It wasn’t until I was approaching the end of my diploma at Leiths School of Food & Wine that my botanical nemesis and I met again. After two terms of cementing the basics (I could now perfectly boil an egg, produce a soufflé on command and joint a chicken with my eyes closed) our third and final term was spent teaching us how to plate and dress our food in a way that elevated it from fine to fancy. My trepidation slowly melted away as I learnt how edible flowers could add extra colour, texture and taste to most dishes – savoury or sweet.
I was surprised to find out that most of the flowers growing in our gardens are edible (as long as said garden is pesticide and dog free. I'm not sure the taste of ammonia adds anything to a dish). The Adam & Eve pub situated in Homerton have their own gardens that not only produce fresh vegetables and herbs for their diners, but also seasonal and unusual edible flowers used to garnish their plates.
At Cactus Kitchens we lack the space for our own gardens. We are instead limited to window sills, our four tiny cacti plants precariously balanced on three inches of ledge. With edible flowers becoming increasingly more popular, if you are lacking in space they are getting increasingly easier to get hold off. Previously, a trip to the local gardening centre may have been required but instead a quick internet search returns many online stockists. With nearly all of our chefs requesting edible flowers for their Cooking The Roux Way classes we use Nurtured In Norfolk, a business started by two ex-chefs who turned their burnt fingers into green fingers and started a nursery specialising in micro herbs, edible flowers and micro vegetables.
If you're still struggling for ideas, here are five ways we have used edible flowers at Cactus Kitchens:
Zespri Sungold kiwi Smoothie bowls with pansies.
Broad bean, pea & pecorino crostini with garlic flowers.
ENJOYING OUR TOP TIPS SERIES?
We've been following the Great British Bake Off each week and providing tips and tricks so you too can be a star baker, whatever the occasion.
Need more hands on help? Try our new Patisserie - The Roux Way cookery class, with dates throughout the year.