Here in Philly it is glorious outside. The cherry blossoms are blooming, my seedlings are measurable in inches rather than centimeters and my neighbors have once again set up their lawn chairs on our tiny street, glaring at cars that dare to drive past; all sure signs that spring is truly, finally upon us.
Now normally, when I think spring, I admit I am not the first to think flowers. I’m just not an aesthetics person, and despite my best efforts, I doubt I ever will be. Also, living in the city and having a garden compromised solely of containers mean that real eastate is at a premium. If you give me the choice of using my limited space for fermentables or prettifiers, I will always choose the former. At least I would have. Reading Gayla Trail’s books and discovering just how many flowers I could grow and then eat, I got more excited. Then I heard about a cookbook that is centered around cooking with flowers (it’s actually called Cooking With Flowers, written by Miche Bacher) and I decided to spend a decent portion of this year’s seed budget on edible flowers.
Nothing is really flowering yet, except for the pansies that I planted in my four-seasons container last fall, which survived the winter and came back looking beautifully prolific. Lucky for me, Cooking With Flowers has a whole pansy chapter for me to explore before my dianthus, calendula, lavender, violets and other edible blooms start growing faces. The first recipe that caught my eye there were Bacher’s pansy pancakes. They are actually crêpes and I’ve been looking for an occasion to give you guys my sourdough almost-crêpe recipe, so you can find my take on flower crêpes below.
I think this book is fabulous. It is gorgeously photographed by Brooklyn photographer Miana Jun. I am prone to hyperbolic adjectives, but it is no exaggeration to call this book beautiful (make sure you take off the book jacket for an unexpected eyeful of pretty). The instructions are very clear and the breakdown of info on each type of flower and the ways to use it are very useful. I think you’ll be surprised and excited by all the flowers you never knew you could eat. If you’re looking to impress your friends at a dinner party, I promise you’ll find some serious stunners in this book (lavender ice cream served in a tulip cup, anyone?). There are also great resources for finding seeds to plant your own flowers or fresh flowers suitable for eating. I got my flower seeds here and here. Be aware that many you’ll find at the florist are sprayed with pesticides that render them unsuitable for consumption. Generally speaking, you want organic flowers.
The first time I cracked the spine of this book, I found myself looking at a ferment recipe (more on that soon) so it’s basically fate for me to have this one in my hands. You, too, could have this one in your hands, since the publisher Quirk Books kindly gave me two copies of this book: one for me and one for you. All you have to do to get flower and flour on your hands is to leave a comment, telling me what you’ve planted in your garden this year or what you want to plant.
Recipe – Whole Wheat Flowerdough Crêpes
Adapted from the Pansy Petal Pancakes in Miche Bacher’s Cooking With Flowers
All you sourdough makers know that inevitably you are left with extra starter. I usually keep mine in the fridge until I have enough to make a double or triple batch of these or my cardamom waffles. Crêpe batter is typically made the night before and given time to rest (a very brief fridge fermentation which is less necessary when you’re using starter), and mine are no exception. Yes, they work perfectly fine when made immediately, if you prefer to do it that way. I like to rest the batter because then I can wake up to a clean kitchen and start pouring right into the pan for those times when guests might be giving my kitchen the white glove test (aka Mother’s Day). Also, note that I am using dormant starter. You can use active starter if you prefer, but I find this to be a great way to use up excess, dormant starter.
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk (I use unsweetened almond, you can use whatever you like, from dairy to soy)
- 3 tablespoons melted butter (you can sub oil)
- 3 large eggs
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup of sugar (optional)
- 20 pansy flowers, divided. Your best bet is to harvest these in the morning when they’ll be at their dewy peak.
- Oil or butter for cooking
- Thoroughly whisk together all ingredients except flowers, until smooth. If you still have lumps, stick your batter in the blender. Your batter should be very thin
- Refrigerate overnight (optional)
- Remove your batter from the fridge and stir lightly, making sure your batter is well-combined before heating up your skillet to medium heat. You want your skillet totally heated before you start, and you want your batter as close to room temp as possible
- Add a teaspoon of oil or a small pat of butter to skillet. Once it’s heated/melted, pour scant 1/2 cup of batter into the center of the skillet (I use a 12 inch skillet. If you use a 9 or 10 inch, start with a quarter cup of batter and see how it works.
- Tip the skillet in different directions in such a way that the batter is spread thinly over the entire bottom of the skillet. You have to do this quickly or else your batter will cook before spreading
- Immediately put the skillet back over the heat and carefully press your pansy petals around the surface of the crêpe. ( I would skip this step with your first crêpe. The first crepe is always a failure. A delicious, delicious failure)
- After a minute, give your skillet a little shake to see if it the crêpe is loose, then use a spatula to loosen the edges and flip it. I do it pizzaiola style and toss them in the air to flip. I’m crazy, though
- Allow it to cook on the other side for 30 seconds and then upend it onto a plate so the petals or blooms are facing upwards.
- Do it all over again until all your batter is used up and you have the most beautiful breakfast plate one could ever hope for
- Garnish plates with fresh pansy petals
I freeze these between sheets of wax paper, then stick them in a plastic ziploc bag or large, flat pyrex. They keep very well for up to 3 months and are always appreciated by my husband when he can toss one in the toaster oven just before leaving the house.
Quirk Books kindly provided me with two books. One for me and one for the winner of this contest. Although I got these for free, the opinions are my own!
- Contest is open to residents of the continental United States.
- To enter, leave a comment with what you’re growing or what you want to grow in your garden this year.
- Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.
- One comment per person, please.
- For an additional entry, tweet a link to this post (with your own comment) and the hash tag #phickleflowers