contributed by Chef Rima Olvera in her own words . . .
Take unsprayed, edible garden roses, or rose petals (much easier!!) Pansies, lilac florets, violets, mint leaves, verbena leaves…
With a very delicate paintbrush, carefully coat every surface of every petal with:
Egg whites, beaten, left to sit for half hour+, then strained.
After painting all the surface of the petals or whole flowers, dredge thoroughly with superfine (NOT powdered!!!!) sugar (you can use regular granulated sugar, but the results will be less delicate..)
If you are using whole rose petals, pansies, mint leaves, etc- in other words- FLAT things- after heavily dredging in superfine sugar, shake off the excess, then air dry on a mesh rack for at least half an hour..
For whole roses, you must stick a wooden skewer into the fleshy green bottom part of the rose before you cover with sugar- then, after, holding the rose by the skewer, bang on the hand holding the rose, with your other hand, to dislodge excess sugar, then stick the skewers into a grapefruit or orange, cut in half and put cut- side down, to make a “pin-cushion” for the skewered roses as they dry..
I grew up in a small town in Northern California, called Mendocino (same town as Laura) and in this tiny, isolated village by the sea.. there grew a shocking amount of wild nasturtiums, borage, pansies, and the most exquisite roses in the world for patisserie...the tiny, fragrant, and delicate “Cecille Brunner” variety. In France, these roses are prized above all for their fragrance, delicacy, and small and perfect bud shape. Many of the world’s most beautiful patisserie use these roses… which were a virtual pest in the fog- shrouded coast of our beautiful village by the sea… And I miss them immeasurably.. As I do the Nasturtiums, whose blossoms taste like a pollen-dusted radish… At Café Beaujolais, where I first started working in the kitchen at age 14, we used to make whole salads from their flowers..
Crystallized (candied) edible flowers and leaves (if coated completely, to make sure no air will be able to penetrate and ruin the flower or leaf..) can be stored in layers of sugar, or airtight containers, at room temp at low humidity places, for weeks