A Guide To Edible Flowers + Vanilla Almond Shortbread with Eleanor Ozich

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One day when I was “working” I stumbled across  Eleanor’s blog, I instantly fell in love. Her images are so beautiful and delicious and her writing, friendly and honest.  So we asked if she’d like to share some of that with us, and you!  Today Eleanor is sharing her knowledge of edible flowers, we’re big fans of those pretty little things.

Thanks so much for sharing your time, talent and yummy recipe with us! x

Edible flowers can bring a lovely sense of colour to baked goods, frozen treats or most things really. Imagine a crisp garden salad, with tangy vinaigrette, coloured with bright nasturtiums. Or a lemony almond cake topped with lightly whipped cream and a simple arrangement of purple pansies. You might be surprised to know that many flower varieties are edible. They might already be growing in your back garden. Here’s a list of those I particularly enjoy, including their unique flavour characteristics and ideas on how to use them. There’s also a recipe for vanilla, almond and orange shortbread. Each biscuit is pressed with a sugar coated flower, and then baked until golden and honey coloured. They’re fun to make, and the little one’s love to join in.

DANDELION
This humble weed is entirely edible, has a honey-like flavour, and slightly bitter after taste. The petals make a bright and cheery garnish on baking. You can also add a small handful of the leaves to your smoothie for extra nourishment.

NASTURTIUM
Flowers the colour of a brilliant sunset, these little blooms grow wild in our back garden, and brighten up a salad like no other. The leaves are also edible, and make a nice addition to pesto. The taste is reminiscent to rocket, peppery with a little spice.

MARIGOLD
Slightly tangy with gentle citrus notes, you can sprinkle the petals in salads.

CARNATION
These crimped petals taste surprisingly sweet, the larger the petals, the more peppery they are.

CALENDULA
This bright and vibrant flower is tangy and has subtle grassy notes. Toss in salads or add to pasta dough for a touch of colour.

ROSE
The flower of love, rose is well known for it’s aroma and ‘flowery’ taste, and are lovely in desserts or drinks.  The intensity of flavour will depend on the variety and colour, the darker the petals, the more aromatic it will be.Only the petals are edible.

CHAMOMILE
Well known for their calming and medicinal benefits, chamomile flowers have a gentle, sweet taste. Pretty and practical at the same time.

LAVENDER
Intensely fragrant with hints of rosemary and mint, use sparingly as a little goes a long way.

PANSY
Possibly the prettiest of edible flowers, I like to use as a garnish in baking, or add to ice cubes for a lovely looking drink. They come in heaps of colours, too.

FENNEL BLOSSOM
These yellow wildflowers have a soft aniseed flavour and gentle sweetness, nice in summery, savoury dishes.

THYME FLOWER
Little, tiny blooms with a deeply herbaceous aroma, hints of mint and lemon too. Scatter over a vegetable soup, or use as a garnish for roast lamb or chicken.

BORAGE BLOSSOM
These star shaped blue flowers are gently refreshing, with a cucumber like taste. The flowers and leaves are nice in tea with a drizzle of honey and a slice of lemon.

CORNFLOWER
These versatile little flowers have a neutral flavour, making them excellent for both sweet and savoury dishes. You can use the whole flower, or just the petals if you prefer. The most common variety is a vivid blue, although there’s you can also grow them in powder pink or my favourite, an aubergine purple.

If you have a garden, you can easily grow your own edible flowers from seed. Alternatively, Farmers Markets or specialty food stores often sell them, please be sure that they are organically grown without sprays of any kind.

To store your flowers, pick them as close to use as possible, place a damp paper towel in the base of a container, and gently arrange the flowers on top. Cover, and place in the fridge until you’d like to use them. To refresh flowers that are a little droopy, plunge them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, and then allow to dry on paper towel.

VANILLA, ALMOND + ORANGE ZEST SHORTBREAD

These shortbread biscuits are crisp and golden on the outside with a soft, chewy centre, quite heavenly dipped in tea or warm milk. The inclusion of ground almonds make them a little softer than most, best enjoyed within a few days of baking.

Makes approx. 18 biscuits

WHAT YOU NEED

For the biscuits:

  • 1 1/3 cups of flour*
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • 225g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • ½ cup golden unrefined icing sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
  • zest of one orange

To decorate:

  • Approximately 18 edible flowers, refer to the list above
  • 1 heaped tbsp. unrefined golden icing sugar
  • 1 egg white

*I used all purpose gluten free flour, regular flour or spelt flour would be fine, too.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and process until the mixture comes together to the paper up tightly, twisting the ends like a Christmas cracker.
  2. Place in the freezer to firm up, about half an hour or so.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180˚C / 350˚F / Gas Mark 4.
  4. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  5. Remove the dough from the freezer, and slice in to biscuits about 1 cm thick.
  6. Place 2 cm apart on the baking tray, and gently press an edible flower in to each.
  7. Whisk together the egg white and icing sugar, then paint each flower with the mixture.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden.
  9. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the baking tray. Makes approx. 18 biscuits.

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