Olive and Rosemary Cornbread

I’ve been inspired to do more with cornmeal lately and it has nothing to do with my buying a 5lb bag of freshly ground cornmeal at the farmers market. Nothing at all!

After watching a TV chef add cornmeal instead of semolina to their focaccia, I looked around for more recipes. I found several different versions online of cornbread focaccia (including this one from Southern Living) that I used as a stepping off point.

I love the crust it gets from baking it in a cast iron skillet. While this doesn’t make the best sandwich bread (as it is a little crumbly), it is delicious on its own as an appetizer or snack or with soup.

Olive and Rosemary Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 packet)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
25 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped (about half cup chopped)

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, yeast, eggs, butter and honey in a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to proof for a five minutes. Stir together until well combined. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and stir to mix. Let stand while the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put 12 inch cast iron skillet in the oven while it preheats.

Lightly oil the skillet, using a basting brush to get up the sides as well. Pour dough into hot skillet. Sprinkle the top with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of rosemary and the chopped olives.

Bake the focaccia for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove the focaccia to a rack to cool completely before serving.

 

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Rosemary Sage Salt

I like herb salt and always keep a jar of rosemary salt around for all sorts of things but especially roast potatoes. I was lucky to get several blister packs of sage on sale, so I decided to make a combination salt for cooking and grilling.

Herb salts keep the flavor of fresh herbs so give it a try on chicken, pork, veggies, or even popcorn.

Rosemary Sage Salt

1 cup kosher or coarse sea salt, divided
3/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3/4 cup fresh sage leaves

Place 2 tablespoons of the salt in the bowl of a food processor with the herbs. Pulse several times until everything is grainy like sand. Pour into a medium sized bowl and mix with the remaining salt.

Spread on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir the salt, spread again, and bake another 10 minutes. Repeat once more, stirring to remove any clumps and to ensure it dries evenly.

Let cool and store in a clean, dry jar.

Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub

While wandering through the Fall Plant Sale from the Herb Society of America, New Orleans Unit, I saw lots of rosemary and sage plants (and we even bought a non-edible sage – Salvia oxyphora). When out grocery shopping later and we found a great deal on chicken thighs, I already knew the flavor profile I wanted.

After letting the chicken sit for a while in a sweet tea brine, I prepared a rub with rosemary and sage. I set the grill up for indirect cooking and I started the thighs skin side down for the first 15 minutes to get some lovely marks on them before flipping them over to cook the rest of the way. It took about an hour total for them to reach 170 degrees F.

Sweet tea brine

3 black tea bags
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
10 chicken thighs

Steep the tea in 4 cups of hot water at least five minutes and until good and dark. Add the sugar and salt and stir until they’ve dissolved. Add in the lemon peel and 2 cups of ice. Stir to melt the ice and cool down the brine. Pour over chicken and put in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Drain the chicken and pat dry. Keep in the refrigerator until about an hour before grilling. Sprinkle both sides with the Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub and let sit on the counter until your fire is ready.

Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub

1/4 cup fresh, chopped rosemary leaves (measure after chopping)
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 teaspoons granulated garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Using your fingers to mix all the ingredients to combine and then sprinkle on the chicken. Place any unused rub in an airtight container.

I served the chicken with chicken broth potatoes and a small spinach salad (Michelle insisted on something green!).

Pecan Cream Chicken and Mushrooms

We had more mushrooms and cream and this time we upped the flavor on chicken. Giving the pecans a whirl in the food processor to chop them fine made it so every bite tasted nutty.

Pecan Cream Chicken and Mushrooms

Pecan Cream:
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce:
1 tablespoon sherry or another deglazing liquid (water, broth, wine)
1 teaspoon olive oil, as needed
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ pound mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

Prepare pecan cream by grinding pecans in a food processor, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add water and cream and salt to taste; process until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside.

Pound chicken to ¼ inch thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté about 5 minutes per each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, keep warm.

Add sherry or other deglazing liquid to pan and stir up any browned bits. Add oil if necessary and sauté the onions for 5 minutes to soften. Add mushrooms and cook over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown. Add fresh rosemary to the pan. Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken back to pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes until reduced slightly.

Place rice among serving plates. Add the chicken and then place a spoonful of the mushroom pecan sauce on top. Garnish with a pinch of chopped pecans if desired.

I served this with rice although pasta would work well, too.

Scarborough Fair Rub for Chicken

I soaked 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters overnight in a rosemary buttermilk brine:
2.5 quarts of buttermilk
4 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons kosher salt.

The next day I put on a dry rub that harkens back to that 16th century English folk tune – as the main ingredients are sage, rosemary and thyme. The parsley is added as a final step while the meat rests.

I grilled my chicken over indirect heat for about an hour. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Scarborough Fair Chicken Rub

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground sage
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. Store any unused in an airtight container.

Grill or roast the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Sprinkle on the parsley after the meat comes off the fire, while it rests for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Focaccia with a Beer Assist

I’m watching World Cup Soccer Round of 16 games today and I’m also craving yeasty, salty, rosemary-ie focaccia bread. I worked out the time needed and, so, started the dough after the France-Argentina game to allow for the first rise. It was ready to spread it in the pan right before the Portugal-Uruguay game began. I let it rise through the first half and then baked it during half time.

By using beer, I got a very light texture even with higher gluten bread flour plus an added flavor boost of yeasty goodness. I went with a wheat beer from Blue Moon.

Focaccia with a Beer Assist

2 cups unbleached bread flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 package)
1 12 ounce bottle of beer (wheat beer, if possible)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a dough hook, add 2 cups bread flour, sugar, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and yeast. Warm beer in the microwave to 120 to 125 degrees F. Add the beer to the stand mixer and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to medium, mix until combined.

Add in the all-purpose flour, ¼ cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Switch the mixer to medium high, and knead for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough. Cover and allow to rise in a warm room until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use the oven with the oven light turned on.

Lightly oil a rimmed baking pan. For an optional, added crunch, sprinkle on a little corn meal or semolina flour. Transfer the dough to the pan, pulling to cover the entire pan. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425.

Press your fingers into the dough making holes across the entire loaf. Brush with remaining oil, sprinkle with remaining rosemary and the coarse salt. Bake until golden brown and it sounds hollow to the tap, about 15 minutes.

Rosemary Sweet Potato Medalions

When I was growing up, the only time I had sweet potatoes was under a cover of marshmallows at Thanksgiving. What a long way I’ve come!

Readers of my blog know I’m a fan of rosemary, so when I thought to take a sweet potato fries recipe up a notch, that is where I started. This is fairly simple recipe with just rosemary, garlic, salt and a bit of olive oil. The peel does get a little chewy, so I do recommend you peel them first.

Rosemary Sweet Potato Medalions

2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Wash the sweet potatoes, peel them and then cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Toss them with olive oil to coat. Combine rosemary, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle over potatoes and stir until all pieces are covered.

Spread onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and continue to bake until potatoes are cooked through, about ten minutes more.