A garden of exotic flowers can be found at your local grocery store to be plucked right under your nose.
Located in many forms, flowers or flowering plants are often dried, pickled or added to other ingredients to help compliment your recipes and dishes.
Here are 5 top flower or flower parts that you should seek out to use in your kitchen:
1. Capers- a Mediterranean flowering bush that produces edible buds. Capers and their brine are delicious in various dishes such as chicken piccata or in a salad or relish such as Thousand Island dressing. Find capers either in your pickle aisle or in the upscale Italian specialty section, near the anchovies. We love capers with smoked salmon. Capers are low in calories (23 calories per 100 grams, and contain healthy levels of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin, and riboflavin. Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol. Watch for high sodium content, however since brines often contain a large dose of salt. Consider rinsing capers to alleviate some sodium.
2. Saffron- the golden, yellow stamen of the crocus plant is spice used to flavor and color many Middle Eastern and Spanish dishes. Saffron is delicious as an ingredient in stews, rice dishes such as paella and soups (see below. Add a few saffron threads to this delicious sweet potato recipe). Known for its expensive price tag, saffron can be used stringently since it has a powerful, earthy but floral flavor. Saffron is rich in vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health, as well as a-crocin and other carotenoids, including zea-xanthin, lycopene, α- and β-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that help protect the human body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators.
3. Jasmine Green Tea- a blend of jasmine and green tea’s, jasmine green tea is a floral tea that is delicious both hot or cold. We love to relax with our favorite brands, Bigelow (found at most Long Island markets), and Organic Rishi’s jasmine pearl or Mighty Leaf spring jasmine (found at Whole Foods and Fairway). Jasmine Green tea is so delicious on it’s own, we do not add any sweetener.
4. Rose Water- not to be mistaken with rose syrup, which is filled with sugar is an ingredient found in many Indian, Middle Eastern and specialty markets such as Fairway. Rose water is a relatively inexpensive product used to subtlety flavor desserts or pastries. We love to add a few drops (1/4 tsp) to our vanilla pudding recipes (see below), or most recently as a tiny nuance in our chili.
5-Herbs de Provence- is actually a combination of various French Mediterranean herbs such as savory, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and other abundantly growing culinary plants. However, the predominant flavor is dry lavender with is bright, floral and earthy flavor profile. We love to use herbs de provence to flavor roast pork, roast chicken and vegetable stews. We have even seen people sprinkle some on hot popcorn! Find herb de provence at most well stocked grocery and specialty stores as well as Penzey’s on Glen Cove Road in Westbury.
For other helpful Long Island resources, please visit:
- Long Island Grocery Stores, including specialty shops and those that deliver
- Where to purchase farm raised poultry on Long Island
- Grocery 101: Holiday Essentials
- Where to purchase Prime Dry Age Meats on Long Island
- Where and how to purchase a lobster (and other seafood) on Long Island
- Grocery 101: Basic Staples Lists
- Long Island Farmer's Markets: Locations and Dates
- Long Island Farm Stands
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