rose petal and saffron ice cream

rose petal and saffron ice cream

Perhaps the hardest challenge of adulthood is attempting something you should have done during your childhood. This is how I feel about camping, I should have tried it as a kid so I could have been acclimated by now. Last weekend, a friend of mine was to cross his thirtieth year and being an avid camper, he asked a bunch of us to spend the weekend camping up in the mountains of West Virginia. I love the outdoors and nature so I was excited about that portion but not so enthusiastic about the parts related to personal hygiene (which I partially blame on getting my undergraduate degree in microbiology, it's made me a germ-o-phobe!). Consequently, I had my fears and I packed my bags with all sorts of antibacterial agents and bug sprays in my battle kit. When we reached our destination, the campgrounds were beautiful and we were right next to the river, I avoided the bugs and they avoided me, though some of my friends were not so lucky. Our tent was huge, with a little pseudo patio area  in the front and we had enough room to arrange our clothes neatly on one side (OCD craziness). The bathrooms were clean and the only thing I envied and highly missed was my treasured and now highly appreciated and valued daily showers. After "roughing it out" and doing all the crazy insane things that come with camping, I have to admit that my initial fears have been allayed and I can safely say that I would try it again (I'll still prefer a campsite with heated water amenities and clean bathrooms). But for now, I am going to go and check that important life experience off my list!

trickling

Now moving from the mountains of West Virginia and back to the streets of DC! I like to support our growing local  DC food scene which not only has several new eateries and restaurants but also a number of market spots that focus on and promote the use of local seasonal produce and dairy from the neighboring farms. One such place in the D.C. food scene is Union Market. Often on weekends, we drive down  to grab a quick bite at the many different fun food stations/restaurants and will also pick up our groceries. Over time our favorite booth has become the amazing dairy store run by the folks from the Trickling Springs Creamery that's based in the heart of Amish country around the DC region where they source their milk from local family farms. The first time we walked into their booth, we each got a scoop of their grape nut ice cream that was deliciously soft and creamy! Ever since then I migrated to using their dairy products at home. Their milk is fresh with that mild natural sweetness that made us both avid fans at home, so much so that if I don't have time to go down to Union Market, I'll run by our local Whole Foods (who also carry their dairy products) to pick up their milk. Plus they also offer an opportunity to recycle glass bottles which is such a rarity these days! Trickling Springs Creamery uses a special low-temperature small-batch pasteurization process to retain not only the high quality of their milk but also the benefits of the natural proteins and enzymes present in milk. Seriously, if there is anytime the freshness and high quality of milk is necessitated, it is in frozen dessert recipes such as ice creams and kulfis.

rose syrup

I know another frozen dessert recipe back-to-back but I felt compelled to share this recipe with you sooner than later. It's hot and humid and this ice cream fits in perfectly with the weather. It's rich and creamy yet soft and delicious with the scent of cardamom and yellow tint of saffron. But it's the fragrance of the rose petals and the lemon-rose syrup that make it so special and fitting for summer. I've used Gulkhand or Indian candied rose-petal preserves several times before to make cookies and cakes. You can find gulkhand and rose syrups at Amazon and in almost any Indian or Middle Eastern store (for the different varieties of rose syrups, I have previously listed the brands  that I've used here and they are available from Amazon).

icecreamprep

rose petal and saffron ice cream 

yields: 16 medium sized-scoops

ingredients

1 quart or 4 cups whole milk 
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/4 cup gulkhand (candied rose petals)
4 tablespoons rose water
1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, strained to remove pulp 
1/4 cup rose syrup

1. In a thick bottomed saucepan, bring 3 cups of the milk and sugar to a boil on medium-high flame. Immediately reduce to a gentle simmer, add the saffron and ground cardamom and continue to cook with constant stirring until the milk reduces to 2 cups. This should take approximately 25-30 minutes. Just be careful to avoid scalding the milk.
2. Whisk the cornflour into the reserved one cup of milk (make sure there are no lumps) and pour it into the hot milk in the saucepan and bring the milk to a boil again. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook with constant stirring for another 10 minutes. At this point the milk should be thick with a custard consistency. 
3. Remove the milk from the burner. Fold in the gulkhand, rose water and heavy cream. Transfer to a glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. 
4. Pour the ice cream liquid into your ice cream maker and proceed as per your manufacturer's instructions (I used the Cusinart ICE-30BC ice cream maker for 25 minutes). Transfer the ice cream into a clean freezer proof dish and allow it to firm for at least 4-6 hours before serving.
4. Whisk the lemon juice and rose syrup together in a small bowl. Before serving, top each scoop of the ice-cream with the lemon-rose syrup as needed. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation for this product and all opinions stated here are my own.

rose cake

Rose Cake with Candied Rose Petal Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Mardi Gras! However, once Fat Tuesday is gone this will also end up as the week of all things sweet that are pink and red, so I thought it would be appropriate for me to share a recipe that displayed the colors and mood of the week. Personally, I am not much of a big Valentine's day person, I prefer if people loved and sent me gifts on each of the 365 days of the year versus just one day. Plus the "holiday" these days is way too commercialized and over priced, so I tend to avoid it. But this week I too will have a pink colored week with this delicious rose petal flavored cake and I hope you will enjoy it too! Ever since I baked my rose and cardamom cookies for the cookie swap, I've been besieged with thoughts of baking a rose-themed cake sans the cardamom. 

Candied Rose Petals, Rose water and an Eggy Whisk

I wanted a soft, tender and moist cake that would just simply smell and taste of fresh roses. Rose water is a very mild ingredient when it comes to fragrance but if you can get your hands on a good quality rose syrup that is used to make sweet drinks and sherbets, you are in luck! I normally use the Rooh Afza brand which I find very easily in most Indian stores as a stronger rose flavoring ingredient if I want to flavor a dessert. Another fun ingredient that you can also find at most Indian and Middle Eastern stores is the candied rose petal preserve called gulkhand. This is a very common accompaniment in India that is used as a mouth cleanser and freshener after a meal. Just by itself, I find the taste and fragrance to be deliciously heavenly. Fresh edible rose petals are collected and then cooked with honey or sugar to create a preserve of the tender petals.
For my cake, I adapted a chiffon cake recipe from one of my favorite and in my mind, a very useful cookbook, "The Science of Good Cooking" by Cook's Illustrated. If you are a science geek or nerd, then you will love this book.
For the frosting, I turned as always in time of need to my domestic fairy godmother Martha Stewart, for her easy cream cheese frosting. By adding the rose petal preserves and flavoring it with the rose water and syrup, I eliminated the need to incorporate the petals into the cake batter. You can  adjust the color of the frosting by adding a little more or less of the syrup. The oil keeps the cake moist while the cake flour offers a tender crumb due to its lower protein content than regular all-purpose flour. Do make sure to have your eggs at room temperature and always use fresh baking soda that is active!


Ready to  Bake Cake Batter

rose cake

servings: 12

ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs (2 whole, 5 separated), room temperature
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (preferably a neutral tasting oil)
2 tablespoons rose water
3 tablespoons rose syrup (Rooh Afza brand or any other rose syrup that is sweet and red in color)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9" circular springform pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt for one minute, till all the dry ingredients are completely mixed. 
3. Whisk in the 2 whole eggs and the 5 egg yolks, water, oil, and rose water until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix the batter.
4. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-low speed for 1 minute and then medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until the egg whites form stiff peaks. 
5. Using a silicone spatula carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Make sure that all the egg whites are folded into the batter and there are no traces of egg white.
6. Pour the batter into the springform pan. 
7. Drizzle the rose syrup on the batter and with a fine knife or skewer (I use a bamboo skewer for this) swirl the red syrup in a random circular motion to create a swirl pattern.
8. Gently tap the pan to release any trapped air bubbles in the batter and bake the cake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the center. 
9. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least an hour and then remove the cake from the pan by carefully running a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for another 2 hours before icing. 

rose petal cream cheese frosting 

yields: about 2 cups 

ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick of butter, chopped, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup gulkhand or candied rose petal preserves
1 tablespoon rose syrup

1. In a large mixing bowl, mash the cream cheese with a fork or rubber spatula.
2. Gradually beat in the butter with an electric hand mixer until completely smooth.
3. Sift the sugar into the bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Mix the gulkhand/preserves and rose syrup in a small bowl to make a slurry. Beat this into the frosting until completely mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before use. 

assembling the cake

1. Slice the cooled cake in half with a serrated bread knife. Carefully place the top of the cake aside on a clean surface. 
2. Spread about half of the cream cheese frosting on the surface of the lower half of the cake.
3. Carefully align and place the top half of the cake over the frosted lower half. 
4. Spread the rest of the frosting on the top of the cake. 

Note: I recommend chilling the cake for 20 minutes before serving. It makes it easier to cut the cake without having cake move. The frosting gets firmer and will prevent the sandwiched cake from sliding.  While assembling the cake, it useful to  place the cake onto a circular cake drum, it will make it easy for you to transfer the frosted cake to a cake stand or any other serving dish.

rose and almond pot de creme


It's been a very, very busy week for the city. First, we had the annual 100th anniversary of the Cherry Blossoms and the opening of The Hunger Games. Thankfully, I got a chance to walk around the basin and wade my way through the throngs of tourists to catch a glimpse of the flowers before the rain jumped in. A day or two of good rain will wash the flowers off the trees, so luck was definitely on my side this year. Its definitely one of those things that should be on your bucket list, if you haven't already done it. I took some photographs of the flowers in the city to share with you.

 

"The Hunger Games" movie was great and we got great seats even though we faced a long line. All in all a successful week. With spring, also comes the attack of the squirrels and there is one nasty little guy that has been busy digging up my terrace to store whole peanuts. I am still surprised that this squirrel has found a source of whole peanuts with their shells in the city. So far, its been a close call just some digging and no bulbs or plants destroyed. I need to stop by my local gardening store to figure out what I can do to make him find my garden less attractive for his activities. It was so much easier with the dog, I had a little wall raised around the periphery of the garden and then trained him but this squirrel is a bit independent.


I haven't made this Indian themed creme de pot in a while and with the rain carrying off into the weekend, it made the perfect excuse for some dessert. There are several desserts in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking that use rose flowers and rose water as ingredients. They are sweet and fragrant and come in so many different beautiful colors making it a popular addition to food. This custard is a great dessert for a spring and/or  summer table.


This custard has a thin thick consistency which is delicious by itself but can also be served over fresh fruits. I prefer golden raisins because they are sweet yet milder than dark raisins.Technically, this is not really a pot de creme since there are no eggs or any baking involved but the custard is reminiscent of the pot de creme, so hence I decided to name it this way. There are two big surprises in this pot de creme, the first is the delicious layer of cream will form on the top of the custard as it cools. The second surprise is the layer of raisins at the bottom. The almond milk will give the custard a light and refreshing taste and reduces the richness of the cream. You must take care to prevent burning the custard while boiling the milk and cream because it will give a burned taste to the custard. If it does get a little burned, it is better to avoid disturbing the burned layer and remove it from the custard as quick as possible. This recipe is based loosely on a recipe from "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni.


rose and almond pot de creme 

yield: 4 servings

ingredients

1/4 cup golden raisins
2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup almond milk
6 tablespoons rice flour
2 tablespoons rose water
dried edible rose petals to garnish

1. Sprinkle the raisins into a serving dish or into individual serving bowls. In a thick bottomed pot, bring the milk and sugar to a boil on a medium flame. Immediately reduce the flame to a simmer, and add the cream and almond milk. 
2.Whisk in the rice flour and stir continuously till the custard begins to thicken a little. The consistency should be slightly thick but not too much. Remove the custard off the stove and pour it into the bowl. Allow to cool, stir in the rose water and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 4 hours before serving. Before serving, garnish the top of the creme with the dried rose petals.