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Entries in rosemary (3)

Sunday
Jan132013

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

When I first decided to become a baker, I was convinced I would love cake decorating. I had a small artistic streak and fostered a passion for arts and crafts. Cake decorating seemed like the perfect mesh of my interests and hobbies, as if it was meant to be. I was in love with the idea before I even tried it.

My first real job in the field was baking the cakes in a small bakery specializing in its namesake, with the hopes of one day becoming a decorator myself. I took local cake decorating courses in the evenings, trying to become proficient in the tricks of the trade. After many long evenings filled with lopsided roses, uneven borders, cracked fondant, and frustrated tears, I was no longer convinced I would love—or even like—cake decorating. In fact, I was sincerely positive I never wanted to lay eyes on a flower made of frosting again.

I put my simple dreams of becoming a decorator to rest, tucking them in a box to be forgotten under the bed. Though disappointed, my love for baking had not wavered. It was time to point my heart in a different direction.

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

When I started baking breads for another bakery, my first impression left me with a cynical view and a sour attitude. The dough was ever sticky and my shoulders ached from kneading and rolling out dozens of bagels and rolls. I had a difficult time seeing the joy in the process. As the days passed, however, my perspective slowly began to evolve. I began to understand the dough, feeling the subtle changes in its texture as I kneaded it beneath my fingertips. My hands learned to conform to the character of the dough when I rolled it into various shapes. The musky scent of yeast punctuated these intimate moments, which quickly became my most beloved of all my tasks.

The dough was alive, truly alive, filled with the life my buttercream roses could only pretend to possess. Though I never anticipated it, I was smitten, enamored with the process from beginning to end. Even as I bake in my small apartment kitchen today, I can only allow a few weeks to pass before the itch to rediscover yeast surfaces.

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

Last weekend was one such instance. I bought a bundle of fresh rosemary on a whim and, still dreaming of this focaccia, I knew that the rosemary was destined to get together with a little yeast. With the addition of salt, cracked pepper, and olive oil, this simple bread became a handsome marriage of flavors. For the last week, I've been enjoying this bread, savoring it slowly, finding a new love in the cracks and crevices of the grain.

At first I wasn't sure what the Rosemary Sandwich Bread would work well with, but after a little dabbling, I discovered it is divine with nearly everything, elevating simple sandwiches to an entirely new level. I served it aside chicken noodle soup, combined with chicken and bacon to form the best toasted sandwiches, and I imagine it would be glorious soaked in mashed potatoes and gravy. I've spent so much energy in the last two days willing the bread to reappear after the last slice was gone that I've vowed to make it again this weekend (and for many, many weekends to follow).

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

Rosemary Sandwich Bread is a Mediterranean twist on the traditional loaf of bread. The final product is herbed and salty, balanced with the rich, smooth undertones of olive oil. This everyday bread has bright flavor that will go well with anything from breakfast to dinner. I strongly suggest using fresh rosemary in the bread to bring about the most vivid flavor, but dried rosemary will work in a pinch. This bread has become an instant favorite in my household and may soon become a kitchen staple.

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Tuesday
Mar062012

Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers

Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers

The thermometer sitting out on the snow-covered deck is incorrect; the needle always pointing to a temperature that stands to be a little too good to be true. Having stood out of the window for as long as my memory can trace, it is an old soul, surviving the chill of winter and the high heat of summer without complaint for decades. I like to imagine the thermometer has become an optimist in its old age, telling me the temperature I long to see while protecting me from the stark reality of winter temperatures.

Right now the thermometer tells me it's a balmy 60° F. The floorboards of the deck are obscured by hard ice and crackling snow (such a temperature certainly cannot be true), but the fabricated temperature still plays up my warm weather fantasies.

Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers

With the sun arising earlier each morning, lending natural light to accompany my breakfasts, I think my winter blues are nearing their end. It feels like the end to the dark winter season—the sun has finished hibernating and is rested enough to spend the day dancing across the sky. Even so, there is still a winter chill in the air and the first signs of spring are far from arriving.

The warmth and heat from the oven is still welcomed in my home.

Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers

The past weekend I set out to make and bake crackers. Though I've made them once before, I wanted to tackle a new set of flavors and textures. Crackers, if you may not know, are easy to prepare by hand or machine, with the act of rolling out the dough taking up the most time. Boxed crackers pale in comparison to the homespun version, as is often the case with anything bought that can be made homemade.

Rosemary has quickly become one of my favorite spices, with its earthy tones and bright green shade. I enjoy it both in winter or spring, which is perfect for me since the winter weather outside my window never quite matches the spring temperatures listed on the thermometer.

Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers

These Rosemary Sea Salt Crackers have a crunchy exterior with a soft and tender interior, mimicking the coveted texture of a perfect chocolate chip cookie. Made with a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flours, the crackers are flavored with fresh rosemary, cracked pepper, and coarse sea salt. These salty crackers truly pack a punch of flavor. While they would shine with a wine and cheese tray (and impress those lucky enough to give them a try), I ate them plain and by the handful. These crackers didn't last more than 5 hours in my home.

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Thursday
Feb162012

Rosemary Focaccia

Rosemary Focaccia

Growing up, my mother made a loaf of homemade bread in our bread maker every Sunday during the cold winter months. Sunday's lunch was often the most looked forward to meal of the week, as it was always prepared from scratch and with lots of love. Homemade soups and stews were the feature, but a loaf of homemade bread was never amiss. My family devoured the loaf of bread in one sitting, arguing over the final pieces.

Everyone, of course, but me.

Rosemary Focaccia Rosemary Focaccia

I was a picky eater. I was an indignant eater. I didn't like sandwiches. I didn't like bread. And I certainly didn't like crust. Occasionally I'd manage to eat half a piece of my mother's homespun bread, but I always opted for the saltines if they made an appearance. As it so happens, over the years my tastes evolved and I found myself wanting to eat more bread and less saltines. However, because I was an indignant eater (and terribly stubborn to boot), I couldn't let my mother know I actually liked her bread.

So, I begrudgingly ate my saltines and lifted my nose at the sight of the beautiful, crusty bread. I did this for years.

Stubbornness was (and still is) one of my many flaws.

Rosemary Focaccia Rosemary Focaccia

It wasn't until I moved out on my own that I began to eat bread with great fervor, savoring each piece as I wish I had in the previous years. When I moved to Montreal, my love for bread flourished. With a dozen bakeries in walking distance wafting the smell of yeast and crusty bread into the streets, a baguette or two found its way to my kitchen more than my waistline would have liked.

Baking my own bread has really allowed me to appreciate each loaf for its own unique taste and texture. This Rosemary Focaccia was my first foray into the realm of focaccia and, long after this bread has disappeared, I still find myself wishing for just another piece.

Oh, what I would give for just another piece...

Rosemary Focaccia

This Rosemary Focaccia is salty and chewy, with an unbelievable crust. The bread is made with fresh rosemary, coarse sea salt, cracked pepper, and olive oil. The bread's thick crust develops from baking in the oil, giving it an almost fried quality. It is perfect served plain, with no additions or spreads. This bread shines on its own. I've made this bread twice in the last couple weeks and, though it is fairly involved, I have a feeling it will make an appearance again very soon.

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