Monday, July 29, 2013

Rosemary Tea Sherbert, Take 2

This time I'm following the Rosemary Tea recipe that I missed in the previous post,

Rosemary Tea (page 150):  "Pour one pint of boiling water on a heaping tablespoonful of young tips." 

to try the Rosemary Tea Sherbert recipe again:

Rosemary Tea Sherbert

Prepare two cups of rosemary tea; mix a half cup of sugar and a half cup of water, let it come to a boil, add a tablespoon of lemon juice and a half cup of orange juice, mix with the tea and freeze.  Serve in sherbet glasses.

Everything else remained the same -- and I have to say that I really like how easy it is to prepare the mixture for freezing -- but I wanted to show you the amount of fresh rosemary that I used:

While it steeped, I made up the sugar, water, and juice mixture.  Then I strained the tea, mixed in the juices, and set the whole thing in the freezer.  Easy!

After it was frozen, with the appropriate stirring, I gave it a taste.

The Verdict
Take 2 definitely had a better balance between the rosemary and citrus flavors.  The rosemary was there but I could taste the orange better.  The lemon was not distinctive but added some sparkle.  The sweetness level was just right.  I declare it a success!

This is not your child's sherbert dessert.  It is more sophisticated.  It would be a nice accompaniment with roasted beef, chicken, or turkey.  I think it should be served just before the meat course.

Update on Take 1
Tasting the stronger rosemary tea sherbert today was interesting:  The flavors were definitely muted as compared to yesterday.  I asked my two visitors to try it and they both liked it very much.  One is a big fan of rosemary and did not think it was too strong at all.  The other thought it was fine and was surprised to think of rosemary in a sweetened dish.

My Conclusion
I think you probably can't go wrong with using any amount of fresh rosemary between the suggested one heaping tablespoon and my experimental half cup.   But judge your audience -- if you don't know that your dinner guests are accustomed to herbal flavors, use the smaller amount and make the rosemary a hint.

If I were to modify this recipe at all, I think I would throw in some lemon zest to perk it up more.  Come to think of it, I think that I would like to make some rosemary bread with some lemon zest added to it.  Mmmmm.....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rosemary Tea Sherbert, Take 1

Recently I visited a particularly dangerous place:  a used book store.  It seems the cookbook sections are designed with hooks and lures, and I get reeled in every time.  Stores that sell only new titles are similar, but I've noticed that used books have a hypnotic effect.  I can't walk away without at least looking at every title.  Often one or more books end up in my hands and thus into my collection.

This was a new store for me and I walked away with three books; a return trip concluded with three more.  It looks like it is time to make room on the shelves!

One of the six is entitled Flower Cookery -- The Art of Cooking with Flowers.

No ISBN; the Library of Congress Number is 67-24072
The author is Mary MacNicol and the book was published in 1967 in New York by the Fleet Press Corporation.

What makes this book intriguing is that it is a collection of literary references involving flower use in cooking and medicine.  Some entries are tips,

     "Rosemary is good for many things:  it will make the hair grow, it is a nerve tonic and stomachic, 
     will cure vertigo, strengthens sight and memory, and is a cordial for the heart."

some are quotations,

     "There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance,
     I pray you love, remember"  -- Shakespeare, Hamlet

and some are recipes (page 154),

Rosemary Tea Sherbert

Prepare two cups of rosemary tea; mix a half cup of sugar and a half cup of water, let it come to a boil, add a tablespoon of lemon juice and a half cup of orange juice, mix with the tea and freeze.  Serve in sherbet glasses.

I remember rosemary...

Since I had no idea how, exactly, to make rosemary tea, I guessed.  Mostly I kept in mind that any frozen dish must have the flavors be more intense before it is frozen, since the cold dulls the taste.  So I took about 1/2 cup (not packed) of fresh rosemary leaves stripped from the stems, and steeped them for 20 minutes in two cups of boiling water.

Steeping beauty

While the tea was steeping I cooked the sugar and water, stirring to mix before the heat was applied, and bringing it to a full, roiling boil.  Then I turned off the heat and added the orange and lemon juices.

The scent off the rosemary tea was lovely and made me want to inhale deeply.  I strained the tea into a bowl and stirred in the juice mixture.

The bowl made the mixture wide and shallow; I thought this will make it easier to stir as it freezes.  The timer was set for thirty minutes for a stir and a check after the bowl went into the freezer.

I tasted the cooled mixture after the first 30 minutes; the flavor was an expected rosemary-citrus that was certainly pleasant but the rosemary was too strong for me.  This was a good sign since it was still liquid.

After about 2 hours, ice crystals were forming and it was good to stir the mixture every 30 minutes.  Once there was no more liquid, it looked like soft snow and I gave it a taste test.

The Verdict
The rosemary flavor was dominant, almost to the point of being too strong.  I love the taste of rosemary, so this wasn't an issue for me, however I suspect it would not be right to serve to guests who did not share my enthusiasm.  The underlying flavors of citrus and sweet were alluring and I would guess it would be an excellent item to serve if the rosemary was more of a hint.  It could be a dessert or, better yet, an appetizer or a palate-cleanser between courses.

I would call this a success but with limitations. The pairing of rosemary with the citrus is just right.

It was a little embarrassing to peruse the book some more and find their recipe for Rosemary Tea (page 150):  "Pour one pint of boiling water on a heaping tablespoonful of young tips."  I want to try this recipe again using this to see if my suspicions are true. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paper Pork

Boneless pork chops were on sale the other day and I came home with a package of ten.  This was sufficient to motivate me to find a fun and interesting recipe for this blog!

Actually, I found two very similar ones.  Both were in Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book, by Marie Kimball, on page 59.

ISBN: 0-8139-0706-3

One was for veal cutlets and the other was for lamb chops.  I figured they would work well with pork chops, so I tried them out.

Veal Cutlets in Papers

Take 2 pounds of veal cutlet, in 2 cutlets, and flatten well.  Butter a sheet of paper, sprinkle with bread crumbs, mushrooms, and herbs chopped very fine.  Salt and pepper.  Butter two other sheets of paper and put under the first.  Lay your cutlet on, twist your paper round in the form of the piece and tie it with a short piece of thread.  Do the same with both cutlets.  Put in a baking pan and bake one hour in a moderate oven.  When they are done, remove outer paper.  -- Annette

Another Way

Take 6 lamb chops, put each in sheet of paper that has been well buttered on the inside and dipped in water to prevent burning.  Season with salt, pepper, and bread crumbs.  Roll them in the papers to preserve the gravy, tying the ends of the paper neatly.  Bake in a moderate oven three-quarters of an hour.  Serve them in the papers.  -- Volney

I used parchment paper.  My pork chops were pretty thin, so I didn't flatten them at all.  I tried one version with the three layers of paper but my thoughts were that they weren't needed -- one would be enough.  The other four used just one piece of paper.

These recipes reminded me of a dinner I fixed with my Girl Scout Troop years ago, so I wrapped the other five chops in aluminum foil.

Each paper/foil sheet was buttered over a wide area, then sprinkled with dried bread crumbs and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Then I played with the flavorings:  one had mushrooms and chives; the others had one of the following herbs: basil, lemon thyme, lovage, or lemon balm.  I love my herb garden!
Mushrooms and chives
The pork chops were last to go on.  
Next step:  enclosure!
The first packet, with three layers of paper, I gathered up like a pouch and tied it off.  The rest I folded two sides together and then brought the other two sides up and over so I had a flat purse.

String is knotted
String can be untied by pulling on the short end

All were nestled onto a baking sheet and put in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.  That was a good amount of time and maybe could have been shortened to 20 minutes since the chops were so thin.  

The Verdict:  MOIST.  Tender.  Flavorful.  Juicy.  All the words that normally I don't use on pork chops because they tend to be dry and chewy.  Success!  I tried two packets:  one foil with lovage, which was good but the lovage flavor was unusual to my taste buds (it is a new herb to my garden).  The other was the original packet with chives and mushrooms and it was superb.

Camouflage chop!
The butter did its job to keep the chop from sticking to the paper or foil.  The breadcrumbs did their job of soaking up the juices and holding the flavors close to the meat.  

I think this would be a fun dish to serve to company.  I can imagine sending around a platter with these little packets that each guest would pick up and unwrap at their plate.  Be sure to have a bowl handy to hold the used wrappers.

The only thing I would change is that I would put some bread crumbs and herbs/spices on top of the pork chop, too.  The underside of the chops was the prettiest so I flipped each one as I scooped it out of its wrapper.  Upon rereading the second recipe, I think it is telling me to put the seasonings on top.