Ria Chambers from Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom in Wellingborough looks at using flowers in cooking.
Last month I touched upon the historic use of roses in cooking.
This month I’d like to continue upon this floral theme.
Now we are in March, the first month of spring, we are promised a festival of flowers which are about to burst into bloom (we hope, weather permitting!) which I am using as my inspiration in the tearoom this month.
Disregarding the fact it’s my birthday this month, making me slightly biased, I have always loved this time of year when the buds of new life open up to reveal an array of colour, shapes and scents.
The flowers surrounding us brighten the dark days we have had, preparing us for the sunnier, warmer days of the rest of spring and summer yet to come.
The delicate floral aromas lend themselves well to the menu as we start to think about lighter foods and drinks at this time of year.
As I explained in my previous article the use of culinary flowers was popularised during the Victorian era.
Not only did this allow for an expansion of seasonal ingredients to be used, but also as an expression of thoughts and feelings as each flower has a different meaning.
For example, violet is for modesty, lavender is devotion, rose is for love, and jasmine is for elegance.
To be abe to replicate these flavours I have raided the recipe books to find some bakes with a floral flavour.
So joining my already popular rose cake will be violet cake, elderflower cake and lemon and lavender biscuits.
The latter I first experienced on a visit to Norfolk Lavender where it is delightful to see the vibrant purple lavender fields surrounding the centre being transferred into a natural flavouring for food.
Due to the history of these cakes they fit nicely with my vintage ethos at the tearoom.
The full flower experience can be rounded off with a floral-based tea, the likes of which have now become part of day to day life in modern times.
Here at the tearoom you could try chamomile, orange blossom oolong or jasmine and green tea.
On a clement day you can even have a sparkling elderflower drink.
And as flowers are precious items, just like our mums, their flavours are the basis of my Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea which I am now taking bookings for.
Why not treat her this year and put a spring in her step?