Kate Ryan, Flavour.ie
In this new series, each month I’ll select a theme and seek out Instagram for posts that truly inspire me to get in the kitchen and make something of my own. It’s May, and for me, this is a month all about the blossoms. Ridiculously romantic, wistful, and tantalisingly tasty, to create with the flower blossoms of May is to capture the essence of those early days of summer!
Magnolias and cherry blossom are finished for another year, but that was just the overture to the main symphony. From infusions and tinctures to edible decorations, fresh, dried or crystalised, there is much to adore about the whimsy of flowers – not least, their deliciousness.
- Dandy-lion Tartlets
I love the way @meinwildesgruen has used wildflowers most associated with weeds (daisies and dandelions) and showcased their true beauty in these sweet tartlets served up for Mother’s Day in Germany, which takes place in May. The dandelion is a wonder plant – leaves, flowers and roots are all edible, they provide some of the earliest forage for bumblebees, and yet most people want to simply yank them out of the ground. Maybe we should view these mad-looking yellow flowers with a little more kindness, or at least eat them anyway!
- Lilac Ripple Ice Cream
Lilac is such an evocative scent; heady and lingering. It’s one of my favourite blooms of all, and one of my favourite treats of all are sugared lilac flowers. @kawowekadry has made a cordial from these blooms and rippled it through as a flavouring for soft churned ice cream. As if to make the point of just how aromatic it is, her styling incorporates one naked ice cream waffle cone next to another festooned with individual flower petals. Although beautiful, even that might be a step too far for me – but I’ll definitely take one of those Lilac Rippled Ice Creams though!
- Lilac Milk
Staying with lilac, and this next post made perfect sense to me. The colour and scent of lilac I always find calming and relaxing. For some, the scent of lilac reminds them of a grandmother, and I wonder is it something to do with reassurance – most of us carry wonderful memories of time spent with our grandparents. This recipe from @themedicinecircle for an infusion of lilac blossoms into warmed, frothed milk looks like ultimate comfort to me. It warrants the richest, creamiest milk you can find to create a hug in a mug!
I grow calendula in my veg patch every year as a companion plant, but I also love to pick the petals to decorate seasonal salads with. Last year, I looked into what else I could make with the petals, and it turns out – a lot of things! Infuse in vinegar; infuse in extra virgin olive oil which can be used to dress or finish dishes or mixed with beeswax and honey to create balms and rubs for the skin and other beauty products. I love this image of dried calendula flowers by @tourmaline_collective because it shows a moment of possibility. After the flowers have been grown, picked and dried, from this moment on, your inner Kitchen Witch can be unleashed – the possibilities are endless… what will be paired with those flowers…?
- Bring me Chocolates and Flowers
Flower encrusted chocolate bark is one thing, but these handcrafted moulded chocolate logs in white, ruby, milk and dark chocolate by @sandydi are next level beautiful! I feel the need to buy myself some chocolate moulds and try this at home immediately, and because this time of year there are so many gorgeous edible blossoms to chose from, each one can look as unique as a fingerprint!
- Butter Me Up!
It’s when you see images like @bigfamilyliving Wildflower Butter that you can’t help but fall in love and become truly inspired by just how marvellous nature is. The intricacies of every petal of every flower are perfection, and these butter logs look like works of pristine art – but in truth, they couldn’t be simpler to make. Of course, you could up your game by making your own butter from fresh thick cream and flavour it further with some fresh herbs – chives are especially good this time of year. Whatever you do, the hardest part will be deciding whether to eat it or just stare at its loveliness!
- Diva Cake Face
Few people can beautify a cake with flowers like Shannen Butler-Keane of Diva Boutique Bakery (@divabakes) in the west Cork village of Ballinspittle! Celebrating 20 years of fabulous cakes, bakes, breads, and treats galore, without doubt it is the stunning arrangement of flowers on cakes that draws people in time and again. The flowers may not always all edible (although that can be arranged), but they are always rambunctiously romantic. Give in to the cake!
- Chocolate + Flowers = Healthy food, right?
@veldandsea posted this elaborate chocolate seed cake made with wild nettle, dandelion and kelp, not-so-wild dates, nuts and seeds, then slathered the entire tasty-sounding ensemble with melted dark chocolate and decorated all over with edible flowers and petals. I mean, I guess it sounds healthy so that must mean I can eat a whole lot more of it in one sitting with several cups of tea? Yes? Please say yes…
- Pink Elderflower
May into June the word on everyone’s lips is Elderflower! All over Ireland, this wild shrub becomes festooned with clouds of pillowy blooms exuding a heady musk scent everywhere it grows. But it has a sibling – Pink Elderflower. Less likely to grow in the wild than the white version, I like to think of it as Elderflower “Goth”! It’s dark and broody black-purple leaves provides a dramatic backdrop to the palest pink flowerheads, yet has the same flavour and aroma as white elderflower: this is all about colour! Pink Elderflower cordial (like @milasapothecary) adds a bit of drama to a summer gin cup, or lightly dip whole flowerheads in tempura batter and deep fry – yes, truly delicious!
- Crystalised Flowers
Last, but not least by any means, are the simple wonder of crystalised flowers! Crystalising flowers are one of the kitchen tasks that are by no means necessary, a bit faffy, but ultimately enjoyable for the little jewels you are rewarded with for your efforts. @mariannebakes image shows the simplicity of crystalised primroses, edible, of course! Wild Irish primroses are often the buttery-yellow kind, although dusky pinks and other hues do sometimes appear. But all primroses are edible, so if they bloom in your garden take advantage of their more dramatic colours against the softer wild ones. A brush of egg white and a sprinkle of caster sugar and leave to dry – that’s it!
WRITTEN BY KATE RYAN – FLAVOUR.IE