The roses are blooming in my garden right now, and it’s time to decide what to do with them. One of my favorite period recipes, is also incredibly simple: you will need 1-2 roses, a cup or so of figs, about half a cup of sugar, a kitchen mallet and a pair of scissors, plus a little patience
First pick a couple of wide open, extremely fragrant roses*, that have been grown without pesticides.
Pull all the larger petals off and wash them well in a colander. Drain & pat dry with a clean towel.
Now the tedious part: take a pair of scissors and cut off the little white pith at the base of each petal. When you are bored to tears stop, that is how many petals you need.
Next take a cup or so of dried figs, and trim off any woody stems. Then take a smooth surfaced kitchen mallet/meat tenderizer, or something similar (you can use a can of tomatoes if you have to) and make sure it’s completely clean & dry. Pound each fig flat with your mallet. Work out any frustrations on those figs, get them nice & thin, about 1/8” thick
Finally, in a small jar (for ease of storage) place a layer of rose petals, sprinkle them with sugar, top with a layer of figs, then another layer of rose petals, then sugar, then figs etc. Pack them down tightly in the jar. The fewer air pockets the better, and finish with a final layer of sugar.
Let sit for about two weeks or more. The figs will soften and infuse with rose flavor and are a delightful treat on their own, smeared on a bit of toast or as part of a cheese plate.
* strong fragrance generally correlates with strong flavor.
BASIN OF FIGS – BURNIA DE HIGOS
Recipe #126 from The Libre del Coch 1520, as tranlsated by Robbin Carroll Mann
You will take very good dried figs, very sweet, and flatten them well, one by one, and remove from them the hard part of the stems, and take a basin or a deep plate which are new and very clean, and put at the bottom of the basin a layer of red roses, removing the white part of them with scissors. And upon the roses a little sugar, and then a layer of the figs, and in this manner, making a layer of the roses and sugar and another of the figs, fill up the basin or plate, And having done this, cover the basin well, so that it is there for fifteen or twenty days, and then eat those figs, and this is a very exquisite food.