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Roses in a stew

10 July 2015


THE compensation for cold wet English summers is luxuriant English roses. We had lunch in our neighbour Emily Kragh’s small but perfectly formed garden, and admired her roses as we ate the rose-scented lunch that she had made.

The first course was a vegetarian casserole for four hungry people: Chickpea tagine with rose harissa paste.


1 tin of chickpeas (400g) or
250g (9 oz) cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon harissa paste
100g (3½ oz) dried apricots, diced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 orange pepper, de-seeded and diced
225g (8 oz) cherry tomatoes
300ml (½ pt) vegetable stock (or more, if needed)
2 tablespoons of chopped


Sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, and harissa paste, and cook for a few minutes. Add the apricots, pepper, and carrots, stirring them in. Pour in the stock, and bring to the boil. Season and thicken to taste. Cook until the vegetables are tender — about 10 minutes, or maybe less. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes, and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the coriander, and serve. It goes beautifully with couscous or rice, and Emily put a little wild black rice in with her Basmati rice, which gives it a more interesting flavour and texture.

This was followed by her Almond and pistachio cake with rose water, and coffee, or rose, lavender, and camomile tea. Emily made the cake with self-raising gluten-free flour, but obviously you can use regular self-raising flour; and sometimes she adds ½ teaspoon baking powder.


250g (9 oz) butter and extra for
greasing the loaf tin
200g (7 oz) golden caster sugar
4 eggs beaten
120g (4 oz) ground almonds
100g (3½ oz) ground pistachios
50g (1½ oz) self-raising flour
2 lemons, zest and juice
For the topping:
60g (2 oz) icing sugar
a few drops of rose water
60g (2 oz) pistachio nuts, chopped


Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Butter a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin, and line the bottom with baking paper. Make a sponge, creaming the butter and sugar, and then adding the eggs. Then bind with the flour, ground nuts, and lemon zest (save the juice for the topping). Put the mixture in the loaf tin, and cook for about 45 minutes. Then put greaseproof paper on the top to prevent browning, and cook for a further 10 minutes. It is important that the cake is slightly overcooked, because the topping is so wet that the cake needs to be well baked.

Mix the icing sugar, lemon juice, and rose water, and pour over the cake as it comes out of the oven. Decorate with chopped pistachios. Leave to cool in the tin.

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