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    You are in: Home / Cookbooks / Tussie Mussie - A Floral Posy of Cooking with Flowers
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    Tussie Mussie - A Floral Posy of Cooking with Flowers

    Alice in Through the Looking Glass was surprised to hear the Tiger lily speak. She asked, "And can all the flowers talk?" "As well as you can," said the Tiger lily. "And a great deal louder." In fact, the lilies in my garden are shouting, "Separate us!" People who garden can relate this time of year. Today, "talking bouquets" give new meaning to the popular phrase, "Say it with flowers." A tussie-mussie or word poesy is a small circular nosegay of flowers and herbs, tightly gathered and designed to carry a special message in the language of flowers. The traditional tussie-mussie is composed of fragrant herbs surrounding one central flower, a rose. The language of flowers spans the world of the ancients from Greece and Turkey to the Aztecs of South and Central America. In England during Elizabethan times, judges carried tussie-mussies into their courtrooms to protect against "gaol fever." Today judges at England's highest court, the Old Bailey, celebrate this tradition by carrying a tussie-mussie into court six times a year. During the Victorian era tussie-mussies were carried close to the nose to ward off the stench in the streets and the plague and were composed primarily of scented herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and rue. The age-old custom of strewing pungent herbs on the floors of homes was thought to protect the gentlefolk from germs and provide herbal fragrances - early aromatherapy. The Victorians also turned flower giving into an art. It was common practice at the beginning of a courtship for suitors to give their intended a tussie-musssie. Floriography, the art of sending messages by flowers, brought a new dimension to tussie-mussies. Dozens of floral dictionaries were published listing the meanings of each flower and herb. The symbolic meanings were adapted from classical mythology, religious symbolism, ancient lore, and a bit of creativity on the part of the floral designer. The study of botany and the discovery of new plants from all over the world brought new and exciting ideas to this language of flowers. In this cookbook, I am talking through flowers with special recipes - I hope you enjoy my Bouquet of Floral Cooking!
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    A wonderful sticky, sugar topped sweet bread that is flavoured with orange blossom water. Fouace is a very old traditional bread, the word originally referred to the oven in which bread has been cooked since ancient times, from the Latin word "focus" or hearth. This orange blossom scented bread is traditionally shaped in to a wreath or an oval and is from the Albi region in the South of France near Toulouse. As the bread bakes slowly, it spreads out as it rises, giving a very distinctive shape. It is served very hot and, depending on the version, may be topped with white beans, rillettes, salted butter or goat's cheese; however, I prefer this recipe served hot, spread with butter and a dollop of apricot conserve. (Recipe from the Gourmet Food site.)

    Recipe #414954

    This is SUCH a wonderful old recipe! Fresh butter is mixed with floral scented waters, such as rose water or orange blossom water and is delicious as an alternative to clotted cream, especially when spread on freshly made scones. It is also wonderful with all types of griddle cakes, crumpets and traditional tea cakes and breads. This floral butter dates back to the 18th Century and is featured in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, as well as numerous other historical cookbooks. This recipe adapts well to modern cooking - and would make a stunning feature at any Victorian style Ladies' afternoon tea party or even a little girl's birthday party. Serve this with pancakes for breakfast or brunch, the possibilities are endless!

    Recipe #416574

    A simple and beautiful syrup that is easy to make and gives amazing results. My front garden is covered in little sweet violets every spring and although I crystallise them or cut them for the spring dinner table, I recently found this old recipe for making violet syrup, which is fabulous. So, I have been busy making Sweet Violet Syrup this year! The syrup is great when added to icings and butter cream for cakes; and is wonderful when used in beverages too. Only a small amount is needed to add to sparkling wine or lemonade for a delectable and elegant drink. I have also added the syrup for flavouring to homemade macaroons, French Macarons. Why not make a homemade violet ice cream, or add this to junkets and blancmanges, the list is endless! NB: Six handfuls are about 3 ounces. A bottle of this makes a great gift for a foodie friend, add a label with serving ideas; one teaspoon is usually enough for most recipes.

    Recipe #416575

    What can be nicer then inviting friends and family over for an old fashioned afternoon tea. Homemade bread, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits (cookies) and these delightful rose scented coconut macaroons. These are not the same as the little piped, multi-coloured and flavoured macaroons that you find in France; these are rustic and yet elegant little coconut mounds or pyramids, real old fashioned biscuit type cakes. As well as being delicious, these are also easy to make. If you would like to add a little food colouring to make them a pale pink, that would make them look so pretty! BUT, be warned, do add the colouring carefully, many a pale rose coloured biscuit (cookie) has ended up a bright puce colour! Recipe from Francis Bissell.

    Recipe #416578

    This is a fabulous recipe, or rather a recipe idea. I use this lavender mayonnaise throughout the summer months; it marries so well with poached salmon and is wonderful when served with canapés, salads, cold roast chicken and most types of fish and seafood. It is easy; simply add a drop or two of lavender infused vinegar to homemade or good quality readymade mayonnaise for a floral fantasy at your dinner table! By all means add a few lavender buds when serving this, as a garnish, it adds to the whole dining experience. I have a recipe for lavender vinegar: Recipe #416577

    Recipe #416576

    A wonderful addition to any cook's pantry, this lavender infused vinegar is easy to make and adds a certain j' nés quoi to any savoury dish. Use it in my Lavender Mayonnaise or to flavour a salad dressing – all the lavender taste but not the chewy lavender buds! This vinegar retains not only the flavour of the lavender, but also the fragrance too. If you have the lavender bushes, it is worth making a few bottles of this, it will enliven any drear winter’s day and makes a great gift for a foodie friend. This is a Francis Bissell recipe, from a great little cookbook that my daughter bought for me this Mother’s Day!

    Recipe #416577

    Cooking with unusual ingredients can be very rewarding, and we all love to impress our guests with unusual recipes and flavours. Using rose water and orange blossom water is a way of doing just this, with their unique taste, but purchasing these rare treats can be expensive. I cook with rose water and orange blossom water a lot; especially in historical (Medieval and Victorian) and Middle Eastern recipes. I have numerous highly scented old fashioned shrub roses in my old cottage style walled garden - great for rose water, and also an orange tree - great for making orange blossom water! Although I can buy both scented, flavoured waters in France and England, there is always something very satisfying about making your own - give it a go, I am VERY happy with the results. This recipe was found on a leaflet from a water distilling company in the UK; you DO need to use distilled water for these two recipes, which is easily purchased in most countries - I use it for my steam iron!! NB: Remember to use petals and blossom which are free of pesticides and traffic pollution. (Quantities and yields are dependent on how many blossoms and petals you use.........last time I made rose water, I used 4 ounces of petals and had a yeild of 4 small bottles.)

    Recipe #414575

    Another GREAT Jamie Oliver recipe, and one that I am preparing for New Year's Eve! Jamie says you can use any spirits or liquor, but he suggestes vodka and tequila in his recipe. These bottles look SO festive and pretty, I plan to use holly, berries, bay leaves, fruit slices, ivy and woody herbs for my bottles this year. DO check that the liquor bottle fits INSIDE the plastic water bottle first! This recipe idea for serving liquor originates from Scandinavia. (Prep time is for freezing the bottles.)

    Recipe #405174

    The English summer is thought to start when the elder blossoms end and the berries ripen. The citrus aroma floating down country lanes also heralds a bountiful harvest for the forager and home-brewer. Elderflower cordial costs more as the bottles get smarter and it’s seen as a luxury, which seems ludicrous to me, as I know that you can make it for next to nothing! Elderflower cordial is a wonderful base for all sorts of culinary treats............lemonade, sorbet, mousses, jelly, desserts, beverages, glazes etc. It is very easy to make, although you need to plan ahead as the flowers need to be steeped in the sugar mixture for four days. The flowers taste best picked early on a dry, hot day, and speed is crucial: they should be used straight after picking. The cream-coloured heads (or umbels) are tastier than the white, and don’t worry if they smell unappetising at first once they’re infused, the heady scent is delicious.Choose umbels free of discolouring and keep them dry until you’re ready to begin. Folklore: * One name for it is the Judas Tree, as it was thought to be the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from * To fell a tree without suitable protection could free a spirit called the Elder Mother to take her revenge * The elderflower was said to be a protection against witches, and a knotted twig kept in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism * Elderflowers were apparently never struck by lightning, and a cross of elder fastened above stables would protect the animals from evil Medicinal benefits * Elderflower cordials and elderberry wines are high in vitamins A, B and C * In A Modern Herbal of 1931, Mrs Grieves recommends an elderflower infusion, taken hot before bed, as a remedy for colds and throat trouble * Mrs Grieves swears by elder leaves as an insect deterrent. The foul-smelling bruised leaves around tender plants and buds prevent attack by aphids and cater-pillars, and gardeners can add a sprig to their hatband to ward off midges * Medical herbalist Christine Houghton says a daily elderflower infusion, made with fresh flowers, is helpful in preventing hay fever

    Recipe #414594

    An old Elizabethan salad recipe, but with an air of modernity about it, as our interest increases in herbal and floral remedies in today's busy, stressful and hectic world. I have made some suggestions about which flowers and herbs to use - but PLEASE do check that the flowers and herbs you choose to use are edible!! The French also use flowers in their salads, and although the title suggests this to be an English recipe, this style of herbal and floral salad will have been very common throughout Medieval Europe. I serve this at the Auberge when the flowers and herbs are in season - freshly picked from my garden; it is always enjoyed with great relish and is a vibrant topic of dinner party conversation! It makes a lovely appetiser or can be served with the cheese course for an unusual and pretty accompaniment. Make sure that your flowers and herbs are insecticide free, and are not traffic polluted as well.........wipe them or wash them gently, allowing them to dry before using them.

    Recipe #290473

    A quick and easy home-made honey recipe from the Auberge in South West France! I use lavender honey so much in my cooking, that I thought it was about time I made my own - given that I have about 30 lavender bushes! As well as giving an amazing and subtle flavour to your recipes, it also makes a wonderful gift for a fellow foodie. I plan on making my own lavender honey all the time now, as even in France, it is quite expensive to buy. You can increase the quantities to make more jars - just remember to keep the flower to honey ratio the same.

    Recipe #379821

    A wonderful recipe that I discovered on a recipe card from Wold's Way Lavender Farm in North Yorkshire, England! This magical lavender farm is just down the road from my parent's house and is high on my "must visit" list when I go home to England. I have found that this tea is a miracle worker for headaches, head colds and colds in general........the soothing honey helps sore throats whilst the lemon contains essential vitamin C, and the lavender provides a calming and refreshing element to this herbal tea or tisane. Although this is mainly served hot, I have made this during the summer months as an iced tea, as it's perfect for hot, sultry days.

    Recipe #384075

    Borage is one of my favourite herbs, and I always find room for it in my herb garden; in fact, I grow it amongst my flowers in the herbaceous border. Its pretty vibrant blue star-shaped flowers (Borage is sometimes called the Star Herb) are wonderful when added to salads and drinks. The leaves, which taste of cucumber, are also an essential ingredient to soups, salads, drinks, creams and butters. I often add borage flowers when serving alcoholic drinks and fruit drinks. Borage is especially good with claret cup or wine cup, as in this recipe. You can also add borage leaves and flowers to hot or iced tea or lemonade. Borage is an excellent culinary herb and can be used in a variety of ways. Borage is far better when used fresh, as the flavour and colour deteriorate when it is dried and some essential oils are lost. Traditional recipes recommend borage leaves and seeds, together with fennel in salads for increasing the milk supply in nursing mothers. The leaves and flowers are also added for flavour and garnish to wine cups, Pimms and gin-based summer cocktails and the flowers are still candied for confectionary as cake and ice cream decorations.

    Recipe #381645

    This fruit salad is amazing, and all the more for the addition of bergamot leaves and flowers! The fragrant leaves of this versatile herb delicately flavour the syrup whilst the gorgeous shaggy red flowers and scented pelargonium leaves decorate it for the final finishing flourish! If you are a lover of Earl Gray tea, you will instantly recognise the flavour of this herb, as it is used to flavour this famous and popular tea blend. NOTE: Bergamot, often referred to as bee balm, became distinguished as "Oswego Tea" when a Quaker botanist, John Bartram, sampled a tea made from the leaves. A Bergamot lemon is a small yellow sour citrus fruit similar to an orange, mostly cultivated in Calabria in Italy. The rind contains an essential oil used in perfumery (the basis for eau-de-cologne), confectionary and Earl Grey tea. The zest is also used in pâtisserie. NB: Prep time includes cooling time.

    Recipe #381682

    A delightful old French salad recipe, which uses fresh aromatic herbs with fresh lettuce leaves and a simple dressing. Serve this with poached salmon or cold chicken for an elegant dinner party dish. Adapted from a 16th century French translation of a book originally written in Latin in 1474. NB: Borage is an excellent culinary herb and can be used in a variety of ways. Borage is far better used fresh, as the flavour and colour deteriorate when dried and some essential oils lost. Traditional recipes recommend borage leaves and seeds, together with fennel in salads for increasing the milk supply in nursing mothers. The leaves and flowers are still added for flavour and garnish to wine cups, Pimms and gin-based summer cocktails and the flowers are still candied for confectionary as cake and ice cream decorations.

    Recipe #381683

    This is a wonderful, light summery dessert, which never fails to please my guests, as well as my family and friends! Fresh peaches are soaked in sweet Sauternes with angelica leaves and lavender flowers tucked amongst them. Angelica is an interesting, aromatic tasting herb, and although I normally only use the stems to candy or crystallise (Recipe #248003) I have discovered that the leaves also make a great accompaniment when used with fresh fruit. Try to serve this fresh fruit salad in a large clear glass bowl for maximum impact; it just looks so pretty with the light shining through the fruit, juices and herbs! I find that the only thing that is needed to serve this is a good dollop of crème fraiche. I have also made this with apricots and melon for a slight change. I like to use a combination of white and yellow peaches for this recipe – but please use local and fresh peaches regional to your area. Prep time includes the minimum "soaking" time. I have not tried this with tinned peaches, but suspect that they may be too "soft" to hold their shape for prolonged soaking.

    Recipe #382163

    A boozy lavender fruit cup made with vermouth, herbs and fresh strawberries! How good is that! This is another gem of a recipe that I discovered on a recipe card from Wolds Way Lavender Farm in North Yorkshire, England – which is just 10 minutes from my parent's cottage. The delicately flavoured drink is the perfect way to unwind after a long, hard day........It is almost better than Pimms, and, as Pimms is my favourite summertime tipple, that is really saying something! Sit back, relax, sip and enjoy!

    Recipe #384077

    This is my favourite type of French fruit tart, even more so than apple tart! Our local Patisserie makes a wonderful Tarte aux Abricots, but they are quite expensive and VERY large, much too big for the two of us when we have no B and B guests! So, I have been tinkering in the kitchen again, and have come up with this recipe. You MUST use fresh apricots for this - tinned ones are too soft and too sweet. Plus, I love the slightly tart flavour that the fresh apricots lend to the flavours of this tart. The ground almonds are scattered over the base of the short crust pastry case to stop it becoming soggy during cooking; they also provide a complimentary flavour to the apricots. A classic French tart that will make a delightful ending to any special meal or for afternoon tea. Serve this tart with fresh whipped cream or crème fraiche.

    Recipe #380423

    This is my mum's recipe for rose syrup - and the name of their cottage in England! Try to use old English shrub roses, as they are highly fragranced and impart a delicate flavour to the syrup. The correct word for this recipe would be a Shrub or a Ratafia, as it is fortified with brandy - however, Ratafia would also have fruit or almond kernels added; it would have been offered as a refreshing "pick-me-up" to gentile ladies - with water or lemonade added of course! This recipe is well over 100 years old and a bottle of this would make an unusual and delighttful gift.

    Recipe #379765

    A wonderful marinade for beef, lamb or chicken; this marinade is suffused with the flavours and smells of summer, minus the sound of the bees buzzing! Allow the meats to marinate all day or overnight for a more pronounced flavour as well as being extra moist and juicy. Culinary lavender essence can be bought at specialist cook's shops online or at your local lavender farms. If you cannot get hold of culinary lavender essence, use a handful of lavender flowers, lightly crushed.

    Recipe #379770

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