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John "Doc" Willoughby

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The Many Ways in Which You Should Be Using Rose Water

Imagine walking past a garden, cool and green in the summer sun, and detecting a faint, slightly sweet, delicately aromatic fragrance of roses lingering gently in the air. That’s what rose water is like when it’s properly used. A relatively inexpensive product, rose water allows you, with just a drop or two, to add the allure of one of the world’s fragrances to your cooking: a grilled pound cake with peach compote, a rice pudding, a carrot salad – even your martini.

Rice Pudding with Rose Water and Cardamom

Here you stir the rosewater in at the end, so its flavor doesn’t get lost in the relatively long cooking.

Peach Compote with Rose Water

You can also use apricots or plums in this compote, either alone or in place of some of the peaches.

Grilled Rose Water Pound Cake

Since the pound cake slices only spend about two minutes over the fire, this is best done after you’ve already grilled the entrée, but still have plenty of coals left.

Moroccan-Style Carrot Salad

Don’t skip toasting the cumin and coriander seeds—this broadens and deepens their flavors, so they can stand up to the rosewater.

Why Dried Limes Are Among My Favorite Ingredients

For years I ignored the dried limes I saw in Middle Eastern markets—just walked right past them. Dusky brown things slightly larger than ping-pong balls, ringed with faint, ghostly stripes, they always seemed vaguely sinister. But a clerk in a local Middle Eastern store mentioned them to me several times, and then one day, when my partner Stephen and I were shopping for other things in a store specializing in spices, he picked up a bag of them and said, “Why don’t you try these? They seem like they’re right up your alley.” So I did—and found one of my new favorite ingredients.

Lentil Salad with Dried Limes

The dried lime flavor is rather subtle in this salad. If you want it to be more pronounced, just add another lime.

Spring Chicken Stew with Rice and Dried Limes 

To make the sure the unique flavor of the dried limes has a proper presence in this stew, be sure to push the limes under the surface of the cooking liquid and squeeze them gently with tongs, about every 5 minutes or so. If you like a thicker stew, you can increase the rice to 3/4 cup.