orange blossom water: 13 posts

Orange blossom or orange flower water is a by-product of orange blossom oil distillation. It’s widely used in drinks and desserts in the Middle Eastern, Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisines. It has a wonderful sweet and green flavor. My favorite brands are Mymoune and Cortas. Orange blossom water is available from the Middle Eastern and Greek stores, online from Kalustyan’s, ParthenonFoods.com, and Amazon.com (in Europe, Amazon.de carries a wide selection of orange blossom waters, as do most pharmacies and supermarkets). Most gourmet markets offer a selection of floral waters.

Many Wonders of Facial Mists

I didn’t realize, until my husband pointed it out, that I have quite a collection of facial mists. Besides several bottles on our bathroom shelf, I carry a small spray in my purse and always keep an extra one in my travel case. As far as I’m concerned, facial mists are among the best skin care tricks for sealing in makeup, getting a quick dose of hydration and feeling refreshed. Another bonus is that many facial mists are naturally scented, and their light, mild fragrance of rosewater, linden, lavender or orange blossom offers a dose of aromatherapy throughout the day.

mists

My staple facial mist is a simple blend of rose and distilled water, which I either concoct myself (1 cup of distilled water, 4 Tablespoons all-natural rosewater) or buy it ready-made at the pharmacy. In the US, Whole Foods and other health food stores carry several good brands of rosewater* in small, handy atomizers.  Rosewater is a boon for my combination skin; it’s soothing, calming and has a delicate scent of sun warmed petals. The scent is all-natural, fleeting, but stimulating while it lasts. Besides falling into a rose perfumed reverie, you can use a mix of rosewater and argan oil to remove makeup, including water-proof mascara and eyeliner. Instant radiance is guaranteed.

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Bergamot (or Orange) Marmalade

When you watch snowflakes swirling outside your window on a grey November afternoon, it’s hard to imagine that somewhere else there are flowers blooming and citrus trees laden with golden orbs. On the southern coast of Italy, Calabrian bergamot farmers are preparing to collect fruit, and for most of the month, the air in Reggio Calabria will be thickly perfumed with a peppery citrus essence as bergamot rinds are processed into essential oil.

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Although we usually encounter bergamot as essence perfuming our cologne or Earl Grey tea, the fruit itself is a marvel. It has a heady aroma, and it tastes exactly the same way it smells–spicy, acidic, with a hint of green jasmine. It’s much sharper than lemon but also more complex and fragrant.

Bergamot juice can be substituted for lemon in marinades, sauces or dressings. Imagine poached salmon with bergamot mayonnaise or bergamot-basil pesto rubbed over pork chops. The juicy flesh can be tossed with salad greens, onions, and parsley to accompany grilled meat or seafood.  But in Calabria and much of southern Italy, bergamot usually ends up candied or in a jam. Bergamot jam is one of my most vivid memories of southern Italy, and whenever I get a chance, I recreate it at home.

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Tisanes : Fragrant Caffeine-Free Teas

I have a tea drawer, which is hard to explain to those who either don’t drink tea or don’t drink so much that they actually need a designated tea drawer. “What do you do with it?” ask bewildered guests suspiciously eyeing the dozens of packages that I keep in a credenza in the corner of my dining room. (Those guests become even more bewildered when they see my perfume shelf, but that’s another story). Although all tea comes from the same plant, camellia sinensis, it exists in such a range of flavors and tastes that one box of Earl Grey simply doesn’t cover all of my cravings. But since high-quality tea is best bought in small quantities and drunk as quickly as possible, the bulk of my tea drawer is made up of herbs and dried flowers that I use for tisanes.

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Tisane usually refers to a non-caffeinated beverage made by steeping flowers, herbs, or spices in water. I’m very sensitive to caffeine, and after 6pm I don’t drink anything caffeinated. For this reason, linden blossom or cinnamon and honey tisane is one of my favorite ways to wrap up the day. Some infusions like linden, sage and ginger have health benefits, but I drink them for their aroma and taste. It takes less than 10 minutes to brew rose tea, but the boost you receive from a steaming cup that smells like summer itself lingers for hours.

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Strawberry Orange Blossom Compote

Methyl anthranilate probably doesn’t sound all that delicious to you, and if you were never friends with chemistry, it might seem downright scary. I promise not to give an organic chemistry lecture here, but please bear with me for a moment. Methyl anthranilate is both fascinating and mouthwatering–this molecule occurs naturally in some of the most fragrant fruit and flowers, from Concord grapes to orange blossom, from mandarins to gardenias. And also in tiny wild strawberries, fraises des bois.

wild strawberriesstrawberry-compote2

Also known as woodland strawberries (Fragaria Vesca L.), they are only as big as your pinkie nail, but their flavor is so intense that a fistful of berries will perfume an entire room. They smell of caramel, orange flowers and muscat. When you taste them for the first time, you realize that this is what every strawberry flavor tries to imitate.

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10 Ways to Use Orange Blossom Water

I don’t often think of Marie-Antoinette whenever I use orange blossom water, but perhaps I should. By the time the French queen was playing shepherdess in Versailles, the cultivation of bitter orange trees in France was a long standing tradition solely for the purpose of producing this perfumed liquid.  The aromatic distillation of fresh blossoms scented the linens of the nobility. It found its way into Marie Antoinette’s beauty preparations. It flavored madeleines, little French butter cakes that Marcel Proust immortalized in The Search for Lost Time. Relaxing with a cup of Café Blanc or Orange Blossom and Mint Lemonade is a luxury but thank heavens it’s no longer reserved for the royalty.

orange-blossom-water

If you’ve never used floral waters, it might seem that they are best suited for pink girly desserts and incurable romantics. But while I admit to being a romantic, rose and orange blossom waters are remarkably versatile. A mere hint can give a familiar dish a new, haunting flavor, and you only need take a page from traditional cuisines–from Provence to Morocco, to see how diverse the use of floral waters can be. Once you start experimenting, I have no doubt that you’ll invent new recipes.

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  • Joy in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2017: What a unique bottle! Your description sounds very intriguing and I will have to give it a try. January 21, 2017 at 11:15am

  • Joy in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2017: Lily, many thanks for all of your diverse recommendations. All but Hermes Eau de Merveilles are new to me. In fact I tried Eau de Merveilles the other day and… January 21, 2017 at 11:10am

  • Lily in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2017: So your lists of likes/dislikes almost completely overlap with mine (only exception that I do like fig and all spices!). But not that many of my perfumes have an opposites… January 21, 2017 at 10:15am

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