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.