Blood Orange and Rosemary Simple Syrup (and what to do with it!)

Small jar of blood orange and simple syrup.

When blood oranges are in season I find ways to include them in all sorts of recipes. From salads to chicken dishes to desserts, their musky sweet taste is always welcome in my kitchen. However, it wasn’t until I was making a blood orange variation of Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake that I discovered how perfectly they lend themselves to a basic simple syrup. I had also just finished giving the rosemary bushes outside of my work a “haircut” so I had copious amounts of rosemary lurking in my fridge, and wouldn’t rosemary be the perfect compliment to the flavours of blood orange simple syrup? I have to admit, the entire time I was thinking about this recipe I had a gin cocktail in mind and rosemary just seemed like a natural accent to gin’s juniper berry bite. My very simple cocktail is as follows: 1 part gin + 1 Tbsp. simple syrup shaken over ice and then then topped with sparkling or tonic water, garnish with a sprig of rosemary. If you were feeling extravagant you could add champagne instead of the sparkling or tonic water, making an extra bright French 75.

 Blood Orange and Rosemary Cocktail

blood orange and rosemary simple syrup:

3 blood oranges, whole

About 4 cups of water

1 cup of sugar

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

  1. Place the blood oranges in a large pot and pour over the water. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, for 2 hours over very low heat.
  2. Remove the oranges from the water and either discard or puree whole and freeze for future use in a variation on Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake.
  3. Add one cup of sugar  and the the sprig of rosemary to the blood orange water and boil for a few minutes to let the sugar dissolve completely. Remove from the heat and allow the rosemary to steep for several hours before removing. This simple syrup will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator, use in cocktails or pour over good vanilla ice cream.

Telegram was the first Bjork album I ever owned, I’m fairly positive my 14 year old self had no idea it was an album of Bjork remixes. iTunes created a “Bjork Remixed” playlist today and I realized that with the exception of two songs it was basically Telegram. I feel like this is cheating, but it did give me the chance to hear this version of I Miss You again.

Bjork – I Miss You

 

On the Cheese Board

how to make a cheese board

Pictured (clockwise from top right): Chateau du Bourgogne (French triple creme), Le Marechal (Swiss Alpine style), Fuoco (Quebec buffalo milk washed rind), Piave Vecchio (Italian firm), Landana gouda with tomatoes and olives (Dutch semi-firm).

I have worked with cheese for 10 years. I have learned about making cheese and the science behind it. I have discovered and tasted at least 500 types, each revealing their own unique intricacies as they are tasted repeatedly at various stages of their lives. I know about the subtle craft of pairing cheese with wine, spirits, beer, tea, coffee, your entire meal, and dessert through experimentation and conversation with friends. I have a stronger grasp of geography, chemistry, gastronomy, and storytelling because of being a cheesemonger. I started working in a cheese shop in high school. At the time it was a summer job, then a job throughout university, and then I moved to Vancouver, BC with my husband. After the course of a year I began anew at les amis du FROMAGE, where I would say my most valuable learning experiences began.

In light of all that, I have to say that my absolute favourite cheese related activity is building a beautiful cheese board. Unfortunately, I find that people can be very intimidated by this potentially enjoyable task, as cheese plates apparently come with set of preconceived rules which must not be deviated from. My approach is far gentler; pick out the cheeses that YOU like and that YOU think are interesting. What do YOU think would be delicious? If you love the idea of soft, unctuous cheeses then choose 2 or 3 that call out to you from the cheese case. Are you like me, with a preference for aged cheeses? These cheeses vary wildly in their complexities, tasting and smelling of everything from sharp barnyard to granular fruitiness. You can do this for any category you’d like; goat, sheep, washed rind, fresh, even a vibrant blue board served with sweet fortified wines or hard ciders is appropriate if you’re sure of your audience. As for accompaniments, I am a strong advocate of something that will highlight the cheese rather than smother it and from there on in I think it’s entirely a matter of what you think will taste good. In the case of the platter above, I made this last weekend for a group of friends whose tastes ran the gamut from safe to adventurous and each person was able to enjoy at least 3 cheeses and the accompanying fruit and charcuterie (Bertoia spicy salami). I’m working on a detailed entry about building the perfect cheese plate with lots of photos and advice, but in the meantime I wanted to let you all know how simple and fun it can be to pick out foods you love and serve them to your friends and loved ones.