It is early summer, the roses are blooming and it is time to make Crystallised Rose Petals! I love using edible flowers in my cooking and roses are one of my favourites as they smell wonderful and come in some many fantastic colours – ruby red, crimson, shell pink, soft yellow, pure white…. There is something very romantic and decadent about strewing rose petals over your home-made cake or dessert!
These sugary petals are really easy to make providing you have access to flowers that you know have not been treated with any chemicals. If you have roses in your garden, or have a kind friend or neighbour who does, you are all set! Don’t use roses that are sold as cut flowers as they probably will have been chemically treated.
You can crystallise any kind of edible flower. It has the effect of both preserving the petals – if you don’t do this, they wilt very quickly – and also making them taste sweet and sugary!
It is very easy to make Crystallised Rose petals, in fact it is a great activity to do with children. However, if you are planning on using them to decorate a cake or pudding, you do need to make them the day before to allow them time to dry.
Sugary Crystallised Rose Petals look beautiful as a decoration on cakes and puddings and add a delicious rose flavour.
Petals from 3–4 roses
1 egg white
Wash the rose petals and dry gently using kitchen paper.
Paint each petal with egg white and then dip it into the caster sugar.
Place on the cake rack to dry and harden. This will take about 24 hours.
Use to decorate cakes or puddings.
Make sure that you use rose petals that have not been treated with any chemicals. The best place is from your garden as you will know what has been used on the roses. Don’t use shop-bought roses unless they are specifically designated as being for culinary use.
The flavour will be better if you use strongly scented roses.
Easy-to-make Strawberry and Rose Geranium Jam has all the fruity loveliness of strawberries but with a floral boost provided by the addition of Rose Geranium leaves. This recipe is based on one in Sarah Raven’s Food for Friends and Family which is one of my favourite cookery books. It is really easy to make and is fantastic on crusty bread or as an ingredient in cakes and puddings. If you don’t have access to Rose Geraniums, you can add a little rosewater to the jam to add a floral accent.
I grow strawberries in my garden but they are not yet ready for picking. Therefore, as it is half-term this week, I took two of my adolescent children with me to Primrose Vale Pick-Your-Own farm which is about a half hour drive from where I live. My two gaming-addicted companions were somewhat reluctant at the prospect of this outing but actually enjoyed it a lot (and picked more strawberries than they ate!). It is a good spot for a family outing, with a playground for younger children, an excellent farm shop and a cafe serving drinks and snacks and wonderful, locally-produced Winstones ice-cream.
About Rose Geraniums
There are a number of scented varieties of Rose Geranium (which are actually technically pelargoniums) and all have leaves that smell of rose – I think they actually smell a bit like Turkish Delight! I have two varieties – Angels Perfume and Attar of Roses – which I bought from Herbal Haven which is a specialist herb nursery.
Rose Geranium leaves can be used in lots of puddings and desserts to add a subtle rose flavour. I think this is a better way than using rose-petals as you only need a few leaves whereas you need loads of petals (and, really, who wants to destroy their roses?).
Heavy pan and a large sterilised jam jar (There are various ways of sterilising jars. I think the easiest is to wash in soapy water and then put in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes)
A beautiful summer jam, perfect to make when strawberries are in season in June or July, which has the added twist of a hint of rose.
500 g fresh strawberries
500 g jam sugar (caster sugar with added pectin)
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Rose Geranium leaves (or a teaspoon of rosewater)
Wash the strawberries and hull them (remove the green leafy bit).
Put the strawberries into your pan together with the lemon juice and the Rose Geranium leaves. If you do not have access to a Rose Geranium plant, you can add a teaspoon of rosewater if you want your jam to have a floral accent. Otherwise you can make it without either – it will still taste really good!
Heat for around 5 minutes until the strawberries have become soft and released their juice.
Add the jam sugar and bring to the boil. Then allow to continue boiling for 10 minutes until the setting point is reached. (You can judge the setting point by putting a saucer in your freezer before making the jam. Spoon some of the jam onto the cold saucer and leave to cool. If the surface of the jam crinkles when you push it with your finger, it is ready. If not, continue boiling and try again after a few more minutes).
Remove from the heat and then pour into a sterilised jam jar.
You can sterilise your jam jar by washing it in soapy water and then putting it in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes.
Keywords: strawberry jam, strawberry and rose jam, rose geranium jam
Strawberries and Rose Geranium leaves – ready for jam!
REVIEW: The Potager, Barnsley House, Barnsley, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 5EE – www.barnsleyhouse.com – (Evening meal – May 2018 – two people)
Your dream home in the Cotswolds…
Imagine a country house hotel, situated in a beautiful Cotswold village, surrounded by idyllic gardens containing drifts of alliums and peonies and fragrant, over-blown roses. Entering the grounds, progressing along the curved driveway towards the house, you enter a world redolent with privilege, comfort and very English country style. Welcome to Barnsley House!
The best restaurants sell a dream along with their food and Barnsley House’s dream is of an idyllic, aspirational, Cotswold country-house lifestyle. The house, which was built in the late 1690s, is built of honeyed stone and set within a gardens in the romantic, English style. The gardens are a vital component of the Barnsley House dream and, in addition to providing a beautiful setting for the house, and somewhere to wander with a pre-dinner drink, they also produce vegetables that are used in the restaurant. The restaurant is called The Potager (French for vegetable garden) and home-grown produce features prominently on the menu.
Until 2001 Barnsley House was the private home of Rosemary Verey, who started to design the gardens in the 1950s and went on to work on many well-known gardens including the New York Botanical Gardens, private gardens for Sir Elton John, Princess Michael of Kent and, perhaps most famously worked with Prince Charles to create his wonderful garden at Highgrove. The hotel still has a sense of once being a private home. Sitting in the long, rectangular dining room it is easy to make all the other diners disappear in your imagination and see how it once was a beautiful drawing room overlooking stunning romantic gardens. It is big enough to be grand but small enough to be welcoming and is beautiful in the Cotswold style – worn flagstones, open fireplaces, wood panelled walls painted in muted neutral colours and simple, but stylish, furnishings.
We started our evening with a pre-dinner drink in the bar area while we made the (difficult!) choice about what to eat. The focus on the use of botanical ingredients and locally-sourced produce starts with the cocktail menu. I was tempted by the Barnsley Refresher (St Germain Elderflower liqueur, Prosecco, Lime and Mint) and the Cucumber Southside (Gin, Lime and Cucumber). However, in the spirit of herbal investigation, I chose the Rosemary and Ginger Collins (Gin, Rosemary Syrup, Lemon Juice and Lemongrass Presse) which was superb with a subtle taste of rosemary and a fiery kick from the ginger.
A meal featuring home-grown vegetables…
Moving through to the dining room, we were delighted to be placed at a table next to one of the floor-to-ceiling sash windows which allowed us to contemplate the gardens while we ate and also to admire the vine which twines around the arbour next to the house. As anticipated, the menu included a number of home-grown products including candy striped Choggia beetroot, rainbow chard and freshly-picked asparagus. While we were waiting for our first course to arrive we were served with warm crusty bread with a choice of home-made salsa verde containing mint and coriander.
I chose a tart of home-grown shallots with blue cheese as my starter. A swirl of buttery, flaky pastry, sweet shallots and tangy blue cheese made this a winning combination. My companion’s choice of buffalo mozzarella wrapped in Parma ham with a tomato and basil salad, which of course I had to try, also managed to be both light but tasty. A perfect start to a substantial meal!
After a pause to digest and reflect, we moved on to our main courses. I chose pork loin with garden rhubarb, watercress and mashed potatoes. The rhubarb worked with the pork, which was deliciously tender and moist, in a similar way to the more traditional accompaniment of apple sauce, by providing a tangy fruitiness to complement the rich fattiness of the meat. It was a simple dish, and none the worse for that, with the peppery watercress and creamy potatoes working well with the main ingredients.
By this stage, both myself and my companion were replete but, in the interests of research, and of course greed, we valiantly considered the dessert menu. Although there were many tempting options, including rhubarb and orange drizzle cake and peanut butter cheesecake with honey and rosemary ice cream, I was not quite up to the challenge and picked the tangy home-made blackcurrant sorbet. My companion, on the other hand, was made of sterner stuff and chose the apple tart, a disk of crisp pastry topped with caramelised apple, which he said was “fantastic”. He is an aficionado of apple tarts of all kinds, so his judgement clearly demands to be taken seriously.
Following our sumptuous meal, we made our way home, back to our everyday lives, after a few hours living the Cotswold dream. The food at The Potager is not cheap but, as a treat, which allows you to step briefly into a world of country house living, I think it is worth it. The food and the ambience are wonderful but it is the underpinning philosophy of integrating the gardens, and their produce, into the hospitality provided that makes this a particularly special place.