JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Scented Kitchen, cooking with flowers

I've just read in Hannah's Country Kitchen an appeal for recipes for lavender jam, and it's reminded me that I meant to write about an unusual cookery book I bought in Scotland, The Scented Kitchen by Frances Bissell.

This is a book for gardeners, because most of the inspiration can be found in an English country garden - lavender, fennel seeds, hawthorn, marigolds, roses, violets, pansies, borage, carnations .... you don't even need a veg patch to get the most out of this book.

I found the book at Valvona and Crolla, the Italian delicatessen in Edinburgh, and couldn't put it down once I'd begun. This is a fresh approach to cooking, one which is at once old-fashioned and very modern. There's something very granny-ish about the idea of eating violet-flavoured food, and yet violet souffle seems made for the 21st century.

The recipes are easy to follow, but if you're anything like me, you'll use this book as an inspiration for improving dishes you already make, to help you range wider when thinking of flavourings. I would never have thought of making lavender sugar or lavender vinegar, and am glad that I now have both. The one recipe I did follow to the letter was rose petal jelly, a beautiful if barely-set concoction which is delicious on toast and which I have recently been using to glaze plum tarts.


Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Joanna, this sounds like a fabulous book! Thanks for the recommendation.

I must confess that when I pictured you sitting around glazing plum tarts with rose jelly, I felt incredibly useless for a moment or two ; )

Joanna said...

Oh NO! I've been completely hopeless for the past couple of weeks, not achieving anything other than the daily grind. But that's when the jelly-you-made-ages-ago-when-you-felt-like-it really comes into its own! And because I'm not a routines type of person who does everything steadily, I find that making the most of the productive moments helps get through the non-productive ones.

But I'm really sorry to have given you one of those moments ... you are one of my inspirations, your food is what I want to eat, and your photographs are always lovely ... & I think of you as a capable, knowledgeable and efficient cook ...

And yes, I think you'd enjoy The Scented Kitchen


laughing snail said...

Hey Joanna
Great to hear from you, I'll have to get growing some more flowers for next summer!

Minturno.Sviluppo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jane said...

The book does sound wonderful - I am always looking for something to do with the flowers I don't sell - I must get a copy, thanks for the recommendation,J

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Sounds like a really great read and the rose petal jelly. . . well that sounds oh boy good!
Non productive "moments" ha if only it were moments and not weeks!