VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 5/17/2012
Day lilies for lunch St. Joseph News - Press, Jul 28, 2010 | by Sylvia Anderson Carol Meyers and Bea Dobyan prepare lilies to be stuffed with chicken salad. The lilies were hard to get because they bloom early, but they were eventually obtained from Idyllwild Gardens in Savannah, Mo., Ms. Dobyan says. As guests arrive for lunch at Carol Meyers' home in St. Joseph, dozens of elegant orange and yellow day lilies sit in clear vases of water on a kitchen counter. It's a treat for the eyes to see so many of them gathered in one spot. But as guests will soon learn, day lilies can be a treat for the taste buds, too, when served stuffed with chicken salad. The citrus-like flavor of the yellow day lilies, in particular, compliments the salad flavors. The texture is no different than lettuce. So yes, you can have your flowers and eat them, too. And with the help of friends Bea Dobyan and Michelle Nelson, Ms. Meyers prepared an entire meal using edible flowers for 51 members of The Flower Society in honor of the group's 70th anniversary. "Flowers have been eaten since Roman times," says Ms. Nelson, who is in charge of presenting the club program on edible flowers this month. "And of course edible flowers were very popular during the Victorian era when the chef wanted to do something better for the queen." The trend of garnishing food with flowers has come and gone in the 70 years the group has been meeting. In fact, Ms. Meyers prepared a similar edible flower lunch in the 1980s. The popularity has waned a bit since then, but guess what: "It's coming back," Ms. Nelson says. Whether the interest stems from the local and organic movement, the economic crunch or just because it's a cool thing to do, one thing is for sure -- flowers can add color, flavor and even nutrition to the foods you prepare. According Carol Bareuther, a registered dietitian with MyFamily Doctor magazine, there's not been much nutrition research on edible flowers, but what they do know is good. A trio of salads was served at The Flower Society's edible flower luncheon commemorating the organization's 70th anniversary: pasta with nasturtium, greens with honey vinaigrette and chicken salad- filled day lilies. "Roses, rose hips, dandelion blossoms and dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins C and A," she writes on familydoctormag.com. "Certain other flowers seem to have nutritional benefits, too." The Flower Society lunch menu was loaded with color and nutrition, starting with a white gazpacho soup served with mini cheese and flower canapes, followed by a trio of salads served together: pasta with nasturtium; day lilies stuffed with chicken salad made with cream cheese and marmalade; and a green salad tossed with honey vinaigrette and garnished with a tiny garden trowels made of puff pastry. For dessert, they had lavender creme brulee and lavender meringue. Unlike in the 1980s, when Ms. Meyers would get odd stares when she asked to buy squash blossoms from local farmers, finding edible flowers is easier now. The day lilies for the lunch were donated by Ronna Moore of Idyllwild Gardens in Savannah, Mo. Ms. Nelson purchased the pansies, nasturtiums and some assorted flowers online from marcofoods.com. They come from a company in California called Fresh Origins LLC. You also can gather fresh flowers yourself, of course. Here are a few tips from Iowa State University and Michelle Nelson: * Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, garden centers or from the side of the road unless you know if they have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. * Remove pistils and stamens before eating. * Store flowers in the refrigerator after picking. This is especially important for day lilies, to keep them from closing. * Introduce in small quantities, so don't overdo it if this is your first time. * If you are prone to allergies, rub on your skin first to see if you have a reaction. * Use edible flowers in flavored oils, vinaigrettes, jellies and marinades. * Freeze whole small flowers into ice rings or cubes to use in punch. * Eat only flowers you know are edible. When in doubt, leave it out. Lifestyles reporter Sylvia Anderson may be reached at email@example.com. Chicken salad-filled day lilies 1/2 cup flaked coconut 1/2 cup chopped almonds 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons orange marmalade 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 cups diced cooked chicken Cleaned and stemmed edible daylilies (optional) Bake coconut and almonds in shallow baking pans at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, for five to 10 minutes or until toasted; mix. Stir together cream cheese and next four ingredients; gently stir in chicken. Roll chicken in the almonds/coconut mixture, place in flower. This can also be used as a tea sandwich and spread on top of white/wheat bread with the almond/coconut mixture sprinkled on top. Nasturtium pasta salad 3/4 pound fried farfalle (bow tie) pasta 1/3 cup lemon juice 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper 1 cup crumbled feta cheese 3/4 cup English cucumber sticks 1/2 cup calendular or marigold petals (optional) 3 1/2 cup nasturtium blossoms 3 1/2 tender nasturtium leaves, rinsed and drained Salt to taste Cook pasta until tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water and drain when cool, about three minutes. In a large bowl, mix lemon juice, oil and pepper. Add pasta, feta and cucumber. Add flowers. Mix and season to taste with salt. Mix with lemon dressing. Lemon dressing: 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon chive blossoms (optional) Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Combine all ingredients. Lavender meringues 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup powdered sugar 2 tablespoons dried lavender buds 4 egg whites 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/4 vanilla extract Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Place sugars and lavender in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until ground fine. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until foamy and soft peaks form. Add the sugar mixture by the tablespoon, beating until stiff and all sugar is incorporated, about five minutes. It should be very thick and glossy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Spoon meringue into a piping bag with round tip. Pipe 1-inch rounds in rows on the baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for about two hours until dry and firm. Rotate the pans after an hour to ensure even baking. Cool. Once dry, place meringues in an air-tight container. This should keep for up to two weeks. Makes about 90 meringues. Lavender flower creme brulee 4 cups heavy cream 1/2 ounce dried lavender flower 8 egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated white sugar 1/4 cup granulated white sugar (for caramelizing the tops) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the cream and the lavender to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and allow the lavender to infuse with the cream for about three to four minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and creamy. Remove the lavender and discard. Slowly pour the cream into the egg and sugar mixture, blending well. Strain into a large bowl, skimming off any foam or bubbles. Divide mixture into six ramekins. Place them in a water bath and bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill for at least two hours or up to two days. When ready, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard. Use a hand-held torch to melt sugar. If you do not have a torch, place under the broiler until sugar melts. Re- chill. -- The Flower Society of St. Joseph Copyright 2010 St. Joseph News-Press; NPG Newspapers, Inc. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.