Roasted New Potatoes and Asparagus

June 27, 2007

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I’ve never been a fan of raw vegetables. I know there are people whose lives revolve around juicers and crudités, but—don’t scream at me—to my way of thinking, vegetables aren’t worth eating till you cook the moisture out of them and intensify the sugars. That’s where roasting comes in. With a 450-degree oven and fifteen or twenty minutes, you can perform miracles. SAM

1 pound new potatoes, quartered
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the potatoes and asparagus in a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper and pour over the vegetable mixture, tossing to coat. Roast, uncovered, on the upper shelf of the oven, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and browned. Sprinkle with parsley and Romano cheese.
Makes 6 servings.

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Rosemary Pecans

June 18, 2007

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You’ll go nuts over this addictive appetizer/snack. It comes from my dear friend Cindy, a gifted cook, who just spent three weeks hiking in Italy. If you don’t have access to fresh rosemary, cultivate someone who does or plant some in a pot in a sunny window. Cindy also makes a fabulous rosemary shortbread. I’ll see if I can talk her out of that one, too. SAM

PS Feel free to substitute cashews for pecans. I’ve never made this with almonds, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t work. You might want to roast the almonds 4 or 5 minutes longer than the pecans. My favorite source of fresh nuts is the Sunnyland nut farm in Albany, Georgia. Order online and a big box shows up on your doorstep a couple of days later.

1 1/4 pounds fresh, unsalted pecans
2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

In a 375-degree F oven, roast the pecans until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt, and butter. Toss with the hot pecans.
Makes 1 1/4 pounds.


Scalloped Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

June 7, 2007

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There’s nothing like a creamy potato casserole to make your troubles disappear. This one is a slight twist on an old, old French side dish, guaranteed to sooth the soul and lift the spirits. Soaking the potatoes in cold water removes starch, which allows them to soak up the cream, which makes them divinely creamy. This recipe is supposed to make two generous servings. Then, again, you might want to keep the whole thing for yourself. SAM

1 pound new white potatoes (3 to 4 medium)
1 clove garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/2 pint heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1-quart casserole and set aside.

Slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick, soak for 5 minutes in cold water, rinse thoroughly, and spread out between paper towels to dry. Combine the garlic and olive oil. Layer the potatoes in the prepared casserole, seasoning each layer with the garlic mixture, rosemary, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour the cream on top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender and browned.
Makes 2 servings.


Rosemary Flatbread

May 16, 2007

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This is a gem of a flatbread. Serve it as an addictive, last-minute appetizer or tuck it into a salad of mozzarella bufala and roasted red peppers. The better the sea salt, the more it will rise. You must use high-gluten flour. DO NOT try this with soft-wheat flour like White Lily. White Lily is fabulous for biscuits—remind me to post my buttermilk biscuit recipe—but it turns flatbread into a dull, dense cracker. If you don’t have a pizza stone and peel, you can bake it on parchment paper on a heavy baking sheet. The basic recipe has endless variations. More to come on this one. Sam

PS For flatbread, I always use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. You can find pizza stones and peels at places like Williams-Sonoma. See Blogroll for links.

2 cups all-purpose, high-gluten flour
1 tablespoon stone-ground cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided [preferably Guerande fleur de sel]
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup warm water

Place a large pizza stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 550 degrees F.

In a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and rosemary. With the processor running, slowly pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil, then just enough water to form a ball.

Cut two 12-inch rounds of parchment paper and place on two pizza peels. Knead the dough two or three times and cut in half. On a lightly floured pastry board, roll or stretch each half into a 10-inch round and transfer to parchment paper. Spread evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Slide the flatbread and parchment paper onto the stone and bake for 10 minutes or until browned. Slice with a pizza cutter.
Makes two 10-inch rounds.