Remember Rosemary Focaccia? No, she wasn’t that friend of your Mom’s with the big hair. I baked it last week and wrote about it here. Well, I‘ve barely used any of the big hunk of rosemary (the herb, not the woman with the scary baby.) The rest has been sitting on my kitchen shelf, waiting for its next assignment. Every day as I walked by it I thought, “Don’t want to waste that, gotta use it in something.” I swear the rosemary kept eyeing me anxiously, like a Little Leaguer waiting on the bench for the coach to send her in to play shortstop.
Finally, I stopped and looked at the rosemary, and smelled its turpentine-soaked perfume for inspiration. Dubiously I thought, “Chicken?” Even the rosemary rolled its proverbial eyes at that one. I guess the world doesn’t need yet another take on Rosemary Chicken (the entrée, not your Dad’s prom date.)
Okay, I need to explain why I’ve been indulging myself here in cheap, vulgar word play which you tired of after the first instance. I have a friend who over the years has gotten me hooked on something we call “The Name Game.” I think you’ve gotten the unfortunate drift of how it works. I believe it started one day when he and a family member were assembling a piece of Ikea furniture. Stopping to decipher the instructions, they realized that the little tool that you use to assemble Ikea furniture had gone missing. Returning to the store they asked for a little replacement tool and the clerk answered, “Oh you mean an Allen wrench?”
I wasn’t there, but I’d love to have been a fly on the wall to see the clerk’s reaction when my friend replied, “Allen Wrench? I went to high school with him.” I imagine the clerk’s reaction was exactly the same as yours.
In the years since, my world has become populated by the likes of Chuck Steak, Bob Forapples, and the distinguished Count Yourchange.
The game is addictive, but I’ll stop and address the question at hand: what should I do with rosemary? (Now I’m restraining myself at great pain.)
I got to thinking that after January (my month of virtuous eating) I have been avoiding my best mate, the cookie. I’ve missed him so. That was all the inspiration I needed. My challenge was to make a cookie using rosemary, a somewhat grassy herb with a raucous perfume that is usually more at home as a savory note. An even better challenge, I thought, was to access my inner Alice Waters, and use whatever was fresh today at the market.
Since it is winter, the market wasn’t offering me any inspiration. So I wondered what would happen if I stole a page out of the chicken cookbook and made a Lemon Rosemary Cookie. I was intrigued but unconvinced. Just then, I spotted Meyer Lemons. (Okay, I’ll restrain myself, but c’mon, doesn’t that sound like a character Woody Allen would have played in one of his early movies?)
I rarely see Meyer Lemons here in New York as they are not really the stuff of mainstream supermarkets. Meyer Lemons are delightfully odd in that they are a cross between lemons and oranges. They look like an orange, taste like a lemon, have strong undertones of lime, but lack a lot of the sourness of lemons.
Meyer Lemon Rosemary Biscotti would just hit the spot. I thought biscotti would be better than cookies because you can dip them in wine, taking advantage of the savory notes being sung by the rosemary.
I think a lot of folks who like to bake don’t realize that biscotti are really easy to make, and the flavor combinations are limited only by your imagination. And yes, even some of the sweet varieties are wonderful dipped in wine. A simple, light dessert? Biscotti dipped in a sweet dessert wine. Granted, not great for kids.
As biscotti doughs tend to be rich in eggs I knew that the aggressiveness of the Meyer Lemon and rosemary would be muted, resulting in a cookie that is just mildly sweet. My target was not to make the cookie equivalent of a Starburst candy.
Of course, if Starbursts are your cup of tea, you can drizzle the biscotti with a Meyer Lemon glaze that gives the cookies an almost drippy citrus zing. Meyer Lemon glaze has two ingredients. Does it get any easier? (No.)
The resulting biscotti were exactly as I imagined. They have a challenging crunch, and a vanilla heartiness that is merely “influenced” by the Meyer Lemon and Rosemary. The resident Butter Flour Eggs Oenologist (a/k/a my friend Marnee) recommends dipping them in the nectary sweetness of Mezzacorona Moscato – a more restrained Moscato than the “raisin-y” varieties that may be familiar to you.
If you prefer your fruit of the vine to be much less sweet, she also recommends the flowery Trader Joe Honeymoon Viognier or even the oaky darkness of Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot. I think the latter is where the Meyer Lemon Rosemary biscotti will shine.
All that’s left now is to set out a plate of the biscotti, uncork the wine, and enjoy a few relaxing moments with my friends Eileen Dover and her brother Ben.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
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