Tag Archives: rosemary

Orange-Raisin-Rosemary Scones

DSC_5232I think I figured out the key to having a truly enjoyable Christmas:  no expectations.  That may sound cynical, but it’s really not meant to be construed that way.  It’s more of a “less is more” approach to the holiday.  Mr. K and I decided to stay home this year and not make any plans.  I decided to forego even making us a special meal.  Instead, we stayed in our pajamas, watched a couple of movies, I made us a hot dish that was reminiscent of my childhood, and then while Mr. K took a nap I did some baking.  All in all, probably our best Christmas yet.
DSC_5256DSC_5223I have been making anything and everything with rosemary these past few months.  I accidentally bought large bunches of rosemary (twice!) only to come home and discover I already had a large bunch in the freezer.  Therefore, I was saddled with three large bunches of rosemary and determined to not let them go to waste.  I’ve made lemon-rosemary chicken, rosemary shortbread cookies, rosemary focaccia, and these scones.  If you are looking for a scone recipe that balances sweet and savory, try this one.  You can savor them in the morning with a cup of coffee, or make them the accompaniment to your next bowl of soup.

Happy 2015, Everyone!

DSC_5240

Orange-Raisin-Rosemary Scones
Adapted from The New York Times

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Freshly grated zest of 1 orange or tangerine
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1/4 lb. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup raisins
Egg wash (2 large eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, for sprinkling

1.  Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, or use a nonstick pan.
2.  Toss dry ingredients, zest and rosemary together in a large bowl.  Using your fingertips or  pastry cutter, rub butter and flour mixture together just until butter pieces are the size of peas and covered with flour.
3.  Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in egg and cream.  Mix ingredients together by hand until a shaggy dough is formed.
4.  Turn out onto a floured surface and gently mix in raisins, kneading dough and raisins together just until incorporated.
5.  Pat dough into a 3/4-to 1-inch-thick rectangle.  Using a round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out rounds and place them on baking sheet, spaced out.
6.  Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar.
7.  Bake until light golden brown, about 22 minutes; rotate the pan front to back about halfway through.
8.  Let scones cool slightly on the baking sheet.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Tomato Croques

DSC_5061I can still remember the sublime experience of eating a Croque Monsieur for the first time.  A friend and I were on holiday traveling through Europe while studying abroad in England.  We took the Chunnel from London to Paris, where we made romantic plans to meet some other friends at the top of the Eiffel Tower.  I knew nothing about serious traveling, let alone traveling with a large backpack the size of another human strapped to your back.  In my 20-year old naiveté, I had no hesitations about traveling through 6 countries in a span of 3 weeks—none of which were English-speaking countries.  I bought my Berkeley Guide Europe ’97 (which still sits proudly on my bookshelf), tightened my rose-colored glasses, and away we went.
DSC_5032I think back on my time traveling around Europe from time and time, and am astounded at how casually I approached everything.  My friend and I arrived in Paris and thought it made the most sense to try and find lodging for the night.  I can’t imagine traveling anywhere in today’s world without first researching prices, neighborhoods, etc., and then BOOKING A PLACE TO STAY.  We nonchalantly began calling hostels listed in our guide from the Paris train station, and eventually found one within our price range.  After a decent night’s sleep (with my passport tied around my neck and tucked into my pajamas), we headed out to explore the City of Lights.
DSC_5040Of course, I was a poor student back then and didn’t really care that I had very little money to spend while traveling.  The important thing was the opportunity to be able to travel to these incredible countries, and not so much what we would be able to afford and not afford to do once we arrived.  My friend and I agreed that since we were on a limited budget, we would stick to eating fruit, baguettes and jam for the majority of our meals—all of which were extremely cheap at any market—and then treat ourselves to one meal per city (roughly every 2-3 days).  Again, for my 20-year-old self, this did not feel like a huge sacrifice.  And it had a huge upside!  Every REAL meal we ate tasted like manna from heaven.  Which brings me to my meal in Paris.  We had been walking around all day, seeing the sights and taking in the sounds while a light mist engulfed the city.  By dinnertime, we were wet, tired and hungry.  We had no idea where to go for a reasonably priced dinner in Paris.  We eventually stumbled upon a brasserie that looked warm, inviting, and best of all, cheap.  I ordered a Croque Monsieur, not because I knew what it was, but because I remember the description mentioning ham and cheese, which sounded familiar to my Midwestern palate.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this dish, it is essentially a ham and cheese (usually Emmental or Gruyère) sandwich on white bread.  However, what makes this dish stand out is the béchamel sauce that is added to the sandwich, as well as the extra cheese that is sprinkled on top.  The entire sandwich is then broiled for a minute or two to create a beautifully golden, crunchy crust.  I’m salivating just thinking about it.
DSC_5048I saw this recipe for Roasted Tomato Croques in a recent issue of Food & Wine and immediately tore it out to add to my recipe file.  I’m going to go ahead and call it a summer version of the original, and I really like the fact that it’s an open-face sandwich.  I think open-face sandwiches have virtue, if only because they better highlight the sandwich ingredients instead of hiding them between two pieces of bread.  The original recipe calls for straining the béchamel sauce, but I love onions, thyme, and rosemary, so I decided to leave them in for added flavor.  It also called for pickled peppers, which I did not have on hand (I’m no Peter Piper…sorry—had to), so I simply added a few splashes of balsamic vinegar to each slice of bread before roasting and it did the trick.  I took a bite of these beauties fresh out of the oven and was immediately transported back to that Paris brasserie.  Cue the Edith Piaf….
DSC_5049Roasted Tomato Croques
Adapted from Food & Wine

Yield: 15 open-face sandwiches

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 small thyme sprigs, plus 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. rosemary leaves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
sea salt
black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
2 lbs. heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
15 1/2-inch thick slices of sourdough bread
1/2 lb. Gruyère cheese, shredded

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onion, thyme sprigs, rosemary, mustard and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 7 minutes.
2.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden, about 3 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the milk until incorporated and bring to a boil.  Simmer the sauce over moderately low heat, stirring, until thickened and no floury taste remains, 7 to 10 minutes.
3.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown.
4.  Set a rack on another large rimmed baking sheet.  Arrange the bread in a single layer on the rack and top the slices evenly with the béchamel.  Using a spatula, lay the tomatoes on the béchamel.  Sprinkle with the Gruyère and thyme leaves.  Bake the croques for about 20 minutes, until the tops are browned and the bottoms are crisp.  Transfer to plates and serve hot.

Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

DSC_4914I went to Nashville last weekend with my mom and sister to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday.  We had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry Friday night, and I almost didn’t make it due to my original morning flight being canceled.  It was a testament to my determination of not letting things rattle me during the course of the weekend.  I spent the duration of Friday morning on the phone with Delta trying to get on an earlier flight than the 6:30 p.m. flight they rescheduled me for.  I was told to call back every 30-60 minutes and see if any seats had opened up on flights leaving throughout the day.   I succeeded and got on a 1:45 p.m. direct flight.  I immediately took a deep breath and gave myself an internal high-five for not stressing out about it all morning.  Instead, I chose to do everything I could to get myself to Nashville in time for the Opry.

Nashville is an incredible city, and the Opry specifically felt like a mystical place.  I grew up watching Grand Ole Opry shows on television, and I think anything that appeared larger than life to you as a kid always carries some fascination as an adult.  Restless Heart was the first act to perform.  They sang two of their popular hits from the 80’s, and I was immediately transported back to the house we lived in when I was 7 years old.  Although I don’t have a lot of pleasant memories from my childhood, hearing these old songs (particularly with my mom and sister sitting next to me) gave me the warm fuzzies.  It was one of those scenarios where you make a memory within a memory.  Do you know what I mean?  Experiencing the Opry with my mom and sister will always be memorable to me because of the feelings that it stirred up from previous memories.
DSC_4894If you’ve ever been to Nashville you will know that I am not exaggerating when I say that it might just be one of the best food cities in the entire country.  I was prepared to eat some good BBQ, but I was not prepared to be hit over the head with deliciousness at every turn.  I prepared a spreadsheet of recommended restaurants before we left.  I wasn’t messing around.  We went to Jack’s for brisket, mac and cheese, and coleslaw.  I don’t think I left a drop of food on my plate.  The following day we went to Swett’s, which is basically a cafeteria-style restaurant in the middle of nowhere.  Their fried chicken is TO DIE FOR.  I could have easily eaten an entire bucket of chicken, but I wanted to save room for the peach cobbler.  When in Rome, people.  Because of the gluttony that ensued over the course of the weekend I wasn’t too hungry for our last meal Sunday night, but I knew that I wanted something local.  My mom and I decided to split a pulled pork sandwich, which is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches (along with a Cubano).  I’ve never had a pulled pork sandwich where you could actually taste the smokiness in the meat.  I think I moaned with every bite I took.
DSC_4897I love rosemary.  It’s hands-down my favorite herb.  I have yet to pair it with something that doesn’t taste incredible.  Savory cookies are becoming popular here in NYC, and I’ve tried a few over this past year.  They aren’t my favorite thing, but I did try a lemon rosemary sugar cookie a few months ago that was so good I made a mental note to try and find a similar recipe to make for my blog.  I think shortbread is the perfect foil for almost any flavor due the buttery richness of the cookie.  I found a lemon shortbread recipe as well as a rosemary shortbread recipe, so I decided to combine them into one recipe and see how it turned out.   Perfection.  The lemon brightens up the richness of the cookie while the rosemary gives it that nice earthy, herbaciousness that rounds out the overall flavor.  They are the perfect summer cookie to pair with your afternoon coffee or tea.
DSC_4907Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appétit

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cube
1 egg white
sugar

1.  Blend first 6 ingredients in food processor.  Add butter; pulse until moist clumps form.
2.  Gather dough into ball.  Wrap with plastic wrap and form into a log.
3.  Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.  Cut 1/4″-sized discs from log and place on baking sheet.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each cookie with a slightly beaten egg white.  Sprinkle with sugar.
6.  Bake cookies until light golden, about 17-20 minutes.
7.  Cool pan on rack for 5 minutes.  Carefully remove cookies onto rack with a spatula.  Cool completely.

Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce

DSC_4941Many moons ago, I had a friend who I met at my first job in New York.  She was lots of fun and we hit it off right away.  We’ve since lost touch, but I still look back on those days fondly.  She showed me the grittier side of New York, when I was still caught up in an image of New York consisting primarily of my Upper West Side neighborhood.  She grew up in a suburb of New York and had endless stories about sneaking into Manhattan as a teenager.   She would go to clubs, drink alcohol, experiment with drugs, and get involved with older men.  Having grown up in a very small town in Minnesota myself, it all sounded to scandalous and exciting to me.  I felt like I missed out on an important teenage rite of passage.

My friend—I’ll call her Sara—was always very encouraging to me on the dating front.  She persuaded me to jump headfirst into dating and gave me the confidence to believe that New York men would find me charming.  One morning Sara came into the office and said she had someone in mind for me; she wanted to set us up on a blind date.  The guy she had in mind worked as a fishmonger in her neighborhood, and apparently he was really nice and very handsome.  She said he looked like Tyson Beckford, the male model (remember him??).  Of course I immediately felt inept and had a million reasons why it would not be a good idea for me to date someone who looked like a MALE MODEL.  But Sara would not hear any of it.  She insisted we meet each other and was sure that we would each enjoy the other’s company.
DSC_4920He and I met up at a bar/restaurant in the Lower East Side that I frequented on the weekends.  I figured even if we didn’t hit it off, I knew the place had good food and excellent live music.  She was right:  he was gorgeous and looked uncannily like Tyson Beckford.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have much else to offer.  He was boring as hell.  At one point, we started discussing movies and I started to perk up a bit since I am an avid movie-goer and love talking about interesting films.  However, I’ll never forget when he said, “I don’t think there’s such a thing as a ‘bad movie’.”  That’s when I knew the date was over.  Done.  Finished.  Check, please!

Dud or not, I guess you could say he was thoughtful, if not somewhat oddball-ish about his thoughtfulness.  Because he worked as a fishmonger, he brought me a COUPLE OF POUNDS of swordfish.  On the date.  He brought it to the restaurant, like it was a box of chocolates.  I think Sara must have told him that I liked to cook.  At the time I remember thinking:  Ok, well this is something.  I’ll learn how to make swordfish!  But when I opened up the package the next day it stunk to the high heavens.  I swear to god that fish was rotten, which means a man brought me a bag of rotten fish on a date.  To this day, I can’t eat swordfish.  In fact, I can’t really eat any steak-like (white) fish that is reminiscent of swordfish.  I’ll eat tuna all the live-long day.
DSC_4930That said, I think it’s curious that I was not able to eat this sea bass that I made the other night.  I’ve had sea bass countless times at restaurants in New York and it’s always delicious.  I’d never attempted making it before, simply because it is a mucho expensive fish.  However, I figured it was worth the splurge since I would be sharing the recipe on my blog.  There is absolutely no chopping of anything for this recipe, but you do have to own a food processor, as many things need to be pureed.  I loved the chickpea puree and the parsley sauce.  I could have eaten 10 bowls of each of these.  But the fish was just too evocative of that horrible swordfish experience and I couldn’t get past the texture.  If you like meaty fish, you will really enjoy this dish.  My husband raved about the fish and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t eat it.  He likened it to me turning down a good burger.  Touché.
DSC_4936Roast Sea Bass with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Sauce
Adapted from Food and Wine

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
Four 6-oz. skinless sea bass fillets (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick)
4 fresh bay leaves
4 small rosemary springs, plus 1/2 tsp. minced rosemary
2 cups lightly packed parsley leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Two 15-oz. cans chickpeas. rinsed and drained
1/2 small garlic glove

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line and rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  In a medium baking dish, mix 1/4 cup of the olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest and the paprika.  Season the fish with salt and pepper.
3.  Add the fish to the marinade and turn to coat, then nestle the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs between the fillets.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the parsley with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the water and puree until nearly smooth.  With the machine on, gradually add 1/2 cup of the oil until incorporated.  Season the parsley sauce with salt and pepper.
5.  In a food processor, combine the chickpeas with the garlic, minced rosemary, 1 cup of water and the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; puree until smooth.  Scrape the puree into a medium saucepan and season with salt and pepper.  Stir over moderately low heat until hot, about 5 minutes; keep warm over very low heat.
6.  Remove the fish from the marinade.  Gently roll up the fillets and set them seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.
7.  Roast for about 12 minutes, until just cooked through.  Spoon the chickpea puree onto plates and top with the fish.  Drizzle on the parsley sauce and serve.

Pecan Rosemary Bark

DSCF2857Mr. K and I just drove 1100 miles from New York City to my hometown in Minnesota.  I haven’t taken a cross-country road trip since maybe 1999.  We thought it would be a nice change from dealing with the hassles of flying.  The first day of driving was a long day; we made it all the way to South Bend, Indiana.  To break up the monotony of driving, we listened to lots of podcasts and music, and made several coffee/bathroom stops along the way.  At one point, I had my ipod on shuffle and a couple of songs came up from my high school and college days.  There was a time when I couldn’t listen to certain songs without getting a knot in my stomach.  If the song reminded me of a time in my life when I was unhappy, I would immediately turn it off lest I relive that time in my head.  I chose to listen to the songs this time around.  Hearing these songs again made me reminisce about who I was back then.  I was insecure, anxious and depressed, and much less self-aware.  I don’t know that anyone around me could tell my true state of mind on any given day.  I think I did a pretty good job of hiding it from people, and I think I still do.  In fact, I would posit that most people who suffer from depression do a decent job of hiding it from others.  There is still a lot of shame surrounding this disease, and it can be difficult to talk about with others.
DSCF2847 While listening to these songs from the 90’s, I started to think about my life then and how I foresaw my life in the future.  While I always thought it would be amazing to live in NYC, I never saw myself doing anything incredible with my life or living anywhere other than Minnesota.  I didn’t think I would ever get married and wasn’t sure about my future happiness in general.  And just thinking about where I was back then made me so, so grateful for my life today.  I snuck a peek at my husband sleeping in the passenger seat and a big smile crept over my face.  How did I get so goddamn lucky?  I have a wonderful husband, and we have a great life in NYC that we love.  But more importantly, at that moment I felt proud of myself for everything that I had accomplished thus far:  moving to NYC in my late twenties, getting my Master’s degree, starting a business, and having the courage to continue bettering myself.  It’s a wonderful life isn’t it George Bailey?
photo-8

We are currently staying at my dad and stepmom’s house.  My stepmom does a great job of decorating the house at Christmas.  Beautiful garland decorated with ribbon and clear lights lining the staircase, poinsettias throughout the house, and nutcracker men by the fireplace.  You can’t help but feel festive the minute you walk in.  I made this bark a few weeks ago but I wanted to be sure to post it before Christmas.  I love all types of bark but I’ve never had a sweet/savory bark before this one.  I swoon over rosemary and I love pecans this time of year so it sounded like a great combination for the holidays.  The sea salt and dark chocolate helps unite the flavors.  If you like rosemary, I guarantee you will like this bark.  And it makes a beautiful holiday gift.  Happy Holidays, dear readers!
DSCF2851Pecan Rosemary Bark
Adapted from Camille Styles

20 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
sea salt, to taste

  1. Line a 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Gently melt the chocolate using a double boiler or microwave method.  Remove from heat.
  3. Pour chocolate into parchment-lined pan.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the pecans, rosemary and sea salt over the chocolate edge to edge.
  5. Using the back of a spoon, gently push the pecans down to make sure each piece has adhered to the chocolate.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes until firm.

Stuffed Pork Loin With Figs

DSC_3866This past week has been an emotional roller coaster.  Suffice it to say that I have been waiting on some medical news and I am not the most patient person.  Up until this morning, I thought the news was going to be positive.  But I just found out that it’s not likely to be good news after all.  No one’s life is in danger, but this impending news could be heartbreaking nonetheless.  Self-pity seems to be a default mode for my brain when I experience pain or sorrow.  I’ve always admired people who somehow manage to keep their chin up when faced with a tough situation.  I have a quote on my refrigerator about attitude that I will stop and read from time to time.  One of the lines reads, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”  So true and yet so damned hard to do.  Especially when your mood is melancholy much of the time.   Did you know that, up until 75 years ago, “melancholia” used to be the word used for depression?  I have been reading William Styron’s Darkness Visible and, besides sharing this factoid, he explains why “brainstorm” is a much more apt word for this disorder.  He describes depression as a noun “with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence.”  I agree that it is a pretty non-descript word for such a horrible mental affliction.

I am getting better at not allowing myself to wallow in my own misery, but it takes a lot of hard work.  I have to literally have a conversation with myself where I take on the role of the rational person speaking to my irrational brain.  Have you ever tried this?  It almost feels like a parent talking to a child.  Maybe this is good practice for when I hopefully become a mother someday?  I also have to prevent myself from eating everything in sight when I’m feeling morose.  I am someone who equates food with comfort.  Comfort food for me is always Italian or sweets.  Although my parents deny it, I swear I have some Italian blood.  The sweets connection I often attribute to a time when I was pretty young, maybe 6 or so.  I was very sad because my mom was in the hospital, so one of my aunts gave me a package of M&M’s to try and cheer me up.  Neuronal firing, commence!  I am getting better at reshaping those little neural pathways (sorry, it’s the Psych major in me) but it’s a constant battle.  DSC_3838I made this pork loin over the weekend.  If you love the smell of rosemary like I do, you will really enjoy how good your house smells when this is roasting in the oven.  Divine, divine I say!  Why have I never thought of throwing some rosemary into a simmering pot of water for a potpourri effect?  I will add that to my to-do list.  I also am obsessed with dried figs.  I often eat them with blue cheese as a midday snack.  In fact, I made a sandwich with the leftovers from this roast by just adding blue cheese and using Hot Bread Kitchen’s scrumptious walnut raisin bread.  It was the perfect savory/sweet combo.  The roasted pork loin is extremely juicy and pairs beautifully with the figs and rosemary.  The recipe calls for a 2-3 lb. pork loin but I used 2- 1 lb. pork loins since that is what my local butcher had available.  Serve this the next time you have guests over.  They will be impressed.

Stuffed Pork Loin With Figs
Adapted from The New York Times

Yield:  6 to 8 servings

1-1/2 cup dried figs
1 boneless pork loin, 2 to 3 pounds
Salt and black pepper
3 or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, minced
1/2 cup red wine, more if necessary

1.  Put figs in hot water to soak.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Poke a thin, sharp knife into each end of pork loin, making a kind of pilot hole.  Then use the handle of a long wooden spoon to force a hole all the way through meat, making it as wide as your thumb.
3.  Drain figs when tender but not mushy, reserving liquid.  Stuff figs into pork loin, all the way to center from each end and spacing them throughout entire loin.
4.  Combine salt, pepper and rosemary and rub it all over the meat.  Put meat in a roasting pan and pour about half a cup of fig liquid over it.  Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Lower heat to 325 degrees and continue to cook, basting with pan juices (or added liquid, like wine or water, if necessary) every 15 minutes or so.  When an instant-read thermometer registers 145 to 150 degrees- probably after 40 to 60 minutes- remove roast to a warm platter (make sure thermometer is in meat, not fruit).
5.  Let meat rest for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, put roasting pan on stove over one or two burners set to medium-high.  If there is a lot of liquid, reduce it to about half a cup, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits.  If pan is dry, add half a cup of wine and follow same process.  When sauce has reduced, slice roast and serve with sauce.