Primroses & Violets

In her 1950’s Good Things in England, Dorothy Hartley features a very old recipe for a pastry case filled with honey-sweetened parsnip mash, ginger and lemon. It is cooked and then finished with a meringue top and primroses strewn over.

Once you get over the idea of parsnip in a sweet tart, I think this sounds delicious. Personally I would leave off the meringue but would be sure to include the primroses. The first of the Spring flowers are terrific for easing the cook through the last meals of winter by adding a fresh look and promise of warmer weather ahead.

My column this month for The Arbuturian magazine is about just that. Not just primroses but also the violets which are wonderful in the kitchen at this time of year. I use them both for cooking with as an ingredient as well as for decorating cakes, desserts, and cocktails.

I sometimes like to add some frosting to the flowers by dipping them in egg white and then sugar before leaving to dry thoroughly. I know crystallised violets are pretty easy to buy now but I think they can look rather unattractively blobby. For crystallised flowers which actually look like flowers I suggest you try Welsh company ‘Eat My Flowers‘.  Sarah Hughes and her team create the most exquisite whole flower crystallisations – and have very seasonal violets and primroses available to buy now.

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