Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Taste of Roses

On my first trip to Athens I stayed in a student hostel.  One of those really cheap dives with a lot of spirit and camaraderie.  A fellow I had met there gave me a box of what I thought was chocolates.  Inside was a chewy candy dusted with powdered sugar.  The rubbery textured sweet had a familiar smell to it but I couldn’t identify it until I had a bite.  It tasted like roses.  Loukoumi, is the Greek version of  ‘Turkish Delight’.  It was flavoured with rosewater.     

Before vanilla became commercially available, scented waters were used in cookery.   One of the most common was rose water. It was used to flavour food as early as the fourteenth century, where there are recipes using it in French cookbooks. It is hardly used today except by people of Middle Eastern descent who use it in combination with saffron to flavour rice dishes as well as sweets. 

I bought a small bottle of it at my local bulk store.  Rosewater is less concentrated than other extracts so more can be used in a recipe.  Each bottle differs in intensity of flavour from one brand to another.  Begin with a little and then add more to taste if you like.

What to flavour with rosewater:

Use it in rice pudding or vanilla ice-cream by adding 1 teaspoon of flavouring per cup and mixing it well.
Add 1 tablespoon of rosewater to mayonnaise to flavour chicken salad.
Try adding one teaspoon of rosewater to one half cup of butter, delicious on a muffin or scone.
Add some to flavour vinegar
Use a bit in an apple pie filling.

Try making your own rosewater by following the instructions at . It is also a great skin freshener.

Rosewater and Lemon Cookies
4 ½  tablespoons of butter softened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of rosewater
2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest
1 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. 
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. 
Add your eggs and beat thoroughly.
Add the rosewater.  Turn your mixer off after it is well blended into the mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, fold in the lemon zest, the flour, salt and baking powder.

Use a teaspoon to drop the dough onto a greased cookie sheet.  Leave at least an inch space between each cookie.  Flatten each one with a small glass that has been dipped into white sugar mixed with a few drops of rosewater.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until they are slightly brown around the edges.  Let them cool a few minutes before taking them off of the hot pan and onto a cooling rack.

*These are delicious with a nice glass of fresh lemonade.  At Christmas time I made these and added a drop or two of food colouring to give them a more festive look.  Try making these for Valentine’s day too.  They are sure to please your sweetie.

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
~Emma Goldman

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