Sunday Telegraph "The leaves were exceptionally good".
Anneka Rice on Radio 2 - "Almost too beautiful to eat"

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Edible Flowers for Summer Drinks & Wedding Cocktails

Whilst outside we are all starting to think about Christmas and the frost has finally reduced the last of the edible flowers to pulp, in my head I am planning the flowers that we are going to grow for next year and we already have three times the number of weddings in the 2014 order book than we had this year which is very exciting.

I'm not sure whether it is because the weather has been kinder to us this summer or whether is it because people are growing more adventurous about eating flowers but we've had a lot of flowers going out all over the country for cocktails and other summer drinks this year. We have edible flowers heading to London for the cocktail set; to smart catering companies for corporate events and weddings; to one of my favourite customers who is producing a cocktail book next year (but more on that later) and also directly to brides for their wedding drinks.

Maddocks Farm Organics edible flowers also appeared in cocktails on the sofa at RHS Chelsea Flower Show where they were enjoyed by Alan Titchmarsh and Joe Swift and in Lavender cocktails on  Sunday Brunch where they were tried by the lovely Simon Rimmer, Tim Lovejoy and their guest, Olympic Athlete,  Christine Ohuruogu.

My favourite wedding of 2013 was that of the lovely Carla and Nick . Carla's fabulous mum Marion and her partner Cliff have been working at Maddocks Farm Organics for nearly18 months under the WWOOFing scheme so they are very much part of the family and Carla and Nick's wedding was the first opportunity for Maddocks Farm Organics to grow traditional wedding flowers for Carla's bouquet and to decorate the venues instead of just the usual edible flowers - extremely nerve wracking stuff but the bride was extremely happy and Marion did a wonderful job of arranging everything.

 Edible Flowers in your Wedding Drinks

Edible flowers work brilliantly in Wedding drinks irrespective of whether your wedding is a formal ‘champagne all the way’ kind of do or whether you are casually pitching a teepee in the back garden and opting for the DIY route.

Edible flowers come in all shapes and sizes and add a wonderful sense of glamour and celebration to Weddings and other special occasions.  Pimms has long been associated with the beautiful blue stars of borage flowers and  tagetes work well citrus based drinks. Snapdragons are wonderful at ‘snapping’ onto the rim of glasses and work particularly well with very fizzy drinks such as champagne. A confetti of lovely petals will make any drink look appealing and brides should opt for smaller rather than larger blooms with drinks so that they compliment rather than compete with the drink.

As important as adding ‘class to the glass’ they can also make the poor drivers’ non-alcoholic offering a lot more interesting and appealing.  It’s lovely to be able to really push the boat out for the designated drivers and also for children by making lovely fruit based punches. To be fair over the past few years the quality of the ready made soft drinks that you can buy in the supermarkets has improved dramatically but there are also many recipes on-line for lovely non-alcoholic punches and cocktails and adding fresh herb, fruit and edible flowers transform these into something really special.

As well as using flowers whole to garnish drinks, petals can also be crushed with salt or sugar to coat the rim of glasses for cocktails. They then form little jewels of flavour and colour that are just stunning.

Edible flowers are also wonderful set in ice either on their own or with mint to add some lovely colour and flavour to drinks and these can be done well in advance to be added to the drinks at the last minute. It is worth noting that ice cubes don’t have to be made purely of water that just dilute the drinks as they melt. I had a wonderful Gin based cocktail a few weeks back which had ice cubes made from Elderflower Cordial that released its wonderful flavour and fragrance as it melted changing the drink from one thing to another. Lemon juice can be added along with the flowers or lime or ginger. It’s entirely up to you.

Thank you to our lovely real life bride Carla and her mother Marion for allowing the photos. All photos takes by Maddocks Farm Organics using our edible flowers which have also featured in cocktails at Chelsea Flower Show and on Channel 4s Sunday Brunch. Details of our edible flowers can be found at www. .

You can order edible flowers for cocktails or drinks direct from our on line shop  -

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Poached Pears - puds and salads

At this time of year, if we are lucky, our ancient and wonky pear tree comes up trumps and provides us with a couple of handfuls of pears. I've no idea of the variety but they have a lovely flavour however they are inclined to be a little hard so we tend to poach them. This is a good use of the bullet pears that you can buy from the supermarket as well.

I use two different recipes for poaching pears - spiced red wine or cider. The quantities in each recipe will poach about 4 pears in a small but deep pan but the liquor doesn't reduce that much so you could always do a second batch or double it up. I use very little sugar in my poaching liquid relying on the natural sweetness of the pears and this means that the end results can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. They can be made up to 2 days in advance if kept in the fridge.

Spiced red wine recipe:
1/2 bottle of reasonable red wine
1 star anise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of sugar

Cider recipe:
1 can of cider or perry
1 cinnamon stick
1 large orange cut into quarters
A vanilla pod cut lengthways in half
1 tablespoon sugar.

Peel your pears and cut off the bottom level so that they sit flat. Use a small knife to dig out the small core in the bottom. Doing this helps the pears to cook evenly. Ideally you need the pears to sit in the poaching liquid up to their stalks but you can always use a flatter pan and just keep turning them so that they cook evenly and get an even colour. You want the pears to be only 'just cooked' i.e. still firm so test them with a cocktail stick or sharp knife. I then pack my pears into a measuring jug so that they are completely covered with the poaching liquid and allow them to cool overnight in the liquid. This gives them a great flavour and colour. 

If you are planning on using the pears as part of a dessert then drain them from the poaching liquid, add another tablespoon of sugar to the liquid and cook on until you have reduced the liquid by half so that it is thick and syrupy. If you are using them in a savoury dish them freeze the liquid as it has a wonderful flavour and can be added to your mulled wine or cider at Christmas. 

The sweet pears can be served warm or cold with the syrup, here decorated with spices and mallow petals and are they also great with a wonderful dollop of good quality vanilla ice-cream. 

Pears also have a wonderful affinity with blue cheese and make a wonderful addition to a salad. Here we've used the classic combination of our lovely Maddocks Farm Treviso chicory (which balances the sweetness of the pears and richness of the cheese) spicy mustard and watercress; blue cheese; walnuts and olives. We've decorated it with pansy petals and radish flowers. 

Both recipes  take full advantage of lovely seasonal produce so enjoy!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Rose Petal Marshmallows

Floral Marshmallows made by My Mummys Yummy Cupcakes
using Maddocks Farm Organic Rose Petals. 

The recipe for floral marshmallows here uses our organic red rose petals but any edible flowers could be substituted as you wish. Having said that, the more fragrant the petals then the more intense the flavour. Other suggestions might  be lavender or geranium. Lovely Lindsay from My Mummys Yummy Cupcakes kindly shared the recipe.  

Floral Marshmallows
(Adapted from a Martha Stewart's Vanilla Marshmallow recipe) so apologies for the american weights

Rose Petals
1 1/2 cups of sugar
Layer the sugar and petals together (flavouring the sugar whilst keeping the roses petals whole) and leaving aside some petals for sprinkling over the mallow mix before it sets.

Leave to one side overnight for the flavours to infuse.

2 1/2 tbps unflavoured Gelatin Powder (Dr Otker is fine)
1 cup of golden syrup or honey
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla paste

Corn flour for sprinkling


First take the petals out of the sugar mix (don't worry if a few get missed).

Combine the infused sugar, golden syrup, salt & 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan. Place the pan over a low heat and stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve the sugar crystals.

Once dissolved, clip a sugar thermometer and raise the heat to high. Cook the syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from the heat.

With a mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the softened gelatine. Increase the speed to high; beat until the mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume. This will take about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla paste and beat to incorporate.

Generously dust an 8-12 inch baking pan with corn flour. Pour marshmallow mixture into the pan. Wet your hands and pat it smooth. Tear the remaining petals & sprinkle over the top of the marshmallow. Dust with more corn flour. Let it set overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Turn out onto a board which has also been generously sprinkled with corn flour. Cut the marshmallows with a hot dry knife into 1 1/2 inch squares and dust with more corn flour to coat the cut sides of the marshmallows to prevent them becoming sticky.

Pop them in an airtight container to let the flavours penetrate even more. These will last for up to 10 days if kept in a fridge.