I have always wanted to cook with roses. For me, it started with the book “Like Water for Chocolate”, by Lara Esquivel. Definitely the book, not the movie. The part in the book when the main character is making the Quail in Rose Sauce, in my mind, I could taste every salty tear. I could smell the roses as she plucked the petals. The fragrance getting stronger with each touch of human hands. I imagined the slightly bitter taste that each diner experienced as they bit into their meal.
Ever since, I’ve tried to work with roses. I’ve tried rose-water, rose jelly and even real rose petals. I always seemed to be heavy-handed and believe m, you can have too many roses!
Whenever I have the chance I try rose flavored foods. The flavor, when done right, is so delicate. I love just the hint of floral sweetness. Too much and it can be bitter, or taste like someones perfume. Yuck! Too little and you don’t know it’s there.
I have friends that learned to cook, growing up in Iran. Their ability to balance flavors, seems to be in their DNA. When I studied writing and cooking, in France; I could sense that years of study and apprentice were responsible for their balance.
Recently, while purging my pantry, I came across rose-water and rose jelly. I remembered enthusiastically purchasing them and I was going to use them right then. Ha! The other day I was t my local farmer’s market and overheard a woman buying rose petals to decorate a cake. These all conspired to make me want to try to cook with roses, again. So today I present to you a rose scented Pavlova!
Pavlovas are relatively easy to prepare and I like the wow factor the serving. Because of the color of this recipe it is ideal for Christmas or Valentines Day. It is so good, though, you should serve it today!
Preheat oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace a 9" circle on the parchment paper, and turn over so pencil side is down.
In a small bowl mix cornstarch and vinegar until smooth. This helps make the pavlova the perfect blend of crispy and creamy.
Whisk eggs and salt in large CLEAN bowl (You can use a stand up mixer or handheld electric mixer), until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, alternating with vinegar mixture. "Meringue" should be thick, smooth and shiny. Fold in rose water and pomegranate seeds, if using
Mound meringue mixture inside center of circle on parchment. You can do this in layers to get more height. I like to make a well in center and create swirls. This is pretty and will hold the whipped cream and decorations.
Turn oven down to 200° and bake meringue for at least 2 hours. It should be crispy when tapped and have a firm bottom. The bottom should not feel damp or soggy. Turn oven off but leave meringue in, until cool.
While meringue is cooling, make whipped cream.
In a cool mixing bowl pour 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Use an electric mixer and start beating, when it starts to bubble and get a little thicker add 2 Tbs. confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, mound whipped cream in well of meringue. Sprinkle with additional pomegranate seeds and drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
I am a Mom that went to culinary school whose kids like boxed cake mix! I’ve tried many a homemade cake from yellow to red velvet and every frosting imaginable. While they do love my cream cheese frosting they still like, dare I say it, canned frosting and boxed cake mix better.
So when my daughter suggested we do one of those doctored up box cake mix recipes, to add something chocolate to our family holiday celebration. I reluctantly agreed. My only caveat was that it couldn’t have any other processed ingredients. We came really close but the one my daughter wanted had instant pudding in it. I caved.
The directions were “SOOO” complicated. “Empty contents of Bag”. Add in this. Stir in that. I persevered. We greased the pan and baked the mix for the prescribed 30-35 minutes. The whole time I was mumbling under my breath and sighing. How could this be? I make great cakes! Most kids would kill to have me as their mom!
The timer went off and out came a good-looking moist cake. Huh, maybe? We’ll see. It cooled. I poked. It seemed moist and had a nice aroma. Since I managed to get out of the store without buying a can of frosting, I suggested a hack, I knew. The finger taste test was good and so far my daughter approved.
Once the cake was sliced in half, filled and frosted we put it out and we were ready for the harshest of critics…the family. They loved it! Of course every body thought it was one of my recipes and of course my daughter couldn’t wait to tell them it was a doctored up cake mix.
Well at least I can take joy in knowing that there is homemade cake and frosting that I can make with my daughters that they will like. So from my family to yours, enjoy!
*One note- I would love to give credit where due but I honestly don’t remember where this came from. It was a quick screenshot on the phone and off to the store before mom changed her mind.
In a mixing bowl pour cake mix and pudding mix. Turn on mixer and add sour cream. Slowly add vegetable oil.
Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.
Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
Pour into 2 prepared (greased & floured) 8” round cake pans.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes in pan then turn out and cool completely on rack.
Frost and serve.
Blend together marshmallow fluff, butter and vanilla.
Slowly add powdered sugar until well blended and consistency is as desired. If it gets too thick you can add some whole milk a couple drops at a time.
Frost cake and serve.
Winter knows how to hook you. That first nip of cold air gets you excited and all the sweaters come out. When you are sick of rain the snow starts and when you think you can’t handle the grey skies anymore, Peonies show up and the citrus is ripe for the picking.
The Peonies I had to find in NYC while looking at colleges for my daughter. They were a welcome sight on a slushy, grey street in Chelsea. The citrus, in the form Cara Cara oranges greeted me when I came home to Los Angeles. They were bursting with juice and practically leapt off their trees when I went out to pick them.
Cara Cara oranges are wonderfully sweet and have specks of dark red hinting of a relationship to blood oranges. You can juice them and cook with them. This year they were too sweet not to use in everything! First, I peeled, sliced and served them on a beautiful platter on their own. Delicious! Then I tried a variation on lemon curd. It is literally sunshine is a jar. You can use any way you would lemon curd or, like me, just eat with a spoon.
Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan, over a medium high heat and reduce to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Cool to room temperature.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in cooled juice mixture. Once combined, pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken and it reaches a temperature of 180°. This should take 6 - 8 minutes.
Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl and stir in butter, until it is completely melted. Cool completely and place plastic right on surface of curd, to prevent skin forming. Place in refrigerator until well chilled.
Store in airtight in refrigerator for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, before use, if frozen.
When I read a post where the first thing the author does is make an excuse, I have to admit it is a huge turn off. Julia used to say something to the effect of don’t make excuses for your food whether it’s bad or good, everybody already know’s. Well, Julia, true that but sometimes life just rushes by and you get behind. The ironic thing is I have been writing like crazy, because I have so much to say! It’s the cooking and picture that seem to set me back. So here I am to catch up and I think this first one is a good one.
We finally got a little cold snap her in Los Angeles. I love to think that means we can have a fire in the fire place and snuggle up. I mean what else can you do when it is 50 degrees out (pause for groan from the east coast)? A fire in the fireplace almost always means S’mores. So tonight it meant making my own graham crackers.
I don’t know why I wanted to make my own graham crackers. There was something so intriguing to me. I imagined it would be very complicated so it never occurred to me that I would share it here, under try something new. It was super easy!
I went looking for “Graham” flour. Guess what? Its really just whole-wheat flour that is not sifted during the milling process and is ground coarsely. You can find graham flour in some health food stores. For my purposes I used plain whole-wheat flour. I started with a recipe from King Arthur Flour Company. I made the first batch exactly as directed. One of my daughters is not a big cinnamon fan and I thought it could be a little more “wheaty” so I made some adjustments and the following is my recipe. It really is simple.
My advice is to be patient when rolling out the dough. You do want to get them very thin. You also will want to have a ruler handy, if measuring out as squares, which is the proper graham shape. I admit I got bored of that and made some squares and some circles with a biscuit cutter. Finally don’t forgo the pricking with a fork. This helps them keep their shape, without puffing up.
While I’m am off doing the above, I hope to be posting lots! However, I never wish to leave my devoted followers hanging. I thought there could be nothing more appropriate than giving you a recipe from Julia’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Since it is Fall and apples are abundant I am giving you a variation of a Clafoutis. Clafoutis is really just a fruit flan and is typically done with cherries. Her are Julia’s words.:
The clafoutis which is traditional in the Limousin during the cherry season is peasant cooking for family meals, and about as simple a dessert to make as you can imagine: a pancake batter poured over fruit in a fireproof dish, then baked in the oven. It looks like a tart and is usually eaten warm.
Saute apples gently in hot butter, until browned. Let stand in skillet for 1/2 hour with the brandy, cinnamon and first 1/3 cup sugar.
Blend together the milk, additional 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour for a full minute until well blended and frothy. It is best in a blender, but a hand mixer will work as well.
Butter a fireproof baking dish. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in the dish and set over moderate heat for a minute or two until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat.
Spread the apple mixture over the batter layer. Pour on the remaining batter and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
Place in the middle of an oven preheated to 350 and bake for about an hour. The clafoutis is done when it has puffed and browned and a needle or knife plunged in to its center comes out clean.
Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar just before serving. It is best served warm or hot. It will sink slightly in the center.