vanilla bean: 9 posts

Vanilla and Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Vanilla

by Elise Pearlstine

There is nothing quite so comforting as a dish made with vanilla, whether it is a rich, warm crème brulee or a dish of really excellent vanilla ice cream, especially if it is homemade. The vanilla bean is an ancient and popular flavor and fragrance ingredient. It is very difficult to describe without using the word ‘vanilla’ but I find a good extract or the beans themselves to have a fragrance that is warm, very sweet, balsamic, slightly earthy and very slightly floral. The odor can be tenacious.

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Scented Garden : Geranium and Spiced Arancello Recipe

Geranium cropped

By Elise Pearlstine

Sometimes the leaves, not the flowers, tell the story of an aromatic plant. I fell in love with the fragrant leaves of the scented geranium from my first sniff. From the rich, lemony smell of the citronella type to the green, floral, minty smell of a peppermint one, it is a wonder to rub your fingers over the rough, intricately shaped leaves to test the scent. There are many varieties–spicy ones, minty ones, as well as a beautiful pine-scented type with hints of rose and nutmeg. There are several hundred species in the wild. I once had a lovely chocolate mint variety that I worked very hard to keep alive in southern Florida but it did not make it through the hot summer months. It had a lovely, deep minty smell (the chocolate was mostly in my imagination) but it was a striking plant with purple streaked leaves. I gave up on scented geraniums for a number of years but recently bought six small plants – rose geraniums and attar of roses geraniums. Within a few weeks, the rose geraniums seemed to realize they were in Florida and quickly withered and died. The attar of roses plants, however, have stayed with me. I recently moved them into my office to get photos and just the act of moving them and putting them in a smaller room served to bring out the scent. They filled the room with a heady scent of rich rose with a lovely touch of green herbs.

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Rhubarb Strawberry Fool with Orange and Vanilla

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My first introduction to fool, a classical English dessert dating back to the 16th century, was through Elizabeth David’s wonderful book Summer Cooking. David’s characteristically laconic recipe could not have been more appealing. “ 1lb. of strawberries, 3 oz. sugar, 5oz. double cream. Sieve the hulled strawberries. Stir in the sugar. Add this purée gradually to the whipped cream, so that it is quite smooth. Turn into a shallow crystal or silver dish, and put in the refrigerator for several hours, if possible underneath the ice-trays, so that the fools gets as cold as possible without actually freezing. It is important to cover the bowl, or everything else in the refrigerator will smell of strawberries.”

I love the airy texture of the mousse, the strong fragrance of strawberries and the refreshing sensation on the palate. Although fool (or foole as it used to be spelled) is traditionally made with gooseberries, it offers nearly limitless opportunities for experimens with different fruit pairings. Cream, as any fat based substance, picks up the aroma molecules beautifully, and it provides an excellent canvas on which to paint with flavors.

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Love Potion #99 Aromatic Drink

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by Michelle Krell Kydd

Love potion. The word has the taste of alchemy, dry ice and witchery. The concept of food as a talisman is not a new one, but when it is attached to love there seems to be an unending string of incarnations. It is no wonder; every act of coupling has a unique quality and whether or not it is intended, the potential for creating new life is written into the physical expression of affection. In that tide of energy, identities are exchanged, traded and temporarily obliterated. Each person reemerges slightly different, yet more themselves than they were before. How could one not try to pierce that mystery by engaging the sense of taste? …

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