Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fragrant Food.

After pasties and pulpatoons of multiple ingredients and complicated methods, I think it is time for something lighter and more fragrant, don’t you? The decision allows me to indulge myself in something rose-scented. Regular readers will be aware of my weakness for rose-flavoured Turkish Delight. Recently I was delighted to come across a rose-flavoured (non-alcoholic) beverage that is like drinking liquid Turkish Delight, and which for sheer rosiness surpasses both the rose & vanilla tea, and the pure red rosebud tea that have been recent indulgences of mine.

Rosewater was used in Europe (in the kitchens of the rich) from at least medieval times. It was included in all manner of dishes, both sweet and savoury (although as we know, this distinction was not made back then.) I don’t know of any book detailing the definitive history of the use of rosewater in Europe, so someone surely ought to write it? In the meanwhile, I must resort to sweeping generalisations, such as suggesting that it was imported from the exotic east and not home-made, and that the use of it began to decline when vanilla became more accessible in the nineteenth century. Certainly it essentially disappeared from English cookery, even from baked goods, by the end of the century. A sad loss, which makes one think that the good-old days did indeed have some good aspects to them.

There are many recipes in this blog which include rosewater, but today I give you one of my particular favourites.

To make a cake the way of the royal princess, the Lady Elizabeth, daughter to King Charles the First.
Take halfe a peck of Flowre, half a pint of Rosewater, a pint of Ale yest, a pinte of cream, boyle it, a pound and a half of Butter, six Egges (leave out the whites), four pounds of Currants, one half pound of Sugar, one Nutmeg, and a little salt, work it very well, and let it stand half an hour by the fire, and then work it again, and then make it up, and let it stand an hour and a half in the Oven; let not your Oven be too hot.
The Queen’s Closet Opened, by W.M (1655)

Quotation for the Day.

How many flowers there are which only serve to produce essences, which could have been made into savory dishes.
Charles Pierre Monselet (1825-1888)


judysquiltsandthings said...

..."a pint of Ale yest, a pinte of cream, boyle it,"... Question: If you boil the yeast won't that kill it or are you just boiling the cream? It also looks more like a bread of some sort. Were cakes leavened with yeast before baking soda?

ladycelia said...

The Turkish Delight link is 404-ing, which is unfortunate as I was looking forward to making some.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Judy - instructions in recipes were vague, to say the least, in the old days. I take it to mean that the cream is boiled,for as you say, that would kill the yeast. You are right - before baking powders were developed in the first half of the nineteenth century, 'cakes' were more like sweet breads, leavened with yeast of some sort.
Lady Celia - the link is fixed, thankyou for notifying me.

ladycelia said...

Janet--I just tried the link again from another computer--still getting the 404 error. I'm in the U.S.(if that makes a difference), but I usually have no trouble with your links.

The Old Foodie said...

dont know what the problem is - when I re-did the link before, I checked it and it was OK. I'll try again!

The Old Foodie said...

ladycecilia - I think Blogger is having a problem at present. Try cutting and pasting the link

SharleneT said...

Well, this does look a lot easier and lighter... Blogger is having a big problem this week... grrr.... thanks for sharing... come visit when you can...

ladycelia said...

Thank you! The cut and paste worked.

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins said...

I have a recipe for making Rose liqueur:
see: All things Sicilian and More