rosemary bread

When I first moved to Wisconsin I stayed in temporary corporate housing for the first month while I searched for an apartment.  The temporary housing was lovely and all but it had that kind of generic, sterile, hotel vibe to it.  Tan carpet, tan couch, beige walls, wooden fruit on the kitchen counter for decoration, sateen bedspread, that kind of thing.  The good news about the temporary housing was that it was within walking distance of a great produce market/speciality food store that immediately made me feel at home.

My first night in town I walked over and picked up the essentials: cheese, sausage, bottle of wine, fruit, and a loaf of bread.  And not just any bread but a fancy loaf of rosemary bread.  Best decision I made.  I ate it sliced with butter on it (delicious) and made grilled cheese with it (even better).  I had forgotten about that wonderful bread until I saw this recipe in a magazine I picked up a few months back.

This bread was very easy to make at home, though be aware that you have to do some serious kneading and allow plenty of time for the dough to rise so it cannot be made in a hurry.  But good things shouldn’t be rushed.  Also note that the original recipe called for 3 to 5 minced cloves of garlic so I split the difference and made mine with 4 and though I love garlic I found it too overpowering here.  If you’d like to add the garlic I recommend using no more than 3 cloves but certainly feel this bread would be great without it.

Rosemary Bread (from Homemade Bread magazine)

For the bread:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, snipped
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

For the tops of the loaves:

  • 1 egg white, beaten to a froth
  • 2 teaspoon fresh, whole rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

For the baking sheets:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast, and let this rest until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the oil, sat, lemon juice, garlic and rosemary.  Stir in the flours; then knead for 10 minutes.

Oil a clean bowl, and then roll the dough around to oil the surface.  Let it rise until doubled, about one hour.

Once risen, knead the dough again for five minutes.  Let it rise for another 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into two equal parts, and shape each into a small ball-shaped loaf.  Place each on an oiled baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal.

Brush the foamy egg white on the tops of the shaped loaves, and sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary leaves, pressing lightly into the surface of the dough.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, make 3 ¼-inch-deep cuts in the top of each loaf.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust looks light brown and the loaves make a hollow sound when lightly thumped on the bottom.

Cool on wire rack.  Makes two 6-inch round or oval loaves.

parsnip “fries”

Parsnips only came onto my radar within the past six or so years– they just weren’t a part of my early life for some reason but now I’m a major fan.  They look like white carrots but have a sharper taste to them and they are so easy to prepare.  And they’re delicious!  Bonus.

I found this recipe in the current issue of Bon Apetit and promptly got to the business of trying it.  It’s so simple.  You toss cut up parsnips with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped rosemary, and minced garlic and then you roast for about twenty minutes.  Sprinkle a little cumin on them and call it a day.  Trick your kids and picky-eating friends into thinking they’re fancy French fries and they’ll totally go for it.  Except these are waaaaaaay better than fries.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Rosemary (from Bon Apetit magazine, March 2012)

  • 2 1/2 lb parsnips or carrots, peeled, cut into about 3 x 1/2″ strips
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Spread out in a single layer.  Scatter rosemary springs over.

Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and roast until parsnips are tender and browned in spots, 10-15 minutes longer.  Crumble leaves from rosemary springs over; discard stems and toss to coat.  Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cumin over.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cumin, if desired.

fancy pizza

This year I have decided to give up wheat for Lent.  Please don’t click away!  I’ve always wanted to give a gluten-free diet a shot and figure with the added guilt of Lent this will be a good six-week period in which to do so.  I am going to try to make wheat-free baking awesome over the next month and a half so don’t you fear– you’ll never know the difference.

However, before I get started on that I have one more non gluten-free recipe to share with you.  Pizza!

I made this pizza last weekend and kind of had a rough idea of the toppings I wanted to try but wound up winging it based on what I had on hand.  Started with butternut squash puree as the sauce and then snipped some rosemary from the plant that I have somehow managed to keep alive since last summer.  Miracle of miracles.

I caramelized up some onions and added those and then I added a local cured meat that is in the salami family by my estimations.  Like a third cousin to it.

Cheese.  You can’t have pizza without cheese.  I had just purchased a nice hunk of Manchego so sliced that with a vegetable peeler and put that on top of the whole thing.

Then I baked it on a pre-heated pizza stone and enjoyed.

The recipe below is for the whole wheat crust but please have fun experimenting with toppings.

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust with Olive Oil (from “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois)

Note this recipe makes enough dough for 4 pizzas.  Refrigerate unused dough in lidded container for up to 7 days.

  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon granulated yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil

Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten.

Add the liquid ingredients and mix without kneading, using a spoon, food processor, or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).

Cover (not airtight) and allow dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately two hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.

Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 550 degrees F (or 500 degrees F if that’s your maximum) with a pizza stone placed near the bottom third of the oven.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

On a wooden cutting board or pizza peel, flatten the dough with your hands and a rolling pin to produce a 1/8-inch-thick round.  Dust with flour to keep the dough from adhering to the board.  Use a dough scraper to unstick the dough as needed.  When you’re done the dough round should have enough flour under it to move easily when you shake the board or peel.

Transfer the rolled out dough to the pre-heated pizza stone and top as desired.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Allow the pizza to cool slightly on a cooling rack before serving.

tips for a successful holiday party

‘Tis the season to invite friends, family, and coworkers into your home to celebrate the season.  I did just that this past Saturday and thought it might be helpful for those of you who will be doing the same in the coming weeks to learn from my mistakes via a few helpful tips…

1. You are not Martha Stewart and any attempts to recreate the beautiful and festive scenes that grace the pages of her magazine would be pure folly.  She has teams of people who make it look perfect.  You have a full-time job and limited time and resources.  Furthermore, no one is expecting you to be Martha Stewart so stop expecting it of yourself.

I did well to get the holiday table set early in the day before all of the food was done and long before guests arrived.  Granted, I wasn’t able to buy the adorable vintage Christmas tablecloth I had seen at an antique store before Thanksgiving because by the time I went back someone else with (clearly) impeccable taste had already snagged it.  (Note: when you see something you love in an antique/secondhand/thrift store, buy it right away.  Even if you think $30 is a little steep for an adorable vintage Christmas tablecloth with matching napkins, but are later reminded that even at Target or TJMaxx you will be charged $30 for a cheaply-constructed new tablecloth with an inferior design and then kick yourself for being a cheapskate in the first place.)  So I had to settle for my second favorite antique store tablecloth with giant gaudy poinsettias and pom pom fringe.  It worked.  I also planned to make cute little placecards for all of the food and beverages so guests would know what they were partaking in.  Ran out of time.  It happens to the best of us.

2. If people offer to bring food, let them.

I have a tendency to want to do everything myself.  Bad idea.  Let people bring something!  It’s great because it means less dishes for you to make and also might expose you and your guests to a wonderful type of food you’ve never had before.  Or it just might make your food seem even better in comparison. 🙂

3. Pick places to take shortcuts.  Rather than making all dishes from scratch why not buy a few ready-to-serve options like nice olives, a variety of cheeses for a simple cheese plate, and crackers?  Yes.  Totally do that.

I had visions of making six different appetizers and three desserts.  I realized that wasn’t so much going to happen when it was 1pm and guests were arriving in six hours and I had just gotten home with groceries.  So I wound up making the three desserts, made four of the appetizers, sent my trusty helper out to buy pre-made (gasp!) vegetable dip rather than the carmelized onion variety I had planned to make, and when three guests arrived exactly on time (who does that?) and offered to help I put them to work.  There’s no shame in it!  People like to help!

4.  Have great beverage options, preferably of the booze-variety.

Even my non-alcoholic beverage of the evening (spiced cider) got spiked by the end of the night.  It was a great time for all.

I am sharing the four appetizer recipes I made– bonus post today!  The irony is that three of the four recipes came from Martha Stewart publications… Maybe I was a little closer to channeling her for my party than I thought…

Rosemary Roasted Nuts (recipe found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 2 cups mixed nuts, such as cashews, walnuts, and pecans
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast nuts until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat butter, sugar, and rosemary over medium-high. Add nuts; stir until butter mixture is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Spread nuts on prepared baking sheet; season with salt. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Herbed Flatbread (recipe found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and hands
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary or thyme (or a combination)

Place water in a medium bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, oil, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and the sugar. Stir until dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead with floured hands until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough stand in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces; cover with plastic wrap. Roll out 1 piece to roughly 4 by 10 inches on a lightly floured surface; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash; sprinkle with sea salt and herbs. Repeat with remaining dough, arranging 4 pieces per sheet.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until crisp and golden, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheets on a wire rack.

Cook’s Note: Crackers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Baked Brie

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, cut into fourths and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 1 round (15 oz) Brie cheese
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts, slivered almonds, or walnuts
  • Crackers

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in 10 inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook onion in butter 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in cranberries, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened and caramelized.  Lightly brush ovenproof plate with oil.  Place cheese on center of plate.  Bake uncovered 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is soft and partially melted.  Spoon onion topping over cheese.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Serve with crackers.

Pancetta Wrapped Figs (recipe found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cup dried Black Mission figs, stemmed
  • 12 ounces pancetta, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and cut into      1/2-inch-thick strips

Bring vinegar, water, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cloves to a boil in a small saucepan. Add figs, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, to bring to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer figs to a cutting board using a slotted spoon; cut in half. Wrap a pancetta strip around each half. Transfer, seam side down, to a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake until pancetta is browned, about 30 minutes. Secure each with a toothpick. Serve warm.

glazed goodness

With a title like that you’d expect for this post to be about donuts, right?  Nope.  Afraid not.  I’m talking about glazed vegetables, people.  Might not sound quite as exciting, but I can guarantee they are (nearly) as tasty.

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving a few years back and remember that it was quite the hit.  I believe one of the little kids at the meal referred to the parsnips as “white carrots.”  It was cute.  And parsnips kind of do look like white carrots but don’t so much taste like them.  Where carrots are sweet, parsnips are a little sharp.

The hardest part about this dish is cutting the carrots and parsnips up into little matchsticks but after that it is a breeze and is cooked entirely on the stove-top, thus freeing up space in your oven on T-day for other important dishes like stuffing and the turkey.

You simply cook down the carrots and parsnips in some olive oil with salt and pepper and then add butter, honey, and rosemary after they are tender for the glazing.  Sweet and hardy with a little bite from the parsnips and nice scent and flavor from the rosemary.  I highly recommend it for your Thanksgiving this year, or even just as part of a quick weeknight meal.

Sauteed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey and Rosemary (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into 3×1/4×1/4-inch sticks
  • 1 pound large parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, cut into 3×1/4×1/4-inch sticks
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (such as heather, chestnut, or wildflower)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown at edges, about 12 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add butter, rosemary, and honey to vegetables. Toss over medium heat until heated through and vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.