chives, Parmesan, oil, salt, and pepper; process until fairly smooth puree forms. (Tomato pesto can be made ahead; transfer to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days.)

Just before serving, remove wax, if present, from cheese and discard. Cut cheese into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut slices into triangles about 1 1/4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide at the base.

Pull petals off tulip stems; cut and discard 1/4 inch from bitter base of each petal where it was attached to stem. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon tomato pesto onto stem end of each petal; top with cheese and another 1/4 teaspoon tomato pesto. Garnish with additional chopped chives, if desired. Arrange some tulip petals on small serving plate; replenish as needed.

Makes: 36 appetizers

Dente di Leone Fritta - Fried Dandelions
15 Dandelion flowers, rinsed in water but still slightly moist
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp butter

Dredge moist flowers in flour. Heat butter in a heavy frying pan. Add flowers to frying pan and fry quickly, turning to brown all sides. Serve hot.

Dente di Leone con Farina di Mais - Cornmeal Dandelions
1 egg
1 tsp butter
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
15 to 20 Dandelion flowers

Beat eggs with water in a small bowl. Mix cornmeal and cheese in a small bowl. Heat oil in a heavy frying pan until it begins to sizzle. Dip each flower into the egg mixture, then place it in the cornmeal-cheese mixture and gently toss until all surfaces are covered. Gently drop the coated flower in the hot oil, turning frequently, until evently golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve immediately or later at room temp.

The slight bite of the cheese is a fine contrast to the sweetness of the flowers. A versatile recipe, serve the battered blossoms as a side dish, crunchy garnish, or hors d'oeuvres.


Zuppa di Margharite - Daisy Soup
100 g daisy flowers or petals, washed
1 leek
1 large potato, mashed
1/2 litre of vegetable broth
toasted croutons made from rustic bread
salt and pepper

Using a mezzaluna (half-moon knife) chop the daisies, leaving about 10 whole. Boil them for about 10 minutes in the broth. Chop the leek, saute' it in a little bit of oil, add it to the daisies and add the mashed potato to the broth. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, serve accompanied by the croutons.

Serves 4

Minestra di Rosa - Rose Hip Soup
1/2 lb Dried rose hips
3 pt Water
2 oz Potato flour
4 tb Madeira (or sherry)
12 Blanched almonds; shredded
1 ts Lemon juice
1 tb Sugar

Wash the hips, soak them some hours in water and then let simmer until quite soft, and then force through a strainer of sieve. Boil up again and add the other ingredients and serve with country bread or put a spoonful of whipped cream on top of each cup.


Fusilli ai Fiori di Zucchino - Fusilli with Zucchini Flowers
20 zucchini flowers washed and cut lengthwise into strips
1 small onion cut into slices
olive oil
red pepper flakes or powder
one small zucchino cut into cubes
1 lb of Fusilli

Saute' the onion slices, add the zucchini and cook gently for 5 minutes. Finally, add the zucchini flowers and salt. Cook the pasta, drain it and add the vegetables, some grated pecorino cheese and some olive oil and red pepper. Serve with additional pecorino cheese. Serves 4


Frittata di Dente di Leone - Dandelion Scrambled Eggs
1 tbsp sweet/unsalted butter
20 Dandelion buds
4 eggs
1 tbsp water
4 Dandelion flowers

Melt butter in a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add buds, cooking until they start to open into flowers. Whisk the eggs and water until the mixture is light and frothy. Slowly pour the eggs into the cooked buds, stirring gently as the eggs set. Cook to desired consistency. Serve garnished with Dandelion flowers.

Insalata Mista di Fiori - Mixed Flower Petal Salad
Use any green salad and mix in a package of assorted flower petals. Dress with 3 spoons of extra virgin olive oil to one of white wine vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Insalata di Dente di Leone con Uova sode e Pancetta - Dandelion Salad with Eggs and Bacon
Dandelion greens, both wild and cultivated, are quite bitter, but that is part of their appeal. For this salad, I prefer the wild greens, or cultivated ones from my garden, picked when young and tender, because I find much of the commercially available dandelion too mature and coarse to eat raw. If dandelion on its own seems too strong for your taste, make this salad using half fresh spinach and half dandelion.

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot or 1/4 onion, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups young, tender Dandelion leaves
2 dandelion roots, trimmed and minced
4 hard boiled eggs

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Bruise the garlic clove by hitting it with the back of a wooden spoon, then rub it on the inside of a salad bowl. Discard the garlic. Add the olive oil, vinegar, shallot, salt and pepper to the bowl; mix well with a fork. Add the dandelion leaves and minced roots, and three fourths of the bacon. Slice 1 of the eggs; coarsely chop the others. Add the chopped eggs to the salad and mix well. Divide the salad among the plates, then garnish with the remaining bacon and the sliced eggs.

Serves 4.

Fiori di Zucca Ripieni - Stuffed Squash Flowers
squash flowers
2 medium potatoes
2 zucchini
1 egg
2 tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano
1 tbsp. extra-vergine olive oil
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic (if desired)

Clean the flowers. Preheat the oven to 400� F. Boil, drain and peel the potatoes. Pass them through a sieve and put the pure' in a bowl. Scald the zucchini and pass them through a sieve or mash with a fork. Add them to the potatoes, along with the egg, grated Parmesan and oil. Season with marjoram, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and stuff the flowers. Fry the flowers in boiling oil, then drain them, put them in a baking dish and bake in a 400� F. oven for 10 minutes before serving. A chopped clove of garlic can be added to the filling.

Asparagi con Limone e Tulipani - Lemon Asparagus with Julienned Tulips
1 1/4 pounds thin fresh asparagus
2 large pesticide-free red or other color tulips, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cut or break off woody ends of asparagus and discard. With vegetable peeler, peel lower half of each asparagus spear. Pull petals off tulip stems; cut and discard 1/4 inch from bitter base of each petal where it was attached to stem. Slice tulip petals across into 1/4-inch-wide julienne strips; set aside. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and saut� 2 minutes. Add water; cover and cook until water evaporates and asparagus spears are crisp-tender about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon lemon rind, butter, salt, and pepper, and saut� 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in half of tulip petals. Transfer asparagus to serving plate; sprinkle with remaining tulip petals and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon rind. Serve immediately.

Serves: 4


Budino di Agar Agar con Rubarbaro e Rosa - Carrageen Pudding with Rhubarb and Rosehip Jelly
1 1/2 pt Milk
1 Strip lemon peel
1/2 oz Prepared dried carrageen *
1 tb Sugar
1 Egg
2 Sticks rhubarb **
4 tb Rosehip or redcurrant jelly

Bring the milk to a boil with the lemon rind. Stir in the carrageen and cook for a couple of minutes until the milk thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add sugar. Allow the mixture to cool until it is at blood temperature (100 F, 40 C). Whisk the egg till frothy and then whisk in the warm milk until smooth. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a cold-wetted ring-mold. Then put it in the refrigerator to set - it will only take about 1/2 hour. Run hot water over the outside of the mold and turn out the jelly. Fill the middle of the ring with a ladleful of rhubarb compote and surround with a little scarlet sauce of rosehip or redcurrant jelly melted in a little hot water. If the preceeding recipe sounds like too much work, here are other Dessert Ideas, Serve vanilla gelato with rose hips or tulip petals. Decorate cakes with flower petals around the dish and on the cake.

*Dried carrageen is available in health-food stores, or Chinese markets in processed form, as agar-agar.
**Rhubarb sticks should be sliced and lightly poached with additional sugar.


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