19 June 2010

The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery

I know you think there was never a cookbook I didn't lust after. I must admit a certain fascination with flower cookbooks. There is something I just adore about cooking with flowers as an elemental ingredient. Maybe, and I the first to admit it, there is a profoundly prissy element to flowers as an ingredient. while nothing makes me happier than a side of beef, I also love a nice cold soup sprinkled with a "mystery" ingredient that came from the flower garden.

The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery by Leona Smith is from the early 1970's. Smith was considered the leading authority on flower cookery. Truth be told, in many of the recipes, the flower element seems to be just a garnish, but in this day and age of cooks all trying to trump each other in the exotic ingredient department, some nice pickled carnations might be just the ticket to one-upsmanship.

Every Thanksgiving, tables across America are laden with sweet potatoes. Here is a recipe that will make you the talk of Thanksgiving or even The Fourth of July!

Confucius Sweet Potatoes
1 pound sweet potatoes or 1 seventeen-ounce can
1 cup orange juice
1 three-ounce package of orange gelatin
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup yellow chrysanthemum petals

While the sweet potatoes are cooking (if using raw potatoes) combine all other ingredients except petals. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes.

Place sweet potatoes in the syrup ad let stand over the lowest possible heat for 15-20 minutes. Baste occasionally. Turn off heat, add petals, and baste until petals are glazed.

Once I found myself in an unfamiliar kitchen. I was making some carrots, but there was nothing interesting to flavor them with, so I was facing a bowl of steamed carrot. (OK, not the worst thing in the world.) I noticed a package of orange Jello on the shelf. I added the Jello and some butter to the carrot circles and turned out a truly tasty and interesting carrot dish.

Confucius says: When in doubt check the larder and the flower garden!

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