Quick Recipes and Easy

For You There’s Rosemary and Rue

For you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.

Shakespeare’s words from The Winter’s Tale seem to indicate mild Elizabethan winters. Rosemary is a perennial in zones 6-8, but even mature plants will not survive a severe frost. If one is forecast, mulch your plant heavily. To avoid mildew, plant your rosemary where it will delight in excellent air circulation. With adequate light rosemary can be grown indoors and can easily be cultivated as a topiary.
The name comes from the Latin Ros maris or “dew of the sea”. It was later called Rose of Mary or rosemary in honor of the Virgin Mary because it is supposed to be the bush that sheltered the Holy Family on their flight to Egypt. Another rosemary legend dates back to when Sicily was ruled by the sorceress Circe (the same lady who turned Ulysses’ companions into swine), who caused volcanoes to erupt and plants to wither and die. She also bewitched folks into throwing themselves into the sea. A local blue-eyed heroine became blue-flowered rosemary and clung to the cliffs to remind men of the ever-renewing power of excellent in the world.
Rosemary traditionally symbolizes memory and in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia cries, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance, pray you like remember.” Rosemary is also entwined into brides’ head wreaths to help couples remember their wedding vows.
Medicinally, studies show that rosemary improves circulation, especially to the head, helping to relieve headaches and to improve concentration and memory. A traditional European remedy for those suffering from poor circulation due to illness or lack of exercise is to drink white wine suffused with rosemary. The herb is also recommended for flatulence and heartburn and as an aid to digestion. It helps combat bacterial and fungal infections and makes a excellent antiseptic gargle for sore throats, gum problems and canker sores. As with all herbs, do not use medicinally when pregnant except under the direction of your doctor. Sustained contact with fresh rosemary or the use of rosemary scented cosmetics may cause contact dermatitis in very sensitive people.
In the kitchen, rosemary is superb with lamb, pork and poultry. It also turns plain ancient spuds into a gourmet dish. Try this:

Roast Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

· 2 lbs. red potatoes
· 2-3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
· 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic
· ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
· Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into cubes roughly one to one and a half inches across. Mix all the other ingredients and toss the potatoes cubes in the mixture. Add more olive oil if there’s insufficient to cover the potatoes and the bottom of the pan. Folks who don’t share my enthusiasm for herbs and garlic may want to reduce the quantity of these ingredients. Spread in a shallow baking pan and bake for about one hour, turning the potatoes once or twice during the cooking.
There’s something about the camphor-like flavor and fragrance of rosemary that complements lamb wonderfully. Here is a recipe for lamb shanks that has the meat falling off the bone and will have your guests falling for your cooking:

Romantic Shanks

· 4 lamb shanks
· 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
· ¾ cup of stuffed green olives
· 2 Tbsp. of capers, drained
· 3 Tbsp. of fresh rosemary, chopped fine, or 1½ Tbsp. of dried
· ½ bottle of dry white wine
· ½ cup of chicken stock
· ¼ tsp. Cayenne
· 2 tsp. lemon zest
· 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
· Lemon quinoa (recipe follows – other grains such as rice or couscous may be substituted)
· Fresh parsley sprigs for garnish

Wash the shanks and pat dry. Bake, uncovered, in a casserole at 450 F for about half an hour. Meanwhile, rinse the olives and capers under cold running water then mix all of the ingredients (except for the parsley and quinoa) together. Remove the shanks from the oven and pour the mixture over them. Cover and return to a 325 F oven to cook for a further 3-3½ hours. Serve one lamb shank per person, placing it on a bed of lemon quinoa with the sauce poured over top. Garnish with the fresh parsley springs and serve with a green vegetable such as broccoli.
Lemon Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is not really a grain. It is the seed-like fruit of the Chenopodium quinoa plant (a member of the goosefoot family, which also includes spinach, beets, and chard) that has been cultivated in the Andes since ancient times. Quinoa has fantastic versatility and can be used to replace rice, couscous and other grains. Quinoa is one of the best plant sources of high-quality protein. It contains more calcium than milk, and is rich in B vitamins, iron and other minerals. Quinoa’s quick cooking time is another bonus. Because some of the bitter saponin covering on the grain can still be present even though most quinoa is washed before being sold, you should thoroughly rinse the dry grain until the water runs clear.

· 1 cup of quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
· 2 cups of chicken stock
· 2 tsp. lemon zest
· 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice.
To give the quinoa an even nuttier taste, after rinsing, dry roast the grains in a pan over a medium heat for four to five minutes. Then bring the stock to a boil while slowly adding the quinoa, lemon zest and juice. Reduce to simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork before serving.
Rosemary also heightens the flavor of all root vegetables. The following soup is as nutritious as it is tasty.

Cream of Carrot Soup with Rosemary

· 1 large onion, chopped
· 12 carrots, chopped
· 1 potato, peeled and cubed
· 4 cups of chicken, vegetable or herb bouillon
· 1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
· 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
· ½ cup of heavy cream
· 2 Tbsp. of butter
· Pinch of cayenne
· Sea salt to taste
· A few extra rosemary sprigs for garnish

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter until translucent, but not brown. Add the carrots, potato and stock and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Then add the ginger and rosemary, allow to cool and blend in a food processor until smooth. Reheat, but don’t allow to boil while stirring in the heavy cream and adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. When serving, garnish with the extra rosemary springs.

Bruce Burnett is an award-winning writer, a chartered herbalist and author of HerbWise: growing cooking wellbeing.

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