A Culinary Delicacy

Rose, a Culinary Delicacy by Maureen Rogers

May the queen of flowers, reign too in the kitchen!

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
Would by any other name smell as sweet.

Rose water and rose syrup, made from rose petals, are used in numerous Middle Eastern and Indian pastries and confections and are available from specialty stores and ethnic markets. Rose petals are used in making jelly, butter, vinegar, syrup, tea cakes and desserts. They are ideal for crystallizing and are good macerated with wine and fruit. They are also used to garnish desserts and salads. Rose petal sandwiches started with placing a hunk of butter with rose petals in a closed jar overnight. The delicately flavored butter was spread on thin slices of bread that were made into sandwiches with a few fresh petals showing around the edges. Roses were also included in the liqueur Parfait d’Amour. Lassi, an East Indian yogurt drink, is flavored with rose water.

To prepare flowers for kitchen use, rinse them and shake off the water. Grasp the open flower in one hand so that the stem is pointing upward. With a sharp pair of scissors, snip right below the stem, and the petals will fall freely. Trim off any bitter white part at the base of each petal. Greenhouse roses are not recommended because they most likely have been sprayed. The more fragrant roses offer the most flavor. Roses vary in flavour and the darker ones have a stronger taste than the lighter ones. The old-fashioned varieties are the best choice. Good choices for edible roses include: R. rugosa, R. damascena, R. x alba and R. glanteria.

Crystallized Flower Petals

In a small bowl, with a wooden spoon, thoroughly mix the gum Arabic with the water until smooth. If small lumps remain, strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve. With a clean, small, soft-bristle brush, paint both sides of a petal with a thin coat of the gum Arabic mixture. Sprinkle each side lightly with superfine sugar. Set petal on a metal rack to air dry. Continue in this manner until all the ingredients are used. When the petals are completely dry, store them in an airtight container. Use within 3 months. Gum Arabic can be found in most cake decorating supply shops.

Rose Petal Jam

Gently simmer the rose petals in water for 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and sugar and bring again to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Cook steadily for 15-20 minutes, until the jam starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the rose water. Pour into sterile jelly glasses and seal.
(The Herbal Connection Collection)

Lobster Salad a la Roses

Marinate the lobster chunks in the other ingredients for at least an our in the refrigerator. Serve on lettuce with a few additional pickled rosebuds tucked in. (The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery)

The Rosehattan

Shake the liquid ingredients with crushed ice and strain. Drop a candied rose petal into the glass as a garnish. (The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery)

And I will make thee beds of Rosesand a thousand fragrant posies.
Christopher Marlowe

The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery, Leona Woodring Smith, Pelican Publishing, 1973 (ISBN 0-88289-464-1)
The Herbal Connection Collection, Maureen Rogers & Patricia Sulick, HGMN, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575; 1994

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