Monday, April 30, 2012

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

My husband teases me that I am like a nervous vicar when I cook, always slightly fearful that something is about to go horribly wrong ("The organist is ill! The vestry roof is leaking!"). He's right. When I take out my mixing bowls, a twinge of dread looms up. "Can I do this? Is it beyond my abilities? Should I just go out and buy dessert instead?"

But this wasn't difficult, I promise.
(Sophie Dahl's Marbled Rose Petal Ice Cream. From HERE. Or HERE.)

Five were coming for dinner on Friday. Piero had planned the main menu days before, done all his food shopping, and was sitting at the kitchen table lazily nursing a double espresso.

Piero: It's Thursday. Any idea what you're going to make for dessert yet?
Me: Could you please just go for a really long bike ride?

He did.

I picked up Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes, Sophie's latest cookbook. Just like her first one, it's food and lifestyle porn at its best -- on page after page, she putters around her kitchen in floaty frocks like a Persephone Books heroine and beams out at you with the most reassuring of smiles. When I spotted her making rose petal ice cream, I was determined to add another notch to my wooden spoon.

Marbled Rose Petal Ice Cream 
For the rose petal jam:
2 cups sparkling rosé
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3/4 oz. fragrant rose petals, washed

For the ice cream:
1/2 cup superfine sugar
8 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream

I did a quick Google search to make sure I could use the ones growing up the side of the house (quick answer: yes) and went out to pick some. 

They really are so pretty, aren't they? As I separated the petals and gently ran them under cool water, I forgot that I was wearing a ratty t-shirt and a pair of old yoga pants. Life felt airily glamorous and devil-may-care ("I am bathing rose petals in my sink and soon I shall be cooking with them. Because I am an insouciant bohemian with long hair and velvet sleeves.")

It really is quite a glamorous recipe -- I've never made an ice cream that called for two cups of sparkling rosé before.

Per Sophie's directions:
Pour the sparkling rosé and sugar in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the rose petals and keep on stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Using a slotted spoon, remove 3/4 of the rose petals and set aside. Carry on reducing the sugar syrup on a medium heat until thick and syrupy. Allow the mix to cool. 

Here it is, the magical elixir. I'm a rose petal jam lover and this beats every one I've ever had. It's just so surprisingly lemony and fragrant and sweetish-tartish and eye-opening.
(The rose petal jelly)

Per Sophie's directions:
In a separate mixing bowl, cream the sugar and egg yolks until pale in color, and keep to the side. In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream until they reach boiling point. Remove from the stove. Whisking the whole time, temper the egg mixture and bring it up to the same temperature as the cream by adding the milk and cream mixture slowly. Add the remaining rose petals. Before churning, keep to one side to cool and then remove the petals.

Pour the custard into your ice-cream maker with half of the rose petal jam and churn as per the instructions. Take the ice cream out of the machine and swirl the remaining jam roughly through the ice cream to make a marbled pink surface. Place in the freezer to set.

It was delicious. The ice cream was rich and custardy and smooth and was a perfect foil for the tingly thrill of the jam. 

I served it with fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and Gwyneth's vegan chocolate brownies (they taste just as good as regular ones) because it's Los Angeles and when you serve people ice cream with eight egg yolks and two cups of cream in it, you need to balance it out a little.

(Vegan chocolate brownies. From HERE. Or HERE.)

(All photos by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti)


Helen James said...

oooh delicious AND elegant, love Sophie Dahl, and having just purchased my first ice cream maker only last week .....well,
I will have to wait a little though, as here in Ireland roses are not blooming yet x

Expat mum said...

I'm still reeling over the fact that Sophie Dahl cooks. (That's how domesticated I am!)

Leticia Austria said...

I love your blog - delightful posts, beautiful photos! This recipe looks fascinating, but I have neither roses nor an ice cream maker, alas. (Just an aside: the correct quote is, "Rose is a rose is a rose." There is no "A" at the beginning.)

ryann said...

Delicious. I made Sophie's Scallops with Pea Purée (yum) and GP's Spaghetti Alla Vongole (double yum) for my anniversary last week, and with a bottle of Brut Rosé, it was divinity. Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try this with my own climbing roses! xxxx

Anonymous said...

I'm going to add this to the list of rose-petal meals I've come across. Seriously, this is something so glamorous and you pulled it off smoothly wearing yoga pants.

you. go. girl.

CashmereLibrarian said...

DYING! When can I come over for dinner??!

Ashley said...

Oh, it sounds delightful. This reminds me that I should really dig my ice cream maker out of storage.

Lily said...

I can just picture Vanessa Bell passing this charming dessert to Virginia Woolf in one of her hand painted bowls as they ended their supper on a summer's evening in Charleston. And Virginia using the scene to begin one of her novels. So very Mrs. Dalloway!
xx Lily

Veronica Roth said...

Now I know what I'm making for desert! Beautiful photos.

pve design said...

The fact that you admit your shame and angst and then share this guilty pleasure, is surely worth all the pain and suffering in the making. We all need a good dish or heady bouquet to keep our noses in check.
Just lovely.
Perhaps you and "the gardener's cottage" should meet up....she has such pretty roses.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

I ma the same way in the kitchen-with somewhat less success! elegant & though the presentation Sophie Dahl presents is lovely I'm glad to know it can be done for Real. pgt

Amy K said...

OH I wish I could cook. I love your blog, I think we should follow each other -

Unknown said...

Looks fabulous! Although I'll have to swipe roses from my friends' gardens, as I have none of my own. Today I ordered Sophie Dahl's first cookbook, "Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights," can't wait for its arrival!

Reggie Darling said...

What a delightful post, and such gorgeous photographs, Lisa! I have never had rose-petal ice cream, and now I know that I shall -- one day, that is -- when I try this recipe. Thanks for a sweet wakening to my early morning. RD

Anonymous said...

gosh - roses and cream and sophie dahl and persephone (we adore persephone - proof here:!

love your blog.

we just get shivery and delicious at the idea of such a life....


_tg xx

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...



I'm so impressed.

You make it look so easy.

Delish...and pretty pictures, too.

Bravo to you, DIANE

Aspiring Kennedy said...

oh my. i just found you blog via PVE and am in love with you. i have this sophie dahl cookbook and adore it. even when im not up for cooking her food, i'll still flip through it for a little foodie porn.

and the brownies? yum. you are combining some of my favorite foods & celebs here. :) xo

Anonymous said...

LOVELY PICS:) I really like your blog and I want to follow, do you have twitter or FB??

If you want some swedish decor inspiration, you can check out my blog:)
Have a great week.

LOVE Maria at

DesignsByLashelle said...

I found you via the essay in the back of Ms Stewarts new issue...loved it, could connect with it, and wish I had written it LOL Thank You for making me see myself and accepting myself, just the way I am.


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