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

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Chive flower vinegar.

Chive flower vinegar at Maddocks Farm Organics
Chive flower vinegar can hardly be called a recipe but it is a beauty to behold.


White balsamic vinegar

Chive flowers

Beautiful chive flower growing at
Balsamic vinegar has a sweet and less astringent flavour than other white vinegars and is simply lovely with the chive flowers. White wine vinegar is also slightly yellow and the colour transformation is not so impressive.

There are two ways of doing this.
Chive flowers just added.

Method 1:

Either decant your white balsamic vinegar into a nice bottle or in my case simply soak off the label.

Remove about 15% -20% of the vinegar out of the bottle and gently shove chive heads down the neck of the bottle using something as delicate as the handle of a wooden spoon. Put as few or as many in as you like but the more flowers involved then the stronger the flavour and colour.

Put to one side and vigorously shake every few hours until the vinegar has turned a stunning 'Barbie' pink and you have a wonderful mild chive flavoured vinegar which makes beautiful salad dress.

Method 2:

Decant your white wine vinegar into a jug and fill with chive flowers. When the flowers have bleached all their colour into the vinegar then strain the pink vinegar into a clean dry bottle.

Obviously the second method produces something more refined but I quite like looking at the chives in the bottle and seeing their colour slowly bleaching out until they remain like ghosts of their former flowery selves.

Drizzled over salad leaves with a sprinkle of sea salt and glug of olive oil to make an incredible flavoured and coloured dressing.

No photoshopping required. Bright pink oniony vinegar. Stunning!

Edible chive flowers at Maddocks Farm Organics. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Tulip Prawn Cocktail.

The recipe below was given a wee make-over by some lovely friends. Matt Mason head chef  at took our tulip prawn cocktail and turned it into a Bloody Mary Prawn Cocktail for our demo at He replaced the cognac with an extremely generous splosh of vodka and added a good grind of celery salt. Delicious. My other lovely friend Marcus Bawdon then took a cracking photo of it when we demoed together at His lovely food blog can be found at and is well worth a visit as he is the king of all things BBQ! Thank you both.

Tulip Prawn Cocktail. Photo by Marcus Bawdon

I have extremely fond memories of the  classic prawn cocktail being served in wine glasses at dinner parties hosted by my parents. The height of sophistication! My mother floated around fancying herself as a bit of a Margo Leadbetter but in reality at an exaggerated 5ft 1inches and with the same spherical stature that I've inherited she more closely resembled Demis Roussos (obviously with less facial hair). Other classics of the 70s menu included an addiction to the newly discovered fondue set and Black Forrest Gateaux!

Either way - I digress but felt that the prawn cocktail could really do with a floral revival.

Serves 4

4 tulip heads (organic )
a couple of big handfuls of mixed salad leaves
400 grms of good quality prawns

5 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
3 teaspoons of ketchup (50/50 ketchup and tomato salsa if you want to mix it up a bit)
a decent shake of Tabasco sauce
a splash of Cognac
a pinch of prapika

These must be from your garden (if unsprayed) or bought organically. For eating do not buy from a supermarket, florist, garage or garden centre. This is not me trying to drum up business but a proven fact that the vast majority of cut flowers are fed or sprayed with a cocktail of pesticides and fungicides in order to prolong their shelf life. These chemical do the plants no visible harm but are most definitely not designed for human consumption and could make you very ill indeed•.

Some recipes don't need mucking about with and this is no exception. My only concession to changes in the last 40 years is to offer you the option to add salsa as well as ketchup if you like a bit more bite to your sauce and of course to add a better selection of salad leaves. Well I would,  wouldn't I! Back in the 70s the choice of salad leaves was pretty much restricted to lettuce and so in this recipe I've used a mixture of our watercress, sorrel and pea shoots which work beautifully with the recipe and still offer the crunch.

The only other addition is a splash of Cognac. I read this in a Simon Hopkinson recipe and agree that it does add a little something special to the dish.

Use a sharp knife to remove the stamens and carpel of the tulip (i.e. the inside bits which aren't petals) and cut the outer stem level with the base of the petals. What you should be left with is a ring of petals 'just' held together at the base with a slither of green stem. Tulip petals are quite stiff and in an ideal world you'd like to be able to pull on a petal and have it detach from the base so you can use as a scoop to shovel your prawns with. Pop your tulips in wide rimmed cocktail glasses.

Mix your sauce ingredients (with the exception of the paprika) and then use them to generously coat the prawns.  Fill the bottom third of your tulips with the salad leaves and top up with the prawn mixture. Sprinkle with a little paprika and then serve with a chilled glass of white sauvignon. Back in the day it would probably have been Blue Nun but there are some things definitely not worth getting nostalgic over.

What classic recipes would you like to see revived?

•A note of caution…..

Whilst the general opinion is that all parts of tulips are edible, there is controversy about eating the tulip bulbs and care and research should be taken if you want to eat more than just the petals. (More information can be found at )

I should also add that (like with many foods) in rare cases some people are allergic to tulips. So if in doubt, nibble a little bit of the petals, spit it out and wait for 30 minutes or so to see you develop any typical symptoms of allergy such as flushing, dizziness, rashes or feeling sick in which case avoid.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Forget-me-not Cocktail

1 oz Apple Schnapps
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy
1/4 oz of Kirschwasser Cherry Brandy

Who could resist a cocktail named after such a dainty wee flower and the fact that forget-me-nots are edible flowers means that this is a cocktail has my name on it.  Okay, okay - I know - most of them do have my name on them! 

Living in deepest darkest Devon I couldn't get hold of Kirchwasser Cherry Brandy so I used a full ounce of regular. I suspect that the Kirchwasser is a far more refined version and I have probably committed some cardinal sin but to my uninformed palate it tasted just fine. 

This drink can also be made longer and less potent with the addition of a long draught of cranberry or grape juice and some ice. Enjoy.