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Wednesday
Apr272005

Lavender and Roses

rose&lavender.jpg

Last week, as you may remember, I treated myself to two new cookbooks, both of which showcase some of the more unusual gastronomic treasures to be found around the Mediterranean's far-flung shores. The recipes are so tempting that I started planning a long to-cook list, but I hadn't gotten very far when something perturbed me: at least *three* of the herbs and spices called for in these recipes were nowhere to be found in my spice bowl. This scenario really flusters me, for reasons of pride I probably shouldn't probe into here, but the upshot is that my spice collection grows a little with each new cookbook I acquire, because I do whatever is needed to track down the spices in question. One of the missing spices, fennel seeds, was easy to obtain, its absence from my bowl simply the result of forgetting to replenish a depleted supply. The remaining two, however, proved to be a bit more elusive: dried edible lavender buds and rose petals.

After unsuccessfully perusing the spice shelves of all the major supermarkets and ethnic grocers in town, I reluctantly turned to the internet as a last resort. Normally I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to spending money at the click of a mouse, but I've never really liked ordering edible things online. I would never consider ordering my groceries over the internet, for example, though I know a lot of people who swear by its convenience.  I simply don't trust someone else to pick the ripest fruit and the freshest-looking meat, and I like knowing I can change my dinner plans on a whim if something else just looks better. There's something about food's subjectivity and fragility that just makes it better to buy when you can hold it in your hand, see its color and smell its perfume. There's also the impatience factor: when I have a craving for something, I want to make it now, not next week when the ingredients arrive. In any case, it was either brave the internet or go without, so of course I braved the internet, and I'm so happy I did because I've come up with a fantastic find, a UK-based supplier of organic herbs and spices, and yes, even edible dried flowers. I placed my order on Friday, and on Monday morning, a box had already arrived containing these oh-so-chic little stainless steel canisters with glass lids, that when opened billowingly exude a breath of intense lavender and roses.

Thus armed and ready, I was highly dismayed to discover that there are actually very few recipes in these two books that call for my new acquisitions. The lavender makes an appearance in a cake, chocolate truffles and roast duck, while the rose petals are actually only used as a garnish for dishes that incorporate rosewater. I spent a frantic hour rifling through the other books on my shelf only to find the same thing. It seemed like if I stuck to my cookbooks I would barely break the crust of possibility of what can be done with these new additions to my culinary arsenal. So, like any self-respecting cook, I went back to the internet...

...and after hours of research, have assembled a by-no-means-definitive digital guide to show off some of the more interesting things you can do with dried lavender and roses. Just in case you ever find yourself in possession of either and have no idea what to cook :)

Lavender is very popular in sweet-and-savory dishes, such as Barbecued Lamb Kebabs with Honey and Lavender, Lavender Honey and Mustard Pork Tenderloin, Salmon Filet with Lavender Honey and Tamari, Lavender-Glazed Meatballs, Lavender Pistachio Lamb Chops, and Lavender Cream Chicken. It can show up in soups: Lavender Leek and Potato Soup, Cold Melon Soup with Lavender; and in salads: Ojai Orange Salad with Lavender Vinaigrette and Lavender Chicken Salad. It can grace pizza: Lavender Pizza; cheese: Chevre Marinated in Lavender and Fresh Herbs; and nuts: Lavender and Orange-Glazed Pecans. It apparently takes well to baking: Lavender and Hazelnut Bread and Lavender Shortbread; frying: Lavender Ricotta Fritters; and freezing: Lavender Ice Cream. It can quench your thirst on a hot day: Lavender Limeade, Lavender Margaritas, and Lavender Kir, and satisfy even the sweetest sweet tooth: Pear and Lavender Clafoutis, Lavender-Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake, and Chocolate-Hazelnut Baklava with Lavender Cream and Hazelnut Bark.

Rose Petals, especially the dried kind, are a little more enigmatic. Most recipes that want to incorporate rose flavor opt for rose water or rose essence, both readily available in Indian and Middle Eastern shops. A little more sleuthing was involved in finding recipes to use the petals, but the ones I found are wonderfully exotic, indulgent and sensual. I've included recipes here that use both fresh and dried petals. Recipes I came across included Rhubarb and Rose Petal Jam, Damavand Yogurt and Cucumber Cold Soup with Walnuts and Rose Petals, Chicken with Honey and Rose Petals, Quail in Rose Petal Sauce (from Like Water for Chocolate), Pullum Frontonianum (Apicus Chicken), Maraqat al-Safarjal (Sweet Ragout of Quince and Lamb), Grilled Chicken with Rose Petal-Mango Sauce, Cherry and Rose Petal Soup, Almond Pestinos in Rose Petal Syrup, Champagne and Rose Petal Sorbet, Rose Lassis, and a fabulous collection of rosy recipes at The Joy of Soup, including Rose Petal Omelettes, Rose Petal Drop Scones, Linguine with Rose Petal Pesto and Green Tea and Rose Petal Popsicles.


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Reader Comments (14)

Oh Melissa, those jars are adorable! And the site - I've already checked it out, it looks gorgeous, thanks for sharing the adress - they even ship to Denmark, yay! Can't wait to hear what you'll make with these (so I have an excuse to buy some spices myself, tee-hee!)
April 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterZarah Maria
pretty pretty spices... one of my favorites is lavender chocolate truffles. Steeping the lavender in the hot cream lends itself to the earthy note of chocolate so well. I haven't played with rose in there, but it would be gorgeous to bite into!

Have you seen the movie "Like Water for Chocolate"? Both the book and the movie have a memorable seen involving a rose petal chicken dish.
April 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMcAuliflower
Melissa, I used their rose petals for the grilled quail recipe from the first Moro book (I made a post recently), I bought it at the Good Food Show last year. Don't buy vanilla pods from them, though, I was really disappointed.
April 28, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkeiko
Zarah, they seem to have very high-quality spices and quite reasonable prices. Besides the flowers I bought two spice blends, Moroccan ras-el-hanut and Ethiopian berbere, which both smell fantastic. Anyhow, as soon as I make something with my new loot, you can be sure I'll post about it!

McAuliflower, you bet I've seen 'Like Water for Chocolate'! That aphrodisiacal quail-in-rose-petal dish has been on my mind for an absurdly long time. Maybe it's time to finally make it...

Keiko, I loved that post of yours on the quail recipe - the beauty of that recipe and photo was what finally compelled me to buy the Casa Moro cookbook! And thanks for the tip on the Good Food Show, maybe this year I'll just have to make a trip down to Birmingham.
April 28, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
hi mel,
did manuel take that photo of the steenbergs chic jars? i like it, the photo n the fact that they have edible dried flowers tempted my aesthetic taste buds, i want some of those!!!
imagine i m checking ur blog, who doesnt care to cook. that must be a good sign!
April 30, 2005 | Unregistered Commentergoogs
oh opsideisy, i meant i who DONT care to cook... my pride made me fix that.
April 30, 2005 | Unregistered Commentergoogs
It's okay googs, we know what you mean, whichever way you say it! And yes, those dried flowers are really neat, and they smell *amazing*. I think they even ship internationally, if you're tempted to order some :) Oh, and by the way, I took the picture! (that is, with a little help on the technicalities, but somehow the idea of spending an hour looking at dried flowers from different angles didn't really thrill Manuel!)
May 1, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Oh my GOD!! Besides dark chocolate, lavender anything is one of my weaknesses and that treasure trove of links that you have up there is making me all giddy with delight. What a fine blog you have here and I'm sure glad that I was into bloghopping today...

Now to get on with checking out those links!
May 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterrowena
Welcome, Rowena, and thanks for your comment! You have a mighty fine blog too, I might add - though I'm insanely jealous that you live in Italy! I'm a recent convert to lavender, but wow, the stuff is amazing. I'm already trying to figure out if it will grow on a rainy Edinburgh windowledge ;)
May 10, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Hi Melissa,

Stumbled upon your excellent blog recently and can't help but wonder if you're in fact me in another life, another place! Like you,I obsessively collect cookbooks and recipes, memorise recipes in stores when I can't buy the book, fail to follow a single recipe rigidly, want to go first to the supermarket/food store when I'm abroad (before I've seen any touristy sites), have my huge kitchen overflowing with ingredients that I intend to cook with....the similarities between you and me are so many it's eerie.

Here's an Indian recipe that I think you might like:

http://www.uktvfood.co.uk/index.cfm/UKTVFoodpreview/recipes.newrecipe/ID/516579.shtml

Looking forward to following your culinary capers,
FTS
August 4, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterFoodieTwoShoes
Hi FoodieTwoShoes - Twins separated at birth, maybe? That is eerie... ;) Before the advent of food blogs I believed I might be alone in the world, as no one I'd ever met was quite so obsessive about food and cooking as me. But now that I've discovered the 'support group' of the internet I know that's not true, and it's wonderful to meet so many like-minded people. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the link to that recipe - it looks absolutely enchanting!
August 4, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Exactly! I used to feel like a freak surrounded by 'normal' people who just didn't understand my enthusiasm er..okay, obsession for all things related to food. Then I discovered food blogs and eGullet and knew I wasn't so strange after all. My idea of a perfect day is one spent inside all sorts of food shops. I'm on the lookout for the rose petals myself - £10 charge for a delivery to Dublin seems rather steep - so I'll keep online ordering as the last option.
August 5, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterFoodieTwoShoes

I have just imported a some edible dried flowers that include rose buds, chrysanthamums and peach blossom.
Absolutely fantastic.

December 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuzan

Thank you so much for recommending the site! Was looking for somewhere to buy edible lavender and that site looks perfect.

August 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuz, Edinburgh

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