By Elisa Ludwig
The arrival of spring this year has been more of an ongoing process than a definitive shift in seasons, but now that it’s finally here to stay—we think!—it’s time to celebrate all things green and growing. We know no better way to do that than through cooking with flowers.
First and foremost, petals add a burst of color that brightens any plate. Edible fresh flowers like nasturtium are lovely strewn in a green salad or as a garnish for a fish dish. Calendula aka marigolds add a yellow tint and almost saffron-like flavor to rice or salads. Oniony chive blossoms can punch up potato dishes or a simple butter sauce for pasta.
Candy fresh rose, pansy or violet petals to drop sophisticated flair on a dessert plate, be it pound cake, ice cream or a custard. Infuse honey, vinegar or sugar with flower petals for an extra hint of floral nuance.
Dried rose petals, lavender and chamomile can be wonderfully aromatic additions to baked goods and desserts. Think honey lavender shortbread, chamomile crème brûlée, or rose-scented ice cream. As the legend goes, Steve’s lavender ice cream played a key role in wooing Christina during their early dating days. Or try them out in simple syrups to gussy up a cocktail. A simple gin and tonic can be infinitely improved by a hint of rose. Chamomile-infused white wine, with or without a splash of spritzer, is next-level summer refreshment. We also like to steep lavender or hibiscus buds in iced tea.
Experiment with your favorite fruit and flower combinations but do keep the floral flavor in check—it should always be a hint of a blossom rather than a full-blown centerpiece.
Steve’s Lavender Ice Cream
8 egg yolks
1½ cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of table salt
1 cup loosely packed fresh lavender leaves removed from stems
1 pint heavy cream
1 pint half and half
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk mixture until lightly colored and creamy, about 1 minute.
2. In a small pot, combine lavender and cream and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 1 hour. Pass through a fine strainer, pressing on leaves to extract liquid. Discard solids and reserve infused cream.
3. Add half and half to cream in a small pot and heat over moderate heat until it nearly reaches a bowl. Remove from heat immediately. In a slow, steady stream, pour cream into yolk-sugar mixture, whisking to combine.
4. Return mixture to pot over low heat. Stir constantly until lightly thickened. Do not allow mixture to boil. If using a thermometer, bring the mixture to 170°. Otherwise, heat until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. To check, put spoon in mixture, remove and run your finger down the back. It should leave a distinct, clean line for a moment. When mixture reaches this point, immediately pour it into a bowl to stop cooking.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once it’s ready, turn into a large bowl and place in freezer for at least 4 hours for a final freezing. To serve, remove from freezer and allow to soften slightly before scooping.
Read other Spring 2017 Newsletter articles