Once again, the folks at Quirk Books have introduced me to something new and interesting. This time around, I was given an opportunity to review Cooking with Flowers: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender, and Other Edible Flowers, by Miche Bacher of Mali B Sweets, photography by Miana Jun.
I have been holding back on reviewing this particular cookbook for a while now because I really wanted to be able to try one of the recipes. Sadly, I haven't come across the flowers to do that yet. I certainly don't want to pick them myself (Miche does provide info for how/where to do that) and find I'm using an ingredient that has been doused with pesticides, etc., so that will have to wait until I can hit up a farmer's market.
I must say, this is one of the "happiest" cookbooks I've seen. It's like when you receive an e-mail from someone or come across a Pinterest pin full of babies or puppies - you just can't help but smile. Heck, even the book itself is pretty! If you peel back the jacket, the cover (front and back) is loaded with flowers.
Most of us are familiar with the basic uses of flowers in cooking - chamomile tea, stuffed squash blossoms, dandelion wine (if only from song lyrics), and candied violets on baked goods. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures are also big on rose water in cooking. Personally, rose water makes me think of old ladies (perfume), which I really don't want to associate with something I'm eating, so I tend to steer clear. Cooking with Flowers goes well beyond that. Here's a sampling of the great recipes you'll find inside this beauty:
- Calendula Ravioli
- Floweretti Cake
- Dandelion Ham and Egg Cups
- Daylily Curry
- Pickled Pink Petals
- Dianthus Spiced Chocolate Cookies
- Elderflower Marshmallows
- Rose-Scented Geranium Filled Filo Cups
- Popcorn Chive Blossom Cupcakes
- Caramelized Peaches with Lavender Cream
- Hibiscus Fried Rice
- Hollyhock Scones
- White Pepper Thumbprint Cookies with Lilac Jam
Aside from providing great recipes and beautiful photographs, Cooking with Flowers is chock-full of interesting and useful information, from the best picking times to cleaning and storage tips and sources (including one of my personal faves - Marx Foods).
Where most cookbooks are broken down by course (soups and starters, entrees, desserts, etc.), Cooking with Flowers is broken down by flower. In so doing, Miche was free to open each section with information pertaining to that particular flower: Botanical Name, Nicknames, Language of Flowers, Background, Culinary Use, Seasonality, Preparation, and Measure.
How lovely this Spring Tulip and Pea Shoot Salad would be for a brunch.
Who wouldn't smile walking into your kitchen and seeing something like this?!?
The one thing that bothered me, like with a few other cookbooks I have reviewed, is the noting of ingreient preferences in the opening of the book, but not with the recipes themselves. She indicates that she uses unsalted European butter for its higher fat content, but if you didn't read the preface before trying a recipe, you wouldn't know that, and your end product could yield a different result. She also uses organic granulated sugar, noting that it is less sweet than regular granulated sugar - so again, your end result would be different if you hadn't read that before getting started. It also caught my attention where she noted "oats" in a recipe with no indication of whether they should be quick, rolled, steel cut, etc., when each produces a different texture.
This is a book where, even if you only find one recipe that appeals to you (I'm sure that won't be the case), it will be such a stunning item to add to your repertoire that it will be well worth the price.
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As always, a big thanks for Quirk Books for the review copy. To pick up a copy for yourself - or for your favorite gardener - check out ...