Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What to Do With All That Beautiful Calendula

calendula officianalis
Use calendula petals to color:
• Sugar. Combine 1 cup of sugar with ½ cup (loosely packed) calendula petals. Pulse in a food processor (or spice grinder, using small batches) to make a golden-flecked sugar for cakes, cookies, breads, muffins or scones.

• Infusions.
Add petals to milk or cream, then use the liquid in baked goods, frostings, puddings, pie fillings, sauces and gravies.

• Salad. Sprinkle a handful of whole or chopped fresh petals over most any salad—egg salad, tuna, chicken, pasta, rice, couscous, bean, green, even fruit salad.

• Other Golds. Intensify the color of golden or yellow foods, such as cornbread, egg salad, deviled eggs and cheeses, as well as herb and flower butters.

Golden Garlic Mashed Potatoes. When heating milk and butter for mashed potatoes, add a handful of chopped calendula petals along with four to six cloves of minced garlic. Drain cooked potatoes, then mash them with the warm, flavored liquid.

Carotene Connection.
Play up calendula’s pumpkin/squash-like flavor by adding petals to pumpkin/squash soup, puree, bread and cookies, as well as carrot cake.

Great with Grains.
Add a handful of coarsely chopped petals to a pot of rice, risotto, millet, bulgur or couscous.

Pot Marigold. Add calendula to stocks, soups or stews. It will turn chicken and dumplings or cream of mushroom soup a rich golden color.

Zucchini Cake with Calendula. This delectable cake is moist and tender. Do not use nonfat sour cream or cream cheese in this recipe.  Although you could just dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar, the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is luscious and easy to make.
• ⅔ cup sour cream
• ¼ cup dried OR ½ cup fresh calendula petals
• 2 cups unbleached flour
• ½ cup whole-wheat flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon baking soda
• Scant ¼ teaspoon mace
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened
• 1 cup sugar
• ⅔ cup light brown sugar
• 3 extra-large eggs
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1-3/4 cup zucchini, grated
In a small bowl, combine sour cream with calendula, stir well, and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 × 13-inch baking dish.
In another bowl, sift together unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda and mace.
Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Add sugars and beat until blended, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Combine sour cream and zucchini. Add about one-third of this mixture to mixing bowl and beat on low speed. Continue beating on low speed while adding about half of dry ingredients, then another third of sour cream-zucchini mixture, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add remaining dry ingredients, followed by the sour cream-zucchini mixture and beat until just blended.
Turn batter into prepared baking dish and smooth out surface. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The cake should be golden brown and sides should pull away slightly from the pan. Cool on a baking rack and frost when completely cool.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
• ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
• ¼ cup dried or fresh calendula petals, minced (minced petals measure about 2 tablespoons)
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat maple syrup, then add calendula and let stand for at least 30 minutes; be sure syrup is completely cool before adding it to other ingredients.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add cool maple syrup and calendula and mix to combine; scrape down sides of bowl as needed. On low speed, add about half of the confectioner’s sugar. Add remaining sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy; then beat at least a minute or two on high speed.
Test frosting for consistency—it should be spreadable but soft. If too soft, beat in a bit more sugar.

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