Petal Pushers

Add fresh splashes of color and pops of flavor to your dishes with bright edible flowers.

Edible flowers make colorful garnishes that update a favorite dish, but they also take center stage in recipes perfect for parties. Get in on this restaurant trend by buying edible flowers at specialty markets, or growing your own chives, nasturtium, borage and more in pots, or tucked between vegetables in a garden. A bonus: In summer, your homegrown blossoms will also attract much-needed pollinators like honeybees and butterflies.

Coconut Cheesecake

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 ½ pounds cream cheese
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large eggs
6 ounces coconut cream
juice of ½ lime
½ cup toasted coconut flaked, plus extra to garnish
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut
pineapple buds and dianthus flowers for garnish

For the crust:

Coconut cheesecake with pineapple buds and dianthus flowers.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, coconut, and melted butter. Mix well. Add mixture to a 10-inch springform pan and press into the bottom and sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 

For the filling:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat the cream cheese in a mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla, cornstarch  and salt and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Add the coconut cream and mix well, then add the lime juice. Wrap the exterior bottom and sides of the springform pan with aluminum foil, and place in a deep roasting pan. Pour the cheesecake filling into the springform pan over the baked crust. Place roasting pan with cheesecake in the center of the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan.  Bake for 1-1 ¼ hours, or until the filling is set but slightly loose in the center. Remove cheesecake pan from the water and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. 

For the topping:

Toast the coconut flakes in a 350-degree oven for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Whip the heavy cream in a mixer with the confectioners’ sugar until it forms soft peaks. Add the coconut and beat 1 more minute.

Spread a thick layer over the cheesecake and finish with the toasted coconut, pineapple buds and dianthus flowers, if desired. Chill several hours before slicing. 

Floral Ice Cubes

To make ice cubes, fill mold with ½ inch water and add edible flower, then freeze. Keep adding layers of water and freezing until mold is full. We suggest using neutral-tasting flowers, or a flower that will complement the flavor of the beverage. 

Roasted Garlic Soup

6 heads garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
1 large yellow onion, sliced
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
garlic flowers 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off of 5 heads of garlic and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes until soft. Allow to cool completely. Squeeze the garlic cloves to separate them from their skins. Separate remaining head of garlic into cloves and peel each clove. Set aside.   In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and thyme, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add roasted garlic and raw garlic cloves and cook for several minutes. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Purée in blender until smooth.  Return the puréed soup to the pan. Add cream, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with garlic flowers.

Salads Featuring Edible Flowers 

The most common use for edible flowers requires no recipe: Simply garnish your favorite composed salad with fresh blossoms. We kicked up a salad of smoked salmon atop a bed of greens with radish flowers and a sprinkling of potent Szechuan buzz buttons. To add punch to a simple tomato salad with cucumbers and red onion, we added borage and onion flowers.

Shrimp Risotto with Nasturtiumand Basil Pesto

3 cups nasturtium leaves and stems
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup nasturtium flowers
4 cloves garlic
1 cup walnuts
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ cups olive oil
salt to taste 

To make the pesto, wash and dry nasturtium and basil leaves and nasturtium flowers. Lightly toast the walnuts. Coarsely chop nasturtium and basil leaves, nasturtium flowers and garlic. Place chopped items in a food processor and add walnuts and cheese. Pulse until it forms a paste, scraping down the sides. While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil. Finish pesto with lemon juice. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

For the shrimp risotto:
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
juice of one lemon
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste 

In a large, deep saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add half the garlic, cook 1-2 minutes more, then add rice and mix well. Add 1 cup white wine and cook, stirring often, until almost absorbed. Stirring constantly, add hot chicken stock in batches of ½ cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the chicken stock completely after each addition. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large pan, melt remaining butter and olive oil. Add garlic, lemon juice, and shrimp and cook 3-4 minutes. Add remaining white wine. Season with salt and pepper then add to risotto. For a lighter color and flavor, add about ¼ cup of pesto and blend well (or add more to taste). Cover any leftover pesto with a film of olive oil and store in the refrigerator. 

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers withRicotta, Hazelnuts and Mint

1 ounce chopped hazelnuts

Stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta, hazelnuts and mint.

8 zucchini flowers  
8 ounces ricotta
1 egg
3 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
6 ounces ice cold sparkling water
3 ½ ounces tempura flour
oil for frying
salt to taste
lemon wedges for garnish 

In a dry skillet over low heat, lightly toast the hazelnuts and remove from heat to let cool. Remove the stamens from the flowers. Mix together the ricotta, hazelnuts, egg and mint. Add salt and pepper to taste, and blend well. Load the mixture into a pastry bag, and fill the flowers ¾ full, pinching or twisting the ends to seal them closed. Mix the sparkling water and tempura flour very lightly to make a batter—do not overmix. Pour canola oil into a deep pan or pot large enough to hold an inch or two of oil. Heat oil on medium-high until a few drops of tempura batter added to the oil crisp immediately. Lightly dip the flowers into the batter and carefully lower into the oil. Fry approximately 1 minute per side, then drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt while still hot, serve immediately with lemon wedges.

All recipes serve 4-6

This article originally appeared in our August 2017 issue.

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