Chef, gardener and cooking instructor Liz Barbour of The Creative Feast has a philosophy when it comes to food: It should look as good as it tastes. Now, she’s teaching others how to prepare nutritious and visually stunning dishes with her new cookbook Beautifully Delicious.
Beautifully Delicious is Barbour’s first published cookbook and is inspired by her edible garden in Hollis, a garden in which she arranges fruit and vegetable plants, herbs and edible flowers among ornamental plants and flowers, the concept being that growing food doesn’t have to mean sacrificing aesthetic.
“The title perfectly describes what the book offers; all of the recipes are focused on food that is beautiful to look at and that tastes delicious” Barbour said. “Because they’re so beautiful, a lot of the recipes look complicated, but the fact is, they’re very simple to make.”
The book features more than 60 recipes highlighting herbs and edible flowers that can be easily grown at home or found at a local grocery store. Many of the herbs are ones commonly used in the kitchen, and the flowers, though still up-and-coming as a food ingredient, are well-known varieties such as pansies, marigolds, roses and tulips,
“The idea is that the ingredients are familiar, and that goes for the edible flowers, too,” Barbour said. “It’s just that people haven’t been as free with using them for cooking, so this book gives you permission to use them.”
Beautifully Delicious includes recipes for things like flower and herb summer rolls, flower and herb salads, zucchini noodles with herb pesto, rack of lamb with mint sauce and salmon filet with herb Dijon. There are also recipes for drinks, like lavender-infused gin, and for pastries and desserts, like flower crepes and marigold cake with buttercream frosting.
Most recipes have variations, such as a potato-based garden herb soup that can be turned into a spiced-up seafood chowder with shrimp, scallops, haddock and saffron, or into a winter chicken herb soup with corn and rice. Additionally, there are ideas for how to transform leftovers, like blending a salad into a healthy smoothie.
“Sometimes you have leftovers and wonder how to use them up, so I wanted to make sure there were options for people to change up the recipes the way they like,” Barbour said. “You can add a variety of other ingredients to a recipe and give it a whole other flavor profile.”
Each recipe includes detailed step-by-step instructions and photos to aid the process. Between recipes, the book also features lessons on herbs and how to use them, proper knife techniques and cooking methods for things like how to cut and cook an onion.
Beautifully Delicious can be pre-ordered on The Creative Feast website or directly from Barbour during any of her upcoming library programs. It is set to ship in early May.
On Tuesday, April 25, Barbour and the book’s photographer Celeste Guidice will be at the Hollis Social Library to talk about the writing, photographing and self-publishing process of the book, and they may bring some recipe samples for people to taste. Those who pre-order the book at the presentation will receive copies signed by Barbour once it ships.
After the book is officially released, Barbour will sell and sign copies at The Cozy Tea Cart in Brookline on Saturday, May 13, and at her annual edible garden tour happening at the end of June, where people can see many of the herbs and edible flowers featured in the book. More Beautifully Delicious presentations and signings are to be announced.