I have been really delighted to have been sent a HUGE box of Heritage Tomatoes and Inspired micro vegetables and edible flowers from Westlands Wow, to see what a home cook can come up with in a domestic kitchen rather than a professional environment.
The micro leaves and flowerheads are really unusual, you might be able to grow some of these, and you will possibly be able to forage them if you know what you are looking for, but you are very unlikely to find more than one or two of these in even the best supermarkets.
These are the lovely micro leaves and flowers that you find incorporated into meals in the most modern of Michelin starred restaurants. They add colour, texture and lively bursts of flavour. But they are delicate in the extreme, and need a rapid turnover. My fridge picked this week to throw a tantrum, and I am sorry that I lost some of the more delicate – I managed to save the baby watercress, and most of the radish flowers, but the popcorn shoots didn’t make the next day.
Fortunately, I had used some immediately, so was able to savour them at their best. The flower heads had seemed the most fragile (although in fact the borage and viola are quite robust and last well when the fridge is working..) so I decided to try them out first of all.
I started off with a special Jubilee dessert as I had family coming. I had some elderflowers syrup left over from last years making, and as the elderflowers are just coming to their peak in the lane at the back of the house, this needed using up before I make the new batch.
Elderflower Pannacotta with Strawberries and Borage and Viola Flowers.
- 200g Whipping Cream
- 400g Milk (any milk that you usually use..)
- 3 sheets of gelatine
- 4 tablespoons elderflower syrup (commercial is fine, I used my home made)
- 3-4 drops top quality orange extract (I used Sainsbury’s Valencian Extract) (optional)
- 4 strawberries
- Borage and Viola flowers
Soak the gelatine in water until fully soft. In the meantime, scald the milk.
Drop the squeezed out gelatine into the hot milk, and stir until fully dissolved (will only take a moment or two).
Add the cream , the elderflower syrup and the orange essence if you have it.
Stir gently until mixed together, trying to avoid any froth. Taste and add a little more elderflower syrup if you feel it needs to be sweeter.
Strain into small cups or glasses, cover lightly with cling foil and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours until set.
In the meanwhile slice the strawberries and put in a bowl with a little elderflower syrup (or caster sugar if you are out of syrup) . Remove the calyx from the borage flowers, and some of the violas, keeping some violas whole for decoration.
When the pannacotta is set, neatly arrange the sliced strawberries, borage flowers and viola flowers on top, to make a pretty red white and blue dessert fit for a queen!