This week is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital will be turned into an enviable series of remarkable outdoor spaces awash with beautiful blooms.
I have always been interested in flowers not just from the standpoint of fragrance and aesthetics but also how they can be used for culinary purposes. I have always been surprised by which flowers can be eaten and how they taste. We may be used to having nasturtiums on our salads or making wine from elderflowers but you can also eat a whole host of other flowers too such as roses, tulips, snapdragons and even gladioli.
Whenever you are using flowers for culinary purposes it is always important to be sure of what you are eating, as some flowers are very toxic and will make you quite ill. If you are gathering wild flowers, be sure of your source and avoid areas such as roadsides which have high levels of fuel residues and also avoid areas that are frequented by dogs!
If you are not growing your own edible flowers, when purchasing ensure you buy organic edible flowers from a reputable source. I buy mine from Maddocks Farm Organics which has a fabulous selection to choose from.
As a general rule, the flowers that you buy at a florist or in the supermarket won’t be organic and will have most likely been sprayed with pesticides, so don’t use these.
I’ve used pansies and violas for the tarts in this recipe, but this tart would be lovely with borage or cornflowers. I think the pansies have a lovely blowsy quality which is just right for afternoon tea with a pot of Earl Grey.
The tart crust uses a mixture of cashew nuts, coconut flour and oat flour. You can make oat flour quickly and easily by whizzing some dry porridge oats in a food processor so it forms a powder and then sieving to ensure that the flour is very fine.
The custard is made from Thai coconut meat but if you can’t get hold of it, you can substitute with coconut yoghurt or increase the amount of cashew nuts to 220g, soaked.