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Posts tagged ‘rosemary’

delicata squash with rosemary, sage & apple cider glaze

Tonight’s dinner a simple oven-roasted chicken.  (There’s very little in fact that’s simpler than that. I love the leftovers it leaves us too, and I already have a plan for those Thursday.) With tonight’s chicken, a green salad of arugula,  sliced apples, blue cheese and toasted walnuts. Finally, the post of the day, delicata squash cooked in a skillet with cider and winter herbs. Active prep time for a dinner like this… minutes.

But first, I simply have to show you something. The other day I went to the store with my dear friend Carolyn and she pointed out an apple I’d never tried, not even seen before. Pink pearl. Now how can a person resist an apple (or, for that matter, almost any food) with a name like pink pearl? Being a curious eater, I couldn’t. On the outside, this apple wore the sweetest golden sunrise color, tinged with soft petal pink. It shone, almost iridescent, like the pearl from which it got its name.

But cut into it,

which almost hurts to do,

it’s so very beautiful,

and that’s when it hits you!

Surprise!

You weren’t expecting this, were you!? Oh, me neither!

And that leaves us  wondering, can the taste possibly measure up? It does! Tart-sweet, snappy and fairly squirting juice! What an apple! What an apple!

That’s the beauty that’s going into tonight’s salad. I’ll snap a picture when she’s done, and you’ll find it at the bottom of the post.

~ ~ ~

Delicata Squash with Rosemary, Sage and Apple Cider Glaze

(serves 6)

  • 2 medium delicata squash (about 2 pounds) or other firm winter squash
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup very coarsely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1½ cups fresh unfiltered apple cider or juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper

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baked eggs florentine & lavender rosemary potatoes

What WAS I thinking? Besides me, how many out there would have hay-bales worth of lemon verbena to harvest and make lovelies with? (See previous post – or don’t – and simply take my word for it.) But here’s the thing: occasionally what you’ll see here is very real evidence of what happens when the cooking-spree gets crazy-excited about something. As impractical or outlandish as her whims may be, sometimes there’s just no holding her back.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s get on to something more practical – something of humble, everyday ingredients – eggs, potatoes, spinach - yet “elegant” enough for company (if you fancy getting fancy for your guests.) 

One lovely thing about baked eggs is that a person can make up a whole slew of them for a brunch and bring the whole lot of them to the table at the same time, each perfectly cooked.  (And, incidentally, what an affordable way to feed a crowd!) Another lovely thing is that they’re highly adaptable. Instead of the spinach used here, you might substitute polenta, or a purée of vegetables leftover. Another thing to like about baked eggs is they’re very uncomplicated and easy to prepare. And maybe the loveliest thing of all is that baked eggs are utterly delicious and everyone seems to love them!

The potatoes are a variation on everyday roasted potatoes, but with a little something extra that elevates them out of the ordinary, into the slightly elegant. If you don’t have any lavender and can’t find any at your local market you can simply double the amount of rosemary called for, but the combination of the two is really wonderful. (I found our grocery store has lavender in the bulk tea and spices section. You’ll just want to make sure that it’s for cooking and doesn’t have oil added for potpourri. If it’s in your market, it’s likely just what you want.) 

If you decide to serve them together, get a head start on the potatoes. The eggs can bake in the same oven for the last 10 minutes.

Each egg is baked in its own little ramekin, and various sizes and shapes will all do.  (Round ramekins can be picked up for a few dollars a piece, sometimes less.) Baking times will vary slightly with the size and shape of container used.

Because you may choose to serve this as a romantic breakfast for 2 or a brunch for 20, I’ll give the quantities for 2, and then for 8, and let you do the rest of the math.

Baked Eggs Florentine

                 (for two)                                                                                                   (for eight)

  • 2 large, fresh eggs                                                                             – 8 large fresh eggs
  • 5 ounces baby spinach, washed well                                           – 1¼ pounds baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons butter                                                                             – 2 Tbl. + 2 tsp. butter (1 tsp./ ramekin)
  • 2 teaspoons cream (optional)                                                        - 2 Tbl. + 2 tsp. cream (1 tsp./ramekin) (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon breadcrumbs (or Panko)                                       – 4 Tbl. breadcrumbs (or Panko)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese                             – 4 Tbl. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried (or tarragon)          - 4 tsp. fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried (or tarragon)
  • salt and pepper to taste                                                                     – salt and pepper to taste

Place one teaspoon of butter in each ramekin and set them in your microwave to melt. With a pastry brush, brush the melted butter up the sides of the ramekin. Drizzle about a teaspoon of cream in each ramekin. (Optional, but a very delicious addition.) Set aside.

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Focaccia with Olive Oil and Rosemary

Focaccia, that sometimes wildly aromatic flat bread from Italy, can be made using many different herbs or flavorings. At the bottom of this recipe I’ll list several options that change it up quite a bit. If you have a stand mixer, this is an incredibly easy bread to make…and if you don’t, it’s only slightly more time-consuming. (Many food processors are large enough to accommodate it too.)

If your focaccia is around long enough to start to turn stale, you can slice it down the middle, fill it with the sandwich ingredients of your choice, including a good cheese (being sure to add some pesto to prove you’re part Italian) and make a grilled panini of it. Or turn it into croutons for your salad or for scattering on your soupa! If you haven’t made homemade bread before, this is a delicious (and pretty much fool-proof) place to start.

Focaccia with Olive Oil and Rosemary

  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (115° to 115° F)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top
  • 1- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or more to suit your taste)

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over 1/2 cup of the water and stir to dissolve. Allow to stand at room temperature until the mixture is foamy (about 10 minutes.) Add the remaining water and sugar, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1 cup of the flour. Beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add another cup of flour, and beat on medium-low for 2 minutes. Change to the dough hook attachment, and add the remaining flour, only 1/2 cup at a time, allowing each to incorporate before adding the next. You’re looking for a soft and, what is often described as, a “shaggy” dough to form that will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Continue kneading on low speed, adding flour 1 Tablespoon at a time until the dough is only slightly sticky and nearly as soft as a baby’s bottom. (About 6 or 7 minutes probably.) Cover the bowl with a moist clean towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

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