I think that I set a more difficult challenge for this month’s The Spice is Right event than I had before, because there were fewer entries. That’s okay; next month’s theme will be simpler; I will announce it later today.
Until then, let’s take a look at the beautiful dishes sent in from participants around the globe that combine spices with edible flowers to make a bevy of floral treats worthy of the garden party of an empress!
Benjamin of The Cognitive Pantry was the early bird with this luscious entry: “Lemon Layer Cake with Rasberry Curd Filling and Rosewater Whipped Cream.” You don’t even need to look at the lovely photograph to know that this dessert is the perfect way to celebrate. Celebrate what? Mother’s Day, a birthday, graduation, a bridal shower, an anniversary, the coming of raspberries into season–anything. In fact, I would make up holidays just as an excuse to serve this special cake! Isn’t it just beautiful? Thanks to you, Benjamin, I am going to have to dust off my layer cake pans and bake up something pretty next month when the raspberries become ripe.
Elderflowers are deliciously scented additions to the edible flower repretoire, and Gizella of Aubergine shows us how to use them to make delicious springtime fritters: “Coated Elder Blossoms with Cinnamon Dust.”. She also tells us a bit about the history of elder trees, and their medicinal and culinary uses, and some facts like the Italian liquor, Sambuca is made from elderberries combined with anise. She also warns us that the leaves and raw berries are poisonous, so we had best leave those alone!
Roses are my favorite edible flower, but Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict really hit on one of my best beloved spice combinations to use with rose: cardamom. (One can hardly be surprised at her choice considering the name of her blog!) She put her new ice cream maker to good use by making “Rose-Cardamom Ice Cream,” a treat that could also be called “Seduction in a Bowl.”
I love to learn about the history of foods, especially if they have some ritual or religious significance, and Mackey of The Edible Garden did an entry that taught a bit about a dish which is meant to break the ritual Muslim fast of Ramadan every evening during the monthlong observance. She presents to us “Fereni Starch Pudding,” a lovely sounding dish that is eaten before the main meal of the evening after the sunup to sundown Ramadan fast. Once again, she chooses rosewater and cardamom as her flower and spice combination, and once again, I applaud that flavor mixture–it is a heavenly one.
Kitarra, the queen of Cooking Debauchery gives us a taste of summer in her beautiful dessert called, “Summer Sunsets.” Are these little layered fruit gelees with basil cream not gorgeous? They look like gemstones! And she uses two of my favorite fruits–passion fruit and cherries! She flavored the cherries with rosewater, and then for the spice she made sweetened fresh basil cream, and then the passion fruit was enhanced with orange flower water. Wow. That sounds spectacular! Get on with your bad self, Kitarra!
Nupur has my number over at One Hot Stove. She -knows- what I like, and boy does she throw down and make a tasty version of it: Cardamom Rose Kulfi. Kulfi has been a passion of mine ever since I read about the kulfi walas who went about on foot carrying jars of ice water and salt across their shoulders on either side of a pole yoke, in which were secreted smaller jars filled with delectable home-made Indian ice creams. For, indeed, that is what kulfi is–Indian ice cream–and when I finally got to taste kulfi, I understood why Madhur Jaffrey had written so glowingly about it, and the men who made it and then took to the streets to sell it. Nupur flavors her version with gulkand, a rose petal preserve made in India by combining fragrant rose petals with sugar and letting it cook in the hot sun. Thank you for a great recipe, Nupur!
I’ve never eaten daisies before, but Ulrike of Kuchenlatein may change that state of affairs with the creme fraiche and mascarpone-based “Daisy Spread” recipe she presents for our delectation. The flower petals, all delicate white gently splashed with pink, look like fairy confetti as they are stirred into the dairy ingredients, and I can just imagine the fragrance wafting through the air. Lemon and orange zest add to the floral bouquet of the spread, and I cannot help but think it would be a wonderful addition to an early summer tea luncheon or brunch buffet. Ulrike is no stranger to flower cookery; she also gives a recipe for a rose petal champagne jelly on her blog that is a crimson-colored delight.
Meeta, the blogger of What’s For Lunch, Honey, wasn’t sure if her “1001 Kisses from my Couscous” would qualify for this Spice is Right, but I am of the opinion, that any dish with a name that involved that many kisses was fine with me! Once again, she uses rosewater, which appears to be the number one choice of our spice bloggers this time around, but instead of making a sweet, she brings us a savory dish. Her couscous includes garden’s worth of vegetables and herbs, plus the rosewater, and it sounds like a light supper fit for the Queen of May. I can also see this served at an afternoon bridal luncheon, on a sunny lawn dotted with rose-bedecked pavilions, with the twittering notes of a flute hovering in the azure sky. Thank you for the lovely interlude, Meeta!
Elizabeth of Blog from Our Kitchen is from Canada, but like me, she is deeply enamored of the foods of India, so it isn’t surprising that she would choose to present a “Saffron and Cardamom-Flavored Srinkund with Violas and Gingermint.” Interestingly, her very next post is one where she scolds her nasturtium plants from flowering too late to participate in the event! (They are still pretty and will taste delicious, Elizabeth, even if they won’t be featured here.) Srikund, for those who are not familiar with it, is a yogurt-based dessert similar to a very soft cheesecake, unrivaled for its smooth texture. I cannot help but think that this version with saffron, cardamom and violas has to be among the most lovely renditions of it ever.
Ramya doesn’t have a picture of her “Cooling Rose Drink” at Cascading Flavors, but the ingredient list is so delicious sounding, I think that is good enough! A full herbalists’s cabinet of botanical loveliness, her drink includes rose distillate, water melon, mint, wild carrot, vetiver grass and water lily–doesn’t this sound like a thirst-quencher than a devi of the forest would conjure? I think it sounds lovely, but just in case we were not satisfied with that, Ramya also sent in a link to her “Banana Blossom Chutney,” a mixture of banana flowers, dal, chiles, coconut, tamarind and spices. It sounds like a lovely addition to any Indian meal, Ramya!
I am very glad to see Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once present a recipe for us from Morocco. Why? Because the cooks of the Middle East and North Africa are great lovers of the perfumed garden and will use edible flowers and flower essences with great abandon in their kitchens. Haalo presents to us graceful little phyllo pastry packets filled with almond paste and dipped into a syrup flavored with Orange-Flower-Water called, “Honey-Dipped Briouats with Almond Paste.” Just reading her description brings the scent of honey, almonds and orange flowers to life in my mind, and I can imagine sitting in a courtyard cafe in Casablanca sipping Arabic coffee and nibbling these delicacies….
Nicky from Delicious Days in Munich joins us for the first time to give us another look at elderberry blossoms. She presents a different take on the blossom fritters, which she calls, “Hollerküchln,” and which include beer to flavor the batter! That sounds really tasty, but she doesn’t stop there–oh, no–she adds a recipe for “Elderflower Cordial,” which looks and sounds like something that the Erlkoenig (The Elf King) would drink in his great hall under the mountain. Thank you for the lovely entries, Nicky, and I hope to see you next time around, too!
I adore baby potatoes in just about any form, including raw. But they are best cooked in some way that accentuates their waxy texture and sweet flavor, and Debi of Dejamo’s Distracted has come up with a lovely recipe that would enhance all of the best qualities of these little gems of the earth. “Baby Red Potatoes With Saffron Mayonnaise” brings out all of the goodness of baby potatoes, and frames them with delicious home-made mayonnaise flavored with saffron (the stamens of Crocus saativus). See how beautiful those little red-jacketed rounds look enrobed in rich golden sauce? I wish you weren’t so far away, Debi, or I’d be sneaking over to your kitchen for a bite!
Gabriella, the blogger who writes, My Life As A Reluctant Housewife, doesn’t present one recipe utilizing lavender. No, she loves lavender so much, she presented five–count them–five recipes using the flowers of this beautiful herb in creative and delicious-sounding ways. My favorites are the pictured “Steak with Thyme Lavender Butter” and the “Chicken with Lavender and Lemon,” but all of them sound really good. I know that Zak would be all about the Lavender Coconut Flan, as flan is one of his favorite foods ever, but I can also see him chowing down on “Foccacia with Lavender and Garlic” or “Cod with Lavender and Miso.” I think that Gabriella should be crowned with a wreath and lavender and named Queen of the Perfumed Garden for all of her work developing these wonderful recipes.
Lindy of Toast brings us a unique dish from American history: “Radish Cream Soup With Lavender.” She found the recipe in Cooking in the Shaker Spirit, by James Haller, and just -had- to try it. The Shakers were a sect of visionary Protestants who lived communally, with men and women separate (in the same communities, working together, but in separate dormitories) whose worship included singing, ecstatic dance and the seeing of visions who thrived during the 19th century. The Shakers were known for their furniture making, gardening, as seedsmen, and for thier cookery, which was always frugal, but utilized many more herbs than was considered normal at the time period. They were innovators in many ways. Thus–look at the lovely pink, creamy radish soup with lavender: isn’t it just gorgeous? I think I will have to try to make some soon.
Oh, more cherries! Sour ones at that–my favorite fruit in all the world! Danielle of Habeas Brulee presents a lovely way to use a surfeit (can there ever be such a thing) of sour cherries: “Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam.” Is that not just the prettiest thing to see? Ruby-red jam glistening with delicate fuschia trumpet-shaped sage blossoms. It is too lovely to use on mere toasted bread. It calls for crumpets, for scones, for airy, cloud-like biscuits, with Earl Grey tea, I think. Yes, the bergamot fragrance of the tea would add to the flavor of the jam which combines the tartness of the cherries with the dark, medicinal tang of sage. I bet the entire house smelled like heaven while that jam was cooking down! Thank you, Danielle!
I don’t know how I missed this entry for Raspberry Sour’s absolutely amazing and sexy “Chocolate Rose Cakes” at The Sour Patch, but I am sorry I did. Because I am all shivery just looking at the picture and reading her description. You have to, HAVE to try this recipe for rose-water scented, coffee flavored molten chocolate cakes. You hear that? Roses, coffee and chocolate. Three of my favorite things in the world. I swear, if she had just thrown in some cardamom, I might have fainted dead away just from reading the description! (Oh, and there is Amaretto whipped cream, too. I forgot. How could I forget? Oh, Gods, I am doomed. I have to have an excuse to make this recipe sometime, somewhere, somehow. Maybe my Dad’s birthday at the end of the month? Maybe for a dinner party? Oh, dear, when, when, when?)
From Vaishali of Happy Burp (I love the name of the blog!), we have one more late entry, which is just the creamiest, dreamiest summer sip you can imagine: “Low-fat Sweet Lassi With a Hint of Rose.” Yeah, you heard right–it is cooling, it is nutritious (it being mostly yogurt), it tastes like rose, and it is low fat. It sounds like the cure for those heat-filled dog days of summer that are coming along in the next few months. I think that the only thing that would make it more perfect would be a pinch of cardamom, just because. But then, it might be -too- good.
Finally, we have my own entry, “Lavender-Cardamom Pancakes with Rose-Infused Strawberries,” a sweet and delicate breakfast fit for a Faerie Queen, but equally loved by mere mortals such as myself and my family. I experimented with some white whole wheat flour and was pleased with the results, and as always, I loved the the floral boost rosewater gave to the already heady perfume of the strawberries.
There we have it, folks–The Perfumed Garden. It is filled with the aromas of spices and flowers from around the world, mixed with seasonal fruits, vegetables and roasted or grilled meats. It is something even more beautiful than I could imagine, and I want to thank each and every blogger who helped make this event a success.
If any late entries come in for this event (I am made to understand that there may be one or two), instead of making a separate post for those, I will edit them into this post, so keep an eye out and check back once or twice, because more recipes may be in the offing.
Stay tuned for the announcement of next month’s theme, coming right up in mere moments!
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