On the long list of things that sparkle this season is the fact that my back porch smells like gardenias. The closed blossoms have a new, green perfumey smell that only deepens as the flower blooms to bright white and ages to yellow.
The beauty is so present these days, the young greens, and the flowering trees – it feels like, if we’re paying enough attention we surely have an embarrassment of riches on our hands.
I like to use edible flowers – both fresh and dried – in my cooking. The fragrance, the color, the range of petal shapes – it all makes them irresistible to me. Spring and summer are when I encounter the widest range of blossoms, and because I get a lot of questions related to sourcing and using edible flowers, I thought I’d write up a few of the things I do to ensure I have a supply throughout the year.
I’ve included a number of the things I’ve learned down below, in the section that normally hosts the recipe. One of my favorite things to do, with certain flowers, is simply dry the petals. These organic rose petals are about halfway through the process of drying (instructions below). They lose an incredible amount of volume as they dry, so even if you feel as if you’re starting with more petals than you could possibly use, keep in mind you’ll end up with far less than when you started.
So, you fried a big stack of thin green pancakes (aka spinach crêpes) for dinner last night and still have a few left in the fridge. How can you make the most of them? Here are three ideas:
1. Add mustard, lentils, sliced tomato and cheese, fold the pancakes, bake them quickly until the cheese melts and serve with a lentil and melon salad.
2. Roll them up with sweet potato, spinach, feta, yogurt and za’atar. Then slice them into rolls and bring on a picnic.
3. Make a banana split pancake bowl with some cream, yogurt, raspberries, nut butter an chocolate.
We are sharing all of these recipes below. They are not vegan but if you use our vegan chickpea pancakes as base, you can easily modify the fillings to suit a vegan diet. Hummus, pesto, ajvar or coconut yogurt are excellent creamy toppings on vegan pancakes instead of yogurt and cheese.
The recipe for the batter comes from our Green Kitchen at Home cookbook and we share it in the bottom of this post. They are the most easy flippable gluten free pancakes we know. Pancakes work as a quick dinner in our family as the batter literally takes 30 seconds to mix together so we can have the first pancakes on the table within 5 minutes (admittedly I don’t always let the batter rest even if I recommend it).
Gruyere, Mustard & Lentil Pancake Melt
Serves 4 as a lunch
This is the pancake equivalent to melted cheese sandwiches. It’s a great way to give old pancakes new life. We love it with lots of mustard (obviously use less for kids) and a crunchy salad for balance.
4 green pancakes (see recipe below)
8 slices gruyere cheese (or another cheese)
4 large teaspoons mustard
8 cherry tomatoes
200 g / 1 cup cooked lentils (store bought are fine)
1 bag mixed lettuce
1 galia melon (or other melon)
10 cm / 4 inches cucumber
salt & pepper
Make the batter and fry the pancakes if you haven’t done so already. Place two slices cheese in the middle of each pancake. Spread a layer of mustard on the cheese, slice the tomatoes thinly and lay them on top of the mustard along with a small handful lentils. Fold the pancakes into quarters and place in a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil on top. Bake at 200°C/400°F for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Meanwhile, chop up lettuce, avocado, melon and cucumber and place in a salad bowl. Add the remaining lentils. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss. Serve the pancake warm with salad on the side.
Sweet Potato & Za’atar Pancake Picnic Rolls
Makes 20 rolls
You can use almost any veggies in pancake rolls. Just make sure you have something creamy and sticky as base to bind them together. For a vegan version, use hummus instead of yogurt and tofu instead of feta cheese and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
Next time, we’ll add some crushed walnuts for crunch, pomegranate seeds for extra tanginess and maybe a couple of mint leaves for a fresh flavor twist.
4 green pancakes (see recipe below)
1 large sweet potato
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup full-fat Turkish yogurt
200 g feta cheese
2 handfuls spinach, chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp za’atar (an awesome spice blend that you can find in Middle Eastern stores)
2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
Set the oven at 200°C/400°F. Cut a sweet potato in half lengthwise, brush each cut side with a little oil and cinnamon. Place on a tray and bake for 40 minutes or until the flesh is soft and golden. If you haven’t prepared the batter and fried the pancakes, now is the time to do so. When the sweet potato is ready, use a fork to mash the flesh (you can mash it in its own skin to save some dishes). Squeeze over lemon juice and extra cinnamon while mashing.
Spread out sweet potato mash on one half of each pancake and thick yogurt on the other half. Cut the feta cheese into 1 cm / 1/3 inch thick sticks and place them in the centre of each pancake. Add a small handful chopped spinach, a couple of chickpeas, a generous drizzle za’atar and some chili flakes (if using). Roll up the pancakes as tightly as possible and slice into 2 inch / 5 cm rolls.
Sweet Pancake Banana Split
4 green pancakes (see recipe below)
1 cup whipped cream
1 cup greek yogurt
1 cup raspberries
4 tbsp nut butter
4 tsp honey
30 g / 1 oz dark chocolate
1 handful hemp seeds or slivered almonds
Place each pancake in the bottom of a small bowl. Add dollops of whipped cream and yogurt. Cut the bananas into bite-sized pieces and spread out in the bowl. Add raspberries and drizzle with peanut butter and honey. Sprinkle with finely chopped dark chocolate, hemp seeds and top with a few mint leaves.
Spinach Crêpes (in our house they are know as Green Pancakes)
Makes 10-14, depending on the size of your pan and thickness of your pancakes
150 g / 1 cup rice flour (both light or wholegrain works, as does spelt flour)
500 ml / 2 cups oat milk, or milk of choice
a large handful spinach
a small handful herbs (basil, mint or parsley)
Crack the eggs into a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend on high speed until smooth. Leave to rest for 20 minutes before starting to fry them (you can fry them right away but they will be a little harder to flip). For frying, add a little butter or coconut oil to a 20 cm / 8 inch non-stick frying pan/skillet on medium heat. Once hot (this is important or else it will stick), whisk the batter then ladle 80 ml / 1/3 cup into the pan. Let fry for 1-2 minutes or until small bubbles form on the surface and the base is golden. Run a spatula around the edges to make sure it has detached from the pan, before carefully flipping it over and frying the other side for another minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the rest of the batter (you may need to reduce the heat slightly after the first crêpes).
To store the crêpes, keep them in an air-tight wrap in the fridge and they will be good for 3-4 days.
Are you doing anything for Mother’s Day this weekend? I’m looking forward to a special Mother’s Day performance at Adriana’s school. Earlier this week Adriana said, “I made something for you Mommy, but IT’S A MOTHER’S DAY SURPRISE! I can’t tell you!!” Then, two seconds later: “It’s a homemade oven mitt!” Toddlers’ lack of impulse control just cracks me up, lol. (She may or may not have been singing me the Mother’s Day performance song all week long, too!) We’ll probably do something laid-back like brunch and a visit to the park with friends on Sunday (although I don’t know what Eric has planned). I hope your weekend is fun and filled with good food! Read on for some of my fave brunch recipe ideas…
With a little night-before prep, you can have these dreamy cinnamon rolls baking away while mama is still in bed catching zzz’s.
Loaded with ground flax, oats, sesame seeds, and coconut oil, my no-bake New Mama Glo Bars are perfect for anybody celebrating their first Mother’s Day this year. (But these addictive bars are sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all!)
I’ve heard from so many of you who have made and loved my vegan banana bread—the recipe has almost 650 comments to date! I can’t say I blame you…it’s a big winner in our house as well (a loaf barely makes it through the day) and requires just 10 minutes of prep work, too. Just be sure to get a head start on this recipe if you’re serving it for brunch as you’ll need an hour for the loaf to bake and cool. This recipe will always have a special place in my heart because I developed and photographed it while 9 months pregnant with Arlo!
For a savoury brunch addition, try my protein-packed tofu quiche with a delicious oat and almond press-in crust. Feel free to play around with whatever veggies you have on hand, too—asparagus, peas, and broccoli are a nice trio for spring.
Use up the last of your winter squash with this 5-ingredient butternut squash salad. I love how just a few ingredients can come together to make such a lovely side dish for brunch! (And plant-powered bonus points for the quinoa’s hearty protein boost.)
6. Family Size Reset Button Green Smoothie (Oh She Glows Every Day, p. 25)
Get the whole family in on some energizing green smoothie lovin’ with this tropical fruit-packed smoothie fit to feed a crowd!
This oatmeal has all the irresistible sweet-spicy flavours of traditional carrot cake without any refined sugar, plus leftovers freeze like a dream (though I doubt there’ll be any!). You can even prep it the night before so all you have to do the next morning is pop it in the oven to bake.
This is my go-to homemade almond milk recipe. It’s delightful served in a smoothie, with cereal or granola, foamed up for a latte, or in a glass all on its own! You could also use it in my Heavenly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal (shown above) for an extra pop of creamy vanilla goodness.
These creamy, dreamy, vegan berry fools are a cinch to whip up! Pop your coconut milk cans in the fridge the day before to solidify the cream, or make the coconut whipped cream a couple days ahead and store it in the fridge to help things come together even more quickly morning of!
I love the bright pink colour of this gorgeous vegan raspberry mousse, and it’s amazing swirled into a hearty chia bowl for brunch. Top bowls with your favourite fruit and a dollop of coconut whipped cream! It’s also fun layered in small glasses for chia pudding parfaits.
Photo credit, top photo, photo #5, photo #6: Ashley McLaughlin.
A single scoop from Thrifty was just over a dollar. The ice cream scoop was kind of a rounded cylinder shape, and it made a “click clack” noise when the attendant would release your chosen flavor into the sugar cone or cup. It was more like a scoop and a half, really. I consistently chose apricot-mango (why, young Sara?) and my sister, rainbow sherbet. It was located inside a Rite-Aid that was both across from the city library and in the same center where we went to a weekly math tutoring program, so we were frequent visitors. It may have been dinner some nights? My mom has never liked cooking and we lived to tell the tale so no sense in fretting too much about that. My mom would also get a scoop every now and then, likely something better and chocolatey because she was older and wiser. I have a snapshot memory of the three of us sitting outside the automatic doors, against the taupe-y stucco walls, eating our treats, me complaining I didn’t like my flavor and preferred the one my mom chose. She took one more big spoonful and swapped with me. She took my bullshit apricot-mango and gave me her chocolately one and while I hope I at least said thank you in that fleeting moment, I’ve gone back to that memory a number of times when I par down what this whole motherhood thing looks like. Yes, I hear all the self-care, don’t-lose-yourself conversations and I agree, but there is also a huge part of it that is just surrendering. You surrender to the mess and the cost and the exhaustion and work and the worry. You surrender your superior ice cream flavor. You never know how actions and words are perceived on the other side – sometimes lost or forgotten, or perhaps they stick with someone forever.
I gave this loaf recipe a test run for our Mothers day brunch plans. The Sweet Laurel cookbook is full of grain and refined sugar free baking recipes – nearly all with almond or coconut flours and maple sweetened. The original calls for six eggs, so I risked scaling that back because we don’t like when baked goods taste so, well, eggy. This makes for a looser crumb and a wetter texture and I’ll take that over eggy. I added nubs of a quick roasted rhubarb for tiny pockets of tart jam throughout. You could eliminate this completely if you’d like, or maybe use lemon instead of orange and swap in blueberries.
If you have a mother or are one or want to be one or are struggling with the one you have or can even think of someone else who has been that figure for you, a happy Mother’s Day weekend to you.
PISTACHIO RHUBARB LOAF
Makes one 9×5 loaf
Recipe adapted from Sweet Laurel
This recipe will not work with a 1:1 swap for a regular wheat flour or any whole grain flour for that matter. Coconut flour is super absorbent and the liquid ratio will not translate. They sell small bags at Trader Joes, most larger grocery stores, or a handful of sizes and brands online.
- 1 cup diced rhubarb
- sprinkle of sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. coconut or avocado oil
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 2 Tbsp. flaxmeal
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 4 large eggs
- zest of one small orange
- 1/2 cup orange juice (about 1 juicy orange)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup raw pistachios, divided
Oven to 375′, line a sheet with parchment. Toss the diced rhubarb with a sprinkle of sugar, teensy bit of salt and coconut or avocado oil. Roast for 10-12 minutes, just enough to take the crunch off. Remove to let it cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 350′. Line a loaf pan with parchment and grease it with coconut oil or what have you.
In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, flax, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, orange zest and juice, maple and vanilla. A little at a time, stir the wet and dry ingredients together. Fold in the rhubarb and 1/2 cup of the pistachios.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Chop the remaining pistachios and sprinkle them on top of the loaf. I like to add a bit of turbinado sugar on top too.
Bake the loaf for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread and set it on a rack to cool completely. Cut it into thick slices and toast before serving.
I first learned about ruffled milk pie from Vefa’s Kictchen, a substantial Greek cooking volume that first came out in 2009. A type of galatopita (“pie made with milk,” aka a baked custard pie), this is more striking in appearance than most due to wound and rumbled sheets of pastry, which also providing texture and crunch. It’s so pretty and it sounded so simple — there are 7 ingredients and I bet we keep 6 of them around — it was absolutely, unequivocally something I could get into and want to tell you about immediately save one thing: it uses filo. And would rather do almost anything than work with filo. And I have! I’ve had two kids. I’ve written two cookbooks. I’ve moved apartments. I have planted gardens and taken up running and gone on vacations and okay, maybe I didn’t do all of these things just to avoid using filo in one single recipe, but I can tell you that when the top two items on my to-do list sifted out last week as 1. Purge too-small clothes from kids’ overstuffed dressers, and 2. Make ruffled milk pie, I at last found something I hated more than more than I dreaded working with filo. I am pleased to tell you that my kids clothes are still an unmitigated disaster but this pie is fantastic.
“Geez, Deb, what did filo ever do to you?” Fair question and, in short, it stresses me out. It tears and cracks. It likes to dry out before you can blink and it’s unforgiving once this happens. You’re supposed to keep a piece of plastic on the open package of sheets followed by damp towel on it but when I run a towel under faucet and wring it out, it’s always too heavy and wet and manages to glue all of the sheets together at the edges. I’ve opened up boxes that were nothing but shards. I know, I know, way to sell a recipe, Deb. [Don’t worry, I’ll share some tips for the filo-averse below.]