Have you ever heard of orange blossom water? It's new to me too! For years I've wondered what to do with this random Middle Eastern condiment at my local health food store, and I am so happy to say I've figured it out! I finally purchased it a few weeks ago, and there have been many happy experiments around our house: drinks, foods and even as a perfume. The flavor is strong and perfumey, but in a bright, lovely way. Like most citrus scents, it's more of a 'top,' meaning that it's the first flavor you taste and smell but it quickly dissipates.
The first time I tried this wacky and wonderful condiment was at our new Moroccan restaurant in Honolulu. They make a refreshingly sweet after-dinner tea made with peppermint, honey and orange blossom, then they wash your hands with the fragrantly perfumed water after. A wonderful tradition indeed. The first experiments in my own kitchen included tea. Simply add a bit (maybe ¼ tsp or so) to your cup of peppermint tea and enjoy with or without honey. I've also been adding to my decaf vanilla black tea and drinking warm or iced. The blog Bois de Jasmine has a 'recipe' for a Cafe Blanc, another way to enjoy orange blossom water.
For happy hour, I've been making my version of healthy cocktails with orange blossom water as a fun, unique cocktail. My favorite cocktails are simple and not sweet, so usually I start with a base of vodka or gin, topped with sparkling water (plain or flavored). But now I make a habit or stirring in 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water too. If you are feeling fancy you can garnish with an orange twist or with some fresh citrus juice. (See photo above)
There are also lots of cooking recipes that call for this lovely, exotic condiment. Anything creamy and custardy would do well with a splash of orange blossom, as would anything vaguely Middle Eastern like baklava or shredded carrot salads. Try stirring into regular salad dressings, or adding into sweet condiments like blackberry sauce or even chocolate sauce. And if you find yourself really in love with this fantastic fragrance, the blog Bois de Jasmine has a great post about 10 ways to use orange blossom water. Here's a summary: in baths, as a fragrance for the room, in pastries, in puddings and more. Whenever I use it in my drinks or foods, I also dab a bit on my wrists and neck for a slightly sweet scent.
The bottle pictured by Nielsen-Massey would be a good choice, and can be found at Whole Foods or other healthy food stores. I have the Indo-European brand, which is a Lebanese company that makes a whole line of great products (and makes a larger bottle of orange blossom water than the one pictured). And there are of course loads of other places to find it on the internet. Do choose an orange blossom water made by a natural brand, to make sure you are getting real stuff and not synthetic. I hope you love it as much as I do! Tell us how you use orange blossom water (or its companion, rose water).