It could be argued that when one is making preserves the kitchen is always scented but add flowers to the mix and you really do get the full head on hit of The Scented Kitchen.
The Scented Kitchen: Cooking With Flowers (Francis Bissell) is a very inspiring book to have in your cookery book collection, but it is one that most cooks will use infrequently. It is a shame though because even if recipes are not followed to the letter they could provide inspiration for fresh flavourings to your everyday cooking. There are no photographs which is a shame but not a real down point, let your imagination run away with you. Now if only scratch and smell were available, this is a book where it would work wonders.
My recipe from this book was the Damask Rose and Black Muscatel Grape Jelly. The black grapes lend a sultry, dark red colour and the rose petals a truly amazing flavour; very fresh and vibrant indeed. I did have to make a few adjustments though because of a lack of ingredients, my version of the recipe will be found at the end of the post.
I used granulated sugar and so ended up with a fairly soft set jelly, perfect for spreading on toasted brioche or scones but it is even better used to top a cheesecake or a small spoon of it on vanilla ice cream, the flavours come alive like that. Should you prefer a firmed jelly swap the granulated sugar for jam sugar as it contains extra pectin to enable easier setting. I however rather like the softness that this jelly has.
You would expect this to be very sweet, floral and dare I say it a little overpowering but it really isn’t so. The rose lends a delicate back note not an overpowering floral punch and the grapes are almost wine like in flavour, the sweetness dissipates into a mellowness that is oh so pleasing.
I am sure that using fresh rose petals would be the ideal way to go but I just didn’t have the luxury of that, no roses in my garden and a dozen red ones didn’t land in my arms. Dried ones just had to take centre stage instead. I buy them in large bags from The Spice Shop, one of my favourite online retailers, oh how I’d love to visit their store, it must be a heady delight.
I suppose you could say that this jelly is a taste of Middle Eastern or North African warmth to help soothe away our cool weather dreams of the warm sun.