July 20th, 2015
Cooking with edible flowers has been one of my greatest pleasures in the kitchen. Floral infusions provide amazing flavor and can add beneficial, healing properties to any dish or drink. My favorite was the Rose Ice Cream and Rose Petal Mille Feuille I made a few years ago with organic rose petals and the purest essential rose oil from my perfume maker friend. The oil was so concentrated that a tiny drop turned a portion of ice cream into a magical bowl of aromatherapy.
Here are two refreshing drinks we’ve been enjoying this summer, featuring some of the most loved, calming culinary flowers – lavender and chamomile.
Chamomile is an amazing little flower, and its oils are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiallergenic. It has long been used as a sleep aid all over the world. Having a cup of chamomile tea before bed has become one of my daily rituals – it really does the job of getting me ready for some wholesome rest.
Lately, I’ve been loving this creamy chamomile latte. My favorite way to enjoy it this summer is cold, but it also makes for a comforting warm drink for the cooler parts of the year.
Lavender, with its own share of antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, is king of the aromatherapy world – even the smallest whiff sends a relaxation signal to the mind. This milkshake combines lavender and blueberries, as the two are a match made in heaven. Drink it as a refreshing mid-afternoon snack after some time in the sun or even as dessert after dinner.
The most important variable when cooking with dried edible flowers is their freshness. If a flower is freshly dried, a little of it will go a long way, while older dried flowers have likely lost their potency. It’s also important to remember that the best way to extract the beneficial oils from herbs such as chamomile and lavender is gently heating them in a double boiler for longer periods of time. Directly pouring boiling water over the herbs is a harsher method, which kills off many of their benefits.
We are off to Sochi for the last stretch of our Russian vacation. Black Sea, here we come.
1 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons dried German chamomile flowers – make sure to get them from a store with a good rotation
1/2 cup almond milk (I like homemade unsweetened)
honey to taste – optional
Combine water with chamomile in a small, heatproof bowl. Place the bowl into a heavy bottomed pot or pan. Add water to the pan, making sure that water level in the pan is lower than the bowl. Bring water in the pan to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool enough for safe handling. Strain chamomile tea, mix with almond milk and honey, if using. For an extra creamy and foamy consistency, blend the tea and almond milk in a blender. Drink warm or chilled in the fridge. I like it best cold and unsweetened.
1 1/2 cups almond milk or other plant milk (I like homemade unsweetened almond milk)
1 tablespoon edible dried lavender flowers (make sure to get them from a store with a good rotation – flowers should be lavender, rather then grey in color, with a fresh, strong aroma)
6-8 scoops of your favorite vanilla, blueberry or lavender ice-cream
handful of fresh or frozen blueberries – optional, for color
handful of ice cubes – optional, for smoother texture
splash of maple syrup – optional, to taste
seeds of 1 vanilla bean or splash of vanilla extract – optional
Combine almond milk and lavender flowers in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let cool. Strain and chill in the refrigerator. Combine lavender milk and the rest of ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth and thick milkshake consistency. If your lavender flowers are very fresh and aromatic, you can skip the infusion step and simply blend almond milk, 1/2 tablespoon (or to taste) lavender and blueberries, in a high speed blender until completely smooth. Then add the rest of ingredients and blend to a smooth and thick milkshake consistency.
June 28th, 2015
Paloma and I made it to my hometown in the Southwest of Russia, where we are thoroughly enjoying our stay at grandma’s house. Because I don’t get to visit here very often, my days are completely packed with family, friends, daily trips to the market, nature walks, and all sorts of leftover business. This time, we added a kitchen renovation to the mix, along with piano and swimming lessons for Paloma. The days fly by, and I’m always caught by surprise when the night falls and it’s time for bed.
As usual, we’re indulging in my mom’s home cooked delicacies and consume the local berry harvest by the kilo. The most abundant crops right now, which we have no access to in Florida, are sour cherries, black, red and white currants, wild strawberries and mulberries. We walk around with berry-stained hands and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I prepared this recipe in Florida, right before we left, where a very hot summer was in full swing, making me want to stay away from the oven as much as possible. I craved crunchy raw vegetables like kohlrabi and jicama, along with chilled watermelon and ripe mango, which often replaced my lunch. I came up with this easy salad – a combination of jicama, mango, avocado and grilled corn with loads of cilantro and lime juice. It’s a quick and refreshing dish on its own and even more filling and delicious when served in a taco shell.
Lastly, I have a bit of housekeeping to discuss. If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, you can do so here. We recently changed the format to a better looking one, and along with recipe updates, the newsletters will include seasonal ingredient highlights and any other Golubka Kitchen related news.
And for the French readers, the translation for the Rhubarb Raspberry Fizz from Sarah Kieffer’s guest post is up here.
Mango, Jicama and Grilled Corn Tacos
2 ears of corn – grilled
1 medium jicama – sliced into cubes or small matchsticks
2 ripe, sweet mangos – cut into small cubes
ground chipotle – to taste (optional)
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 ripe but firm avocados – cubed
your favorite taco shells
hot sauce of choice
Cut kernels off grilled corn ears. Combine corn kernels, jicama and mango in a large bowl, add chipotle, if using. Squeeze lime juice over. Add cilantro leaves and mix gently. Distrribute the salad between taco shells, top with abocado slices, sprinkle with more lime juice, cilantro leaves and your favorite hot sauce. Serve right away.
June 14th, 2015
By the time this post goes up, Paloma and I will be in Russia spending some much anticipated time with grandma. I will try to keep Instagram updated with some snaps from our travels.
I leave you with this salad, made with plenty of nutritious grains, herbs, and two stars of the spring/summer farmer’s market – asparagus and strawberries. It’s a variation on one my all time favorite salads, from our book (Fava Bean, Quinoa, and Mint Salad on pg. 89) – simple, rich in textures, filling and very fresh. Mint is essential to the flavor here, so try not to skip it.
Enjoy the beginning of summer!
Multigrain Summer Salad with Strawberries and Asparagus
for the salad
1 bunch asparagus
2 cups strawberries – sliced
handful fresh mint leaves – chopped
handful basil leaves – chopped (optional)
2 cups cooked grains (I used a combination of sorghum, red rice and spelt, but any grains like quinoa, faro, frekkeh, any type of rice, or even buckwheat would work fine here)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
for the dressing
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of sea salt
1. Cut tough ends off the asparagus. Cook it your preferred way – blanch, steam or grill. I like to blanch asparagus in salted water for 3 minutes, then shock it in an ice bath, so it stays bright green and crispy. Slice into bite sized pieces.
2. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined and set aside.
2. Place cooked grains into a large mixing bowl. Add asparagus, strawberries and herbs. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. This salad tastes best when eaten within a day.