With our first visit to The Capital Hotel School in Pretoria I noticed that Alicia Giliomee, Head of Department: Professional Cookery is very passionate about flora cuisine. What is flora cuisine? It is basically cooking with flowers that are safe to eat and cook with. If used correctly it can be so much more than mere decoration.
This #WomensMonth they want to inspire and encourage women to cook with flowers! Have you tried it before? .
Alicia shared her favourite flora cuisine recipe – this is absolutely STUNNING, don’t you think? So why don’t you try it at home – it is guaranteed to leave your dinner guests breathless!
Lavender and Vodka Cured Salmon, Honey & Pepper Glazed Gnocchi and Parsnip Puree with Beetroot stained Apple
Mise en Place Time 10hrs
*Serving Suggestion: serve at room temperature with a chilled glass of Chardonnay or Gewürztraminer
For the Lavender and Vodka cured Salmon:
180g piece of fresh Norwegian Salmon fillet, trimmed of any excess skin, bones and fat
1 cup coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 handful of rinsed lavender stalks with leaves (no buds or flowers)
2 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped finely
Zest of 1 lemon
5g fresh ginger (skin on), julienne cut
- Combined the salt, sugar and zest in a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle a 1cm thick layer of this mixture on the bottom of a small rimmed tray.
- Pack out a layer of Lavender sprigs on the salt mixture in the centre line.
- Now sprinkle half of the dill over the lavender and top off with the julienne ginger.
- Next, carefully place the trimmed salmon on top of the ginger.
- Chop the remainder of the lavender leaves coarsely and mix with half of the dill. Pat herbs onto the salmon.
- Now layer with 1cm salt-sugar mixture.
- Sprinkle the remaining ginger & lemon zest on the salt mixture and then top off with the remaining sugar-salt mixture.
Chef’s Tip: To ensure even curing, take care to cover all the sides and corners of the salmon with the sugar-salt cure.
- Lastly, sprinkle the salt enrobed salmon with the vodka.
- Wrap tightly with clingwrap and place in the refrigerator for 10hrs.
- After 10hrs, remove the salt by hand, taking care not to make any indentations in the flesh.
- Working extremely fast and carefully, quickly rinse the excess salt off with a small stream of water. Pat dry with Kitchen Paper Towel and reserve for portioning.
For the Honey & Pepper Glazed Gnocchi:
6 pieces of potato Gnocchi
60ml salted butter
5ml fresh lemon juice
8g fresh ginger (with skin), thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed black pepper
Pinch of salt
- To cook the Gnocchi-heat up a small pot of water to boiling point and add a pinch of salt.
- Once at the boil, carefully drop in the Gnocchi and when it comes to the top of the water surface, remove with a slotted spoon.
- Meanwhile, heat up a sauté pan and melt half of the butter. Add the ginger to the butter and allow the release of flavours to happen over a medium heat.
- Now, gently toss the blanched Gnocchi in the ginger butter and allow to brown slightly.
- Drizzle with Honey and coat the gnocchi well.
- Now add a pinch of coarse black pepper and the last bit of butter over a low heat.
- Lastly add the fresh lemon juice and allow emulsification to take place.
- Adjust seasoning. Reserve for plating.
Chef’s Tip: Take care when seasoning. Remember the whole dish needs to be in delicate balance so that each ingredient can come to its full right. You have salt cured salmon in this flavour triangle, so seasoning must be really minimal with regards to the rest of the ingredients.
For the Parsnip Puree:
1 punnet of Baby Parsnips
70ml fresh cream
- Place a small pot of water on a high heat and bring up to the boil.
- Meanwhile, rinse Parsnips and peel. Cut into smaller rounds and place into a small pot filled with water. Bring up to the boil and cook the parsnip until it is soft when pinched between your fingers.
- Strain off the excess water and start blending the parsnip (while still hot). Now pour in the cream in a steady line into the puree while still blending. The final product needs to be a smooth and creamy puree consistency, not to thick and not watery either. Should ideally be a very soft cream cheese consistency.
Chef’s Tip: For a velvety texture on the palate, strain the puree after completion through a fine sieve. Yes, it’s extra work, but it is sooo worth it.
For the Beetroot stained Apple:
1 large Golden Delicious Apple
2 large beetroots, raw
- Rinse the beetroot and grate (with the skin on) with the small side of the grater.
- Place into a deep, but small prep container.
- Meanwhile, peel the apple and using the small side of a Parisienne scoop (melon baller scoop), gently scoop out 3 deep and round Parisienne balls.
- Place into the grated beetroot and be sure to cover the apple balls with the beetroot so that the dye can have even opportunity to take.
- Reserve till required.
Additional Ingredients for plating:
12 fresh baby peas, blanched and refreshed in chilled water
2 blueberries, sliced in half
12 tips of Spanish lavender flowers
2 baby parsnips (fried to crispy paper thin garnish-refer to image)
Assembly Components per plate:
6 cubes of Lavender & Vodka cured salmon(1.5cm³)
45ml parsnip puree
3 pieces of Honey & Pepper Glazed Gnocchi
2 beetroot stained apple balls (wipe off beetroot pieces and slice vertically in half.)
6 blanched and refreshed baby peas
2 halves Blueberries
6 tips of Spanish Lavender flowers
Small amount of Parsnip crisps
- Spread a layer of Parsnip puree on the plate (centre or off-centre).
- Strategically place the cured salmon cubes on the puree and fill in the gaps with the gnocchi, peas, apples and blueberries.
- Lastly, carefully arrange the parsnip crisps on the plate and enjoy the adoring gazes and compliments from your diners.