Eating Up The Weird Stuff
April 9, 2021 7:15 AM   Subscribe

A silver lining in being cooped up for a year is that I am finally making headway in eating through the things in my overstuffed pantry and cupboard. However - I'm now getting to the really weird stuff, and could use some additional ideas.

I've had a bad habit of spontaneously buying unusual foodstuffs. Sometimes it's something I can work into my usual repertoire (funky noodles from the Asian market make fun ramen, interesting spice blends get used on meats or to season nuts, agar-agar turns into puddings), but sometimes the thing I get I don't know what to do with it, or the only recipes I find are enough to serve an army. Or, all the recipes I can find use only a half a teaspoon of the thing and I have a pound.

There are four or five main "culprits" here, but lemme lead with some general requests for all suggestions:

* The smaller the serving size, the better. The most I would be cooking for at present is myself and my roommate, and there's one of these ingredients he doesn't like so it would be all on me. At the very least, I'd like to be able to easily halve a recipe or easily store leftovers.

* Ideally I'd like to not buy other exotic ingredients to make it - that seems like perpetuating the problem. I do live in New York, but for now let's pretend that I live in a small town and only have access to the local Stop & Shop when it comes to other ingredients I could get.

* I'm comfortable in a kitchen and am willing to try just about anything. The only real 'no-go' foods for me are about five of the brassica vegetables; I'm also kind of lukewarm on Korean food (don't hate it, but it's not my first choice). I'm otherwise an omnivore.

* Drinks or pudding/custard/gelatin desserts are especially welcome. I've been having an infatuation with both of these. Baked goods are also fine, so long as they are either small serving sizes or keep well (huge frosted cakes are fun, but half the cake would go bad before we ate through it; but some cookies would be perfect).

And with that, here's the lineup of ingredients!

1. Dried lavender. I got it for an amazing duck breast recipe, only used a tiny bit and I had a big pouch. I am already planning on lavender tea breads and lemon/lavender cookies and suchlike, but that would use up only about 25% of the stash. I could also DIY some herbes de provence, but....that will have to wait until I use the already-made bottle in my cupboard as well.

2. Irmik. I think the biggest reason I haven't tried it is because I have only found one recipe, which is a serves-8 quantity and is tough to scale down. Is there a smaller recipe, or another application?

3. Mochi flour. (That's even the exact brand.) There's a recipe on the side of the box for "chocolate mochi" that I think I could handle, but it assumes I am making a huge quantity and I haven't tried scaling it down yet; I'd also like to find other types of mochi to play with.

4. Rose water and Orange Flower water. The biggest problem I've had with those is the "I have a whole quart and the recipe calls for five drops" problem, compounded by me being the only person in the house who likes rosewater. I have made and do know about ramos gin fizz and Moroccan salads for the orange flower water; and I also know about the Israeli malabi pudding for the rosewater. I am also checking out a couple of French pastries that you can spike with one or the other.

Okay, hit me! Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Food & Drink (54 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
A local bar used to make a Bee's Knees cocktail with lavender-infused honey syrup which I really liked - you should try that!
posted by backseatpilot at 7:30 AM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

oh man, what a great question.You sound like you know what you're doing, so I'll give general advice rather than trying to search specific recipes.

For that lavender, think in terms of steeping it in hot cream, giving you lavender scented cream which you then use wherever cream goes. I've used lavender steeped cream in caramels; I've seen it used in chocolate ganache which them gets scooped into truffles; and I think it would PERFECT for your panna cotta wish fulfillment. "Lavender panna cotta" googling should give you tons of inspiration. And do you have an ice cream maker?

Rose water and orange flower water: yeah, I get those bottles hanging round the fridge forever. Where I wind up using orange flower water is for Persian haroset. It's a ritual food for Passover but worth making just for its tastiness, and eating on crackers: soak (in hot water) some good dried fruit (apricots, dates or golden raisins -- not black raisins). Whizz up in food processor with a cored/chopped green apple, a peeled orange and/or some meyer lemon juice, and some unsalted toasted nuts (whatever you like - pistachios are great, pecans are wonderful) and a SMALL amount of cinnamon and cardamom. It should look chutney-ish and taste wonderful. Add orange blossom water to scent.

It is also okay, if you are cleaning out the fridge and find like a whole extra couple bottles back there, to give yourself a most luxurious hand-washing with it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:32 AM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Assuming your mochi flour is glutinous rice flour, you can also make nian gao (sweet glutinous rice cake) with it. I had some once at a lunar new year celebration and it was totally delicious; this recipe looks close to what I remember.
posted by terretu at 7:33 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dried lavender:
use as a decoration in a bowl or vase,
hot tea - sub in any gelatin recipe for water
iced tea,
mix tea with lemonade for lavender lemonade,
simmer tea with 1/2 sugar to make lavender simple syrup,
add simple syrup to soda for lavender soda,
add vodka or white wine to lavender soda for lavender spritz
infuse into milk or cream and use in any pudding recipe
posted by RoadScholar at 7:33 AM on April 9, 2021

Response by poster: One VERY fast note in response to a question (since it may help) -

I do have an ice cream maker, but it's the kind where you have to prefreeze the churn - and I also have an overstuffed freezer. I'm also trying to eat through the stuff in the freezer so I am able put the churn container into that freezer again. Right now there's no room for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

For the rice flour: I loved this coconut mochi cake with fresh mango on top.
posted by oranger at 7:42 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lavender + goat cheese + honey - on bread or crackers, or in something like this.
posted by pemberkins at 7:42 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been wanting to make this recipe ...

Gem Cakes - this makes 12 muffin sized cakes or more smaller cakes.

Freeze or give away the extras, just use whatever you have to make the glaze instead of buying extra ingredients. This only uses 60 g of the mochi flour and calls for the exact brand you have.

BONUS! Make rose, lavender, and orange glazes. Glazes are very forgiving - some powdered sugar and a bit of liquid so in those recipes: leave out the other flavoring (such as matcha or strawberry jam) and sub in the rose and orange waters or some of the lavender tea you'll be making. If you have coloring - add a drop so they are lightly purple, pink, and orange. If you don't have coloring, put a few lavender flowers or a tiny slice of orange or a rose petal on top. Serve with lavender tea.
posted by RoadScholar at 7:43 AM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

For the Irmik, maybe search for semolina halva recipes? Here's a recipe that I think can be scaled down . (Saffron is not necessary IMO) also it says dessert but I definitely grew up eating something similar for breakfast!
posted by icy_latte at 7:44 AM on April 9, 2021

Rose water and orange flower water: some baklava recipes call for both. I do not like the taste of rose water so the last time I had a bottle, I used some in the bath.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 7:51 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Make Rose syrup with the rosewater and treat it like a cordial for a rose-flavoured drink. Bet it would go well with vodka.

More traditionally with milk (bandung) or panna cotta it. Flavours that work for panna cotta also work for ice cream but I note your lack of freezer space for that.

You could also try making Turkish delight!
posted by pianissimo at 7:51 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

My wife adds orange blossom water or rose water in as flavorings when making granola. They get added right at the beginning stages when you combine all the fats, sugars and spices together, before adding oats and nuts.
posted by number9dream at 8:02 AM on April 9, 2021


* Pomegranate Molasses. It's the "I have a whole big bottle and a little goes a long way" problem there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:03 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Butter mochi!! will probably use up all your flour, and is so so so very tasty.

The easiest use for orange flower / rose flower water is a white coffee, which actually doesn't really need a recipe. Pour a splash of flower water into a cup, add a bit of honey, and pour in hot water. Give it a mix. Adjust honey/flower water to taste. It's particularly nice after a large meal or as an alternative to caffeinated hot beverages.
posted by ellerhodes at 8:05 AM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

Lavender shortbread and lavender ice cream!
posted by jgirl at 8:07 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Omg the category of baked goods using mochi flour is enormous and DELICIOUS. I’d start by googling Hawaiian Butter Mochi, and then just enjoy falling down that rabbit hole. There’s a whole world of gooey, chewy, options out there. In my experience, glutinous rice flour based baked goods just get better after a day or two, so you can make a whole recipe and snack on them for the rest of the week.

Hawaiian Butter Mochi

Mochi Brownies

Black Sesame Mochi Muffins

Mochi flour also makes for some tasty fried chicken (or whatever you want to have a light crunchy exterior). Here is the classic Foodland recipe.

Damn, now I’m hungry.
*runs off to buy mochi flour*
posted by JuliaIglesias at 8:10 AM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick redirect about the Hawaiian Butter Mochi - it looks intriguing, but the quantities are too big, and the recipes aren't easily halve-able. The Gem Cakes and Mochi Brownies are MUCH more where I'm at (I can cut that mochi brownie recipe in half, but if I tried to halve the butter mochi recipe, I'd end up with half a can of coconut milk in my fridge and it would eventually go bad).

I'm also simultaneously hitting up Pinterest for some of this, and spotted something which is prompting me to add that I also have grenadine syrup and mint syrup, although those are NOT things that I'm trying to use up, I just happen to have them if it prompts anyone to think of anything....(just saw a drink recipe that is nothing more than a shot of grenadine and a splash of rose water in club soda, and that is EXACTLY the kind of thing I'm looking for).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: fesanjan for the pomegranate molasses.

daikon cake for the rice flour.
posted by music for skeletons at 8:25 AM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Either in the last or the second last Splendid Table, someone went on about pomengrate molasses. I couldn't find it by searching, but the search results provide tons of ideas. I love just adding a bit to stews because I like the flavor a lot. Oh, here's a vegan recipe which I haven't eaten for a while, which is a mistake, eat it!
For the Irmik, I wonder if you could just use it like any other semolina? I just used a handful of Italian semolina in a whole wheat bread, and the result is gorgeous. I've already eaten half the loaf, which is supposed to last through the weekend. I don't think it would hurt to try. Maybe if it is very course, you can use it as couscous?
posted by mumimor at 8:25 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Re: pomegranate molasses, I could legit eat this stew every day of my life.

It's great drizzled on salads and soups; I used it yesterday to garnish a cauliflower tahini soup.

It's a common ingredient in Turkish cuisine, so depending on how much you have it shouldn't be difficult to use up.
posted by myotahapea at 8:26 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Muhammara is how I use most of my pomegranate molasses.

This chicken recipe uses a shocking 2tbs of rose water but it somehow works. I’ve made it with almonds and skipped the saffron when I was out and it still turned out okay.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:30 AM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: I meant: Pistachio Maamoul Cookies
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:30 AM on April 9, 2021

I'm loving this thread. I'm off to get myself a gallon of rosewater!
posted by Dotty at 8:57 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Moroccan coffee for the orange blossom water. I keep a bottle of the stuff just so I can make it myself a couple of times a month. It is very easy, just make the coffee as you would normally except add 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to the ground coffee. After brewing you stir in 1 tsp or so of the orange blossom water along with cream, sugar, and vanilla. Exact measurements to taste, but as a black coffee and espresso drinker, I think you want this particular treat to be on the sweeter and creamier side.

You can probably use rose water for this as well, but I haven't tried it.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2021

I like to boil rose water. It makes the room smell nice.
posted by aniola at 9:17 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

For the rosewater, I’ve seen a very brightly coloured drink that friends order in Indian restaurants, it’s luminous pink at the bottom and then the colour fades to the top. I think it has rose syrup, made from rose water and sugar. Or rose lassi. So the rose water might be more useful in syrup form for drinks, cocktails etc.
posted by ElasticParrot at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2021

I like to make my pizza dough with 1/2 semolina 1/2 all purpose flour, usually following this loose recipe.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:21 AM on April 9, 2021

Lavender lemonade is delicious.
posted by Lexica at 9:50 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Since you asked for puddings, have you tried making kheer (rice pudding) with rosewater? SO good. Here's a recipe that looks promising, but there are many others in the same vein.
posted by Jemstar at 9:57 AM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

could we please stop calling food "really weird"/"unusual"/"funky"/"exotic" thx
posted by ohkay at 10:15 AM on April 9, 2021 [10 favorites]

Came in to say mochiko / nori chicken as well - it's a huge favorite in our home.

Pomegranate molasses keeps for a long time, but we use it in this amazing salad
posted by Mchelly at 10:25 AM on April 9, 2021

Do you ever bake bread? You can use the mochi flour to line your brotform/banneton/whatever you let your bread rest/rise in, so the bread won't stick.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:26 AM on April 9, 2021

Response by poster: Coming in to say:

Ohkay, you are absolutely right to call me out on that, and I apologize.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Pomegranate molasses - get a sheet pan, cut some sweet potatoes into thick slices and toss with olive oil, make a sort of mini pan of aluminium foil and crumble a block of feta into it. Into the oven for about half an hour. Once done, assembly: slice of sweet potato, spoonful of feta, drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Salty-sweet goodness! Two big sweet potatoes and a small block of feta feed two hungry people, but this is easily halved with a smaller pan.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

People have covered dried lavender very well, so I'll just say: if you want to use it up fast, and you have a bathtub: put a tablespoon of dried lavender into a square of cheesecloth tied off with string, or a tea infuser, and drop it in the bathtub when you run a hot bath.

Also, lavender infusion (boiled & strained) can be used for a variety of non-food purposes. You can put it in a spray bottle and use it to scent bed linens, laundry, carpets, etc.

I don't know if you drink, but if you do, I would totally infuse some of that lavender in gin. Apparently it's quite soapy on its own, but wonderful with tonic or lemonade.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:11 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Lavender lemonade is delicious.

As is lavender iced tea!
posted by jgirl at 2:26 PM on April 9, 2021

I would make sachets for my drawers with the lavender, the simplest way is to put about two table spoons in an envelope.
Alternatively, mix the lavender with rice ( or other grain) put in a cloth bag or small pillow and place in your bed/put in your neck.
posted by 15L06 at 3:12 PM on April 9, 2021

Throw some lavender into cheesecloth, tie into bag and put in your lacy unmentionables/linen storage. Both rose and orange water make lovely face toners/fresheners ... keep chilled for maximum delight. Pom molasses is great subbed for balsamic vinegar in salad dressing.
posted by cyndigo at 3:12 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pomegranate molasses makes a refreshing drink if diluted with cold water, and a Lebanese friend of mine sometimes drinks warm water with just a drop of orange-flower water in it, which is surprisingly nice. I use orange flower water in cheesecakes as well.

There are some great recipes here!
posted by Fuchsoid at 3:44 PM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: Rice flour can be made into tangyuan for dessert. You can probably make a few with rosewater flavor or syrup.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 3:57 PM on April 9, 2021

Tangyuan are served plain or with filling. The plain ones are super simple! Only use glutinous rice flour like the Mochiko you have, regular rice flour won't work.

daikon cake for the rice flour.

I once tried to substitute glutinous rice flour for regular rice flour in daikon cake and, anecdotally, it was a complete disaster. Didn't set right. They have different properties.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 4:00 PM on April 9, 2021

I have a friend who makes a rice pudding using lots of rose water, this recipe sounds like it (but she does not cover it in cinnamon).
I would drizzle the pomegranate molasses in top.
posted by 15L06 at 4:03 PM on April 9, 2021

Response by poster: Quick word to nip the "non-culinary" uses for lavender in the bud (so to speak) - I already have a SECOND pouch of non-culinary grade lavender I'm also already trying to work through using THOSE suggestions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 PM on April 9, 2021

Best answer: I’ll add more later but I’ve been googling for the kinda stuff I grew up eating and came up with this so far. For most Middle Eastern sweets, you can use either orange blossom or rosewater interchangeably depending on taste. Also, our mothers cleansed our faces with rosewater when we were little, so you could give that a whirl.


Rosewater semolina cake


Date and walnut biscuits

Baklava (p.21)

Sweet cheese puffs (p.22)

Orange blossom:

Ladies’ fingers - almond and cinnamon sweets

Either orange blossom or rose water (but this applies to any of the recipes really):

Rice pudding

Custard pie
posted by mkdirusername at 11:48 PM on April 9, 2021

Irmik (Semolina flour) + 00 flour + eggs = great homemade pasta! (You could use all purpose flour instead of the 00 flour if you don't have it.) 50/50 proportion of each flour. The serious eats article calls for 5 oz flour (total), 1 egg and 2 yolks, which has worked great, I also add a small pinch of salt. This makes 2 generous portions of pasta. You can air dry one portion to keep for use sometime soon.
posted by Red Desk at 11:59 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

If brussels sprouts aren't one of the no-go brassica varieties, my favourite way to have them is seared/roasted in a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with black pepper and flaky salt and drizzled with pomegranate molasses. Something about the interaction of the blackened bits of sprout and tart syrup is brilliant.

I haven't tried it too often but I'd imagine that you could swap in the molasses in many recipe that asks for pomegranate seeds as a garnish, specially if they're out of season or you're going for a more wintry vibe to the meal; just off the top of my head Ottolenghi's roasted aubergine seems like a perfect candidate.

Brief note: if you do give my previously linked recipe a try, an optional tweak is reserving the lentil cooking water and going half-and-half with that and the olive oil, which I find to be more flavourful and less heavy.
posted by myotahapea at 3:28 AM on April 10, 2021

So the rose water might be more useful in syrup form for drinks, cocktails etc.

Yep, there's a whole world of desserty cold drinks like falooda, or shaved ice concoctions involving rose syrup.
posted by emeiji at 2:49 PM on April 11, 2021

How about kesari for the semolina? It's a sweet, buttery breakfast pudding with nuts. So tasty!
Here's a recipe at random, but I'm sure you can research others.
posted by exceptinsects at 12:33 PM on April 15, 2021

Plagiarizing myself from another thread: 'Chop watermelon in to chunks, douse with rosewater, sprinkle with chopped roasted pistachios (if you have them). A lovely summertime dessert/snack, which is always a huge hit at parties. Tastes like Turkish delight, minus the cloying sickly sweetness.'
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 4:19 PM on April 15, 2021

A late addition, but I just found and made this recipe for Khoresh Fesenjan, a chicken stew with walnut and pomegranate. Depending on how tart you like it, the recipe can take up to 1 cup of pomegranate molasses (though the amount varies in different regions of the country), and some commenters said they swapped brown lentils for chicken to make it vegetarian/vegan.

As to how it was, I'm impatiently awaiting my next order of pomegranate molasses to make it again.
posted by myotahapea at 4:12 AM on July 3, 2021

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