A confession: I have never used rosemary much in cooking. The pungent herb just wasn't on my radar screen.
But now I have discovered that rosemary is right up my alley. You could even say it's in my own backyard.
My husband laughed at me when I brought back a few sprigs of fresh rosemary from the market. He led me out the door and pointed to a big thicket of piney-looking shrubs. Rosemary. Enough for a small army. So now I have set myself a new challenge: How it use this assertive, savory herb in my Slovenian cooking adventures.
In Slovenian cooking, rosemary ("rosmarin") is most often used to enhance meat dishes, like the tasty bograč, or goulash soup, I made recently. It is also used in a variety of natural herbal preparations. In fact, a Slovenian company is the largest producer of rosemary extract in Europe.
The use of savory herbs in a sweet dish, though unusual to the American palate, is common in Slovenia, especially with tarragon. Tarragon is often used in sweet cheese fillings and in a popular variety of potica, the sweet yeast bread that is Slovenia's most famous dish. So the use of rosemary in a cookie is very much in that spirit.
On a whim, I did an Internet search for rosemary biscotti. To my surprise, there were many examples, including a recipe from the Nestlé kitchens.
I used the Nestlé recipe as a foundation and started tinkering. I added a couple of extra touches: Buckwheat flour and pumpkin seed oil, both staples in Slovenian cooking.
The result was a crunchy plate of biscotti with an elusive, earthy flavor. This treat is definitely meant for the sophisticated adult palate!
Chocolate-Rosemary Biscotti, with Buckwheat and Pumpkin Seed Oil
1 1/2 c. white flour
1/4 c. buckwheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 T. fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. mild vegetable oil
1 T. pumpkin seed oil
2/3 c. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Sift flours, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir in rosemary. Set aside.
Beat eggs and sugar in larger bowl until thickened. Add the three oils and beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture and combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
Knead dough lightly. Form into two long rolls, about an inch in diameter. Place rolls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Then cut into slices, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Put slices on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake for about 10 more minutes or until brown and firm, turning over halfway through the baking time. Cool on rack.