Friday, August 10, 2012

Rosemary: Olympic Marathon Herb!

As I experience the stages of Olympic withdrawal, I will look upon my Rosemary plant admiringly and seek motivation from her performance as an outstanding Olympian Herb and Iron-Maiden Marathon Woman to sustain and inspire me until 2016. Although she starts out slowly, I know I can count on her to pace her progress through the dog-days of summer—through drought or downpours—to cross the finish line in full glory and flourishing abundance! She’s well known for being a fickle fuss-pot and rather difficult to nurture from seed but once established and rooted she’ll find her own groove—outlasting and surpassing her herb mates in the garden. Young Rosemary will pine for a lot of water—but when she’s full grown she can easily tolerate a few dry spells without wilting. On the whole, Rosemary delights in full sun and grows well independently in containers with good drainage. Like any athlete, Rosemary loves a spa date—the more the better—and enjoys having her aromatic leaves and stems clipped and preened to complement any entrĂ©e or baked dish.

Don’t let Rosemary’s tender evergreen perennial pedigree fool you though. Like most Olympic athletes, she cross trains and excels in fending off cancer and neurological disorders in humans. She sports a healthy dose source of flavonoid luteolin, which some researchers believe stops or reduces the growth of cancerous tumors. In addition, Rosemary contains carnosol, a polyphenol that may protect the brain from free radical damage that causes strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

And does she workout during the winter? Yes, absolutely… you can over-winter Rosemary in your house—just be sure to place her in the sunniest place you can find in your home. Be sure to check her soil’s moisture level regularly and water her frequently to keep the soil moist but not soggy. A little misting now and then will help her too.
Above all, I adore the sophisticated and elegant flavour fresh rosemary can bring to entrees, vegetable dishes and baked goods. Here are a few of my favourite Rosemary recipes. Enjoy!

My date with Dalton Rosemary Cookies
I go to great lengths to take advantage of the cheaper electricity rates between 7 pm and 7 am in Ontario. This is why I call these “My date with Dalton” cookies. (Dalton McGuinty being the Premier of Ontario.) I make them at night after 7 pm when the cheaper rates go into effect, then  freeze them, then slice and bake them at 6:15 am before 7am, when the electricity rates go back up!

They are easy to whip up in a food processor or use your own brute strength to mix it up yourself.. Get your motors running…
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (chop finely with scissors)
1 tsp coarse salt

Roll logs in:
1 egg white-beaten
½ cup white sugar

In a food processor, mix together butter and sugar on low speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla then pulse on low speed until mixed in. Add Rosemary and salt and mix on low speed until combined and mixed.
Remove dough from machine and divide in half. Place one of the two  pieces on parchment paper or wax paper on counter or cutting board and roll into a 12 inch log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Smooth out log and wrap in parchment paper or wax paper or saran and place in freezer. Repeat with second piece of dough. Freeze until quite firm. 1 hr or overnight.
Heat oven to 375F. Remove logs from freezer. They should be firm but fairly easy to slice with a sharp knife. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Brush with egg white and roll in white sugar. Cut into ¼ inch slices and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place about ½ inch apart. Oven racks should be in the middle of the oven. Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on a rack. Store in the fridge or freeze. Excellent with sliced Cantaloupe and vanilla frozen yogurt!

Rosemary Oil
Place two or three sprigs of Rosemary in about 1/3 c of Olive oil. Use with Balsamic Vinegar for
dipping fresh bread at your next dinner party.

Rosemary Oven-Roasted Mini-Potatoes
Wash and scrub about 10-12 red mini-potatoes. Slice potatoes in half and steam for 8-9 minutes to tenderize. Note: they should still be quite firm. Drain and place in 9x13 baking dish.
Mix 2 tbsp olive oil with 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, and 1 tsp coarse salt. Brush over potatoes and mix well.
Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until browned, stirring halfway through. These can be barbequed in a metal basket pan (with holes) on the BBQ.

Rosemary-Tangerine Carrots
Add 1 tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary and ¼ cup Tangerine juice to cooked carrots and toss over medium heat in saucepan until coated. Serve immediately.

Add flavour to pork roasts and poultry
Tuck a few sprigs of fresh Rosemary into a pork roast or chicken. Alternatively, skewer a few sprigs on top.  

Foccacio (using breadmaker and oven) Makes two medium focaccias or one large focaccia

1 1/3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
3 1/3 cups Flour
2 1/4 tsp Breadmaker yeast
Measure these ingredients into the breadpan. Select the dough cycle and press Start. 

When dough is ready, preheat oven to 350F. 

Lightly grease two pizza pans or baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Remove dough from pan and let rest 5-10 min under a tea towel.
Cornmeal for sprinkling on pizza pans.
2 or 3 Minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary or 1 tbsp fresh Rosemary
1 1/2 tsp Coarse salt
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into two rounds to about ½ “ thickness. Lightly grease pans and sprinkle with a little cornmeal. Place dough on pans. Cover with heavy tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with garlic, rosemary, and coarse salt and then lightly press into dough. With your fingertips, poke shallow indentations all over the top of the rounds. Pour the olive oil over the top, letting it pool in the indentations. Sprinkle Parmesan on top. 

Bake bread about 20-25 min or until lightly browned. (I put an oven liner or foil on the oven’s lower rack (under this pan) while this is baking to prevent the olive oil from spilling over and burning.)