Readers' recipe swap: edible flowers | Felicity Cloake (2024)

I love all things flowery, from delicate hibiscus co*cktails to the chocolate violet creams beloved of those without their own teeth, so this week was a real treat. I particularly loved the simplicity of Katharine Roberts' panna cotta: the perfect creamy foil for those floral flavours, the recipe could be easily adapted for rose petals, saffron or even orange flower water if you prefer. Farmers' markets are an excellent source of edible flowers, orthey can be purchased online from companies such as Greens of Devon.

The winning recipe: lavender-scented panna cotta

I loathe the sort of panna cotta you get in most restaurants; that over-sweetened, firm, almost rubbery white sphere. For me, it should be soft and very wobbly, with only just enough gelatine to hold it together. Lavender adds a delicate, flowery note that works well with the rich creaminess ofthe panna cotta.
Katharine Roberts, Denbigh,

Makes 3
4g gelatine leaves
250ml whole milk
250ml double cream
60g caster sugar
1 tsp edible dried lavender, plus extra toserve

1 Soak the gelatine in cold water.

2 Heat the milk, cream, sugar and lavender gently in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When it's just about to boil, remove from the heat and leave for a few minutes for the lavender to infuse.

3 Squeeze out the gelatine, stir it into the milk then strain the mixture in asieve to remove the lavender.

4 Pour into small moulds and leave toset in the fridge overnight.

5 Run a knife around the panna cotta before inverting on to a plate with a sprig of dried lavender on the top.

Rose petal jam

Rosewater plays such a large part in eastern European and Middle Eastern cooking. This jam is a delicious topping for panna cotta, or glaze for a cake or roast chicken. It will be more like very thick syrup and won't set in the way that traditional jams do.
Rachel Kelly, London,

250g fresh rose petals (dark pink or red)
450g sugar (preferably preserving sugar but granulated will do)
1 litre water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp rosewater (optional)

1 Give the roses a good shake to rid them of insects. Snip away and discard the white triangle at the base of each petal, then roughly shred.

2 Place the petals in a large bowl, sprinkle with a little sugar until covered and leave for 12 hours or overnight. This helps to intensify thecolour and flavour of the jam.

3 Dissolve the remaining sugar in the water with the lemon juice and rosewater, if using. Add the petals and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes; if very runny, bring back to the boil and cook for 5 minutes to reduce.

4 Set aside to cool before pouring into sterilised jars.
It's a crying shame these blossoms aren't more available, so I urge you togrow your own.Courgettes are easy-peasy to look after and you can raise them in a container.
Jess Baum, Bristol,

Stuffed courgette flowers

Serves 4 as a starter
For the flowers
6-7 courgette flowers
150g ricotta
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
Zest of ½ a lemon

For the batter
3 heaped tbsp spelt flour
½ tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
100ml ice-cold sparkling mineral water
1 litre groundnut or sunflower oil, for deep-frying

1 To prepare the flowers, very carefully remove the pistil or stamen if still intact. Remove the little green spiny leaves on the outside of the flower, andcheck for insects and dirt.

2 For the filling, mix the ricotta, mintand lemon. Season to taste.

3 Gently pull back the petals and put 2-3 tsp of filling inside. Close by twisting the top of the petals together.

4 Combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Slowly add the water, whisking out any lumps.

5 Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan to about 180C/350F or until a bit of batter turnsgolden within a minute or so.

6 Holding each flower by the twisted part of the petals, coat in the batter andcarefully place in the hot oil. Cook in two batches, turning each flower in the oil to ensure an even colour.

7 When golden, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.Serve immediately.

Saffron polenta shortbread

Although saffron might make many think of savoury recipes, it's a common ingredient in sweets such as Indian kulfi, Swedish St Lucia buns or even Cornish saffron cake. Here its rich and musky flavour is enhanced by butter, plus polenta for colour and crunch. Perfect with a cup of herbal tea or a buttermilk sorbet and summer fruit.
Sophia Real, Rome,

Makes about 24
140g plain flour
50g polenta, plus extra to roll
50g sugar
A large pinch of saffron, ground
A pinch of salt

100g cold butter, diced
1 egg

1 Whisk together the flour, polenta, sugar, saffron and a pinch of salt.

2 Rub the butter into the flour, and once it starts to look like sand, add the egg and work together into a smooth dough. Form into a log about 15cm long, 5-6cm wide, wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour.

3 Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Scatter a little polenta on a board and roll the dough in it. Cut into biscuits about ½cm thick and put on alined baking tray. If cooking in 2 batches, chill one while the othercooks.

4 Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden and just starting to brown at the edges. Cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Rose, aniseed and chai tiramisu

Readers' recipe swap: edible flowers | Felicity Cloake (1)

Pakistanis adore western food, especially desserts, so I grew up experimenting with them. But once I left Pakistan, I realised I craved Pakistani desserts more, which has led me to reinvent many. The sweet, spicy aromas and flavours in the tiramisu marry well to create a sublime and unusual dessert that's hard to resist!

Sumayya Jamil, via

Serves 6
3 large egg yolks
25g caster sugar
250g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp ground aniseed
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose essence or 1 tbsp rosewater
A few drops of pink food colouring
1 large egg white
175g lady finger biscuits
200ml brewed chai tea (use a teabag)
1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
Edible rose petals (optional), to garnish

1 Whisk together the yolks and sugar until very pale and thick.

2 Whisk in the mascarpone, spices and rose flavouring until thoroughly combined, then stir in the colouring toturn it light pink.

3 Beat the egg white in a separate bowl until stiff, then gently fold it into the mascarpone mixture.

4 Line a small serving bowl with about half the biscuits, and pour half the tea on top. Top with half the mascarpone mixture and then repeat: you may not need all the biscuits, depending on the size of your bowl.

5 Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and edible rose petals (if using) and any remaining aniseed and cardamom powder. Cover and chill for at least 8hours. Serve cold.

The Hugo co*cktail

The perfect aperitif on a hot summer evening, and a great alternative to a kir. I had this in Germany where it's reallypopular.
Natalie Wong, London,

Makes 1
150ml ice-cold prosecco
20ml elderflower cordial
100ml soda water
1 sprig of mint
Lime juice, plus slices of lime to finish
Ice cubes, to taste

1 Pour half a glass of prosecco (about 150ml) and top with a glug of elderflower cordial (about 20ml).

2 Add a big dash of soda water (about 100ml – but add more or less to taste) and a sprig of mint. Squeeze in a little lime juice, add a couple of ice cubes and pop in a slice of lime for decoration. Serve with a straw.

Readers' recipe swap: edible flowers | Felicity Cloake (2024)
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