Green salad with Viola flowers from http://www.westlandwow.co.uk
Rather an eventful week all in all. ‘Harry’ my new nephew arrived in the world – a little earlier than expected – and a little ‘littler’ than hoped (that is due to the early bit), but the trooper is doing well and is quite adorable and very handsome. Due to this momentous event, plans to celebrate my parents ‘Ruby Wedding Anniversary’ in Champagne were postponed and we celebrated 40 years, a new nephew and of course the Diamond Jubilee by staying in London. And wow, what a weekend it was. Spoilingly we have a wonderful view of the Thames and Cadogan Pier so the River Pageant was a major highlight. Somehow we rustled up a lunch party from nowhere and had a joyous Jubilee lunch for 20 while watching the spectacle on the water. Choice of food was a no-brainer -by popular demand, it had to be the classic ‘Coronation Chicken Salad’, a racey ‘Rice Salad’ and a very simple green salad with Dijon dressing. A few edible flowers raised the tone and really made it a very pretty summer buffet in spite of the rain outside!!
‘Racey Rice Salad’ with homegrown chive flowers.
A few notes on edible flowers…….. edible flowers are one of my summer trademarks; nasturtiums, pansies, lavender, roses, rosemary and chive flowers to list just a few, can be used in salads, starters, puddings and drinks and to me they captivate the essence of an English summer. Elderflowers, an obvious choice, are commonly used to make cordial, and our trees have finally come out lacing the air with their intoxicating scent. To be honest there are endless uses for flowers in food and I could get totally carried away and sidetracked. Today, I just wanted to highlight the use of some of the flowering herbs, firstly because they maybe accessible to you, secondly, can be picked on a whim, and thirdly possibly, you just may not have known you could eat them!
The ones that come to mind are chive, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. All of which come into flower now, and all of which are edible. ‘Chive’ flowers are my favourite, and I use them liberally scattered on salads; ‘Rosemary’ flowers are more delicate and marry perfectly with puddings – scatter over pavlova, pannacotta and fools, while ‘Thyme’ and ‘Marjoram’ flowers work well with summer pasta dishes, flecked in with freshly grated parmesan on top of courgette carbonarra or scattered over an asparagus tart. If you have herbs and have seen them flowering – get picking! I also experiment, I tried a flowering sprig of rosemary mixed with some elderflower cordial- delicious and a refreshing change from the standard mint sprig!
Our ‘Diamond Jubilee’ Lunch
Smoked salmon on sourdough with creme fraiche and watercress
Coronation Chicken salad – recipe from ‘Leiths Cookery Bible’
Racey Rice salad – with toasted flaked almonds, sultanas, asparagus, pistachios, fresh coriander and chive flowers
Mixed green salad with viola flowers and Dijon dressing
Pistachio meringue roulade with strawberries and mango