The Santa Ynez Inn is proud to feature award-winning Full Service Caterer Pure Joy Catering as one of its three approved off-site caterers for events at the inn. Pure Joy Catering owner Lynette LaMere is an established chef, entrepreneurer and published author and is our Guest Blogger today, featuring some romantic wine country recipes you can do right at home to “wow” your guests.
For convenience, here are some shopping hints: All ingredients appear in bold-faced type and can be found at Farmer’s Market, Mesa Produce, Ralph’s, Lazy Acres Market or Tri County Produce (great Prosciutto at the Italian Market; 415 E. De La Guerra Street) in Santa Barbara.
Rosemary is another gracious resident here in our little Mediterranean greenhouse climate thriving happily with little or no attention from busy, neglectful gardeners like myself. In the beginning of the year when most of the other herbs in my gardens have all but vanished the neglected rosemary gallantly bushes on healthier than ever and ready for another year of pruning for all kinds of kitchen uses. Best picked in the morning when the oils are at their peak, my Grandfather was right; the more you pick the more grows back and pick, pick, pick we do as rosemary seems to go in everything.
Thank God it grows better than the weeds and if its hearty garden behavior isn’t enough; rosemary’s long list of legendary powers may just sway you into popping a few starter plants into your own garden. Essential oil of rosemary is said to have healing, relaxing properties and is considered by some to be everything from a stress-reliever to a moth repellant. Rosemary was burned in medieval hospitals as an antiseptic, also used as a tonic, astringent, diaphoretic and stimulant, said to assist in preventing premature baldness, scurf and dandruff as well as an antispasmodic. Rosemary tea, which, taken warm, is reputed to be a good remedy for removing headache, colic, colds, nervous diseases, and nervous depression. Also the herb of remembrance, rosemary is also said to be good for the memory; students in ancient Greece are known to have worn garlands of rosemary.
Rosemary’s Latin name, “Rosmarinus,” means “dew of the sea”; it was so called because it grew around the Mediterranean, and became associated in ancient Rome with Venus, the goddess of love who was supposed to have sprung from the sea foam. Because of that legend, it became the symbol of fidelity in love and was used at weddings and funerals.
My passion for rosemary stems from the magic it lends to so many foods. Where so many herbs can’t stand up to marinating and grilling; rosemary’s fresh flavor shines through beautifully complimenting beef, lamb, shrimp and poultry. It balances so well with full bodied flavors like Sambuca and Chianti in marinades, standing its own; not getting lost or taking over. The firmer stems are brilliant for skewered meats on the grill, just soak them in water first. A bed of flowering rosemary sprigs makes an attractive and fragrant resting place for grilled vegetables. The flowers are tiny but a beautiful blue; I love to use them as a delicately flavored garnish on potato dishes.
So many fresh herbs are best tossed into things at the last minute to retain the presence, rosemary; more like garlic, needs some time. Rosemary’s raw flavor can be too much for some foods and I think roasting its leaves with peeled garlic cloves and a splash of olive oil really softens the flavor perfectly for use in breads, like the focaccia recipe below. I think it needs time; either in a hot oven, overnight in a marinade or on a grill to reach its potential as a complimentary addition to most foods. These are some of my favorite uses for the toughest little member of the mint family.
Oven Roasted White Potatoes with Fresh Herbs
So simply perfect; I’m really enjoying white potatoes lately for their creaminess, but red potatoes work equally well, do one pound for each three guests.
3 lb. young white potatoes
2 Tb. fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tb. minced garlic
Fresh ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tb. water
coarse or flake salt to taste
2 Tb. fresh thyme or rosemary flowers to garnish after baking
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut potatoes into bite size chunks and toss in a bowl with rosemary, garlic, pepper, oil and water. Spread out on a vegetable oil sprayed sheet pan in a single layer & bake till golden tossing around with a metal spatula mid way.
After baking sprinkle with coarse salt generously & garnish with rosemary flowers if you have any or chopped fresh thyme or Italian parsley.
These are a beautiful addition to any table.
3 cups olives, variety of your choice, drained of brine
2 Tb. olive oil
about 2 Tb. thick lemon & orange zest (use regular vegetable peeler)
2Tb. lemon juice (squeeze from zested citrus)
2Tb. orange juice (squeeze from zested citrus)
1.5 t. fennel seed, crushed (crush/bruise in a baggie)
1.5 t. coarse chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 /4 t. red pepper flakes
Toss together and refrigerate at least overnight and for up to a week. Serve with cocktails and cheeses.
Roasted Rosemary & Garlic Foccacia
A perfect, simple focaccia; moist & fragrant.
To roast the garlic & rosemary;
1 /2 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 /4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
1 /2 cup olive oil
for the bread;
2 envelope active dry yeast
3 Tb. sugar
3 /4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees) plus 2 cups
7 cups flour
4 t. coarse salt
flake salt to taste
1 /3 cup olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tb. fresh rosemary leaves
In a very small oven proof pan roast the oil, garlic and rosemary for 15 to 20 minutes at 325 degrees covered tightly.
Spray oil a rimmed half sheet baking. Put yeast, sugar and 3 /4 cup of warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook; mix till sugar is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes till foamy. Remove 1 /4 cup of the roasted garlic from the oil and serve that with the bread later. Smash the roasted garlic into the rosemary and oil and stir it all into the mixer with the remaining 2 cups warm water.
Add the flour and coarse salt, mix on low with a shield or towel held to cover the top of the bowl until mixed in. Raise the speed to medium and mix, cleaning down the hook 2 or 3 times as you go for about 4 minutes until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough with lightly floured hands until smooth and elastic, about two minutes.
Put the dough on the oiled baking sheet, turn to coat with the oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free spot until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
When the dough has doubled in bulk spread it out to fill the oiled baking sheet completely. Cover again with plastic wrap and just let it rest 10 minutes. This is a good holding point if you’d like to bake the bread later or go ahead now and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Uncover & drizzle the top of the bread with the reserved 1 /3 cup roasting oil, sprinkle with flake salt, parmesan cheese and rosemary. Bake till a deep golden; 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with the reserved roasted garlic.
Sambuca Marinated Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp with Rosemary
Sublime, rustically elegant fare, everyone loves the unique combination of these flavors.
1.5 lb. 21/25 size raw peeled shrimp
1 /2 cup Sambuca
1 /4 cup olive oil
1 /4 cup rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
8 paper thin slices Prosciutto (aprx 5 oz.)
In a baggie marinate the shrimp in the Sambuca, oil and rosemary for a couple hours, refrigerated. For a stronger Sambuca flavor I marinate it up to 24 hours. Spray with vegetable or olive oil spray. To grill, wrap about a quarter of a slice of Prosciutto around each shrimp letting some of the rosemary leave cling to the meat. Secure with a skewer or a firm soaked rosemary spear. Grill leaving the skewer or rosemary spear off the direct heat or they can be baked to cook through & crisp in a hot oven with great results.
Chianti Grilled Beef
Marinated overnight and then grilled the beef gains a deliciously unique flavor. Any cut benefits from this recipe, try top sirloin, New York steaks, tri tip or tenderloin.
For two or three pounds of beef;
½ cup cloves garlic
5 spears fresh rosemary
2 cups decent Chianti wine
2 c olive oil
coarse sea salt & fresh ground pepper
In a large sealable baggie pound & bruise the garlic and rosemary to release the flavors. If the baggie punctures, use another now and put in the beef, wine & oil. Seal it up and leave it to marinate overnight, refrigerated. Season generously with salt & pepper then grill to medium-rare or as you choose.
Lynette La Mere is the proprietor of Pure Joy Catering Inc and a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.
This article was originally featured in FOOD & HOME MAGAZINE Cooking at Home Column
Got Rosemary & Time?
By Lynette La Mere