Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rosemary Tea Sherbert, Take 1

Recently I visited a particularly dangerous place:  a used book store.  It seems the cookbook sections are designed with hooks and lures, and I get reeled in every time.  Stores that sell only new titles are similar, but I've noticed that used books have a hypnotic effect.  I can't walk away without at least looking at every title.  Often one or more books end up in my hands and thus into my collection.

This was a new store for me and I walked away with three books; a return trip concluded with three more.  It looks like it is time to make room on the shelves!

One of the six is entitled Flower Cookery -- The Art of Cooking with Flowers.

No ISBN; the Library of Congress Number is 67-24072
The author is Mary MacNicol and the book was published in 1967 in New York by the Fleet Press Corporation.

What makes this book intriguing is that it is a collection of literary references involving flower use in cooking and medicine.  Some entries are tips,

     "Rosemary is good for many things:  it will make the hair grow, it is a nerve tonic and stomachic, 
     will cure vertigo, strengthens sight and memory, and is a cordial for the heart."

some are quotations,

     "There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance,
     I pray you love, remember"  -- Shakespeare, Hamlet

and some are recipes (page 154),

Rosemary Tea Sherbert

Prepare two cups of rosemary tea; mix a half cup of sugar and a half cup of water, let it come to a boil, add a tablespoon of lemon juice and a half cup of orange juice, mix with the tea and freeze.  Serve in sherbet glasses.

I remember rosemary...

Since I had no idea how, exactly, to make rosemary tea, I guessed.  Mostly I kept in mind that any frozen dish must have the flavors be more intense before it is frozen, since the cold dulls the taste.  So I took about 1/2 cup (not packed) of fresh rosemary leaves stripped from the stems, and steeped them for 20 minutes in two cups of boiling water.

Steeping beauty

While the tea was steeping I cooked the sugar and water, stirring to mix before the heat was applied, and bringing it to a full, roiling boil.  Then I turned off the heat and added the orange and lemon juices.

The scent off the rosemary tea was lovely and made me want to inhale deeply.  I strained the tea into a bowl and stirred in the juice mixture.

The bowl made the mixture wide and shallow; I thought this will make it easier to stir as it freezes.  The timer was set for thirty minutes for a stir and a check after the bowl went into the freezer.

I tasted the cooled mixture after the first 30 minutes; the flavor was an expected rosemary-citrus that was certainly pleasant but the rosemary was too strong for me.  This was a good sign since it was still liquid.

After about 2 hours, ice crystals were forming and it was good to stir the mixture every 30 minutes.  Once there was no more liquid, it looked like soft snow and I gave it a taste test.

The Verdict
The rosemary flavor was dominant, almost to the point of being too strong.  I love the taste of rosemary, so this wasn't an issue for me, however I suspect it would not be right to serve to guests who did not share my enthusiasm.  The underlying flavors of citrus and sweet were alluring and I would guess it would be an excellent item to serve if the rosemary was more of a hint.  It could be a dessert or, better yet, an appetizer or a palate-cleanser between courses.

I would call this a success but with limitations. The pairing of rosemary with the citrus is just right.

It was a little embarrassing to peruse the book some more and find their recipe for Rosemary Tea (page 150):  "Pour one pint of boiling water on a heaping tablespoonful of young tips."  I want to try this recipe again using this to see if my suspicions are true. 

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