Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pick a Plate of Perfect Posies

Summer is the perfect time for entertaining, but do not limit yourself to the outdoor bar-be-que. However, if you do grill outdoors it doesn't mean that you should serve everything on paper plates. Entertain well whether you are in or outdoors. Bring out the china, linens and candles.

Entertaining well does not mean you have to spend a lot of money, either. Look around your garden. Decorate and dine with rose petals, fresh herbs, and organic edible flowers. "Posies" can elevate any dish with color and unique flavors. To enhance cocktails, freeze rose petals or violets in ice cubes and float them in your favorite drink or sparkling wine punch.

For appetizers, roll a soft cheese ball in marigold or bachelor button petals or even fresh herbs. Do the same with the butter to serve with corn on the cob or warm fresh bread. Use nasturtiums, pansies and violets to dress up salads or entrees. They not only add bright color, but especially nasturtiums will add a peppery bite. Too many zucchini? Their tender young squash blossoms can be deep fried in a light tempura batter. Squash blossoms are also tasty in an omelette or frittata. Sprinkle chive or oregano blossoms over salads for an herbal accent. Float edible flowers in chilled summer soups, too. Before you think about spraying those pesky dandelions, toss them with other salad greens instead. It is a tasty revenge!

And for dessert? Garnish a cake with carnation, rose petals or candied violets (glossed with egg whites and sprinkled with sugar). Lavender is very versatile and can be sprinkled into cakes and ice cream for flavor. My favorite and easy summer dessert is pouring an off-dry white wine, such as Reisling or Gewurztraminer, over fresh sliced berries and/or peaches. Top with whip cream and sprinkle with lavender or rose petals. Place the "tipsy" berries in a wine glass and it makes for an attractive presentation.

Now for the most important part. After the guests have left and every glass and dish is washed, draw a hot bath and pour yourself a glass of wine. Sprinkle all of the leftover flowers in the warm bath water and turn on some light music. The wonderful fragrance from the flowers and herbs will relax and lull you to sleep. Sweet dreams!

(Important: Beware - not all flowers are edible. Do your homework! Also, clean and dry flowers well. Do not use flowers that have been recently sprayed with pesticides!).

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