My parents always had rosemary growing in their garden, that wonderfully fragrant herb that flavoured our Sunday roasts and many other dishes my mother would prepare for us. When I acquired a yard of my own I began to grow rosemary as well so that I could have on hand sprigs of this herb to flavour my roasts and sauces. The only downside of growing rosemary in Canada is that it does not survive our long cold sub-zero winter season. My rosemary grows in a large container that I bring indoors sometime in November for the winter. The funny thing is that I store it in my cold cellar which has a small window and during the winter months its temperature is around zero degrees Celsius, and there it thrives. I have tried leaving it in a warmer room of the house but the environment caused the leaves to mildew, and eventually the rosemary plant would succumb to this powdery white invader and die. In the cold cellar as the days get longer the plant receives more sunlight and it begins to bud. By April or May depending on how cold the nights are I put the plant outdoors again and the buds open up to pretty little blue flowers.
One of my favourite ways to use rosemary is in bread. Though rosemary has a distinct and pungent flavour, when baked in bread its flavour isn't over powering at all. For this particular bread I use my old and faithful recipe for Basic Bread for Fougasse by Patricia Wells. I love this wonderful and versatile straight method dough that I use often for baguettes and pizzas, as well as the Onion Focaccia that I have posted a while ago and where you will find the recipe.
I just chop up about one tablespoon of rosemary and add it to the dough. I love the little green speck of rosemary and the soft dough is marvelous to work with.
After its final rise I shape and slash the bread and bake it in a hot 425 degrees F. oven and while it is baking the house is filled with a wonderful aroma. When I pull the baquettes out of the oven I can hardly wait to have a slice, but to resist the temptation to cut into the bread, I leave the room and come back later to enjoy a slice with butter. This bread is especially wonderful with roasted meats.