RIP to the “LTC”
Chef & Food Features Editor – Nigel Brown
The days of the LTC – lettuce, tomato and cucumber garnish – fell by the wayside long ago to the point I think we could almost class it as an iconic statement of the mid 70’s and early 80’s era. It’s now just a distant memory of the days spent garnishing a prawn cocktail or a steak during my basic catering training days in the skyscraping tower know to all as Hull College. RIP to the “LTC”.
After falling out of favour for many years, cooking and garnishing with flowers is back in and on trend once again. Flower cookery can be traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures. Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era during Queen Victoria’s reign.
I’ve been using edible flowers and micro herbs for some time now so I feel it’s my responsibility to enlighten you all into a little knowledge on the different varieties of edible flowers and micro herbs.
The secret to success when using edible flowers is to keep the dish simple, don’t add too many other flavours that will over-power the delicate taste of the flower.
To all you “budding chefs and cooks”, edible flowers and micro herbs are trending now, so jump on the band wagon and take your gardening and cooking skills to a new level; this nearly lost art is back to stay.
Here are some of the more popular edible flowers and micro herbs for you to clue up on to impress your dinner party guests with and why not try this little passion fruit soufflé recipe too, it’s a great dessert for dressing with Nasturtiums and Violas.
Top tip – If you’re going to grow your own edible flowers make sure you remove the stamens from the centre of the flowers before serving and eating!
Passion Fruit Soufflé
2 egg yolks
2 x 20g castor Sugar
30 ml strained passion fruit juice
2 egg whites
In a bowl, cream the egg yolks with the first 20g sugar, until pale and the sugar has dissolved. Add the passion fruit juice, mix and set aside.
In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a tiny pinch of salt.
When you are ½ way to peaks forming, add ½ the remaining sugar, followed by the rest shortly after. Whisk to firm peaks but be careful not to overbeat them.
Whisk some of the whites into the yolks then carefully fold through the remaining.
Spoon the mixture into a buttered and sugared ramekin. Bake at 190ºC for 12 minutes.
Serve hot from the oven with miniature vanilla ice cones decorated with edible violas and nasturtiums.
These rank among most common edible flowers. The blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavour similar to watercress. The leaves add a peppery tang to salads. Pickled seed pods are a great substitute for capers.
These have a sweet, perfumed flavour. Related flowers, Johnny jump-ups or violas and pansies now come in colourful purples and yellows to apricot and pastel. Eat the tender leaves and flowers in salads, also use the flowers in desserts and iced drinks and they may be crystallized as well. The heart-shaped leaves are edible and tasty when cooked like spinach.
Use whenever a light onion flavour and aroma is desired. Separate the florets and enjoy the mild, onion flavour in a variety of dishes.
The flowers can be white or pink and the stems are flat instead of round. The flavour has a garlicky zing that brings out the flavour of your favourite food. Milder than the garlic bulb. Great in salads.
Edible garden peas bloom mostly in white but may have other pale colouring. The blossoms are slightly sweet and crunchy and they taste like peas. The shoots and vine tendrils are edible with a delicate, pea-like flavour.
Scarlet Runner Beans
These have brilliant red blooms that are very tasty and can be served as a garnish for soups or in salads. The bean pods toughen as they age so make use of the young pods as well as flowers.
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