Saturday, September 09, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #49

Weekend Herb Blogging is back with Kalyn and I've decided to go all Scarborough fair.

I've done parsley and sage and thyme but heaven's above, I've yet to do Rosemary!

rosemary

Rosemary comes from the Latin Rosmarinus and in Italian it's called Rosmarino. It is one of those herbs that is a staple in the Italian kitchen. Picking it was always enjoyable as its scent would linger upon your hands. It's simplest use was with roasted potatoes - the delightful cooking smells emanating from the oven would disperse throughout the house, ensuring a hearty appetite come dinner time.

Rosemary is most associated with memory, thus the custom of wearing a sprig of rosemary on Remembrance Day. It's said that the ancient Greek students would wear crowns of rosemary to help them when studying. In Sicilian children stories they talk of young fairies that take the form of snakes and lie amongst the branches of rosemary bushes.

Rosemary tea is used to aid memory and relieve headaches. It's also used in herbal medicines as a nerve tonic and a digestion aide. Rosemary extracts are used in shampoos to revitalise the scalp, encouraging hair growth and the prevention of dandruff.

In the garden, rosemary does best as a companion plant to sage.

The woody stalks of rosemary make excellent skewers imparting flavours from within, the soft tips providing a sweeter tasting leaf.

I've decided to team rosemary with olives and make another dish that's well suited for an antipasto plate. Once again you'll notice that there aren't specific quantities listed as the recipe should just be used as a guide - you can vary the herbs and spices to suit your own taste.

jar

Rosemary Olives

Olives, preserved in brine and drained
fresh rosemary
fresh oregano
garlic cloves, peeled and sliced finely
long red chilli, sliced finely
preserved lemon, flesh removed, rind sliced finely
peppercorns, roughly cracked
Olive oil

You can really do this with whatever olives you like - just avoid like the plague those black rubber tyres they call olives that you find on pizzas. That's where a lot of olive hate starts. Go out and try the many varieties like Kalamata, Ligurian, Manzanilla, Cerignola, and Nicoise just to name a few and find out what real olives should taste like.

olives

The olives are a mix of Australian olives including Manzanilla, Kalamata, Blonde Kalamata and wonderful wild olives from Mt Zero. The good thing about this recipe is that it's so easy you don't have to do this in bulk - if all you've got is a cup of olives then that is more than enough.

Place the olives in a bowl.

Strip the rosemary and oregano leaves from their stalks and sprinkle over the olives - bruise the rosemary first to release it's flavour. Add to this the finely sliced garlic clove, chilli and preserved lemon. If you don't have preserved lemon, a few wafer thin slices of fresh lemon will do. Finally add the cracked black pepper and stir to mix through.

Prepare your jar by adding two sprigs of rosemary and pressing them around the edge of the jar. Add the olive mixture, pressing down to ensure a snug fit. Then top with olive oil.

When using olive oil in something like this where the flavour will come through, do use a good olive oil. You don't necessarily have to use an extra virgin, use one that you like the taste of. Tap the jar to release the air bubbles and then seal.

jar

Let this sit for a day before using - you'll notice the flavours will continue to develop the longer you keep it. Store it in the fridge - it makes a great change from plain olives.

If you are serving these olives with drinks, drizzle over with some good Balsamic Vinegar - this adds a bit of zing and another dimension to the taste.

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4 comments:

  1. It sounds just wonderful. The Australian olives sound great. It's interesting, but I never thought about olive being from Australia before. I really love rosemary and I like the sound of this with the olives absorbing that great rosemary flavor.

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  2. Thanks Kalyn - olives are really a by-product of migration. When my mother first came here they would sell olive oil in tiny bottles at the chemist! The olive groves have really come on in the last 10+ years and we are now producing top quality olives.

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  3. hello, i've stumbled upon your blog and i love the sound of olives and rosemary! great photos too.

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  4. Welcome Kickpleat and thanks!

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