Posts Tagged ‘Fragrant plants’

When I was a young ‘tweenager’ my mother started to get me cooking meals. She taught me about preparing all the basics, selection vegetables, different meats and their cuts and about flavouring things with herbs and spices. Later I would find my own ways of experimenting with simple recipes.  One herb which fascinated me was the Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis). Imagine my surprise when I saw True Bay Laurel trees growing in front of my sisters place on Government street!
The clipped Bay Laurel in front of my sister's place.

The clipped Bay Laurel in front of my sister's place.

It seems very appropriate to be writing about this plant as it is closely associated with   athletic games held in ancient Greece The event winners would receive a Bay Laurel wreath as a prize. The games called the Pythian Games and were held to honour the god  Apollo.
This Laurus noblis is a multi-stemmed shrub which is regularly clipped.

This Laurus nobilis is a multi-stemmed shrub which is regularly clipped.

Apollo was amorous of Daphne who did not return his feelings, she ran off and asked her father (Pereus the River god) for help. He turned her in to a laurel tree which was located near  the bank of a river. In this disguise she was able to escape from Apollo. Apollo found the tree and made himself a wreath from it’s branches in the memory of her beauty. The Laurel tree was one of Apollos’ symbols.
These two True Bay lead into the formal herb garden at Government House, Victoria.

These two True Bay lead into the formal herb garden at Government House, Victoria.

Wreaths were also given to important poets and this is where the term Poet Laureate comes from.  The source of ‘baccalaureate’ is the laurel berry.
Christians held the Bay tree to be a symbol of the resurrection of Christ and triumph of humanity.
The Bay tree even is spoken of in Chinese folklore in the famous story of Wu Gang. Wu Gang was a man who wanted immortality but neglected his work. When the deities found out about his neglect they tricked Wu Gang by making him think that by cutting down a Laurel tree he could join them. Every time he cut the tree down it would miraculously regenerate and never could be fell.
These wonderful True Bay leaves have a spicy scent if rubbed up against.

These wonderful True Bay leaves have a spicy scent if rubbed up against.

The Bay tree and it’s parts are found symbolized in many places as diverse as the American one dollar bill, ten yen coin of Japan, the shield and flag of the Dominican Republic and strangely is the clan plant of the Scottish clan Graham.. It naturally is very important to the country of Greece where it is found in the national emblem of the country.

This Laurus noblis has set flower busd which will bloom later in the year.

This Laurus nobilis has set flower buds which will bloom later in the year.

For most of us it is a flavouring used in stew and other savoury dishes. It can be harvested as single leaves or as branches and used right from the tree or bush. It also can easily be dried and used later. As my mother taught me one leave goes a long way, so care must be used with this flavouring.
The only part of this herb garden which were not replaced was the three True Bays.

The only part of this herb garden which was not replaced were the three True Bays.

The California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia Californica) is sometimes sold as the True Bay. The leaf margins on the plant are smooth whereas those of the True Bay tend to undulated. I would not use the California Bay in place of True Bay in food preparation as it has much stronger volatile oils which are not the same.
Just another happy Laurus noblis growing in a Herb garden.

Just another happy Laurus nobilis growing in a Herb garden.

In its native habitat of the Mediterranean, Laurus noblis has been cultivated for thousands of years where it  grows to about 18m (60ft). Here it more commonly grown as a clipped, shaped shrub which can be used as a formal hedge, container plant, accent or specimen plant. Buy them as a small trees in a container and then shape it as you please. The True Bay like well-drained soil and full sun. It tolerates short droughts very well and does not like to be over-watered. Bay’s live in zones 8 through 11 and tolerate temperatures down to freezing for short periods.

More about Bay Trees:

Wiki has a good page:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_leaf

A good article from Flooridata: http://www.floridata.com/ref/L/laur_nob.cfm

Now on to Kim’s yummy recipes!

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The year I went to Horticulture school in Vancouver was unusually warm at Canadian Thanks Giving time and i went home on the train for the long weekend. While I was there I saw that someone had harvested the vegetables which I had planted in the small garden which I had kept. There was zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage there on the back porch when I got home. During the weekend I decided to walk around the neighborhood and see the gardens with my newly educated eyes and brain. To my surprise I saw some culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis) growing in a back garden. I decided as soon as I could I would give my mom a Sage plant to grow and use in her delicious turkey stuffing. She was so thrilled when she could use fresh Sage the following year.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurescens' and 'Minimus"

Two forms of Savia officinalis are seen here, Dwarf and Purple leaved.

Sage has long seen as a valuable plant, it’s Latin name ‘Salvia’ means to heal. During the centuries past it has been used in many medicinal ways. It’s best known property is being used to reduce perspiration, this is useful for those persons dealing with night sweats. It is also well known as an astringent which has commonly been used as a gargle for  tonsillitis, laryngitis and sore throats. Salvia tea in the past was also prescribed for  problems such as nervous conditions, trembling, depression and vertigo. Crushed fresh leaves are used help relieve insect bites.

Salvia officinalis 'Rosea'

Salvia officinalis 'Rosea' is one flower color variation which makes an attractive addition to a garden.

Sage also has other qualities which were seen to be more important in the past. It was believed to help ward off evil spirits. The quality whhich is most important today is that of it’s ability to flavor savory dishes. The most traditional use at this time of the year is related to it’s use in the Christmas Turkey. Sage imparts a peppery earthy flavor which adds depth to many dishes. It can be used fresh or dried and it often blended with other herbs. It often is used with fatty meats such as duck, goose or pork.

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina'

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' is also known as Golden Sage and is one of the brightest shrubs in the garden.

Savia officinalis is a low shrub which is evergreen, the leaves are unusual in that they are highly aromatic. There is now a fair selection of color forms ranging from the dusky purple of ‘Purpurascens‘ through the traditional ‘sage green’ through to almost yellow forms such as ‘Icertina’ and ‘Aurea’. There are also an attractive wider leaved form called ‘Berggarten’ and a narrow type ‘Lavandulaefolia’. ‘Tricolor’ is a weaker growing form which blends green, white and purple and commonly reverts to green. ‘Alba’ has the grayest foliage and produces attractive white flowers.

Salvia officinalis 'Purpascens'

Salvia officinalis 'Purpascens' is probably the most attractive and vigorous form of Sage to grow.

Sage is a member of the labiatae (mint) family and has the characteristic square stems and  lipped flowers. It is quite hardy for a herb and tolerates zone 4 -30f(-34c). Salvia officinalis grows to about 2ft(60cm) tall and slightly wider. The one thing which it dislikes is winter wet especially if the soil is poorly drained. Sage is best grown in full sun and sharply draining soil that is average in nutrient content.  Prune back after flowering.  It is a very versatile plant which grows well in many situations such as perennial borders, herb gardens, shrub borders,  rock gardens, container plantings and in areas of low watering or in sites which are not easily watered. You can also plant in places where the foliage will be rubbed to give off its scent. Sage is also a butterfly and bee attractant.

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten'

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' has slightly broader leaves than other Sages.

Pests do not bother Sage. One disease (Verticillium dahliae) called Verticillium or  Sage Wilt will kill the plant. It is important if you have this problem not to replant any Sage in the same place again.  When selecting a plant to buy choose the most vigorous plant with the best coloring in the leaves as it can vary. Most forms are now produced by cuttings which easily root. You can grow the plain Salvia officinalis from seed but it will be more leggy compared to others.

Flowers of Salvia officinalis

The attractive flowers of Salvia officinalis are quite showy compared to other members of the mint family.

More wise advise on Sage:

My favorite site for all things herb and spice: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Salv_off.html

Wiki page on Sage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_officinalis

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Star Anise is our Spice Choice for June!

In my volunteer job I have cataloged the plants of a very large property in the Victoria area. This entails comparing the on hand information with what I know and can find out from various reputable sources that are available to me. The plant collection was mostly planted nearly 100 years ago and this has lead me to become interested in other similar collections of the same age in the area. One such collection is very close to where I live and i was lucky to meet a lady who had done exactly the same job there. She briefly told me about the collection and then showed me a plant which does not grow anywhere else that she or I knew of. It was the Star Anise(Illicium vernum) the wonderful sweet licorice-like spice plant.

The interesting Illicuim vernum flowers which are related to Magnolias.

The interesting Illicuim vernum flowers which are related to Magnolias.

Here in the Victoria area Star Anise are absolutely at the coldest limits of where it can survive. Normally these plants grow into trees up to 5m (18ft) tall, yet here and in the in warmer areas of Great Britain it can only muster up a lumpy 3m (9-10ft) shrub form.  This shrub is a common site in many areas of Asia including Vietnam north through China and Korea. It was imported into Japan by Buddhists and is often found growing beside temples and in grave sites. It is now grown in southeastern U.S.A. as a spice crop.

Illicium vernum Also Known as Star Anise or Aniseed.

Illicium vernum Also Known as Star Anise or Aniseed.

Medicinally Star Anise has many useful properties. It has commonly been used as a carminative(reducing flatulence and other internal gases) , stimulant and as a stomachic which strengthens and tones the stomach. It is useful in promoting digestion and appetite which is not surprising as that is what the other ‘Anise’(Pimpinella anisum) is used for. It has also been used for colic in babies and a treatment for rheumatism. With it’s wonderful and strong flavor, it is often added to medicines to make them more palatable.  Homeopaths make a weak infusion or prescribe a stronger tincture which is diluted in a liquid.  This will be made using the crushed seeds. the bark is pounded and used to make fragrant insense.

Star Anise Seeds are starting to develope from a recent bloom.

Star Anise Seeds are starting to develope from a recent bloom.

To grow one of these interesting plants you will need to live in a warm climate to produce the best specimen.  Zone 8 or above is a must to produce one a healthy Illicium vernum. It likes light sandy to medium loamy soil which is well drained. It grows best in a shaded position which is protected from cold winds to protect it’s glossy dark green evergreen leaves. As a shrub it has many uses such as in a shrub boarder or as a screen or fragrant hedge. it also works well as background shrub which can be used in a shady area.

Star Anise with it's star-like seed capsules.

Star Anise with it's star-like seed capsules.

The Latin name of ‘Star Anise‘ is Illicuim (meaning allurement) vernum (which refers to spring).  As you can see the fruit capsules are formed into a star-like structure which is where the plant gets it’s name. There are even better examples that the above picture, maybe the cold effects the fruit structure.

The flowers of Illicium vernum are very primitive.

The flowers of Illicium vernum are very primitive.

To find out more about Star Anise:

The Wiki page is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_anise

The best place to learn about any spice: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Illi_ver.html

Until next month….

From Kim: Star Anise – June’s Herb of Choice!

This month we’re featuring a great spice very well known in Asian cooking. I admit I am still a novice in Chinese, Thai, and Japanese cuisine but I do love to dabble with herbs and learn all I can. All over China, five spice powder (Mandarin wu xiang fen [五香粉], Cantonese ngh heung fan [五香粉], according to dubious sources also hung-liu) is known and valued. This spice mixture contains star anise, cassia (or cinnamon), cloves, fennel and Sichuan pepper usually to equal parts. Optionally, ginger, galanga, black cardamom or even liquorice may be added. These spices should be kept whole and powdered before usage.

Illicium verum: Star anis flower
Star anise flower – www.botany.hawaii.edu © Gerald Carr

Five spice powder is often added to a batter made from egg white and cornstarch, which is used to coat meats and vegetables to keep them moisty and succulent during deep-frying. Meat is also frequently coated with a mixture of corn starch and five spice powder and deep-fried. Lastly, it is often contained in marinades for meat to be stir-fried. Since the mixture is very aromatic, it should be used with care. The subtle aroma of five spice powder is particularly effective in steamed foods. Steamed pork belly can indeed be a delicacy, even if it is, of course, never low in fat. For this recipe, the so-called five-flower cut is used that consists of three fatty and two lean layers. The meat is marinated in soy sauce and garlic, coated by a mixture of five-spice powder and ground, toasted rice and steamed until very tender (wu hua rou [五花肉]). This pork dish is very mild, but highly aromatic and pleasing. For more examples of star anise in Chinese cookery, see orange about the Sichuan-style beef stew au larm and cassia about master sauce. Outside China, star anise is less valued. In the North of Vietnam, it is popular for beef soups (see Vietnamese cinnamon). Star anise is also used in Thailand: In the North, it is often employed in long-simmered stews; elsewhere, especially in the tropical South, it is a common flavourant for ice tea. Thai iced tea (cha dam yen [ชาดำเย็น]) is brewed from black tea and flavoured with star anise powder, sometimes also cinnamon, licorice, vanilla and orange flowers; it is enjoyed with crushed ice, sugar and evaporated milk. To obtain a bright orange colour, azo dyes (typically, tartrazine) are usually added.
Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages | see Jen’s page also for more information on Star Anise

So for my menu using this wonderful herb, I’ve chosen 2: Beef Noodle Soup – Taiwanese-Style and Red Cooked Beef! I think you’ll love using this herb and trying either dish. Plus soups just smells so good when cooking.

When you purchase star anise, get the dark brown and not other anise powders which have a gray color.

Beef Noodle Soup – Taiwanese-Style

5 c. water
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. Chinese rice wine
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 (1-inch) cube peeled fresh ginger, smashed
1 bunch scallions, white parts smashed with flat side of a large knife and green parts chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
10 fresh cilantro stems plus 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
2 (2-inch-long) pieces Asian dried tangerine peel*
4 whole star anise
1/4 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
2-1/2 lbs. meaty beef short ribs
1-3/4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 ounces)
10 ounces dried Chinese wheat noodles* or linguine
1 c. fresh mung bean sprouts
4 tbsp. Chinese pickled mustard greens**
1 (4-inch-long) fresh red chile (optional), thinly sliced

Bring water, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, ginger, white parts of scallion, garlic, cilantro stems, tangerine peel, star anise, and red pepper flakes to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart pot, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add short ribs and gently simmer, covered, turning occasionally, until meat is very tender but not falling apart, 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours. Let meat stand in cooking liquid, uncovered, 1 hour.

Transfer meat to a cutting board with tongs and discard bones and membranes, then cut meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Pour beef broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Skim fat from cooking liquid and transfer liquid to a 3-quart saucepan. Add chicken broth and meat and reheat soup over moderately low heat.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of (unsalted) boiling water until tender, about 7 minutes (14 to 15 minutes for linguine). Drain noodles well in a colander and divide among 4 large soup bowls.

Ladle broth over noodles and top with meat, scallion greens, bean sprouts, pickled mustard greens, cilantro sprigs, and red chile (if using).  Note: Meat and beef broth can be cooked and strained three days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill meat in broth, covered. Skim fat before adding chicken broth.

Next Up: Red Cooked Beef!

2 lbs. chuck steak boneless
2 tbsp. peanut oil
2 scallions cut to 2 inch length
4 slices ginger root
2 pieces Star Anise
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1 c. water
2 dried red chilies, optional

Cut beef into 1 inch cubes and sear on all sides in hot oil in a heavy pot. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook covered on low heat about 2 hours or until meat is tender. This should reduce liquid to approximately 1/2 cup. If more than 1/2 cup liquid remains, uncover and increase temperature to boil liquid away to approximately 1/2 cups. Serves 6.

Be sure the beef is fresh and has a good expiration date. I don’t like to buy any beef with less than 2 days expiration date. And boy when this dish is done the meat melts off the fork and is so flavorful! Try using star anise in your next meal if you haven’t tried it. I would always caution too that if you’re using a spice for the first time, try a little at first. You can always add more, but you can’t take out! ENJOY! Until next month….

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Welcome to the Garden Palette!

Jen and I love plants and herbs as well as cooking so why not join forces? This is our blog to share with you our love both nature and food and provide you with plant facts, history as well as great tasting menus using our herb or plant of choice.

This Month our choice is Rosemary!

Jen: “I grew up in an area of Canada where the winters are long and cold. Very few herbs can be grown there on a regular basis outside, Sage, Parsley and Chives are about it. When I moved to Vancouver for school I saw lovely varieties of all forms of herbs including many more tender species. I now live in Victoria which has an even milder climate which is drier and considered to be close to that of the Mediterranean where most herbs originated. This is a perfect climate to grow Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). You can see wonderfully grown Rosemaries everywhere and I’m sure many a cook loves to go out and get a sprig of fresh leaves for what ever they are creating.

Rosemary Has Very Fine Foliage, Perfect for Cooking With.

Rosemary Has Very Fine Foliage, Perfect for Cooking With.

Being that Rosemary originated in the Mediterranean, it is used extensively in all forms of cooking there. Rosemary is traditionally associated with other strong flavors such as: mutton (or lamb), onions, garlic and lemon. Stripped branches can be used as skewers for meat kabobs.

An Excellent Rosemary Plant Growing In the Terrace Garden at Government House.

An Excellent Rosemary Plant Growing In the Terrace Garden at Government House.

Rosemary has a long history as a culinary, medicinal, and garden plant. ‘Rosemary is for remembrance’ – a common phrase as the herb was a symbol of friendship and loyalty. Its first use may well have been as a medicinal herb. Ancient Greek scholars wore wreaths of it to help improve their memory and ability to concentrate. Medicinally it has been used in the past as a tonic, stimulant and carminative to treat dyspepsia, headaches, and nervous tension.The Chinese have also used Rosemary in various forms for centuries. In medieval times, it was strewn in law courts and carried in pouches by common people to ward off disease.

‘Rosemary is for Remembrance’ in the Children s Garden at Glendale Gardens.

‘Rosemary is for Remembrance’ in the Children s Garden at Glendale Gardens.

The strong odor of the oils found in Rosemary is likely what people thought was medicinal. Tiny amount of oils (1-2.5%) found in Rosemary include therein: cinerol, camphor, pinene, and several others in smaller quantities. These same oils are what give rosemary its flavor. Herbs get a lot of their flavor from the oils in their leaves which are volatile and can be lost with improper storage. As with all dried herb products air, light and moisture damage the quality of the flavor. Protect them best by always storing dry herbs in airtight containers made of glass or tin. Store all your herbs in a cool, dark, dry space (not next to the stove or on the counter). Be sure to buy small quantities which can be used quickly and replace your old herbs yearly.

Mediterranean Rosemary Growing Happily Amongst New Zealand Flax.

Mediterranean Rosemary Growing Happily Amongst New Zealand Flax.

It is always preferable to use herbs fresh from the garden, and if not, look for the finest quality organically grown dried leaves. The leaves should still have a good strong green color as a faded color indicates it may be old. One thing to remember is that the flavor is more concentrated in dried herbs like Rosemary so use less of it when using it in replacement for fresh.

This Rosemary is Ready to Harvest!

This Rosemary is Ready to Harvest!

Rosemary grows in a hot dry climate, because it grows at low altitudes in rocky areas it can tolerate more moisture than some other herbs which can die with excess moisture which we get here in the winter. You need lots of sun, well drained to gritty lean soil and adequate moisture during its growing season for best growth. It is hardy to -10c (25f).

An Attractive Dark Blue Rosemary Covered in Blooms.

An Attractive Dark Blue Rosemary Covered in Blooms.

Rosemary is generally grown form cuttings and there are now many attractive forms of it which you can select from depending on what you are looking for. There are attractive trailing as well as the standard upright forms. Colors range from almost pure white through like pink into fairly dark blue forms which of course are the most famous.

A Pink Flowering Rosemary, Probably Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Roseus’

A Pink Flowering Rosemary, Probably Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Roseus’

Remembering Rosemary sites:

This is my favorite site for looking up all aspects of a herb or spice, a very comprehensive list:


A simple explanation of growing Rosemary: http://www.gardeningpatch.com/herbs/growing-rosemary.aspx

Now on to Kim’s Recipes….

I love using Rosemary in lots of dishes, it is a versatile herb. So, when we picked this to write about, I was a happy camper like I was actually in Kitchen Stadium and the chairman picks the secret ingredient and I don’t cringe!!! I have used fresh and dry rosemary in dishes and I have entire menu for you to sample using both fresh and dry. There are instances in cooking when dry is the preferable method. Dry herbs can stand up to heat thereby roasting much better of course than fresh. So here’s my menu:

We’ll start off with the main course, “Baked Salmon with Pesto and Fresh Rosemary“, its side course is: “Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Rosemary“, “Rosemary Focaccia“, and for dessert, “Olive Oil Rosemary Cake“. I hope you’ll like this. I almost opted for chicken in rosemary but I was trying to be more healthy and I wanted a not so traditional menu. So let’s get started!”…

Category: The Garden Palette | Difficulty: easyWell, the day is finally here! The Garden Palette’s first post! In case you don’t know, one of my very good friends from Twitter, @rascallyjen, and I decided to come together to post information, photos, and recipes once a month using fresh plants. We’ll pick an herb or vegetable and she will inform you guys about it, its history along with photos and I’ll have a recipe based on our choice. I’ll also have some tips and the order in which I prepared this menu. So without further ado, today’s secret ingredient is: (drum roll) Rosemary!

I love using Rosemary in lots of dishes, it is a versatile herb. So, when we picked this to write about, I was a happy camper like I was actually in Kitchen Stadium and the chairman picks the secret ingredient and I don’t cringe!!! I have used fresh and dry rosemary in dishes and I have entire menu for you to sample using both fresh and dry. There are instances in cooking when dry is the preferable method. Dry herbs can stand up to heat thereby roasting much better of course than fresh. So here’s my menu:

We’ll start off with the main course, “Baked Salmon with Pesto and Fresh Rosemary“, its side course is: “Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Rosemary“, “Rosemary Focaccia“, and for dessert, “Olive Oil Rosemary Cake“. I hope you’ll like this. I almost opted for chicken in rosemary but I was trying to be more healthy and I wanted a not so traditional menu. So let’s get started!

Baked Salmon w/Pesto and Fresh Rosemary

First I make the pesto. You can use my pesto recipe from my earlier post here. Then I prepare my salmon. I always get fillets at the supermarket and I ask the guy to remove the skin for me. I love salmon, it’s my favorite fish!

Salmon fillets, any portion size, boned and skinned
Onion powder, to taste be generous
Garlic powder, to taste be generous
Dried dill, to taste be generous
Mrs. Dash, to taste be generous
Dried rosemary
Fresh rosemary

Make the pesto and set this aside until the salmon is done.

Spray Canola oil or similar product over tin foil pan or rectangular pan (depending on amount and size of portions).

Sprinkle seasonings over salmon ending with paprika (except for the fresh rosemary which we’re saving for the topping). Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Spread the pesto on top as much as you want and add sprigs of fresh rosemary. Sprinkle more grated parmesan on top.

Next up…

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes in Rosemary

This is the perfect dish to use dry rosemary so that the herb can stand up to the high temperatures of roasting. It is a sweet compliment to the fish and I love sweet potatoes! This is such an easy side dish for anytime and practically goes with anything!

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3 tbsp. EVOO
garlic pepper
1/3 c. fresh rosemary leaves, plus 6 rosemary sprigs for garnish
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Wipe down the potatoes a bit and you can leave the skin on. I try to pick the best looking ones at the market. I like to get the freshest veggies I can find when shopping.

Preheat oven to 450°F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Be sure each round is coated well with oil and seasonings. You may need to use your hands for this process. Arrange potato slices in single layer on heavyweight rimmed baking sheet or in 13×9-inch baking dish with tin foil. Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with chopped rosemary sprigs.

Next up…

Rosemary Foccaccia

Must have a bread to go with the meal! Like I mentioned, Rosemary is a versatile herb and can be used for just about any dish.

1 (1 lb.) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
1 lg. clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

Stretch and press thawed bread dough to fit a greased 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan. With fingers, poke deep holes at 1 inch intervals. Place a small piece of garlic in each hole. Drizzle oil over dough; brush lightly to distribute. Sprinkle cheese and rosemary over dough. Let rise in a warm place until double (about 20 minutes). Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until browned (18-20 minutes). Cut into strips (about 2 x 3 1/2 inch) and serve warm!

Next up…our dessert!

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

And a dessert! Can’t beat that huh?? You know I must have a dessert baby! And this one delivers for me! Now…I like to serve it with a little vanilla frozen yogurt on the side! Mmmmm Mmmmmm Mmmmm! You think I might be ready for Foodbuzz’s 24 24 24?

Maybe not yet… LOL!

recipe inspired from Mario Batali’s Babbo Cookbook

4 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. EVOO
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1-1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. salt (finely ground)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 10-inch loaf pan with butter, olive oil, or non-stick spray. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whip attachment to beat the eggs for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very foamy and pale in color. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Using a spatula, gently fold the rosemary into the egg mixture.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking power, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through for even color. The cake is done when it is golden brown, springs back when touched, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool briefly in the pan, then tip out onto a cake rack to continue cooling.

NOTE: This cake is very light in texture and flavor.

Now for my tips:
Well first off, if you’re going to make the entire menu, start with the dessert first so you can have it set aside while you prepare the other courses. I’d make the sweet potatoes next since they’ll be in the oven for a little bit and you can prepare the bread recipe next. The oven will be hot enough and so the bread and salmon don’t need as long to bake. This way you can keep the meal warm before serving. I’d put some tin foil over the sweet potatoes when they come out of the oven to trap the heat. This makes such a romantic meal too I think.

Oh, did I forget the drink? Well..for me and hubby I’d serve apple cider or white grape juice !

Jen’s tip: Always store dry Rosemary or any other dry herb in a sealed container and replace after 1 year. Also, keep it away from the oven/stove as you want the flavor to remain with the herb for as long as possible.

Kim’s tip: Fresh herbs I usually wash off and then fold them in a paper towel, put them in a ziploc bag and seal tightly, no air and then I put them in my veggie drawer in the frig. I try to use them up before week’s end.

Extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, water, sugar, salt, black pepper & rosemary! My oh what flavor!

Rosemary adds such flavor to everything I didn’t need as much salt and that’s a good thing in my house! Be sure to pop over to Jen’s site to see more of our Rosemary photos and read more about the origin of the plant and how it grows in her neck of the woods!

Until next month…from The Garden Palette!

The Garden Palette posts the 2nd Wednesday of each month

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