Rosemary in recipes
Rosemary, as I’m sure you know, is a culinary herb:
It is one of the famous French "herbes de Provence", and is very effective in bringing a real taste of the Mediterranean to any dish.
The classic way to use it in a recipe is to add a sprig or two and leave it in during cooking as a way of capturing the full flavour.
But there are two slight problems with this:
1) Rosemary, rather like bay leaves, is difficult to eat. The thick stem is usually woody and hard, and the needle-like leaves are tough, even after cooking.
2) After they have been cooking for a while, the leaves fall off the stem and get mixed into the dish. They are not ideal to eat, as I was saying, so can be unpleasant when they end up in a mouthful. Trying to sort them out of the food is an irksome task.
With such drawbacks, one might be forgiven for wanting to give up using rosemary all together, but that would be a pity, as the flavour is so good. Fortunately, there’s a solution…
The trick is a simple one, and it’s this: imagine you are making a tomato sauce, as you might knock up in advance for home-made pizzas (a real must!). Midway through cooking, once the tomatoes start to look like a proper sauce, add the sprig(s) of rosemary as planned and leave in the sauce – but only for five minutes
, then remove and discard.
This will give your sauce plenty of rosemary flavour, but without leaving the nasty hard bits of herb mentioned above. Five minutes may not sound like very long, but it’s enough, as you will see.
You can do the same with thyme, but this is less necessary, as the leaves are very small and quite easy to eat.
If you are not making a sauce, but cooking meat, for example, the method is even simpler: just rub the rosemary over the meat. This might seem odd or inadequate, but it really is enough – try it out for yourself.
To sum up
: When using sprigs of rosemary in a recipe, just rub over the food, or leave in the pan while cooking for no longer than five minutes.
Back to top of page
The 3 essential knives
You must have heard a chef or cook say: "There’s no good cooking without good ingredients". This is very true, of course, but for any amateur or beginner it is equipment that really counts to start with. What I mean is that you should not skimp on [Read more...]
Using stretch food film effectively
Maybe you use food film in your own kitchen. You know, the very thin, clear plastic stuff that you can stretch, often used to cover food and protect it from the air. It’s become so widely used that it’s now an essential item for pros. They even [Read more...]
The mock CAP baker's certificate exam
The next instalment in my life as an apprentice baker at the French INBP professional school. I’m now halfway through training and it’s still as exciting as ever, and exhausting – but maybe I’m just getting old, or both… Anyway, a few days [Read more...]
The Holy Grail of French bakers
While browsing through the recipes on this site, you may have noticed that while I adore cooking (everything, in fact, to do with eating and drinking), I am particularly drawn to bakery: bread, viennoiseries and all that goes with them – it’s a [Read more...]
Is it really necessary to cream egg yolks?
Let’s try and answer a question that crops up in cookery and patisserie, even if it verges on the existential: do the egg yolks in a custard recipe really need to be beaten until pale, or not?
You might already have noticed in many recipes [Read more...]
Egg yolks and caster sugar
We often come across recipes where we need to mix egg yolks with caster sugar. This would appear to be a very ordinary and simple thing to do but, be warned, these two ingredients can behave oddly together.
Let’s take confectioner's custard [Read more...]
The golden-brown finish on puff pastry
Let's take a look at the tricky matter of producing puff pastry with an attractive, golden-brown finish. French pastry chefs call this "dorure" (literally, "gilding").
Behind this quirky term there lurks a real problem (and the solution): when [Read more...]
Fats for cooking
If you need to fry or sear anything a frying pan or saucepan, the temperature is likely to be high.
In particular, I have cooking red meat in mind. In this case, what should fat should we use? And at what temperature?
For our red meat, let's [Read more...]