Food & Fragrance: 147 posts

Articles about the gourmand pleasures, flavorful cooking, scent and taste experiments and tested recipe ideas

How to Candy Violets

Last spring I found myself short of sugar sprinkles to decorate a cake but I did have a big bouquet of violets from the garden. My grandmother, never at loss for ideas, flipped through her notebooks and found a simple recipe for making candied violets at home. “Brush each petal with egg white, sprinkle with sugar and leave on a rack to dry,” was the only instruction. So I followed it and ended up with pretty candied flowers. They not only lasted for a few months in a tightly covered tin, but also retained their bright color and delicate flavor.

Unlike commercial candied violets, homemade flowers don’t have an aggressive purple color nor the strong scent of synthetic ionone. If your violets are scented, you can taste the real violet flavor, which is a combination of raspberry and rose. It’s more subtle, but also more nuanced and complex.

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Easter Eggs Colored With Onion Skins

I see the Easter color palette as yellow, violet, green, and sienna. Yellow is from the saffron tinted paska, a vanilla scented brioche we traditionally make for Easter Sunday. Violet is from the candied flowers we use to decorate it. Green is from the dill and cucumber salad that must accompany the roast pork. Sienna, on the other hand, is from the color of Easter eggs. It’s a rich hue, between the reds of Sienna frescoes and the brown of sandalwood. This color is completely natural and making it is very easy. All you need is a few handfuls of onion skins.

My grandmother starts collecting onion skins a few months before Easter, but she colors dozens of eggs. Most of us need no more than a few onions, although the more skins you have, the darker the color will be. It also follows that the darker the onion skins, the more intense the shade of sienna.

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Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread

For anyone interested in perfumery, blending a gingerbread spice mixture can be a useful exercise. You can learn to create top, heart and base notes and to understand how spices interplay to create an aroma greater than the simple sum of their parts. Most European countries have their own gingerbread recipe and a combination of spices that gives each regional variation its distinctive flavor. My great-grandmother’s Ukrainian version was scented with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise and a hint of saffron. When I blended it myself following her proportions, I realized that it was similar to the “gingerbread perfume” accord I learnt how to make as a perfumery student, although my liquid version didn’t have the voluptuous richness of saffron.

In FT magazine column Mouthwatering Scents of Gingerbread, I write about spices, pastries and perfumes, including my four favorite fragrances with a gingerbread accord. To read the full article, please click here.

More on gingerbread: Ukrainian Honeycakes with Cinnamon :: Gingerbread Spice Blends :: Belgian Gingerbread (Speculoos) :: Dutch Cinnamon Cookies (Jan Hagel).

I’d love your opinion on other gingerbread redolent perfumes. Also, if anyone has a favorite recipe for the dark, moist, soft gingerbread or honeycake, I’d be most grateful.  

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, to make the printed gingerbread, I used the dough recipe for speculoos.

Chocolate Cake with Pistachios and Apricots

The romance that appeals to me has a dark side, such as the poetry of Paul Verlaine, novels by Mary Shelley, gowns by Elsa Schiaparelli and Alexander McQueen, and music by Modest Mussorgsky. In perfume, dark romance is expressed in fragrances like Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, Caron Nuit de Noël, Arquiste Nanban, and Guerlain Vol de Nuit. If I extrapolate this idea even further into flavors, then it would be my dark chocolate pound cake with pistachios and apricots. It’s darkly romantic and decadent.

Bitter chocolate is complex enough to be paired with a variety of other flavors, but the combination with pistachios and apricots is one that I love for its harmony. Apricots give a tart floral note, while pistachios hold their own. Their sweetness becomes more pronounced against the dark chocolate foil.

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Gift Ideas for Perfume Lovers and Gourmets

It’s the holidays again, and it means that it’s time for Bois de Jasmin’s gift lists. The best part of the season for me is to come up with unusual gifts for my friends and family, and I would like to share some ideas with you. These gifts are eclectic, and they’re meant to satisfy those interested in sensory pursuits.

Powdered Incense Perfume

Shoyeido’s powdered incense perfume makes me want to give up all of my other fragrances. Well, almost. It’s spectacular–a rich, lingering aroma of incense, woods and soft spices. In my experience, anyone who loves incense is taken with it, and it features on my gift lists this year. The Shoyeido US website offers a selection, and my favorite is called Tokusen, since it’s the most complex of the collection. While you’re at it, Shoyeido’s incense is a must try. Elegant, delicate, and smoke-free, it’s a revelation for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the Japanese style of incense.

The EU/UK incense lovers can find Shoyeido’s collection, as well as many other incense types, on the Incense Shop website (UK only) and the Sensatonics website (EU).

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Latest Comments

  • aurora in Lilac Chronicles: Thank you for sharing memories of your great-grandmother. Her spirit leaves in that garden I’m sure. I see lilac trees across the street and further along, it’s always a special… May 21, 2018 at 5:14am

  • Cheryl G. in The Simple Miracle of a Soap Bar: Count me in! I’m happy to buy a bar, or two, or ten! May 21, 2018 at 12:42am

  • Marge Clark in The Simple Miracle of a Soap Bar: Hsve any of you tried Andy Tauer’s soaps? now, glycerine based are not my favorite, but the fragrances are lovely. May 20, 2018 at 9:46pm

  • S in The Simple Miracle of a Soap Bar: The Zum soaps are my favorite! Particularly the sandalwood-citrus and the patchouli-mint. I lather them up onto a loofah in the shower and my skin loves them. Which scents do… May 20, 2018 at 9:10pm

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