One of the UK's biggest celebrations of all things floral starts this week: The Chelsea Flower Show. Did you know that there's a growing trend for eating flowers? Not just as a garnish but as the main part of the dish. The Chelsea Flower Show will include a number of edible exhibits & at Great British Chefs we take a look a some of our favourite ways of cooking with flowers including a wonderful dish of edible tulips by Pascal Aussignac of Club Gascon.
Photo of Primavera Tulips by Urvashi Roe aka @BotanicalBaker
At the Chelsea Flower Show 2013 the Tropaeolum 'Fruit Salad' came third place in Plant of the Year. It's a compact, yet vigorous, nasturtium which trails or climbs with support. The fragrant, bicoloured flowers are edible and have attractive serrated petals against dark foliage.
At the show you'll see flowers that can be used as garnishes to make meals look pretty. Also flowering herbs such as nasturtiums and borage have the benefit of adding colour to leafy salads in addition to being great to eat. But, have you ever thought of flowers taking a more starring role in a dish? Edible tulips make an interesting talking point for dinner parties.
In this video you'll see award winning chef Pascal Aussignac visiting a flower market to select some organic tulips for his delicious Primavera Tulips starter & preparing them for his restaurant. This recipe are part of Great British Chefs Flower Recipe Collection showing there's more to flowers than just a table decoration.
We think you'll find few flower recipe collections to rival this one. In addition to Pascal's showcase Primavera Tulips (more on them later) it features his Gladiola petals and spicy violet pearls, both of which have been in Great British Chefs apps.
For the coming summer months, try Marcus Wareing's gin and tonic granita decorated with edible flowers. It's ideal for spending a nice sunny day relaxing in the garden.
Chilled cucumber and horseradish gazpacho with Lymington crab salad and pickled white radish by Matthew Tomkinson
There are also numerous dishes that use edible flowers to make them look stunning, such as Matthew Tomkinson's gazpacho pictured above.
Or try Simon Hulstone's Rose and Almond Tansy pudding with butternut squash ice cream. The dessert is flavoured with rosewater and tansy, a wild herb and a somewhat forgotten ingredient. Simon Hulstone has had great success with this recipe in competitions – so much so that he named his first daughter Tansy.
Urvashi Roe aka @BotanicalBaker is an ex-florist and a keen cook and made Pascal's Primavera Tulips a few months ago
Check out Urvashi's blog post about making these tulips for us and in summary here are her top tips for cooking tulips:
Try to buy organic tulips or use ones growing in your garden as these obviously have less fertilisers on them.
Use really brightly coloured tulips like red or deep pink because you’ll lose some colour with the steaming. My tulips were bright red but as you can see the cooked petals are purple.
Leave your tulips to wilt so the stems fit nicely into your steamer. Tulip stems suck water up really fast and this is why they stand annoyingly upright when you want them to have that floppy magazine effect. Leave them out of water for about 30 minutes and the stems will perfect. Incidentally to keep the floppy effect in a vase just top up with no more than an inch of water every day.
Make sure you take all the inner parts out of the flower as some are poisonous. I chopped the large bits with a pair of scissors and then took a paring knife to shave off the rest.
Make the filling and pea purée the day before because then this perfect, pretty plate of flowers will take just 5 minutes to serve up.
Pascal's Primavera Tulips are part of Great British Chefs special Edible Flowers Recipe Collection
Have you ever tried cooking flowers before? Which other flowers would make an ideal part of a meal? We're discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.