by Susan Russo
It's not that often that a cookbook surprises me, dare I say, intrigues me. Yet, that is exactly what Miche Bacher's book "Cooking with Flowers" has done.
An herbalist, chef and founder of Mali B Sweets, a confectionery studio in
Recipes are divided by flower type, such as dandelions, geraniums, hibiscus, roses and violets, and are accompanied by stunning full-color photographs by
Bacher describes flowers' varying flavors -- chive blossoms and nasturtiums are spicy, while calendula and chamomile are earthy. Others vary dramatically in flavor, such as roses that can be sweet or spicy and geraniums that can taste like mint, orange or lime. While most recipes have short ingredient lists, it's important to realize that many rely upon syrups, jams and creams that need to be made prior to beginning the main recipe (hence lengthening the preparation time). Therefore, carefully read through each recipe before jumping in to ensure a timely outcome.
Not surprisingly, the majority of recipes are sweet -- there are several shortbread, cookie and ice cream recipes. You'll find a variety of approachable baked goods, such as Almond Elderflower Pound Cake, Chocolate Lavender Biscotti and Pistachio Rose Shortbread, alongside unexpected confections such as Oven-Baked Doughnuts with Lilac Cream Filling, Elderflower Marshmallows and Hollyhock Cream Puffs.
Perhaps most appealing are Bacher's savory recipes, namely her Potato Salad with Violet Vinaigrette, Mango Orchid Sticky Rice, Corn and Black Beans with Nasturtiums and Gouda Cheddar Daylily Biscuits.
Then there are some recipes that make you think, Really? And if you listen closely, you might just hear Bacher whispering, Yes! I promise, it's delicious! Like her Goat Cheese Nasturium Ice Cream that she recommends topping with crunchy bacon pieces or caramelized onions, or her mammoth Dandelion Cookies that she assures will become a permanent fixture of your picnics after just one bite.
Whether you've already explored cooking and baking with flowers or have never even considered eating a blossom, you can trust Miche Bacher and "Cooking with Flowers" to plant seeds of culinary delight in your kitchen.