Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Foods and Fragrance Hardcover – Jun 1 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
This rather precious cookbook contains two kinds of recipes: those for food, and those for making fragrances, with the latter occasionally used in the former as well as to perfume the body. With a few exceptions, such as White Truffle and Blood Orange Solid Perfume, these sound lovely. However, preparation of both types is complex. The use of essential oils in place of the actual materials in food seems unnecessarily complicated (e.g., the suggestion that readers "add a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to melted butter, then use that butter to make cinnamon toast"). Fragrances are equally elaborate: Coffee Cologne Spray requires four absolutes and six essential oils. The food itself is creative American, like Lavender Roasted Chicken and Mint-Infused Asparagus Soup. Patterson, of San Francisco's Frisson, opening in May 2004, writes competent recipes, although some call for expensive ingredients. Aftel, who creates custom scents, easily guides readers through production of such items as Ginger and Juniper Body Oil, although her list of equipment is daunting. The real question is whether consumers want to see recipes for Coriander and Grapefruit Body Oil and Crab Salad with Coriander Vinaigrette on the same page. Photos.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The food recipes are well within the skill level of the average cook. Some of the ingredients are a bit exotic and might be hard to find for some readers (e.g. shiso and saffron absolute- I finally found the saffron absolute at Liberty Natural). Otherwise most of the ingredients are readily available at your basic supermarket. The essences themselves can be ordered at a number of sites on the internet.
Chef Patterson's recipes are creative and provacative combinations that "go outside the box". Seared Scallops With Tarragon Sabayon combines tarragon essential oil with a sabayon sauce normally associated with desserts, but modified here to work in a savory dish. Wild Salmon With Marinated Cucumbers utilizes a cucumber hydrosol in the vinaigrette and the unusual technique of slow-cooking the salmon so that it is completely cooked through yet moist and delicate.
The "In the Everyday Kitchen" vignettes in each chapter offer quick and simple suggestions for using the essences in food. For example, "Mix a little lime essential oil with lime juice, simple syrup...and sparkling mineral water..." The lime EO adds a kick to the drink that it wouldn't have with lime juice alone.
Ms. Aftel's fragrances and body care recipes are glorious and most are relatively simple to do. The novice will need a little practice handling some of the more viscous essences, such as peru balsam and labdanum absolute in the Jasmine Liquid Perfume. I was quite surprised and delighted that Ms. Aftel chose to share with us the recipes for some of her own perfumes that she sells on her website and in retail stores. Parfum de Maroc and Cepes and Tuberose are two favorites. It is exceptionally generous considering that most perfumers keep their formulations under lock and key for obvious reasons.
I also want to add that the photography and food styling in this book is mouth-watering and drop-dead gorgeous. I almost wanted to eat the book! (Almost.)
Three cheers for Mandy Aftel, Daniel Patterson, and their creative team for giving us this beautiful work!
100% Pure Essential Oil Geranium 0.5 oz Liquid
Lavender 100% Pure Essential Oil - 10 ml
Litsea Cubeba (10 ml)
Neroli 100% Pure Essential Oil 5ml
Aura Cacia - Myrrh Essential Oil, .5 oz liquid
Yes many of these recipes require gourmet ingredients like the following:
Crème Fraiche (or you can make some with buttermilk and cream)
Urbani White Truffle Infused Oil, 60-ml Bottles (Pack of 2)
Gelatin Sheets - Silver Label - by ChefShop (as opposed to the easier to find packets)
Some of the unique projects in this book include two recipes for scented bookmarks. You may also want to grow your own herb garden as some of the recipes call for lemon verbena and tarragon. I tried making the face elixir which calls for Aura Cacia Chamomile and Aura Cacia Ylang Ylang. It was intoxicating and induced a deep relaxation. You can use it at night. All you really need to find is Aubrey Organics - Rosa Mosqueta Rose Hip Seed Oil, .36 fl oz liquid - which is what I used, chamomile and ylang ylang. There was really no need to order apricot oil and Mayumi Squalene - Squalene Oil which is quite expensive.
Some of the tempting recipes you might enjoy include:
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Orange Flower Custard
Coffee Ice Cream with Candied Orange
Vanilla Poached Pears with Sabayon
Yellow Corn Pudding Glazed with White Truffle Butter
Grilled Steak with Onion-Potato Compote Scented with Lavender
Coriander-Crusted Wild Salmon
Cumin Crackers with Eggplant Dip
Steamed Halibut with Lemon-Chamomile Sauce
A few of the recipes require you to first prepare a stock. Instead I'd recommend just using 1 teaspoon of stock base for every cup water. You can then substitute this for the homemade stock called for in the recipe. In one of the recipes you use cumin seeds and cumin oil. For the home cook it would just be easier to find the cumin seeds.
This book introduced me to quite a few essential oils I've never heard of and I've read quite a few books on essential oils. "Litsea Cubeba" was totally new to me and it is used to make a bath oil. To find some of the oils used in the recipes you may want to try looking around here at amazon. There is a source section at the back of the book but it would have been much more useful if it has listed specific ingredients and then the exact source. As it stands you may need to go to numerous websites to look up ingredients.
Some of the things I noticed in the recipes may also discourage the making of some delicious foods. For example, in the Sweet Onion Rosemary Soup you need to make an infused oil as a separate recipe. The recipe uses six cups of olive oil. It would seem easier if the recipe had just required you to make an exact amount. One recipe uses 1-2 quarts of the oil which seems extravagant. In a recipe I really wanted to make - Artichoke-Saffron soup, there are not enough instructions to make me feel confident that I could make it. I couldn't figure out what you are supposed to do with the artichokes after you cook them. Surely you don't put the entire artichoke in the blender as the recipe seems to imply.
For some of the recipes you will need to own an ice cream maker. Otherwise all you need is non-reactive cookware. It is not recommended that you use anything like aluminum or cast iron.
I would only recommend this book to the very adventurous or to someone who loves entertaining because the recipes are mostly for 8 servings. The recipes will also be fairly expensive to make because you need to buy specific essential oils for almost every recipe. There are some essential oils you may only use once unless you intend to make the recipes again. I was lucky because I have a small collection of essential oils so making the facial products was fairly easy. I will on the other hand probably never buy cumin essential oil because I fear I'd never use it again except in the recipe in this book. This is really a journey of sensory discovery and one of the most unique books I've ever encountered.
~The Rebecca Review