Lavender Honey  
  Tarragon Honey 
  Strawberry Fool
  Rosemary Cookies 
  Herbal Liqueurs     
 Rose Schnapps
 Cooking with Roses
 Rose Syrup
 Rose Sugar
 Rosewater I
 Rose Cheesecake 
Rose Lemonade & Lavender Lemonade  
 Rosewater II 
Basic Herbal Vinegar
Using Herbal Vinegars

Nostradamus' Marmalade
Ginger Syrup

Lavender Honey

Freshly cut Lavender flowers, rinsed & dried
light honey (local organic honey if you can get it!)
sterilised jars & lids

For each half pint jar, place 5-6 flower heads in jar, stem ends down.  Cover with very warm honey (not boiling). Seal jars and keep in a dark cupboard for a month to 6 weeks for flavor to be extracted.  You could re-warm & strain the honey but the flowers, especially of pink lavender, look beautiful in the honey.  Lovely on toast in January!        


Tarragon Honey

Loosely fill a quart jar with fresh sprigs of Tarragon and treat as for lavender honey.  After 5 weeks, re-warm and strain; bottle.  Wonderful in marinades & barbecue sauces.                        

Strawberry Fool

1 pint fresh picked strawberries, rinsed, stemmed & hulled
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cup whipped cream
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

Mix yogurt,whipped cream and sugar.  Layer cream and strawberries in glasses, topping with a perfect berry for garnish.  Nice as an indulgent summer breakfast.

Rosemary Cookies

This one is easy.  Add 2 T fresh chopped rosemary to a good sugar-cookie or shortbread recipe.  Also try this with lavender.

Herbal Liqueurs

Many herbs make fine liqueurs when steeped in alcohol such as vodka.  General directions for 'schnapps' type (that is, unsweetened) liqueurs:

Liqueur I

Gather herbs after the dew is off and before the sun is warm (to preserve the most flavor.)  Rinse if necessary and let dry on towelling or screen a bit so the herbs are no longer wet.  Loosely fill a clean glass jar with the herb and cover with vodka; cap with clean lid, shake jar to remove bubbles, and let steep in a cool dark cupboard.  This may take only a few days for some herbs to several weeks.  Sniffing/tasting will let you know how long!
When the liqueur is ready, decant into decorative bottles.  You may want to strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

Liqueur II (Cordials)

For a less dry version, use recipe I above and dilute with an equal amount simple sugar syrup (1:1 sugar and water, simmered until clear and cooled), or perhaps honey.   Again, taste to tell if it is sweet enough/ too sweet.

Some favorite flavors to try would be:

Chocolate Mint
Ginger Mint
Carnation Petal
Rose Petal
Sweet Cicely



Basic Herbal Vinegar
  • Gather fresh unsprayed herbs at their peak: late morning when the dew is off but they still retain the maximum of their flavor (the heat of the day can really drain away those flavors).  Rinse and pat or spin-dry (a little salad spinner basket is excellent for this).
  • Fill a canning jar (because they are heat-tempered and strong) with your chosen herbs, roughly chopped and a bit packed, then fill again with warmed vinegar of your choice:  Champagne vinegar is nice, apple cider vinegar is good for assertive herbs, white vinegar is a good choice for delicate herbs like chive blossoms where you want color to be a big part of the final product.  Using warmed (to 110-120 or so degrees F) vinegar will bring more flavor out of the herbs.
  • Cap with an enameled lid, plastic or glass, and set aside in a cool dark place for two to three weeks.  When the bite of the fresh vinegar is gone and the flavor fully developed, decant your vinegar into decorative glass bottles.  I like to filter the vinegars through coffee filters to get them sparkling clear.
  • Use within a year for best flavor.

Favorite combinations include:
  • lemongrass & cilantro in rice vinegar
  • dill and burnet
  • lovage seed in cider vinegar
  • perilla in rice vinegar
  • Empress of India nasturtiums in white vinegar or champagne vinegar

Using Herbal Vinegars
Here are some tips for cooking with herbal vinegars:

Replace wine, fruit juice, plain vinegar, lemon or lime juice in recipes.
Use in a salad dressing (one part vinegar to two or three parts olive oil, salt and pepper to taste).
Use as a marinade.
Use in homemade mustard or mayonnaise.
Use to deglaze when sautéing.
Brown with butter for an elegant, fast sauce.
Use as a basting liquid.
Add to soups and stews.

Cooking with Herbal & Flower Jellies
We've collected ideas on using these herbal specialties for your enjoyment.
  • Flower Jellies are great on biscuits for breakfast or on toast and make a wonderful glaze for a cheesecake.  Substitute whenever you might use fruit jelly.
  • Savory jellies such as Lemongrass blend well with cream cheese or sour cream for appetizers or with mayonnaise in dressings.  Try piping onto crackers for a real 'Martha' touch.
  • Try with cream cheese on bagels, scones, waffles. 
  • Mix with sour cream and use to top blintzes or coffee cake.
  • Use to glaze on chicken or baked vegetables: sauté for two minutes on each side in butter. Spoon about 1/4 cup of jelly into the center of the pan & stir briefly; cover.  Simmer about 20 minutes.
  • Mix Flower Jelly with cream cheese for a frosting or cake filling.  Top filled cake with fresh fruit for a fast, elegant dessert. 
  • Blend into whipped cream and serve with fresh berries.
  • Use savory jelly as a marinade ingredient.  Or try using as a dipping sauce.
  • Mix with sour cream or plain yogurt to make a sauce for asparagus, baked potatoes, etc.  
  • For a less sweet mixture, add mustard and use as an appetizer dip.
  • A dollop of a sweet jelly in the middle of your favorite muffin before cooking or in thumbprint cookies will spice up the table for company.


Using Homemade Mustards
We like to use mustards on sandwiches, that's an obvious one.  As they are fat free, and often sugar free, they can be great guiltless pleasures at the table.
A tablespoon or more of a nice garlic mustard in the cream sauce stage of a pan of baked macaroni and cheese is good.
Try using mustard as a glaze or part of a marinade, especially for grilling. 
Dilute with some soy sauce for dipping, or thin a bit with vinegar and some oil for a nice dressing.
Cooking with Roses

Rose Petal Syrup
4 cups rose petals
4-6 cups water, so the petals float quite freely.  (You'll get the flavor extracted best if you allow lots of room in the pan.)

Simmer the petals until all the color has gone into the liquid, about 30 minutes.  Strain & return liquid to pan.  Gently reduce to about 1 ½  cups liquid-takes about an hour or maybe longer.  (House smells wonderful...)  Then add
2 cups sugar
and a few drops lemon juice, maybe a teaspoon.  Boil just until all dissolved (you don't want to overheat the sugar or it will taste carmellized) and bottle in sterilized jars.  This makes aobut 12 oz.

Rose Sugar
1 cup old garden rose petals
1 cup sugar

Either mix petals with sugar, or blend fine in a food processor.  Store for at least a week before using.  I like to mix the whole petals and sift them out.  This will be a bit damp & clumpy but keeps well frozen.

Rosewater I
For the table, simmer roses about 5:4 parts water, or maybe 6:4.  Strain off when the color is gone and add lemon juice about ¼ cup per quart-it pinks it up and helps preserve it.

Rose Cheesecake
Use your favorite cheesecake recipe (mine follows), reserving 1/2 cup of the batter and tinting it nicely with rose syrup, about 1 Tbsp.
 Swirl this pink rose batter through the surface of the cheesecake, then bake as usual. 
Glaze finished cheesecake with 1/4 cup of melted Rose Petal Jelly.

Jersey Cheesecake
(I think this comes originally from Bon Appetit, about 30 years ago)
        4 8-oz packages cream cheese
        2 c sugar
        6 eggs
        1 tsp vanilla
        2 c real sour cream

        Heat oven to 350.  Have all ingredients at room temperature.

        Grease & flour a 10" springform pan.  Mix all ingredients except sour
         cream till smooth, then stir in sour cream; blend well. Pour into pan;
         bake until eges are golden brown but center is still moist--50 minutes
         or more.
        Let cool completely before unmolding; refrigerate.  Serves 10.

Summer Recipe: Rose (or Lavender) Lemonade

Rose syrup
sugar or simple syrup
Prepare lemonade from fresh lemons (squeeze a lemon for every two glasses of lemonade) and sweeten with simple syrup or sugar; add 2 T rose syrup per glass and fill with chilled water or club soda.

Variation:  use Lavender syrup instead of Rose syrup (1 T instead of 2T).  Garnish with a lavender flower sprig.


Rosewater II

about 50 large Damask roses, just picked.  (Fully blown roses are best for scent.)
distilled water
gallon glass jar

  Remove petals from calyx & rinse in cool water. 
Fill sterilized jar 3/4 full of petals, add 1 cup flavorless vodka and fill jar with distilled water. 

Cap tightly, shake to distribute, and set aside for a week or more, agitating daily.  You may set jar in the sun but be sure to use a saucer as it may run over.  The vodka prevents the mold which will definitely form otherwise and ruin your rosewater; it also helps draw out the color and scent.
Strain, bottle and enjoy; makes a wonderful cooling summer spritz.


Rose Schnapps

Fill a quart jar with newly opened Damask roses (minus the calyx, just pull it off like stemming strawberries) or petals, shaken down.  Cover with colorless non-flavored vodka, 80 proof minimum. 

Cover tightly.  Let steep in a dark cupboard, shaking jar gently every few days to distribute evenly. 
After several weeks strain and then filter through coffe filter paper into a clean bottle with tight fitting lid.  You can sample now or let mellow a month or so.  This schnapps stores well and the soft pink color will keep if kept out of the sunlight.

Rose Liqueur

Mix Rose Schnapps half and half with simple syrup (or less; sample to be sure.  I like not quite equal parts but tastes differ.)  This is such a unique flavor that I would not use honey or other sweeteners as they would change the character too much.  The lemon in the syrup also heightens the pink color of the schnapps.

        Simple syrup
Simmer slowly together equal parts white sugar and water for 20-30 minutes (do not boil!) until completely dissolved.  Add a little lemon juice to prevent crystallization.  Bottle and keep refrigerated.


Finally!  Nostradamus Does Someting Useful!
Having read some of the mishmash that passes for prophecy in Nostradamus' writings, I was happy to find some items that are actually worth reading.  Turns out he was an apothecary  before going wholeheartedly into the mysticism that was alchemy; amongst the writings he left were many home-remedy type recipes and some quite nice sounding (if slow and overly deliberate) ones.  Shortened quite a bit here for the modern cook, we have

Nostradamus' Marmalade
"To make candied orange peel, using sugar or honey, that will be excellently tasty."
Remove the peel from some oranges which you have quartered.
Soak the peel in good clean water, changing daily for 9 days. (Use salted water the first time to remove bitterness).

At the end of nine days, boil the peel in water until very tender. Blanch in cold water, shake and lay to dry.  Meanwhile, make a simple syrup.
Cover the peel with the syrup, bring to a boil, and let stand overnight.  Strain, re-boil the syrup, and then add back the peels.  Repeat this twice. The last time, add back the peels, bringing back to the boiling point 5 to 6 times.  At this point, either can or refrigerate for a month (don't leave it to set otherwise for a month no matter how much you like Nostradamus!)
He suggests adding some powdered cloves and cinnamon, which do sound good.

Cherry Preserves
Nostradamus uses heart cherries--a nice tart variety like Morello might work, or very dark red ones like Bing.

6-7# cherries
1.5# sugar

Juice 3-4# of the cherries and immediately dissolve the sugar in their juice.  Bring quickly to a boil, stir and skim off any foam, and then just as quickly add in the other
3# cherries and cook, stirring "neither too much nor too little" until cooked through.  When the liquid sheets off a spoon, ladle into small jelly glasses and process.

Using the concentrated juice instead of water makes a deep red preserve.  Modern cooks will want to add some lemon juice, both to preserve and to heighten the color: about 2T per quart of liquid.


Ginger Syrup
Ginger is well known as a cooking herb.  Ginger syrup can be used to make homemade ginger ale, a warming tea, or taken by the spoonful as a treat!
  • two large fresh ginger root "hands", scrubbed well and chopped rather fine. 
  • 1-2 lemons, zested and juiced roughly (use a reamer)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • cinnamon and allspice to taste

Place 2 cups of chopped ginger root in a large low kettle, cover with 4 cups water, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until tender. 
Add the lemon zest, the juice, the spices and sugar, stirring well, and simmer over low heat.  Watch and stir frequently to prevent scorching; reduce to 3 cups liquid

Pour the syrup through a sieve, bottle in sterile glass jars and refrigerate (or can and water bath). 

A few tablespoons per glass of sparkling water gives a nice ginger ale, per cup of hot water makes a soothing tea, and a liqueur glass full on a winter night will warm you up to go back outside and finish the shovelling!
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