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/

Tuscan Beer Can Chicken

FamilyStyle Food

It doesn’t need to be summer to roast a chicken on an outdoor grill – we’ve been known to get a fire started during all kinds of weather in my backyard.

I’ve posted a simple recipe for perfect roast chicken here a while ago, and it’s still the method I use when cooking a whole bird, whether inside in the oven or outdoors on the grill.

But there is no doubt that a chicken roasted on a charcoal or wood fire is like chicken nirvana – the crackly, smoke-infused skin and tender, juicy meat that comes from roasting the bird slowly over indirect heat on a grill simply makes my mouth water.

Last weekend I switched up my usual modus operandi with a variation on a classic beer can chicken recipe, inspired by grilling master Steven Raichlen.

Instead of the usual rub and beer combo, I thought it might be fun to season my chicken with Tuscan flavors like fennel, garlic and rosemary, and to use the Italian bubbly Prosecco in place of beer.

I loved it. Impaling the chicken on a can and roasting it vertically means more even cooking and there’s no need to flip the chicken over and risk tearing the precious skin.

This might become my new go-to recipe for roasting a chicken. It’s a good thing I keep plenty of the bubbly around! And plenty of rosemary, of course.

FamilyStyle Food

Tuscan Beer Can Chicken

Serving Size: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (3 or 4 lbs)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder and garlic powder
  • Prosecco or other sparkling wine

Instructions

  1. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling by piling the hot coals on opposite sides of the grill with a drip pan or large piece of foil in between, or preheat a gas grill to medium.
  2. Put the chicken on a small sheet pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and rub about 3 tablespoons all over the chicken to coat it thoroughly, and put 1 tablespoon into the cavity.
  3. Poke a few holes in the top of an empty 12-ounce beer or beverage can and fill halfway with Prosecco or other sparkling wine; then carefully spoon the remaining rub into the can. (You don't need to use expensive bubbly here, unless of course you happen to be drinking from an open bottle as you start to cook, my personal preference).
  4. Center the cavity end of chicken over the can and slide it in as far as will go before carefully arranging in the middle of the grill rack.
  5. Cover the grill and cook undisturbed for an hour, checking halfway through to be sure your grill temperature remains at a constant temperature between 325 and 350 degrees, adding more coals if needed.
  6. Take the chicken off the grill when the skin is nicely crisp and brown and juices that spew out of the chicken run clear. If you want to be precise, gently insert an instant read thermometer in the thick end of the thigh, without touching bone, to get a reading of 165 to 170 degrees.
  7. Let the chicken rest for at least 10 t o 15 minutes before removing the can, carving and serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/05/tuscan-beer-can-chicken/

Slow-Cooked Pork with White Beans and Rosemary

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I hauled my Crock-Pot out of the basement the other day. It’s been so cold outside the skin on my fingers has cracked open and now my thumbs have raw, gaping fissures just like you’d see if you were a crazed person hiking in the Mojave desert, only mine are painful and bloody.

The little pot of fancy skin butter I bought – which for some reason I hoped could transform even leathery old crocodile hide into something supple and glistening  – wasn’t getting the job done.

I figured I must need a little more pork fat in my diet.

As luck would have it, I saw a recipe for Slow-Cooker Cassoulet on the Williams-Sonoma website contributed by chef Thomas Keller. It made me and my dry skin salivate for some tender, braised pork.

I dusted off the old cooker and got to work adapting the recipe, going for a kind of Tuscan-style pork and beans with the addition of fresh rosemary and pancetta.

This recipe makes enough pork and beans for even-more-delicious-next-day leftovers.

Slow-Cooked Pork with White Beans and Rosemary

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks , white and light greens parts washed and chopped
1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
4 14-ounce cans Great Northern or cannellini beans, drained
2 ounces chorizo or other spicy sausage, sliced in half
1 garlic head, trimmed of excess papery skin and halved crosswise
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Cut the pork into 4-inch chunks and season all over with the salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan and brown the pork in batches. Remove the pork and place in a 6-quart slow-cooker insert.
Add the pancetta to the pan and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the fat in the pan.
Add the onion and leek to the pan along with a ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Scrape the onion mixture into the insert.
Add all remaining ingredients to the cooker insert, stirring gently. Cook on medium for 6 hours, or until pork is very tender and easily shreds with a fork; stir in the reserved pancetta.

Serves 6 generously.

Inspired by Thomas Keller