Rosemary is the herb of remembrance and although it is used year round, in my mind I think of it as a winter herb. It can survive the bitterest cold. Over 12 years ago, when we moved into our house, the garden was nothing like what it looks like today. There was the back corner which had some remnants of plants. The Moraldos who had build the house five years ago, were also good gardeners. They had however not planted anything that summer because they were not sure when we would move in. We moved in around early August, and spent most of fall focusing on getting the inside squared away. In winter, I was pleasantly surprised to see a fragrant green bush that was green and healthy amidst a snowy backdrop.
Curiosity, prompted me to reach out smell it and sure enough, it was hardy and fragrant Rosemary. It is indeed a woody evergreen perinneal. The name rosemary means dew of the sea, so named in Greek because in some places the plant can survive with just the humidity of the sea breeze. Interestingly, enough it is a popular herb these days with experimental chefs in India, in fact, after my last trip I was inspired to actually try somei mixing and matching with rosemary myself, such as in this recipe for potatoes.
We are now well into the center of summer. I shall actually be switching gears after this and be telling you about my summer coping skills and get back to the ingredients again. This mini-series can be our own Indian summer, ok Indian summer inWestchester. Grilling on a really hot day never quite made much sense to me. I am strange that way. The truth of the matter is, I do not really function well when it is very hot. I tend to get tired, and even the kitchen which is my usual solace seems to become a rather unwelcome place. I do love my grill just tend to use it more in early fall than summer.
Instead I turn to my slow cooker. It is the most essential cooking tool in my house after my pressure cookers (Yes, that was meant to be plural), I shall however tell you about my pressure cooking at a later day, today it is about the slow cooker. I use my slow cooker happily and extensively all through the year. It is less about fixing and forgetting, since I do tend to supervise and nurture the dish, it is mostly about the quite cooking that does not generate a lot of heat. To get the best results from slow cooking to create curries (I do both Thai and Indian), the occasional attention is essential. I also use it for things such as chickpeas for hummus and soups.
A few days ago, I made this lovely white bean spread. It is surprisingly creamy. It is mostly a soft combination of white beans with olive oil and keeps fairly well in the refrigerator. The cherry tomatoes are out in the garden and actually we just had our first tomatoes as well. Today, we enjoyed this with whole grain crostini and tomatoes. I have revived and improved this fish curry that I made last year and of course made this mint and almond slow cooked chicken curry.
So, how do you beat the heat?
Slow Cooked White Bean Spread
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours (in a slow cooker
Makes 1 cup spread
¾ cup white beans ( I used northern and cannelloni beans)
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ lime or lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Toasted whole baguette slices
Method of Preparation
1. Place the beans, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and vegetable stock and salt in a slow cooker.
2. Cook on high for 3 hours. The beans should be soft and the moisture mostly absorbed.
3. Cool the mixture slightly.
4. Place in a blender and add all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.
5. Squeeze in the lemon juice and blend until smooth.
Rinku Bhattacharya is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences, original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and has found her classes a great way to teach and learn.