Pantry Specials are great ingredients that find their way into my pantry from time to time, but not all the time.
Exotic and expensive often go hand-in-hand, but not in the case of rose water, a distillation of rose petals used in Middle Eastern, Indian, North African and Asian cooking to flavor candies and baked goods. From marzipan to madeleines, ice cream to iced tea, rose water adds a distinctive, subtle flavor to many desserts. It also finds its way into savory dishes, especially in the Persian cuisine; a few drops added near the end of the cooking imparts a delicate aroma without screaming "flower shop". If stored in a cool, dark part of your pantry, rose water can be kept for two years.
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How to make your own rose water
How to use rose water:
Rose water plum compote
Rose petal flan
Rose water cupcakes
Cardamom panna cotta
Fresh fig and rose smoothie
Chilled tomato soup with rose water
Rosy peach cake
Greek rose ice cream
Rose petal risotto
This decadent risotto from Lake Garda was served in the 1930s to the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio at his romantic dinners with the actress Eleonora Duse, according to author Diane Seed, from whose book, The Top 100 Italian Rice Dishes, this recipe is adapted. Be sure to use rose petals that have not been pesticized, fertilized, or fumigated. Serves 6.
1 pink rosebud, just opening out
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cup dry rosé or white wine
6-1/2 cups chicken stock (I use low-sodium store-bought)
Salt and black pepper
Few drops of pink food coloring (optional, but fun)
1-1/2 tsp rose water
4-1/2 oz Emmental cheese shavings
Wash the roses and take off the petals; set aside. Heat 3 Tbsp of butter in a large straight-sided pan, and stir in the rice and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Cook on low heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and continue cooking until it has almost evaporated. Start stirring in the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more, until the rice is al dente (approximately 15 minutes). Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and stir in remaining Tbsp of butter, a few drops of pink food coloring (optional), the rose water, the smallest rose petals, and half of the cheese. Serve covered with remaining cheese and rose petals arranged on top.
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