Lemon, rosemary and black pepper shortbread

Rosemary is one of the great winter stalwarts of the herb garden.                               Aromatic, needle-like foliage provides evergreen colour in the garden and flavour in the kitchen. Rosemary carries us through the lean times as we wait, patiently, for her less robust, herbal companions to emerge from their winter slumber.

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This versatile herb is easy to grow and comes in a variety of different forms. R.officinalis is the big, bushy variety that you can’t resist running your hands through to release that heady fragrance, so reminiscent of Sunday dinners. This can be allowed to grow rampant or clipped to form an informal, edible hedge within a well kept herb garden. Who needs box hedging when you can have this delicious alternative! Rosemary ‘Miss Jessop’ is a prim, upright kind of a girl, who has a neat, compact habit, perfect for a small garden.                     For those who like to grow herbs in a pot close to the kitchen, trailing rosemary ‘Boule’ is ideal.                                                                                                                                      All rosemary asks is that she be positioned in a sunny spot in well drained soil and she will reward you with sprigs that can be used in cooking all year round.

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The flavour of rosemary is, more often than not, associated with savoury dishes. It goes well with roast meats, especially lamb and casseroles. However the aromatic flavour of rosemary is now being recognised as a favourable ingredient in biscuits and desserts, blending particularly well with lemon. One of my favourite recipes is lemon, rosemary and black pepper shortbread, here’s how to make it.

You will need:

350g (12oz) plain flour

225g (8 0z) butter

100g (4 oz) caster sugar and a little bit extra for dusting

pinch of salt

zest of 2 lemons

2 dessert spoons of freshly picked rosemary, finely chopped

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Pre heat the oven to 180 degree (gas mark 4). Grease and line a 20 cm square tin or similar. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the sugar, rosemary, lemon, salt and pepper. Gently knead until mixed. Press the mixture evenly into the tin and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and dust with caster sugar. Allow to cool slightly then cut into squares when still warm.

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I took mine to the Kingsley gardening club yesterday evening and they seemed to go down well. After all I can’t give a talk on edible gardens without giving them a little taste of the good life.

Kingsley gardening club ” Thank you” you made me feel very welcome.

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