Recipe: Pretty yellow petals baked in a pie

JUDGING from a three-page, handwritten letter, you'd think Margaret Brown had just awoken from 400 years' sleep: she dwelt exclusively on early Elizabethan recipes from the kitchen garden. Far from drowsing, however, she has been running the restaurant at the Cavendish Hotel, 3 Valley Drive, Harrogate, North Yorkshire (0423 509637).

Here is her recipe for a marigold tart made, she says, like a lemon meringue pie. She will receive a bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba Clerico Domenico 1989 from Bibendum Wines, London NW1.

Mrs Brown's Marigold Tart

Serves 4

Ingredients: blind-baked shortcrust pastry in a 6in x 1in flan dish

3tbs fresh marigold petals, from about 2 flower heads (be sure to use only the petals)

3 large eggs

3oz/85g cottage cheese

pinch salt

pinch ground mace

2oz/56g icing sugar

Preparation: Preheat oven to 325F/170C/Gas 3. Quickly plunge petals in just-boiling water and drain. Separate the eggs and reserve one white separately. Mix drained petals with the egg yolks. Sieve together the cheese, salt, sugar and mace. Mix well and add to yolks. Whisk two egg whites until just short of stiff, and fold into yolk mixture. Brush inside of pastry shell with remaining egg white, then pour in the marigold custard mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, by which time it should be firm in the centre.

Mrs Brown says the tart is best served cold, with cream, and adds that you can substitute blue primroses, but that the colour is a little alarming.

Next week our series on recipes brought back from foreign holidays begins. Recipes, stating the source, should be sent to Emily Green, Recipe, Weekend Features, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Those whose recipes we print will receive copies of Patricia Wells's Food Lover's Guide to Paris and Food Lover's Guide to France.

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