Valentine's Day is a holiday that can't escape symbolism and, besides hearts, roses are the most recognisable supposed sign of love and affection associated with February 14. You can give a dozen or so, sure, but if you like your gifts to be a little more edible, consider working a little rose water into your cooking.
Rose water can be used to add a heady, floral fragrance to dishes both sweet and savoury, but it must be used quite judiciously. We all have that one old relative whose house raises questions such as, "are these the soaps I'm supposed to wash my hands with?" and "is this potpourri or a snack?" If this isn't the aesthetic you want to embrace this V-Day, make sure to incorporate the fragrant flower water with a very light hand. This is particularly important in raw applications, such as cocktails or dishes that don't see any heat.
Adding rose water to an existing recipe is quite easy - just splash in a few drops - but some flavour pairings work better than others. Here are some of our favourite things to make a little more rosy:
- Cocktails: Just a drop or two of rose water can make your cocktail a little more romantic. Try it with simple, gin-based cocktails such as martinis - Hendrick's works really well as a base spirit - or use it in the place of orange blossom water for a rosy take on the Ramos Gin Fizz.
- Whipped cream: Rose-scented clouds of fluffy whipped cream would be equally inviting on chocolate lava cakes or fresh strawberries. Just add two or three drops to your heavy cream before whipping, and prepare it as usual.
- Baked goods: Use rose water as you would any other extract, or use it in place of vanilla. This works particularly well in lemon, almond or pistachio flavoured cakes, cookies and sweets. When baked, the fresh, floral flavour of the rose water becomes sweeter, jammier and a bit fruity.
- Dark, rich meats: Rosy meat may not sound overly appealing, but rose can provide a nice balance to hearty lamb, particularly in stews or paired with saffron. You can also add a few teaspoons to any meaty braise, particularly if the recipe features citrus, pomegranate or honey.
- Fruit salads: You could add a few drops of rose water to almost any fruit salad, but I think it would be particularly at home in a beautiful melange of blood oranges, grapefruit and tangelos. Make a simple syrup by combining half a cup of rose water, half a cup of plain water, and a cup of sugar, drizzle that on top of your peeled and sliced citrus, and sprinkle on some shelled pistachios and fresh mint.