The Anzac Day long weekend always marks the end of those last lingering warm days. And this year in Sydney we’ve been blessed with unseasonally warm weather. But by the time my birthday comes around in mid May it will truly be winter and I’ll be rugged up and wearing my boots!
The edibles have been luxuriating in this little burst of late summer. The peas are shooting up their stakes, the broccoli is throwing out wide rubbery leaves, the last of my peppers are turning a deep burnished red and the carrots, radishes and spring onions are racing each other to the finish line.
My borage plants are in full bloom and looked extraordinary against the pastel sunrise yesterday.
I’m growing them to attract bees and pollinating insects and because they’re apparently good companion plants for strawberries AND of course because they are edible.
Their beautiful lilac flowers can be candied and used in desserts, or frozen in ice cubes to dress up a cocktail. The petals are incredibly sweet. Borage stems are used to flavour Pimms No 1. The leaves when young have a flavour similiar to cucumber and can be used in salads. Older leaves should be cooked and can be used similarly to spinach. There are a few spikey hairs on the stems but these dissolve in cooking.
The Spanish apparently blanch the stems, then batter and deep fry them as a tapas dish. Over the next few weeks I’m going to try them this way.
But first up something simple.
It was daring of me after watching the MasterChef ‘Pavlova Challenge’ last week, but I thought the borage flowers would look so pretty on a crispy, chewy, marshmallowy pavlova with thick cream on top. I was right.
Recipe: Pavlova (Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion)
Follow this recipe to the ‘T’ and you’ll get a better pav than Donna Hay’s!!!
8 egg whites at rooom temperature
Pinch of salt
500g caster sugar
4 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
few drops of vanilla
600ml thickened cream firmly whipped
Decorate with edible flowers or fruit
Pre-heat the oven to 180C degrees. Line two trays with baking paper. Draw two circles the size of your serving platter.
Beat egg whites and salt until soft satiny peaks form. Beat in the sugar a little at a time until all the sugar granules have been incorporated and the texture is smooth.
Mix in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Heap mixture into even mounds within the outline of your circles. Flatten top and smooth edges.
Place in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 150C degrees and cook for 1 1/4 hours. Turn the oven off and leave meringues in the oven preferably overnight to cool and dry out completely.
Invert first disc onto a stand, fill with cream, top with next disc and more cream and decorate with edible flowers or fruit or both.
borage flowers: pretty and delicious
Fearing a MasterChef ‘pancake’ pav I was very relieved with the result!