Friday, March 25, 2016

Menu Roundup: Out Like a Lamb

Who knew March could be such a hectic, overwhelming month? I certainly did not! So, in an effort to keep calm and get things back on track, here's an easy, casual menu idea that can be used to entertain guests AND restore your soul :-)

Garlic and Chive Dip: A delicious make-ahead starter to serve with crusty bread, good crackers, or veggie sticks. It's up to you how much garlic you use - just be sure to warn your guests ahead of time!

Ham and Cheese Strata: Another excellent make-ahead, where you can tailor the ingredients to suit your needs. It keeps well in the fridge, and reheats beautifully, covered in foil, in a low oven.

Catalan Spinach: These sweet-and-savory greens cook up in just a few minutes, making a last-minute side dish that's stress-free as well as absolutely delicious.

Individual Pumpkin Custards: Warming spices make these creamy custards comforting and satisfying—and they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, so they're always ready when you are!


Friday, March 04, 2016

Dazed and Infused: Herb-Infused Sugar and Salt

I sadly don't have an indoor rosemary plant, so during the Winter months I need to buy fresh rosemary if I want to use it. But the other week, after doing just that, I found myself with a surfeit of the fragrant stuff. I wanted to save it, store it, make it last forever!!! And then I had a scathingly brilliant idea: just like that vanilla sugar I keep going on about, I would make its savory counterpart—ROSEMARY INFUSED SALT. I was feeling exceptionally unique and amazing for quite a few seconds, but a quick Internet search revealed that it had been done, pinned, tweeted, posted, and pretty much plastered all over the place.

My bubble was somewhat deflated but not altogether burst, so I carried on and mixed my ingredients, using the proportions that seemed to be most common on the web. And while I was at it, I thought back to that vanilla sugar, and made a batch of rosemary sugar just for fun:

rosemary infused sugar and salt ingredients

Things started smelling like a Christmas tree farm after breaking apart all those rosemary sprigs, but I was pleased to be making the most of my purchase. I've been dutifully shaking the jars vigorously each day since then, to ensure the contents don't clump and to keep the rosemary evenly distributed. I definitely plan to start using them soon (in place of regular salt and sugar) wherever a touch of rosemary would go nicely!

Notes: I used roughly 1/4 cup rosemary sprigs to 2 cups kosher salt, and about 2 Tablespoons rosemary sprigs to 1 cup granulated sugar. I used very clean Mason jars with a larger capacity than required to ensure I had enough room to shake them thoroughly. I store the salt and sugar in a cool dark cabinet, right alongside the vanilla sugar.