Sunday, 25 August 2013

Rose Petal Jam

Today I'm delighted to welcome my Turkish friend, Seyda as my guest. She's an incredibly busy lady but she's sparing the time to explain how to make Rose Petal jam. Having tasted this delicacy in her home, I know it's as delicious to taste as it's beautiful to look at. And actually, it isn't too difficult to make.

Welcome, Seyda, and thank you for dropping by.

Not at all, it's my pleasure. It's always nice to chat. And of course, I'm happy to explain how to make Gül Reçel.

I was fascinated by the beautiful pink colour of your jam, and the fact that it was absolutely clear. How do you achieve that?

You can only make this jam with pink, scented roses, and they have to be cabbage roses or centifolias. You pick the petals from six fully opened roses, all on the same day.

Remove any bits of stamen, then wash the petals in a large bowl of water until clean. Drain well and shake in a sieve.

Mix together  5 tablespoonfuls of caster sugar
                         The juice of half a lemon
                         1 crystal of lemon salts [the size of a pea]
                         The rose petals
                        and squeeze it all into a paste, which you put into a sealed jar.
                      Store this paste in the fridge [it will keep for months]

And how does this become jam?

When you are ready to make the jam, you start by boiling together 3 1/2  glasses of water and 3 glasses of sugar.
Boil until it is a thick syrup. Test by dropping a little on a saucer. When it does not run it is ready.
Add the rose mixture from the jar. Stir for five minutes while the mixture is boiling. When it foams and hisses, it is ready. Turn off the heat.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, then put into glass jars [pretty ones if you have them]. Seal when cool.

And finally, what do you use it for?

We may use it on a sponge cake, or put a spoonful on top of a portion of rice pudding or a tablecream. It can also be eaten at breakfast or at tea time.

As we say in Turkish: "Afiyet olsun" - enjoy and may it do you good.

Thank you, Seyda. I look forward to sampling some more of your rose petal jam soon.


Before you go, let's enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee - and perhaps you'll read my fortune. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A home for my hero

The Princes' Islands are situated at about an hour's sailing time from the European side of Istanbul. They are a peaceful haven, where wealthy Istanbullus have a summer villa, or if not rich enough to own or rent one, go for a few days holiday in a hotel.  The journey by boat sets the mood - no racing along the motorway, it is a restful interlude. 

When you disembark, the peaceful atmosphere continues. There are no motorised vehicles on the island. Transport is either by bike or by horse drawn carriage. The roads are really quiet.


The villas are mainly set back in beautifully tended gardens.

The islands have been inhabited for as long as Constantinople itself, so it seemed feasible to give my hero a home on Buyukada, the largest island. Research to decide where and what style of house, was indeed a pleasure for me. The villas are delightful but traditionally they are made of wood and so are not generally very long lasting. 

There are only a couple left old enough to represent a building typical of the 18th Century. Judging by this engraving, the older villas were large and elaborate - very suitable for my hero's mother, who is a Turkish princess.

 Fortunately for Olivia in Scandalous Lady, the hero's yali is always kept in good order for when members of the family visit from France. Selim sends Olivia here as a place of safety. In his mother's house, she is protected by the laws of hospitality from the Sultan's plan to dispose of her.