where the wild things are. salted and pickled cherry blossoms

The bright weather this past week, though a bit cold, has really making me think spring! Pretty soon the West Village will be flush with blossoming Magnolias and Quince and Cheery blossoms. It is one of my favorite times of the year in New York and always reminds me of home. 

For me the seasons have always been marked by the comings and goings of botanicals. It is a little harder to notice these changes in New York unless you have a back yard or a country escape. To get your fix, you can visit the Green Market or make time to visit the Botanical Garden, which is just spectacular in the early spring and summer. You can also set out to explore one of New York's beautiful tree lines streets like many in the West Village or Brooklyn.

Recently, I needed salted cherry blossoms for a shoot and when the Internet came up empty (you can order them fro Japan but it would have taken too long) I have to admit I had never heard of them! I turned to Heidi Johansen from Bellocq Tea Atelier. I knew that if any one had a stash of salted blossoms it would be her!! Heidi is kind of magical and she produced these mysterious salty pink flowers of nowhere!

Now that the season is upon us, I have decided to create my own stash.

Sakura tea, or salted cherry blossom tea is often served at weddings or other auspicious events in Japan. It has a delicate salty and sweet flavor. It is fragrant and woody. The saltiness obviously comes from the salt but the sweetness is imparted through the flowers natural flavor and additional soaking in Plum vinegar.

Salted Cherry Blossoms 

2 cups of fresh cherry blossoms.

IF you have a  cherry tree in your yard you can pick from there or you may be able to pick up some branches from your local farmers market but be sure to ask if they are natural and pesticide free. You will want to pick them before they are full bloom when they are buds to a little more than half bloom. 

6 tablespoons of Japanese pickling salt

6 tablespoons of Plum vinegar

Wash the blossoms and set on a paper towel or kitchen cloth to dry. Gently pat until all the water is removed from the blossoms.

Place in a pickling croc or a shallow terra cotta croc.

Place a plate or a lid on top of the flowers. You will want this lid to fit nicely in your vessel. (I used a plate)   Then weigh it down with a weight of some sort. I used a river stone. You can buy a fermentation croc or you can use a vessel that you already have and weigh it down with a homemade weight.

Leave it in the fridge for two days. The salt and the pressure of the weight will force any liquid from the blossoms. 

After two days remove them from the fridge and drain off any excess liquid. My blossoms did not express much liquid.

 After draining any excess liquid. Place the blossoms in a glass bowl and add the Plum vinegar.

 Cover  and Refrigerate for another three days.

After three days strain the flowers through a sieve to remove any vinegar. Spread them out on a baking sheet covered in parchment.

Sprinkle thoroughly with pickling salt and set on your counter in the sun to dry or outside in a protected spot.

Allow drying for two or three days.

When the flowers are completely dry they are done. they will discolor a bit.

Store in a glass jar and cover tightly. They are preserved will last indefinitely.

Finally you can enjoy a cup of Sakura tea!

Boil some water and drop three or four petals in your teapot.

Don't be shocked! It is salty! It is an acquired taste!

Sakura Rice.

Rinse a handful of blossoms to remove excess salt.

Add to your rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. The blossoms will impart a lovely pink color to your rice.

 Here are some more ideas on what to do with salted cherry blossoms.

Below is a recipe from T Magazine

Salted Cherry Blossoms Adapted From Uni Sashimi Bar

2 cups rice vinegar¼ cup sugar½ teaspoon kosher salt1-inch piece fresh ginger, smashed1 umeboshi plum (available at Japanese markets or health-food stores)½ teaspoon grenadine syrup8 ounces cherry blossoms, or other edible blossoms.

1. Combine all ingredients except the cherry blossoms in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

2. Put the cherry blossoms in a heat-resistant container and pour the just-boiled liquid over them; stir gently to submerge the flowers completely in the liquid. Cool, cover tightly and keep in the refrigerator for at least three days before serving. The pickled blossoms will keep several weeks in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup.

Some other ideas..

Chop afew of the blossoms up extra finely and use as a special salt.

I am also thinking Salted Cherry Blossom shortbread?

Need to experiment with this one. 

This beautiful tea pot and cups from Jessica Niello at The Perish Trust

stone fruit. purslane. and korean watercress salad. lunch for one.

The other day as I walked around the green market I had a stone fruit story churning in my head. I wasn't sure what I was going to do but I knew I wanted to make a salad of plums or peaches. So, with that in mind I started to pick up beautiful bits of this and that and slowly a salad began to form.

Two plums or one peach and one plum

A handful of purselane

A handful of Korean watercress

Mexican gherkins

Fresh dill flower

1 garlic scape

Sea salt

Extra virgin olive oil

Juice half a lime

1 teaspoon of rose syrup

Or maple syrup

The main ingredient in this salad is plum; everything else is just there to add a little bit of flavor and to play off the flavor of the plums.

Nothing here is that exotic, I found it all easily at the farmer’s market here in NYC. You can substitute and play around if you can’t find these exact ingredients. Embrace a little whimsy!

Stone fruit. Purslane. and Korean Watercress Salad.

Cut three medium size plums into small slices. Discard the pit. Use any kind. I used Elephant Heart and Santa Rosa plums.

Arrange the plums loosely on a plate.

Add a few sprigs of purselane ( a lemony tasting wild green )

Add a few sprigs of Korean watercress, which looks nothing like regular watercress. You can substitute celery leaf or parsley if you can’t find the watercress.

Cut in half a handful of Mexican Gherkins and sprinkle on top of the plums, again if you can’t find these use some other tender early cuke.

Add a few sprigs of dill flower, substitute dill if you can’t find dill flower

Thinly slice about an inch of garlic scape, use a finely chopped shallot or chive if you can’t find scape.

Sprinkle with a pinch of good crunchy seas salt

Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the salad

Drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil

Finish with a teaspoon of rose syrup (I made my own from rose petals) If you can’t find a rose syrup then add a teaspoon of maple syrup!

It is all about improvising and throwing together whatever is in season.

Have fun! Let me know if you come up with any interesting summer salads!

Enjoy!

This salad is just about being inspired at the green market and then tossing it all together! Don’t be scared of combinations just be inspired by them. What is the worst thing that can happen?

More stone fruit recipes to come!!

summer daze.

I woke up this morning with a start, wondering what I am late for and realized that I actually have today off! Summer has been flying by this year. I have no idea where the days have gone... one seems to tumble into the next until weeks have passed. I am looking forward to a few days off in August spent upstate and in the company of good friends. I have had no time for blogging this past month, life and work have been busy and the heat wave somewhat unbearable in our non air-conditioned loft. While busy is a good... I have reached the point of a much-needed break. I have had to reconcile that I am not going to be able to get to all the ideas, shoots and recipes I have had in mind for the summer season. I will do what I can and put some things off to next year. Sometimes you just have to take a moment.

Jam, however, is definitely on the agenda. It looks as though the blackberries upstate are about to burst, hundreds of them dripping from tangled thorny bramble. They, unlike me, seemed to have thrived in this heat! The black raspberries and blueberries in the photos below came from Flying Fox at The New Amsterdam Market. When I am in town on a Sunday it is my very favorite place to go.

Have a great weekend friends! 

x

rainy day bellocq

There is nothing quite like a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon. With rain on the horizon this weekend what better thing to do than to head to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to visit the beautiful new Bellocq Tea Atelier. It is a veritable visual feast in there! Every corner is an insanely beautiful tableau. Tea tasting  at Bellocq is a must and it should not be rushed!! My favorites of the moment are the Afghani Chai, Hindu Holiday and Gypsy Caravan.  

 

If you can't make it to Greenpoint any time soon, you can sometimes catch Bellocq at The New Amsterdam Market at South Street Seaport on Sundays. Check the market list for and update of weekly vendors.

Bellocq teas can also be ordered on line here.

prop styling  Kim Ficaro   food styling  Susie Theodorou

prop styling Kim Ficaro

food styling Susie Theodorou