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The Julia Child Rose (c)2012

The Julia Child Rose growing in the garden of my friend Carolyn, last summer

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with rosewater and dried rosebuds in winter:

1.  Rosewater Madeleines

Madeleines are miniature French sponge cakes, baked in a cute little sea shell shape. They are dainty and sweet, a simple “cookie” made with butter, sugar, and eggs that lends itself to endless variations from lemon to chocolate, or even a hint of rosewater. The delicate perfume of rose can really be appreciated in madeleines, and Martha Stewart adds her special touch with a sprinkling of pink sanding sugar to decorate the cookies just as they come out of the oven. I found a couple of different approaches to baking rosewater madeleines: Martha bakes the cookies plain, then brushes them with rosewater syrup once cooked, while Nigella Lawson incorporates the rose water into the madeleine batter in her recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.

2.  Ras el Hanout

Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend, call it a curry, that translates to “top of the shop.” The souks in Marrakech each sell their own blends made from the finest spices they have to offer. According to The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion, ras el hanout can include up to 50 ingredients, typically ginger, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns, dried chili peppers, cloves, cardamom, dried flowers, nigella, mace, galangal, saffron, and turmeric. Purchase the spice blend from a shop or make your own to use in tagines, as a spice rub for meats (especially game and lamb), and an aromatic flavoring for couscous or rice. In Tunisia, ras el hanout is simplified into a spice blend of cinnamon and dried rosebuds called bharat. Rose is less stringent and soapy than lavender, and when combined carefully with other spices it lifts and lightens the blend with just a touch of floral character. On her website, Paula Wolfert shares a recipe for Tunisian Egg and Parsley Tagine, a sort of baked casserole made with lamb, beans, cheese, eggs, and bharat. Cooking with dried rosebuds may seem strange, but trying something new is a great way to stimulate your palate and your creativity in the kitchen.

3.  Cocktails

Royal Rose Syrups is a Brooklyn company specializing in small batch, handmade, “organic and natural simple syrups for cocktails.” This husband and wife team are passionate about what they do, and share several recipes for cocktails made with their Royal Rose “Rose” Syrup. My favorite is the Gray Lady, made with crème de voilette, the rose syrup, lemon juice, Bittercube Jamaican bitters, Bols Genever, and an egg white. I could also go for the simple gin and tonic with a lady-like twist: Hendricks gin, rose syrup, lime juice, and tonic. For these recipes and more cocktails with rose syrup, head over to Royal Rose.

4.  Creamy Rose Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is a silky, luxurious dessert from Italy, which translates to “cooked cream.” Gelatin is used to achieve a creamy, pudding-like texture that can be flavored with other ingredients such as rosewater. In this recipe for Creamy Rose Panna Cotta by Erin Eastland, heavy cream is simmered with vanilla bean, combined with gelatin, sugar, yogurt, crème fraîche, and rose syrup, then poured into ramekins and chilled. Martha Stewart shares a recipe for Panna Cotta Tart in her Cooking School book that involves pouring the panna cotta into a tart shell before allowing it to chill. Serve the tart with macerated fruit, like dried figs or cherries preserved in syrup.

5.  Garam Masala

Reading Herbs & Spices, the cook’s reference, I learned that gram masala is Indian for hotmasala referring to a blend of spices. This northern Indian spice blend is most often added to a dish at the end of cooking, to keep the aroma lively and accent the other flavors. I found instructions for blending Garam Masala (II) in the India Cookbook, but in Herbs & Spices this blend of garam masala is called Punjabi masala, and it’s made with black cardamom, green cardamom, fennel seeds, mace, black cumin, ground ginger, cinnamon, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, tejpat leaves, and dried rose petals. The recipe for Pot-Roasted Chicken with Indian Spices from Herbs & Spices is a good way to ease in to cooking with gram masala. The spice blend is combined with fresh ginger, garlic, salt, and butter to make a paste, which is then rubbed all over a chicken before roasting in the oven. Just imagine how amazing your house will smell! The author, Jill Norman suggests serving the chicken with lemon wedges, chutney, yogurt, and a bowl of rice. Another great recipe using garam masala is this Spicy Chickpea Soup with coconut milk and tomatoes by Pam Anderson.

6.  Fruit Salad with Rosewater

In her original classic, Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco, Paula Wolfert includes a recipe for Orange Salad with Rosewater, and writes that “oranges, rose water, and cinnamon make an outstanding combination,” She sprinkles slices of navel orange with rosewater, cinnamon, and confectioner’s sugar and serves the dish as either a refreshing appetizer or dessert. Her salad inspired me to create a breakfast recipe of couscous and citrus flavored with rosewater, cinnamon, and mint (to be featured on the blog tomorrow). Another recipe for fruit salad with rosewater can be found in Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. She slices bananas, pears, kiwis, strawberries, pineapple, and grapes, then sprinkles the mixture with lemon juice, rosewater, and sugar. The fruit macerates for an hour, developing a sweet and fragrant syrup. Wouldn’t that be a nice breakfast treat?

7.  Café Blanc

Greg and Cindy Malouf have written many cookbooks on cuisines of the Middle East, and at the very end of their book, Saha: A Chef’s Journey Through Lebanon and Syria, you’ll find Café Blanc. The next time your nerves are frayed, try this concoction: a cup of hot water, sugar to taste, and 1 teaspoon of rosewater. Café Blanc, known as Kahwa Beida in Arabic, is a soothing drink that should be sipped slowly.

8.  Rosewater Yogurt Dressing for Spicy Scallops

This idea comes from Tyler Florence, as part of a recipe for Scallops with Chickpea Puree, Chorizo Oil, and Yogurt. He serves seared scallops atop chickpea puree with a drizzle of spicy chorizo oil and yogurt thinned with buttermilk and flavored with rosewater. In this dish, spicy heat is balanced with floral rosewater, which is really a sophisticated move. Tangy yogurt is a fantastic partner to sweet and rich scallops, while chickpeas provide a nutty backdrop. The concept of his rosewater yogurt dressing would also work for a salad of bitter winter greens or even a sauce for spicy lamb pita. It’s a simple idea that could add a special touch to many of the dishes you make on a regular basis.

9.  Rosewater Sorbet

I first came across a recipe for Apple-Rosewater Sorbet in the book, Artichoke to Za’atar, by Greg and Cindy Malouf. I like the idea of tart green apples with subtle rosewater and a bit of spice from cinnamon, juniper, and cloves. In the recipe, diced apples are simmered until meltingly tender, then pureed and combined with a sugar syrup made from the flavorings. The mixture goes into an ice cream maker and you’ve got a lovely dessert to serve at an afternoon party or finish of a heavy evening meal. This recipe for Mango and Rosewater Sorbet from Ingrid Hoffmann is made by pureeing frozen mango with white wine, rose water, and lime syrup in a food processor, and you don’t need an ice cream maker.

10.  Layered Gelee

I’m smitten by this gorgeous dessert from Martha Stewart Weddings, Layered Gelee is sophisticated and delicate, the perfect dessert for a wedding. Each of the four layers is a different flavor and hue, making for beautiful presentation in a tall glass. Ginger-cream gelatin is pure white, heavy cream infused with zippy fresh ginger. Lychee-gelatin is made with exotic canned lychee juice. Rosé-champagne gelatin is made with pink bubbly. Rose-cream gelatin is heavy cream flavored with rosewater. This dessert can be made up to 2 days in advance, so it’s great for entertaining.

 What is your favorite way to cook with dried rosebuds or rosewater? Let me know in the comments section. Click Here.