Spring Recipes With Herbal Essence
Cooking with herbs and edible flowers takes your cooking to the next level, according to Chef David Radwine of Springfield, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
“It makes your cooking more creative, more interesting,” he says.
The herb garden serves as a treasure trove of flavor, flower garnishes and seasoning power. Tiny florets of lavender can make a salad sparkle with their neon color, for example. And don’t be shy, Radwine adds.
“I think the more the better,” he says. “The only limitation is your taste buds. Fresh herbs are full of all kinds of nutrients and antioxidants. You’d be amazed how many good things are in them besides the flavor.”
His favorite herbs to use include basil, dill, thyme and rosemary.
“Really, there’s not an herb I don’t like,” he says. “I will even pick some things like purslane or lambsquarters. They’re fantastic in salads, soups, smoothies, stir-fries.”
He also often uses edible flowers when he’s catering an event or cooking a meal for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“Of course they look pretty, and edible flowers can give a nice flavor – nasturtiums have a peppery flavor, while squash blossoms are great for stuffing with something like goat cheese or ricotta cheese and Parmesan, fresh basil and oregano. Or you can toss them in scrambled eggs – they wilt when you add them at the last minute.”
He uses lavender in a marinade for lamb, both the flowers and the leaves or as a garnish or flavoring for ice cream.
Radwine sprinkles pineapple sage at the last minute in a fruit salad or uses it in a filling for pies or pastries. You can garnish a pound cake or lemon angel food with sage – use it infused in the glaze and sprinkle the flowers around. “It gives a nice flavor and look,” he said.
When using any flower, add it at the end, after arranging, dressing and tossing. Be sure the flower is safe to eat and that you know exactly what it is. For a good resource, check out the Edible Flowers Chart on whatscookingamerica.net.
With herbs, simply wash, chop or mince and add to dishes. To layer the flavor, add a sprinkling of the herb to the finished dish.