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Magnolia Blossom Cream Cake

Magnolia Blossom Cream Cake: Recipe

Magnolias are glorious. Period. When they’re in bloom, they punctuate the landscape with gigantic bursts of color and fragrance, and some of these flowers are quite wonderfully delicious. This past weekend was a magnolia bonanza, and there will be LOTS OF recipes coming your way. But the very first (and yes, my favorite) is this Magnolia Blossom Cream Cake. It’s a surprisingly simple recipe with a unique flavor that no one will be able to guess without a clue from the cook. Read more

plum blossom panna cotta

Plum Blossom Panna Cotta Recipe

The fragrance of plum blossoms is intoxicating, and something I look forward to every spring. Plum blossom season is brief, usually lasting only a few days. Early spring snow, wind, and rain wreak havoc on these delicate blooms, so get out there and harvest as soon as you see them. Usually I make plum blossom liqueur, but this time I thought of infusing the flowers in cream for a floral panna cotta. What a good idea! Read more

spruce tip shortbread cookies

Spruce Tip Shortbread Cookies: Recipe

Spruce tip shortbread cookies make a great holiday treat. There’s no reason not to make these cookies year ’round, but I think there’s something especially wintery about evergreens, don’t you? You’ll be surprised by the bright, almost lemony flavor spruce tips add to this cookie. It’s the perfect counterbalance to the rich, buttery shortbread. Many evergreens have edible parts, including pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock. If spruce doesn’t grow near you, substitute one of these other evergreens. Read more

shagbark hickory syrup

Shagbark Hickory Syrup: Recipe

I’m fascinated with the idea of making tree syrups, but tapping multiple maples, and boiling vast quantities of sap for hours is a little daunting. Plus, I don’t live somewhere I can tap a lot of trees. So I was thrilled to learn I could make a quicker, easier syrup by boiling the bark of the shagbark hickory tree (Carya ovata). It’s easy to harvest bark without damaging the tree, and the syrup is light, sweet, and has a distinctive smoky flavor. You will not be surprised to learn it also makes an excellent cocktail ingredient. Read more

chestnut mousse

Chestnut Mousse Recipe: So Rich, So Good

Chestnuts are wonderful, versatile things, as useful in sweet desserts (like this irresistible chestnut mousse) as they are in savory dishes. Their high starch content makes them softer and creamier than most nuts. (Fun fact: chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes!) In places where chestnuts are a native crop, they’re often used as vegetables rather than nuts. Some of the most delicious chestnuts I’ve eaten were in Greece; they were roasted with onions in a light tomato sauce. Chestnuts are the only nut that contains vitamin C, and unlike most nuts, they contain very little fat, making them a low calorie choice in the foraged nut department. Not that this recipe is low cal. I make no apologies for the cream, egg yolks, rum, and sugar. This is a wonderful dessert for a special occasion, and probably my favorite way to use chestnuts. Read more