I recently had the immense delight to be present at the launch of ‘A Delicious Bunch’. Held at a tiny but wonderful culinary-themed bookshop (A Scrumptious Read), the event was anything but lacking in colour and joy! Much like the book itself really, not to mention the author!
Linda is a colourful lady whose passion for what she does is inspiring. She has turned her garden on Brisbane’s bayside into an edible wonderland and runs her Ecobotanica business from there.
Linda has now written her first book based on her passion for edible flowers.
Flowers seem to be the flavour of the moment in culinary circles and everywhere they are popping onto plates. Most of the time they are used only as garnish, and usually pushed to the side once viewed rather than eaten with the dish. Linda encourages us to not just use them as garnish, but to incorporate them into the dish, and even if they are garnish, in her recipes you will most definitely want to eat them!
Linda is an experienced organic gardener as well as a creative cook. This book combines both of those passions. It is both a gardening book and a recipe book.
For most keen gardeners, the gardening advice is probably a little simple to be satisfying but it is ideal for the new gardener. In fact the information in this book is ideal for those who are curious or creative cooks and need some encouragement to grow some of their own ingredients – it is ideal for a wedding or engagement or house warming gift for a young couple. As I have said here before, the world needs more gardeners and we need to grow more flowers. Give this book to someone you know who is interested in cooking and you will lead them straight to the soil to get planting!
This book is also a must have for all of those gardeners who will only grow what can be eaten. I wish my grandfather was alive still so that I could give him a copy. We need those flowers in the garden for so many reasons, and if you need the excuse that they are edible, then here it is. Flowers now well and truly belong in the vegetable garden. Thank you Linda, for helping me to share this passion of mine with the vegetable growing world!
This book is also for anyone who is curious about delightful fresh food from the garden.
While many of us find it difficult to pick flowers, instead preferring to enjoy them in the garden, with many of the flowers included here, regular picking will actually promote more flowering so it can be win-win.
The book covers old favourites like roses, lavender, violets and zucchini flowers, but also ventures into less familiar territory with ginger flowers, begonia, bougainvillea and crucifix orchids – yes, all edible!
A Delicious Bunch includes growing notes in addition to recipes for the 30 flowers it contains. In some cases it also includes some historical references to herbal remedies using the flowers which I find fascinating.
While there are many of the flowers which are common annuals grown in most climates and countries, I was thrilled to find that the book also contains both tropical and subtropical flowers as well. This book will find fans in all climate zones.
There is a Sri Lankan curry made using banana bell flowers, a ginger flower dipping sauce and a bougainvillea switzel.
I had never come across switzel before so was pleased to try it at the launch. It is a very mild fermented drink which is refreshing and easy to drink. For people like myself who do not like kambucha, it is a good alternative.
The book also includes ideas for rosellas, besides the obligatory rosella jam. The rosella and white chocolate cheesecake slice looks like heaven, and I am also keen to try the jasmine-scented custard tartlets.
But why cook with flowers at all? Well apart from looking good flowers do have nutritional benefits. They do seem less substantial than other vegetables, but what they lack in substance they make up for with colour or scent. We are being encouraged to eat a more colourful diet for the greater variety of nutrient the different colours supply us. Flowers are certainly a delightful way to do this. Many of the chemical compounds which give flowers their wonderful colours are also very beneficial antioxidants when added to our diets. For others such as sambac jasmine, roses and lavender it is the scent which creates delicate and delightful flavours while also providing valuable vitamins and antioxidants.
The book is a great read and I hope it will inspire gardeners and cooks alike. But if nothing else, you can simply enjoyed the exquisite photography throughout the book. If these pictures do not get your mouth watering and your green thumbs itching, nothing will!
‘A Delicious Bunch: growing and cooking with edible flowers‘
Author: Linda Brennan
Paperback, 160 pages, published 1 June 2017. RRP $39.95
Available direct from ecobotanica