Posts Tagged ‘rosemary’

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Homemade Crackers

Daring Kitchen logoDan gave me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, so I could expand my cooking in a new direction. But since I’ve never baked much, I have a hard time thinking of things to do with it! So I decided to challenge myself and try new techniques by joining the Daring Bakers, an online group that comes up with a baking challenge each month. All members bake the same item and publish a blog post about it on the same day each month. The item is known only to the members until the publication day. Which was yesterday. Yes, I’m late on my first challenge, but it turned out well!

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

The only requirement was to use two different methods to make two types of crackers:

  • icebox crackers, where you mix ingredients, shape them into a log, refrigerate to firm up, then slice and bake; or
  • rolled crackers, where you combine ingredients in a mixer, then roll out by hand or with pasta rollers. From here, you can cut out shapes with a cookie/biscuit cutter or cut the sheets into cracker shapes after baking.

Dan and I were out of town the first two weeks of July, so I had limited time to get this done. Last week, I tried a cracker recipe I had printed out years ago – Ina Garten’s Parmesan and Thyme Crackers. But I measured the flour wrong and they crumbled. Lesson learned.

Next I decided to try the Seedy Crisps, an Alton Brown recipe. These are so good! Thin and crisp, filled with poppy and sesame seeds, these crunchy little bites go great with cheese. They rolled out very easily and didn’t stick to my granite countertop, which I love. It’s important to cut them while they’re still warm; otherwise, they just break apart.

Seedy Crisps
Seedy Crisps. Recipe by Alton Brown.

The third recipe I made was really easy, too. I just need to remember to take the butter out to soften! Since I don’t bake much, I’m always forgetting about that part. Anyway, these were Rosemary, Cheddar and Walnut Icebox Crackers from “Garde Manger, The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen” by the Culinary Institute of America. I used pine nuts nuts instead of walnuts since we like those better.

These are like a cheesy, herby little shortbread. These are one of the icebox types; I still have another log in the fridge to bake off later. Because of the high fat content from the cheese and nuts, these will not last as long as the crisps, but the dough will keep in the fridge for days. Now, it just needs to be sliced and baked so we can enjoy it again.

Rosemary, Cheddar and Pine Nut Crackers
Rosemary, Cheddar and Pine Nut Crackers

The recipes and tips are all available on the Daring Kitchen website.

This was a really fun challenge, and I look forward to participating in many more!

Christmas Dinner: Herb-Encrusted Lamb Chops

I don’t make lamb very often, for one reason, because it’s expensive, and for another reason, because I haven’t always enjoyed it. I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality or the preparation, but the lamb chops I made yesterday for Christmas dinner were fabulous.

You need a good, stainless steel pan for this recipe – a non-stick pan just won’t get a good sear on the meat to make it golden-brown and delicious!

Herb-Encrusted Lamb Chops
Serves 2

4 lamb rib chops, about 1 inch thick
1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and salt both sides lightly. Leave out to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. The salt will draw moisture from the chops, which will then be drawn back in, seasoning them beautifully.

Prepare herbs and garlic and mix together with pepper in a small bowl.

When ready to cook, drizzle one side of each chop with a little olive oil; cover with herb/garlic mixture and press to adhere. Heat a large stainless-steel saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and swirl the oil around the pan. Add chops, herbed side down, to pan and cook for one minute. With tongs, turn chops over and cook for two minutes. Check temperature with an instant-read thermometer; it should be 130 degrees F for medium-rare. If it’s still a little low, cover the pan and let rest, off the heat, for about five minutes. If you’d like it more done, let cook another minute before resting.

Herb-encrusted lamb chops

I served this with Duchess potatoes mm mm good!

Parmesan-Rosemary Focaccia in a Bread-Machine

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgWow, where did October go? Oh, yeah – work, work, work. Come home and guess what? Don’t really want to hang out at the computer. So the blog has suffered a bit. Ah, well, maybe it will get better during the holidays ;-)

Anyway, last night we went to a Halloween/Birthday party and I took a platter of sandwich bites made with homemade bread-machine focaccia. I let the bread machine make the dough, and then I spread the dough in a pan for the last rise and bake it in the oven.

A friend asked me for the recipe, so here it is. I’ll save the sandwich recipe for another post. This recipe is a hybrid of one from Cook’s Illustrated magazine and one in the cookbook that came with my bread machine. As it happens, I used fresh rosemary from the garden, so this qualifies as a long-overdue contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, created and hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

Bread-Machine Rosemary Focaccia

1 cup water at 80 degrees F
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tbsp.
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, or 1 tsp. QuickRise yeast, or 1 tsp. Bread Machine Yeast
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

Place the ingredients – except the Parmesan cheese, rosemary and 2 tbsp. olive oil – in the bread-machine pan in the order given. Turn to the dough setting and turn it on. Watch it for the first minute or two – you may need to use a spatula to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the dough ball. Then let the bread machine do its thing through the first rise time, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Generously oil a jelly roll pan – I use a Pampered Chef 9″x13″ stone baking pan. Remove the dough from the machine, wet your hands with water (to prevent sticking), and press the dough flat into the pan, pushing it into all the corners. If it resists, let it rest for 10 minutes and continue. Use your fingers or a pair of chopsticks to press dimples into the dough at even intervals – your yummy toppings will collect in these. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm, draft-free place while you heat the oven, at least 20 minutes. I put it in the microwave – no drafts in there.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Press dimples into dough again. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, then the cheese and rosemary. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Cut into squares or wedges to serve immediately. To serve later, cool completely and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Cooled focaccia can also be frozen for up to one month. To reheat, thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F, then heat directly on oven racks for 10 minutes.

There are lots of variations on this basic recipe: You can add garlic powder and/or onion powder and/or herbs to the dry ingredients, or add caramelized onions to the topping. Focaccia is great for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or you can slice it lengthwise and use for panini.

Rosemary-Parmesan Focaccia
This is half the recipe.

Scones with Honey, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

Back in June, I won a cookbook featuring honey in an Iron Chef: Honey competition hosted by Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. I thought it would be fun to use a recipe from that book to contribute to another blogging event where the idea was to bake small breads, but unfortunately, I was unable to get the entry typed and posted in time.

But I did make the scones :-) And they were delish.

Scones with Honey, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

Savory Scones with Honey, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups semolina
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mild herbal honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup cream or whole milk, plus more for brushing scones
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, divided
5 oz. goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together the first five ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, honey, egg, cream or milk, and 1 tsp. rosemary. Whisk just enough to break up the egg yolk and blend it with the honey.

Use a pastry cutter to work the goat cheese into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix with a large spatula until the dough forms a ball. Knead gently several times and turn onto a lightly floured board. Knead again, just enough to form a workable ball.

Pat the dough down into a circular shape measuring about 8 1/2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a knife or dough cutter into 8 or 10 pie-style wedges. Brush the tops with the cream or milk and sprinkle with the remaining rosemary. Place scones onto baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with more goat cheese and honey, or honey butter.

From Covered in Honey by Mani Niall

Closeup of rosemary-honey-goat cheese scones

Grow Your Own: Herb-Crusted Pork Roast

Grow Your Own 2008When we first bought our house, the wife of one of Dan’s co-workers gave me part of her rosemary shrub. I had several herbs that I had been growing in window boxes attached to the fire escape outside our apartment in Norfolk’s Ghent neighborhood, and all of these were planted for the time being in a half-whiskey barrel.

This is our rosemary shrub a week or so ago – it’s blooming :-) One day last week, I was cutting back the thyme, which is under part of the rosemary, and kept brushing against it, setting off waves of rosemary and thyme fragrance. Mmmm.

Rosemary

Our first exchange student, Olaf, from Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany, helped us dig out our first herb garden, and it’s grown from there. I love cooking with fresh herbs, as well as fresh veggies. Can’t wait till the veggies are grown enough to pick.

Anyway, this is about the perennial herbs that are available now. We had a dinner party last weekend, and I made the Herb-Crusted Pork Roast from the January 2007 issue of Cooks Illustrated. It was delicious :-)

Herb-Crusted Pork Roast

I used rosemary and thyme from my garden and basil from the store. One friend brought the penne with four herbs and cheese, and another brought the homemade applesauce with rosemary. It was quite the herby dinner ;-)

Herb-Crusted Pork Roast

2 1/2–3 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast
Table salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 large slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus an additional 2 teaspoons
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley or basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

Cut pocket in side of roast. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground (you should have 1 cup crumbs). Transfer crumbs to medium bowl (do not wash food processor workbowl) and add 2 tablespoons Parmesan, shallot, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using fork, toss mixture until crumbs are evenly coated with oil.

Add parsley or basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan, 3 tablespoons oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to now-empty food processor workbowl and process until smooth, about twelve 1-second pulses. Spread 1/4 cup herb paste inside roast and tie. Season roast with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add roast, fat side down, and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes, lowering heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Spread remaining herb paste over roast and top with bread crumb mixture. Transfer baking sheet with roast to oven and cook until thickest part of roast registers 145 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 50 to 75 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 150 degrees. Using spatula and meat fork, transfer roast to carving board, taking care not to squeeze juices out of pocket in roast. Cut roast into 1/2-inch slices and serve immediately.

This is my entry this month in the food blogging event Grow Your Own, hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes. The round-up of all the recipes is here.

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