When cooking with flowers, a little bit goes a long way

While I was cleaning out my cupboards recently, I found a few exotic ingredients I didn’t even know I had – a bottle of orange blossom flower water, pomegranate molasses and another bottle of rose flower water.

But what do I do with all of these things? Now I know why they were pushed to the dark depths of my cupboards. It was time to open one of these bottles.

Because I picked my first local rhubarb the other day, I decided to try of one of the flower waters. I opened the rose water, and while it smelled of a wonderfully refreshing bath, I was intrigued by how it would enhance an early summer jam.

Needless to say, the girls were fascinated by the idea of adding flowers to food. Emma, 12, was sent out to pick more rhubarb while Molly, 10, starting cutting the strawberries. Clay, 8, was a little too busy with fishing and other fabulous summer fun to make jam.

We cut the rhubarb into small pieces and combined it with the strawberries and sugar. We heated the mixture slowly to melt the sugar, then turned up the heat and boiled it, stirring frequently so it did not scorch.

After about 10 minutes, the mixture was thick and sticky, so we pulled the pan off the heat. Emma added a little bit of rose water, which proved to be plenty. It is strong stuff and can easily overpower food. We then put the jam into a bowl and chilled it well.

As I expected, the girls thought the jam quite exotic. We sliced and toasted some baguettes, then those of us who like cheese smeared a little goat cheese on the bread followed by a little of our jam. Molly went with straight jam. Clay was not into it. He thought it smelled great while cooking, but it was like perfume in his mouth.

This is a very nice hors d’oeuvres item. If you find yourself with some extra rhubarb while it is in season, try this recipe. It is tasty and different.

mpoitras@discoveryspeed.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.