Thursday, September 2, 2010
Curse of the Black Thumb: Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Why? Because I can’t even grow dirt. I’m serious. Our yard looks post-apocalyptic: nothing but bare sand and weeds. The citrus trees have withered away, and the Live Oak is becoming ironic. When I go to the plant store, I look like a cartoon villain – the plants all wither and die as I walk by. It’s just sad.
I've always told Don that his OGT (obviously gay trait) was supposed to be gardening. Mine is cooking (OK, and I’m an interior designer too). But instead of HGTV, he got hooked on Project Runway and picked up a sewing machine – just no cooperation at all. In the meantime, our yard suffers and I’m reduced to buying dried herbs because neither of us can grow fresh ones.
I’ve come to grudgingly accept dried herbs. Given the choice, I will always prefer fresh, but I was spending $10-$15 per week on fresh herbs at the grocery store. It was either cut out fresh herbs or cut out half of the weekly wine budget. When you put it that way, there’s really no contest.
The one exception I make is parsley. It’s relatively cheap - I can spend a buck, make it last for 2 weeks, and add a lot of life to dishes with just one fresh herb at the end. Unfortunately, everything else was jettisoned.
I’ve tried the dried versions of most herbs. Some are OK (like thyme and bay leaves), while there is no point in even using others (like basil or mint). One of the herbs that I think works well dried is rosemary. Of course, I love rosemary anyway. I mean, what’s not to love? Earthy, piney, lemony, bold – it’s wonderful.
The one thing rosemary doesn’t do is play second fiddle. Because it’s so strong, it ends up being the dominant flavor most of the time (at least the way I use it). So I figured, why not let it stand out in front?
I was throwing together a pretty easy weekend dinner, so I thought I should spend some time and make some bread. Because we were having pasta, I thought a focaccia would go nicely. Like I said before, rosemary is always high on my list – besides, I figured it would work well with the chicken and tomato sauce on the pasta. I was right.
The thing I love about focaccia is the crispy, crunchy outer layer. It’s baked with so much oil, that it almost deep fries. Can there be anything better than deep fried bread? OK, maybe deep fried dessert – but we’re talking dinner here, not sweets. I’ve never tried it, but a friend told me that she just picks up refrigerated pizza dough and makes focaccia out of it. Personally, I don’t like the pizza dough you buy in a whomp tube (you know, you peel the label and whomp it on the edge of the counter), but if you do, try it. It will save you a little time.
So until they come up with a cure for Black Thumb, I guess I’m resigned to using dried herbs a little while longer. Maybe the CDC should look into this. Or maybe I should take a trip to the witch doctor and see if she can lift the curse.
Recipe: Rosemary Focaccia Bread