My good friend Lorrin listens to what people say. Really closely. I happened to mention – once, and many months ago – that in preparing for the Big Middle Eastern Feasts this past winter, I had found several recipes calling for rose water, including Ottolenghi’s famous meringues. I didn’t have rose water in the house and, it being the dead of one of the snowiest winters on record, I decided to prepare dessert with ingredients already on hand or those easily obtained.
Well, wouldn’t you know that when Lorrin came for dinner last Friday night, my very thoughtful friend brought me a bottle of rose water, an ingredient so important in cooking and baking around the world, and especially in Persian and Middle Eastern recipes.
So, what should I try first? Nougat, Turkish delight, baklava? Indian rice pudding or lassi? Malaysian bandung? So many choices, and those were just the sweets.
Or, perhaps those meringues that Ottolenghi developed while working as head pastry chef at London’s Baker & Spice?
Yes, those meringues. The ingredients are few: egg whites, caster sugar, and of course, rose water, all rolled in chopped pistachios. And now that I had the rose water, it was time to bake.
With the recipe calling for ten egg whites to make only a dozen meringues, you can just imagine how big each one is. Enough to share if you happen to be the sharing type.
As for caster sugar, this is simply superfine sugar, and there’s no need to angst over not being able to find it in the supermarket. Just zap some regular old table sugar in the food processor – but not so much zap that it turns to powder.
But, what was I to do with the ten egg yolks now sitting in a bowl on the counter? It would be terribly wasteful just to throw them out. This is where the internet came to the rescue. I found a website, http://www.fortysomething.ca/2010/04/recipes_to_use_up_extra_egg_yo.php, that lists recipes for dishes requiring anywhere from one to twelve egg yolks. What a brilliant idea, and well worth book-marking.
I decided on a Golden Butter Cake calling for eleven egg yolks, for a couple reasons. First, a very rich crème brûlée on top of meringues would be a serious sugar and fat overkill, especially if we aren’t expecting guests. Second, it’s simply practical to freeze the cake for future use. Invited to a pot luck dinner? I’ll bring dessert! If you do decide to try this cake recipe, make sure to add vanilla; I’m pretty sure that its absence from the list of ingredients was inadvertent.
Now, what to do with that one extra egg white? Maybe fortysomething.ca will see this and post a similar list for whites. In the meantime, breakfast will probably be an omelette.