It’s the first of May! Most importantly, that means it is International Worker’s Day, or Labor Day, the celebration of laborers and the working classes and the celebration and commemoration of demonstrations held for the 8-hour workday. At the same time, it’s also May Day – a traditional spring holiday that is celebrated globally in many cultures. These modern-day celebrations often stem from ancient rituals and celebrations of the revival of nature and the victory of summer over winter. In Greece, the arrival of Spring is celebrated on the 1stof May (Πρωτομαγιά), by preparing a beautiful flower wreath simply called ‘May wreath’ (Μαγιάτικο στεφάνι). The wreath is made from twigs, leaves and flowers, and is worn on the head and hung on doors and/or balconies. The wreaths usually stay on the doors until midsummer night when they are all burned in the St John’s bonfires.
In order to celebrate this special day and it’s coinciding holidays, I made a wreath of my own… My flower wreath is a bit different, since it’s made of soft goat’s cheese that’s whipped into an airy goat’s cheese mousse and covered in edible sprouts, leaves, flowers and blossoms. It won’t last until midsummer night, but it is edible, beautiful and delicious! This wreath is a beautiful dish to serve as an appetizer, or party snack with some crackers, or even some cut vegetables to dip on the side.
I used some sprouts, and some dried rose petals and flowers of herbs such as thyme, oregano and basil, since the plants on our balcony produce an abundance of tiny flowers around this time of year. The herb-y and sweet flavors of the flowers coming from these herbs go perfectly with the soft goat’s cheese, but you can just use the leaves of the herbs instead if your plants don’t produce flowers. As for the basil flowers, if you’ve been growing a basil plant yourself, you may know that you should prune the flowers off of the tops of the plant as soon as they appear in order to encourage leaf growth. Not wanting to waste anything edible, I mostly used these herb-y flowers on my cheese-wreath after the mandatory pruning.
Of course, you can use whichever edible flowers or blossoms you can find – pansies and violets are cute too! – just make sure they really are for consumption and not covered with pesticides. Oh, and just a warning: some flowers are said to be edible, like the chamomile I’ve used to garnish, but, while they are technically edible, the yellow bit feels a bit strange and dusty in the mouth… they look cute, though!
TIP: Want your wreath to taste as sweet as it is cute? Drizzle on some honey over the mousse, or decorate it with some pomegranate seeds, or cut up pieces of fig!
Goat’s Cheese Mousse and Edible Flowers Wreath / Ένα βρώσιμο μαγιάτικο στεφάνι
- 200g soft goat’s cheese (Chèvre), room temperature
- 150ml unsweetened whipping cream + 50ml kept separate (200ml in total)
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Some sprigs of fresh thyme (with, or without flowers) + extra for garnish
- Handful of micro greens (such as various sprouts, small basil leaves, or even baby arugula, or baby spinach)
- Edible flowers (ex. fresh and dried rose petals, lavender, thyme flowers, basil flowers, violet, pansies, etc.)
- Crackers for serving
- Prepare the sprouts and flowers: Gently cut and wash the flowers and sprouts. Place them on a piece of paper kitchen towel to allow the water to dry off.
- Make whipped cream: In a bowl, with a hand mixer, or by hand, whisk 150ml of cream into stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Make cheese mousse: In a different bowl, combine soft goat’s cheese with the reserved 50ml of whipping cream until it forms a soft and smooth mixture. Add some freshly cracked black pepper and about ½ tablespoon fresh thyme-leaves without the stems (save some sprigs for later). Stir to combine, then gently fold the whipped cream through the cheese-mixture and try not to lose too much of the airy texture.
- Plating: Scoop the goat’s cheese mousse into a piping bag with a plain, large round piping nozzle, or just use a plastic bag and snip off the end. On a serving plate, pipe the goat’s cheese mousse in a relatively thick circle with a hole in the middle. If you want, you can carefully smooth out the top of the piped mousse with the back of a spoon.
- Decorate: Stick small greens, herbs, and sprouts of your choice on top and around the goat cheese mousse. With a steady hand, or pincer, carefully distribute the edible flowers and petals over the top of the cheese circle to create your wreath – just have fun with it! If you wish, you can stick some small sprigs of thyme (with, or without some flowers) into the sides of the mousse to garnish. Not only does it look cute, but the extra thyme leaves can be sprinkled over the cheese for those who fancy some extra.
- Serve the cheese-wreath at room temperature with crackers.