It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that I have just as much fun with my spice cabinet as with my perfume collection. Whenever I catch the aromas of cardamom, vanilla, saffron and allspice that escape from the little jars, I feel as much exhilaration as I do from my Serge Lutens and Guerlains. So, I indulge both passions. I love making cardamom flavored coffee for the rich perfume of spicy lemon the green pods give off when I pound them in a mortar. Adding vanilla extract to my morning yogurt, I can’t help sneaking a dab on my wrist as well so that I can enjoy its sweet, creamy perfume during my commute. It’s satisfying, uplifting and inspiring.
One of the ways to link cooking and perfumery is to make your own spice mixtures or infused vinegars. The expensive vinegars at Dean & Deluca and other gourmet stores no longer tempt me, because I know that they can be prepared easily and customized to my own liking. Having a couple of bottles of aromatic vinegars in my pantry makes it easy to create variety in our daily meals and experiment with flavors. I look forward to the bitter orange season to make a bitter orange and tarragon vinegar, and I am already anticipating next summer to try a mirabelle plum and star anise version. Today I would like to share my favorite combination for an infused vinegar–rose and raspberry.
Rose and raspberry color the pale gold of white wine vinegar with a vibrant red, and since vinegar picks up flavors well, the taste will be rich and full-bodied. The combination is not just pretty, it is harmonious; the rose and raspberry share many of the same components, and together they form a complex and intricate bouquet. No wonder that in perfumery it’s one of the beloved duos–just recall the velvety roses touched with raspberry in Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, L’Artisan Drôle de Rose, Parfum d’Empire Eau Suave, and Comme des Garçons Rose.
The warm raspberry note will be the main accent, with the citrusy and honeyed rose adding an intriguing twist. The tart vinegar will taste softer and more velvety thanks to the natural sweet violet nuances present in both rose and raspberry, and while the flavor might seem more suited for a dessert, this vinegar is nevertheless versatile. It can be used to dress greens, boiled root vegetables and poached seafood.
Mixed with olive oil, shallots and herbs of your choice, a rose-raspberry vinegar adds a tart fruity note to a vinaigrette. Drizzle it over sliced onions and use them to marinate chicken, pork chops or salmon before grilling. It can even be made into a great thirst quencher when diluted with water. The best part is that rose and raspberry vinegar smells like summer itself. What could be better on a cold, rainy day?
Rose Petal and Raspberry Infused Vinegar
I use dried rose with good results. If you have fresh, fragrant rose petals, by all means, use them instead.
Unlike making a flavored oil, there are few safety issues with infused vinegar. The acetic acid will inhibit the growth of bacteria, and the main reason I recommend storing your vinegar in the fridge is to keep the delicate rose and raspberry flavors fresh and vibrant.
Makes 2 cups
2 cups white wine vinegar (or any other mildly flavored variety)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup dried rose petals (or 1 cup fresh petals)
Sterilize a canning jar by rinsing it with hot water and putting it, still wet, in an oven preheated to 250F/120C. Bake for 20 minutes, remove and cool.
Fill the jar with vinegar and the rest of the ingredients. Cover with a lid and leave in a cool, dark place to infuse for a week. Strain out the solids. The vinegar will last several months if covered well and refrigerated.
Vinaigrette with Rose Petal-Raspberry Vinegar, Honey and Shallots
What follows are a couple of my favorite recipes on using the rose-raspberry vinegar. The honey and shallot vinaigrette is great on beets, carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables. It also enhances the sweet flavor of tomatoes. I often use it on boiled beets, green beans and fresh tomatoes and serve this salad either by itself with a piece of baguette or as a side dish to grilled chicken or steak.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons rose-raspberry vinegar or other vinegar of your choice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon light flavored honey
Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon basil, minced
Cover shallots with vinegar and let them macerate for a few minutes to soften the oniony bite. You can strain out the shallots or leave them in. Add the rest of the ingredients, taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Marinade with Rose Petal-Raspberry Vinegar and Onions
This marinade can be used on chicken, pork, turkey or fish. The quantities are enough for 2lbs/1kg of meat. Once you are ready to cook, remove meat from the marinade, pat it dry with a paper towel, and season with salt. It can then be grilled, broiled or pan-fried.
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons rose-raspberry vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (for poultry or meat)
1/2 teaspoon crushed pink pepper (for fish)
I like to prepare my marinades in a plastic bag to save on clean up. In a large plastic bag combine onions and the rest of the ingredients. Add the meat of your choice, coating it well with marinade. Seal bag, and refrigerate 2-24 hours.
Do you make your flavored vinegars or oils? Do you have your preferred combinations?
Photography by Bois de Jasmin.