There is something magical about herb flowers. Don't you agree? They are like a softer, more feminine, and altogether prettier version of the herbs themselves. It's a pity they are not used more often in the kitchen. That might perhaps be because they are not easy to come by, if you buy herbs at the store you probably wouldn't see the flowers. Most commercial growers - or even the more diligent of home gardeners - snip them right off as soon as they appear, to prevent the herbs going to seeds and die. But if you're one of the lucky ones with an herb pot or two growing by the window, or better yet a patch of herbs in your garden, try letting a few go to flower, you'll love the results. Rosemary flowers are great sprinkled over meat dishes, especially the ones cooked with the herb already. I love using cilantro flowers in salads, they work wherever I'd use regular cilantro leafs. And my current favorite, thyme flowers.
Most people think of thyme as a rather strong herb, suitable for something equally strong, like lamb chops. I beg to differ, use judiciously, thyme can be subtle and don't overpower more delicate dishes like fish or even -wait for it- ice cream. Yes, ice cream.
I'd take credit for coming up with this brilliant idea but, as Goethe purportedly said, there's nothing new under the sun. I remember having an ice cream made with thyme flowers in France years ago. I also remember tremendously enjoying the deliciously creamy, old-fashioned custard-based ice cream and being delighted by the unexpected and savory flavor of thyme in it.
So, when my thyme bloomed this year, I set out to replicate that ice cream.