Monday, May 23, 2011

Days of Whine and Roses

I snapped this pic before all of
the buds had opened.
Let’s do roses first.  This year our two rose bushes are going crazy.  Earlier this year I had gone out with the snips and just went berserk on them.  Apparently they liked it.  Some of the canes are absolutely weighed down with flowers.  It started me thinking I needed to be doing something with some of those roses besides letting them fade and fall off of the bush. 

The first thing I made was rose petal syrup.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this yet, but a few things have come to mind. 

·         I’m thinking of a pistachio cupcake, brushed with a little bit of rose syrup and/or a drizzle of gorgeous red rose syrup over the icing.
·         Mixing a bit with some champagne or sparkling wine would produce a beverage akin to the sweet, rose-scented Asti Spumante.  (Full disclosure:  it’s an idea, but not one I’ll likely be trying.  I really don’t care for sweet champagnes/wines; I’m definitely a dry kind of gal.)
·         A few drops in a cup of hot tea would be like aromatherapy as you inhale the scent of the rose while taking a sip of steamy tea.
·         Maybe mixed in with some club soda or sparkling water for a rose petal soda.

Even though I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do with it, I was very pleased with the result.

The next thing I made was rose and vanilla bean shortbread.  I love shortbread.  It’s one of those things I like to experiment with to come up with interesting and different flavors.  For this experiment, I took a recipe I’ve used dozens of times before (already altered beyond belief from Martha Stewart) and changed it up a bit.  I was trying to rely on memory, but memory failed me and I only took two sticks of butter out of the refrigerator to soften instead of three.  Given my inadequacy in the area of patience, I decided to try to do 2/3 of the recipe instead of waiting for more butter to soften.  Seriously, I think that extra stick of butter would have been soft by the time I did all of the calculations and conversions.  At best, it was a practical application of Culinary Math.

This was such a pretty dough coming together.  The rose petal and sugar mixture was gorgeous and I loved the flecks of petals in the dough. 

Now for the whine:  It’s really a shame that it’s absolutely awful.  Not only does it not taste good, the mouth feel is horrible.  Even though it baked for a little over an hour, I don’t think it was long enough.  There was still that raw flour taste and feel.  And speaking of taste, I think half the amount of rose petals would have been just fine and twice the amount of vanilla bean.

While it was tempting to immediately toss it in the garbage, I’m keeping in mind that shortbread often develops its best flavor and texture a few days after baking.  I’ll keep sampling it over the course of the next few days to determine its fate.

I’m not going to bother with the monumentally disappointing shortbread recipe, but here’s how I made the rose syrup:

Rose Syrup
4 cups lightly packed fresh, ORGANIC rose petals, washed and spun*
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

Place the rose petals in a saucepan (with a lid) and pour the sugar in the center.  Pour the water around the sugar like a moat.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for one minute to fully dissolve the sugar, turn off the heat and cover.  Let steep until cool.  If there is any condensation on the lid of the pan, let it drain into the syrup.  There will be a lot of essential oil from the petals in the steam.  Strain the syrup and discard the petals.  Pour into a bottle or container and refrigerate.  Makes approximately 3 cups of syrup.

*Use ONLY organic rose petals.  If you’re not sure, don’t use them.  If using petals from one of your own untreated rose bushes I recommend taking flowers only from the top of the bush.  Avoid any lower flowers that may be within leg-lifting reach of local canines.

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