Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cooking with Flowers (Review and Giveaway)



The cake on the cover with its creamy frosting and confetti of colorful flower petals caught my interest in the bookstore and I had to pick up the book and take a peek through its pages. 

When I saw the photographs of delicate rolled tuiles cookies freckled with dianthus flowers and the oven baked doughnuts with lilac cream filling I knew I had to get a copy of this beautiful cookbook. 

I could hardly wait to try my own hand at making the jars of pastel-colored flower jellies that I saw in its pages.


You may think that eating flowers sounds exotic and unusual, but chances are already eating flowers and just don't realize it. 

Artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. 

They're all flowers! 


As author Miche Bacher points out, edible flowers add color, complexity and even a sense of mystery to cooking that leaves you pondering the origin of the subtle flavour notes in sweet treats and savoury dishes. 

Each edible flower adds a unique and often surprising flavour- calendula flowers are peppery, dandelion flowers have a honey-like taste, daylilies taste like fresh, sweet lettuce leaves and orchids taste like a mix between cucumber and endive. 


Cooking with Flowers is divided into a series of floral chapters. At the beginning of each, the author offers the botanical name of each flower as well as notes on the background of its culinary use, seasonality, preparation and measure. 

At the very end of the book there are additional suggestions to stock-up your winter pantry with candied flowers, simple flower syrups, vinaigrettes, jellies, flower ice creams and sorbets.


The first thing I decided to tackle were the flower jellies.


You will be glad to know that the receipe's method was pretty straightforward and fairly quick. 

Very briefly: first you make an infusion of rose petals using boiling water. After it stands for at least a couple of hours you strain away the petals, and bring the flower-infused liquid to a rolling boil. Then it is a simple matter of adding lemon juice, sugar and powdered pectin. 

The author advises that the finished jelly can be refrigerated for up to a month, or if you can the jelly, it can last up to a year in your pantry.


So how do you imagine Rose Petal Jelly tastes?

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I made it. In the end, I was surprised: it didn't taste floral and it didn't entirely taste like standard fruit jellies either. The closest descriptive I can think of is the tang of crabapple jelly with a hint of citrus.


I also tried my hand at making a Nasturtium jelly.

Last night, I sliced and buttered a baguette, rubbed it with a little garlic and then spread on some fresh goat cheese. After toasting the little round baguette slices under the broiler for a few seconds, I added a dollop of the translucent nasturtium jelly and a sprig of lemon thyme. I served the little toasts with a glass of wine. Yum!


After my initial success I am really looking forward to trying some of the cookbook's other recipes. Carrot Sunflower Sandwich Cookies with Creamy Sunflower Frosting! 

Now doesn't that sound delicious!

Quirk books has kindly given me a review copy that I am going to giveaway in a draw to one lucky reader. 
To enter the book draw, please leave a comment below. I ask all entrants to make sure there is some kind of link available to their email address. I need to have a way to get hold of you should you be a winner! 

The Cooking with Flowers book draw will remain open for one week.

I am going to link this review/giveaway to Holley's monthly garden book reviews meme. To discover other really great gardening books, please click the link: Roses and other Gardening Joys.


More Information and Links:

Quirk Books Homepage.

Quirk Books Cooking with Flowers webpage. You can see a preview of pages from the book by clicking "View Interior Spread". 


About Miche Bacher, author of Cooking with Flowers: Informed by a diverse background in culinary, visual and healing arts, Miche Bacher cofounded Mali B Sweets which specializes in cakes, chocolate, and other sweet treats that are made from fresh, local ingredients. Miche is constantly seeking out creative uses for herbs, flowers and spices in recipes both sweet and savory. She resides in Greenport, New York with her husband Noah, her two sons and their dog Mali.



About the book's Photographer Miana Jun: Miana Jun is an international photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. To see some of Miana's beautiful photographs and a sampling of her work for Cooking with Flowers, please click the link.
Please Note: Other than the cover, the author and the photographer's picture, the images in this post are my own.

42 comments:

  1. Hi Jennifer
    What a cool idea! I have seen flowers on cakes and desserts and have eaten (peppery) nasturtiums but have never thought to make jelly. That last combination of baguette, garlic, goat cheese, nasturtium jelly and thyme sounded divine! Thanks for bringing our attention to such a neat book.

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    1. Astrid, As someone who takes such an interest in cooking, I know you would love this book!

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  2. The cake on the cover of the book is just a delight for the eyes. Oh you must have had fun making those jellies..wish I had been there in the kitchen with you, especially tasting the nasturtium jelly. It is great isn't it, to find a book that pushes ones culinary experience to another level.

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    1. I would have loved your company in my kitchen Bren! My sister-in-law hosts pickling and preserving parties and they sound like great fun.

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  3. This sounds wonderful, Jennifer, and what a generous giveaway.

    I knew that nasturtiums were edible, but did not know that there were several others that were also edible. You jellies looks yummy, and oh my goodness, that cake is just beautiful!

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    1. I would definitely make the jelly again Lisa. The cake on the cover is very pretty isn't it?

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  4. I love using edible flowers and what you've reviewed here goes beyond what I've known. I love that there is more focus on edible flowers in recent years = more delicious recipes for all to enjoy. Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

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    1. The book was quite the eye opener for me. I had no idea I could use flower petals in such a wide range of dishes and baked goods.

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  5. Jennifer Love this post, made my mouth water describing the baguette... I have used nasturtiums and lavender but this book sounds even more adventurous......your rose jelly is a wonderful colour.

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    1. Hi Rosemary, There is a picture in the book of all the different floral jellies and they have such pretty colors. One interesting thing- when I was making the rose jelly it was fairly clear until I added the lemon juice. Then it turned the most delicate shade of pink within seconds.

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  6. Now I'm hungry! Sounds delicious!!

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  7. This sounds like a great book...I have been looking at more edible flowers.

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  8. It must be a lovely book Jennifer. Love your recipy's. You make me very currious to see what the book has to offer.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. I was quite surprised at the uses for flower petals Marijke. The book has opened my mind to a whole new way of thinking about flowers.

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  9. Never thought of actually EATING them ! I will look at the garden in a whole new light now ! Nom nom !
    Bet the flavours are very light and delicate.

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    1. Light and delicate is exactly how I would describe them.

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  10. This sounds like a delightful book. I've used flowers for decorating baked goods and trays before and they really add to the visual presentation.

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    1. Flowers certainly add to the add to the appeal of the food in the cookbook. Desserts look even prettier with a sprinkling of petals.

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  11. What a fascinating book! You know I want to make the rose petal jelly! And the nasturtium petal jam sounds delicious. In fact, I'm going to have to run outside today and sample dianthus - I'm so intrigued! Please don't include me in the giveaway, but this book is definitely going on my wish list! Thanks so much for joining in!

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    1. Holley, As your garden has so many beautiful roses, I can't think of a better person to make rose petal jelly.

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  12. I really should make use of the edible flowers in my garden. Thank you for reviewing such a delightful cookbook! I wonder if there are certain roses that would be better than others to use for the jelly, if the more fragrant roses make for a tastier jelly?

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    1. In the rose chapter, the author mentions that the more fragrant the rose, the stronger the taste. For my jelly I used a wide range of petals ( some fragrant/some not as much) simply to get the quantity of petals required to make the jelly.

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  13. Sounds like another loveable book. As I have many old fragrant roses in my garden, I made in the past already rose jelly, rose petal icecreams, rose syrup and even rose liquor. It's always fun to try something new.

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    1. I would love to try making some of these things as well Janneke.

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  14. I've done a little cooking with flowers and I'm hooked. I'd love to win the book!

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    1. I could see getting hooked myself Jenny! There are lots of recipes I am looking forward to trying.

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  15. I have heard more and more about cooking with flowers! This sounds so very interesting and how beautiful is that cake!!! What a cool book!!!

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    1. Hi Nicole, I always try to choose books I know readers will like.

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  16. Such a pretty cake!
    Edible flowers are just lovely, aren't they? I always add them to my summer salads. I love Rose Petal Jelly too! And Rose Petal gelato, yum! In spring primroses' frittata is a must in my house.
    The book sounds great, Carrot Sunflower Sandwich Cookies with Creamy Sunflower Frosting sounds amazing, let me know how it is, please! :D

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    1. Kia, I will be sure to let you know about the cookies. Rose petal gelato sounds wonderful. There are recipes in the book for flower ice creams and sorbets that I might want to try.

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    2. You must try rose petal gelato, it's not just yummy but also very "scented" (not sure of the correct English term). :)
      It's my absolutely fav among all the flowers gelati/sorbetti... well, Jasmine is lovely too.
      Happy weekend!

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  17. Oh, I forgot about Cloud Atlas. Although it is a peculiar movie, we enjoyed watching it. My husband liked it more than me. Honestly, I liked more the idea behind Cloud Atlas than the movie itself. It was worth the rental money but I wouldn't have gone to the cinema for it. The beginning in particular is veeery slow.

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    1. Thanks Kia for this. My hubby wants to see it so maybe we will give it a go.

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  18. Oh Wow....what a fab post!!! I love the idea of cooking with flowers and your jelly jams look amazing. I've been adding edible flowers to salds and they do bring a tang of something wonderful.

    What a wonderful book....I'll keep my fingers crossed!xxxx

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  19. I've seen many recipes using lavender and others using flower petals, especially nasturtiums, as garnishes, but nothing this extensive. Rose petal jelly sounds heavenly!

    Jennifer, I wasn't sure until the end if these photos were yours or from the book--they're absolutely beautiful!

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  20. That is a tempting book - what beautiful colours in the end products. Does the nasturtium jelly have a hot bite to it? Don't worry about entering me in the draw - I'm sure you don't want to post anything to the UK!

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    1. From what I understand from the book (I am hardly an expert after making a few jars of jelly!) the intensity of the flavour is dependant on how long you steep the flower petals to create the infusion. In my case, the nasturtium petals only sat for a couple of hours and so the taste was mild, pleasant and had a very nice tang to it (possibly from the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice).

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  21. The book would be a treasure just for the beautiful photos!
    I like to make jams and jellies when the weather becomes a little cooler, so I freeze the berries and use them in September. The house then smells like summer!

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  22. The photos of the jelly jars are gorgeous! I hadn't thought of either of these types of jelly, but I imagine they must be tasty. Your description of the flavour of the rose jelly makes it sound quite heavenly.

    -Karen

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  23. I'm past the deadline but had to comment, the way you fixed up that nasturtium jelly with baguette and goat cheese sounds divine. I like the idea of things infused with flower flavour (I love rose hip tea!) but I must confess the texture of actual flowers isn't to my liking.

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  24. Good for you to try to make the two different jellies. I am surprised that the rose jelly didn't have a floral taste. Loved the cake on the cover of the book.

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