Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

rosemary-chocolate-bread-recipe

My favorite baking book this year has to be Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours. The recipes are wholesome, accessible and appealing; the photography has a warm, rustic simplicity that I love. When I browse through the book I want to make – and taste – just about everything in it.

I’ve been experimenting with switching out butter for olive oil in baking, which led to Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies a few weeks ago. I’ve also had this recipe for Olive Oil Cake from Kim Boyce’s book flagged for months, and after making it a few times I can say it’s definitely a keeper.

These are perfect little breads to give as gifts, or to snack on when you crave a bite of something not-too-sweet.

rosemary-chocolate-bread-recipe

I have a special place for rosemary in my cooking, so any time I see an opportunity to highlight its distinctive piney-lemon character I jump in to explore.

The first time I baked this lightly sweet cake (to me it’s actually more of a quick bread than a cake), I threw in some freshly grated lemon zest. Lemon is a nice partner with the fruity taste of the olive oil and chocolate, but it got a little lost in there.

Next, I tried adding some ground coriander, a spice that has essential elements of citrus and balsam. You barely notice it in the background, but I think it naturally unites the slightly unusual pairing of chocolate with rosemary and olive oil.

I couldn’t help gilding the rosemary, so I sprinkled rosemary sugar leftover from my Italian Greyhounds over the tops just before putting them in the oven.

Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

Yield: 1 standard loaf or 4 mini loaves

Ingredients

3/4 cup spelt flour (or use an equal amount of all purpose flour)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

3 eggs

1 cup olive oil

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces

Rosemary sugar

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat 4 small loaf pans (5" x 2") or one regular loaf pan with olive oil. Place the pans on a baking sheet. If using a single loaf pan, you can skip the baking sheet.
  3. Put the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and coriander in a large bowl. Use a whisk to blend the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk together. Add the milk and rosemary and mix again just to blend.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, stirring gently to combine. Stir in the chocolate until evenly distributed.
  6. Divide the batter among the pans and smooth the top. Sprinkle tops evenly with some Rosemary Sugar, about 2 teaspoons each, or regular sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes for small loaves; 45- 50 minutes for standard loaf or until the tops are domed and a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack before slicing either warm or cool.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/rosemary-bittersweet-chocolate-quick-bread/

Candy Cane Beet Salad with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Beets taste like sugar kisses to me, with a little spoonful of dirt on top.

I like beets, love them actually. But they’ve been an acquired taste, for sure. Maybe it was my childhood associations with beets and canned vegetables.

At some point in the history of tables I’ve sat around there was a dish of soggy pickled beets sitting on one. Beets in a dish that came straight out of a can; tasting sour, sweet and a little of garden soil all at the same time.

Like that time I licked the edge of a dirty old copper penny; it tasted salty and metallic, but so mysteriously mouthwatering I was compelled to have another lick.

Beets come in deeply intense colors – magenta, orange and yellow – but Italian heirloom Chioggia beets are exceptionally drop dead gorgeous. They’re unassuming, gnarly and beet-like on the outside, striped liked sweet candy canes on the inside.

It floors me that nature could be so whimsical as to design a root vegetable in the spitting image of a Willy Wonka lollypop.

Chioggia Beets Recipe

Once they’re cooked, the colors muddy and fade, so it’s worth eating Chioggia beets raw to get full bang for your buck.

I have a Benriner spiral slicer, a handy gadget that makes lovely thin spirals out of firm-textured vegetables and fruits.You don’t need one. A good old vegetable peeler works just as well. Oxo makes my favorite basic peeler.

Any kind of beet will work for this recipe, but Chioggia beets are becoming more available at grocery stores with good produce sections as well as at farmer’s markets.

Candy Cane Beet Salad with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serving Size: serves 2 -4

Ingredients

1 pound Chioggia, orange, yellow or red beets, peeled, about 5 or 6 medium

Handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 - 3 tablespoons best olive oil you have, or pistachio oil

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup soft, fresh goat cheese

2 tablespoons toasted chopped pistachios

Fresh baby arugula and/or salad greens

Instructions

  1. Shave the beets into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, mandoline slicer or spiral slicer. Toss gently on a plate or large bowl with the basil.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, sugar and salt until dissolved and blended.
  3. Toss the beets with just enough of the dressing to coat lightly; add more dressing and seasoning to taste. Top with goat cheese and pistachios. Serve over arugula or baby greens.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/candy-cane-beet-salad-with-pistachios-goat-cheese/

Roasted Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

I bought 8 pounds of beautiful, ripe, organic strawberries the other day at Costco. Because I have some serious fruit lovers in my house the berries disappeared pretty quick, almost before I could set aside what I needed to make this jam.

My plan was to make a simple standby recipe from Cooking Light for refrigerator jam – no canning or sterilizing required – but I had some other things to do and didn’t want to stand watch for the better part of an hour over a pot of simmering strawberries.

So I let the oven do the work, a technique I employ a lot in my cooking. Hands free is a great thing in the kitchen.

I usually make this jam with red wine or balsamic vinegar instead of brandy, but this time I used the last drops from a bottle of framboise (clear raspberry liqueur). Strawberry-flavored vodka would be fun to try, too.

There’s an inspiring feature in the April 2011 O Magazine on women food entrepreneurs, Seven Women Who Turned Their Passion for Food into a Career. I found a few of the food products mentioned in the story during my many shopping travels.

I spread Belle Chevre Honey Breakfast Cheese on Effie’s Homemade Oatcakes, then topped with some jam. Delicious!

Roasted Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons clear fruit brandy (raspberry, strawberry, cherry) or strawberry-flavored vodka

1 vanilla bean pod, split, plus scraped seeds

Instructions

  1. Toss the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar, brandy, vanilla pod and scraped seeds. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or small roasting pan.
  2. Roast in a 250 degree oven for about 2 hours, until the berries are very soft and shriveled. Mix around once or twice as they cook.
  3. Let the syrupy berries cool. Remove the vanilla pod. Pulse in a food processor or mash by hand with a potato masher to a chunky consistency.
  4. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/roasted-strawberry-refrigerator-jam/