Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fresh herbs series: Rosemary and Thin Focaccia

Rosemary plant at the market

The slowest growing herb in my herb garden now is rosemary. All ten others have put on between a couple to a dozen centimetres of growth in two weeks but Rose and Mary don’t seem to be doing so well. Perhaps it is just a matter of adjusting to the new environment and I should be more patient. A gardener on a TV show said that patience is the most important thing and sometimes it takes years to see the desired change in your garden. Time will tell.
Despite the immediate growth problems the culinary aspects of the rosemary seem to be in place and that’s what counts. This herb that has been around for centuries and is an irreplaceable ingredient in seasoning Mediterranean lamb dishes deserves to be the protagonist because of its powerful character.
Slow growing rosemary on the left

I was in Edinburgh in Scotland this week and we ate at an Italian restaurant that combined local Scottish ingredients like meat and fish with the Italian ones and served dishes made with Italian techniques.

I am used to season lamb with Rosemary, but the English and now obviously Scottish tradition, calls for mint to go with lamb. (That is unusual for me.) So on the menu there was lamb with mint pesto. The mint pesto was great, I don’t think I detected any rosemary there.

The rosemary made a strong opening entry on thin focaccia bread as we were waiting for our meals. I could have swallowed my tongue. It was soft and fresh and warm with the olive oil and the amount of rosemary was just right to give the focaccia strong enough flavour.

Rosemary on thin focaccia bread

1 packet of dry instant yeast (7g)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
300g (3 cups) flour (or 100g whole grain flour and 200g plain flour)
2dl (1 cup) water
2 tbsp olive oil

More olive oil to drizzle over the dough
Flaky sea salt
Rosemary, only the leaves of 1-2 sprigs
Goat’s cheese cut in slices
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the water, mix everything and half-way add olive oil and mix again all into dough. Use a wooden spoon, a dough mixer or hands and fold for 5 minutes until all ingredients have combined into smooth dough. Form a ball. Lift the ball of dough out of the bowl and drizzle some oil into the bowl and on the dough. This will help to get the dough out of the bowl easier later. Cover the bowl with cling film and a tea towel and leave for 1 – 1.5 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
Focaccia topped with rosemary, goat´s cheese and garlic

Thin focaccia bread made with wholegrain flour
Set the oven to 200ºC and cover a baking tray with baking paper. When the dough is ready place it on the tray and smooth the dough into a thin layer on with your hands. You could roll it as well, but I don’t bother. Go over the dough with wet hands once to give the focaccia a crust when baking. Place the rosemary leaves and the goat’s cheese on the dough, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt on it. Add the garlic slices either straight away or after 5 minutes baking to avoid garlic getting bitter. Bake for 15-20 minutes. 
Thin focaccia with a crust