Wild Rose Tasting Menu
Wild roses are spotting the foothills this time of year, little glimmering freckles of pink and white blossoms abuzz with pollinators. The scent drifts down into the city and pulls me out into their glorious proliferation. When it comes to wild roses, I just can’t stay away.
Developing a deeper intimacy with plants means listening to the messages they are sending you. To me, wild rose is about love - particularly self-love. Wild rose feels to me like a peer or young mother, all softness and gentleness enveloping me in a hug and whispering “you are perfect as you are.” Wild rose feels comforting and deeply accepting. She feels supportive and kind. She reminds us to stop and notice the sensual pleasures available to us. Those dishes can wait, let me run you a bubble bath. Your body looks tense, stop for a moment and smell the roses that you never noticed before growing along your running path. That body in the mirror is beautiful, all softness and lushness and strength. You are perfect as you are.
Wild roses are also as versatile as they are comforting. All over the world they perfume cuisines and inspire feasts. From medieval recipes of rose-flavored marchpane (similar to marzipan), to the spiced and pickled roses of Syria, to the family recipe for rose petal jam passed down through the generations of my Polish foremothers, it’s a flavor that has seduced peoples all over the world and throughout time. In A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman paints a sensual picture: “Roses have tantalized, seduced, and intoxicated people more than any other flower. They’ve captivated homeowners, swains, flower addicts, and sensualists since the ancients. In Damascus and Persia, people used to bury jars of unopened rosebuds in the garden, and dig them up on special occasions to use in cooking — the flowers would open up dramatically on the plate.”
While many of us in the Western World associate roses with tea time confections and delicate desserts, the flavor of rose can stand up to savory combinations as well. I really enjoyed creating this rose tasting menu going from savory to sweet that I shared with my guests at Rose Medicine last weekend. I was inspired by the Japanese cuisine traditions that have a focus on hyper-seasonality such as Kaiseki and the Wagashi that accompany the Tea Ceremony. It’s not unusual for a Kaiseki menu to be based around the progression of one seasonal ingredient. And since the allure of wild roses is only available for a little window every June, I wanted to make the most of it by examining the many facets of rose’s intoxicating perfume.
Wild Rose Tasting Menu Recipes:
None of these recipes is particularly difficult or complicated, and together they make a glorious menu to showcase the seasonal beauty of wild roses. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Pink Rice Balls With Pickled Roses and Turnips:
This dish is a fusion of Middle Eastern-inspired pickled rose petals and Japanese onigiri (sticky rice balls.) They’re a flavorful savory bite to get the tasting started.
1 large turnip, peeled and sliced into small pieces
A few slices beetroot
2 allspice berries (or 5 Spicebush berries)
2 cups unsprayed rose petals
1 c. rice wine vinegar
⅓ c. honey or golden syrup
2 tsp. Sea salt
1 c. sushi or short-grain rice
½ tsp. Beet powder (or 2 Tbs. beet juice.)
1 ½ c. water
Pinch sea salt
Place the turnip, beetroot, allspice, vinegar, honey, and salt into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until turnips are just starting to get tender.
Remove from heat and let cool until it’s almost room temperature. Stir in the rose petals. Remove beet roots.
Refridgerate for up to one week.
Meanwhile, make your rice balls.
Put the dry rice in a strainer and run water through until the water runs clear. Drain well.
Add the rinsed rice, water, beetroot powder, and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes without opening the lid. Meanwhile, strain the pickled turnips and roses, reserving the liquid. Chop as needed to form a soft filling.
Keep the pan covered and remove it from the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff rice.
Stir 2 tbs. Of the pickling liquid into the rice.
It’s easiest to form rice balls when the rice is still warm and moist. Keep a bowl of salted water nearby to gently wet your hands to keep the rice from sticking.
Spread a disc of rice into your non-dominant hand and spoon about 1 tsp. filling on top. Gently fold the rice around the filling and roll it into a ball.
Cooling Rose Watermelon Cubes:
These tempting little bites are perfect for summertime. Wild roses are naturally cooling, as are cucumbers and watermelon. They’re great as part of this tasting menu but would also make a wonderful summertime appetizer.
1 small watermelon, cut into bite-sized cubes
3/4 c. yogurt
½ c. finely-chopped cucumber
½ c. chopped rose petals
Sprinkle of rose salt*
Use a melon baller to scoop out an indentation in each watermelon cube.
Mix together the yogurt, cucumber, and rose petals. Fill each indentation with the mixture. Top with a sprinkling of rose salt or sea salt.
*To make rose salt, grind fresh rose petals with coarse sea salt. Use fresh, or spread out and allow to dry.
Rose Baklava Tarts:
A classic Middle-Eastern dessert, these tarts are crunchy, chewy, and filled with the perfume of rose infused honey and toasted pine nuts.
Mini phyllo cups (16)
¼ c. rose-infused honey, plus more for serving*
1 c. pine nuts and walnuts
1 Tbs. butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Chop the nuts up very finely and mix them with the butter and honey. Spoon a thin layer into the bottom of each tart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant and the edges lightly browned.
Drizzle the tarts with the extra honey. Top with a sprinkle of dried rose petals and a candied rose petal as a garnish.
*To make rose infused honey, just mix 1 part fresh rose petals into 2 parts honey and leave somewhere warm for a few days. You don’t have to strain the rose petals before use - they add extra flavor.
Rose Lime Curd Tarts
This curd is wonderfully fresh: bright and citrusy, with a strong floral flavor. Also, you get a lot of flavor out of not that many rose petals, so it’s a great recipe for when you only have a little bit! Don’t worry about the use of limes in this recipe - the flavor isn’t overpowering at all.
1 1/2 cup flour (or gluten free flour mixture)
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1/2 cup icing sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 egg yolks, plus 1 extra
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. iced water.
Set the oven to 350F. If you’re using a pan for small individual tarts, cut some parchment paper into small rectangles and grease each tin, then create a cross out of the paper that extends up the sides. This will allow you to gently lift each crust out of the pain without difficulty.
Place the flour, almond meal, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and process in short bursts until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and vanilla while the motor is running, then quickly add the iced water and process just until the dough comes together. Roll out thinly and cut small circles with a cutter or cup. Press into tart pan and prick lightly with a fork. Chill for 10 minutes in the freezer.
Fill with pie weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove pie weights and brush the bottoms with egg yolk and bake another 5-10 mins. Allow to cool.
1 cup fresh wild rose petals
Juice of 2 or 3 limes (or one lemon)
2 ½ c. sugar
½ package powdered pectin
Place the rose petals, lime juice, and ¾ c. water into a blender and blend until smooth. Gradually add the sugar a little bit at a time and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.
In a small saucepan, stir the powdered pectin into ¾ cup water. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
Pour the hot pectin mixture into the blender and blend slowly until thoroughly mixed. Allow to cool slightly, then pour into pre-baked crust. Decorate with apple roses (below.)
1 c. raspberries
½ c. wild rose petals
1 Tbs. hibiscus (dried)
3 c. water
4 firm apples with red or pink skins
Add the raspberries, water, rose petals, and hibiscus to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain.
Cut the applies in half and carefully cut out the core, then slice them into very thin slices (slices should look like half-circles.) Bring the rest of the raspberry liquid plus 1 c. water to a simmer, then add the apple slices to the hot liquid and remove it from heat. Cover it with a lid and let the apples cook for two minutes. The apples should be soft but not mushy. Drain the apples and pat dry with a paper towel. (Note: reserve the liquid and add a little sweetener, then pour over ice for a delicious drink!)
Place the apple slices on a sheet of parchment paper in a straight line, overlapping them slightly. You’ll use about 10 apple slices on each strip. Gently roll the strip of apples up to form a rose design, then stick one rose in each tart.
Cardamom and Rose Almond Truffles
These are inspired by the classic Indian combination of rose and cardamom, and are based on an ancient recipe for a confection enjoyed during the Medieval Era. They’re the perfect sweet ending to this tasting menu.
1 pkg marzipan
2 ¼ tsp. powdered rose petals
¼ tsp. Freshly powdered cardamom
¼ tsp. Vanilla powder
¼ c. rose sugar
1Tbs. freeze-dried raspberry powder
Knead together the marzipan, powdered rose petals, cardamom, and vanilla powder until the mixture is consistent and well-blended.
In a small bowl, mix the rose sugar with the raspberry powder.
Roll the marzipan into small, truffle-sized balls and then roll them in the rose sugar mixture to coat.
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