rosemary chicken

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at ones most solitary, a cook in
the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and
menus of cooks present, and the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

My dad just got home from Newport and brought me a little tin box full of family recipes.  They’re all written out by hand and spattered with pasta water and melted chocolate. Although I have never met any of the women behind these recipes, each one gives me a glimpse into the lives they led.

I know that Ms. E. M. Langley felt very strongly about adding extra cheddar to her stuffed peppers, and that Mrs. Pierce liked to dip her doughnuts not once, but three times in powdered sugar.  Even though I don’t even know their first names, I think Ms. Langley, Mrs. Pierce are pretty cool, and I think we would all be very good friends.  (I don’t joke around when it comes to powdered sugar)

This got me thinking — what recipes define my immediate family?

We don’t have many heirloom recipes.  I don’t have a Greek grandmother who taught me how to roll a phyllo dough.  I don’t come from a long line of bread-makers.  We don’t even have a family recipe for lasagna.

Then realized that there are so many tastes that remind me of my family.

This rosemary chicken is one of them.  It’s a recipe that’s always been there.  It was simmering in the background when I learned how to ride a bike, when I broke my arm, when I thought bangs would be a good idea, when I went on my first date and when I got my first cavity.  It will still be simmering on the back burner when I learn to drive, when I go off to college, and when I get my first job.  It’s that good.  

It’s a simple recipe — chicken breasts covered in a luscious rosemary cream sauce that fill the entire house with the warm, comforting smell of rosemary and caramelized onions.
 
Someday, I want to be the lady behind a family recipe.  I’ll always add extra cheddar, and hopefully an aspiring cook someday will look at my recipes and think that I sounded like a pretty cool lady.

Do you have any family recipes?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped garlic clove
1 chopped onion
4 pieces of boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large skillet, saute the garlic and onions in olive oil.
Add chicken and brown.

Place browned chicken in a baking dish, leaving the browned onions and garlic in the pan.
Add cream to the skillet and mix with the onions and garlic. Add the cider vinegar.
Cook over medium heat, scraping up the brown bits, onions, and garlic from the pan. Add chopped rosemary. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to about half.
Pour sauce over chicken in baking dish. 
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

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macaroni grill rosemary bread

When I was in fourth grade, my mom used to pay me $10 a week to bake this bread for her. This bread tastes exactly like the bread they serve at the Macaroni Grill. We used to go there all the time, and when I taste this bread, I remember the crayons, the paper tablecloths, and the random opera soundtrack that is unique to the restaurant.
This bread has a delicious, rosemary aroma and subtle, crunchy saltiness from the coarse salt. I always serve this bread with dipping oil — olive oil, black pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
With love, 
Erica
Ingredients
*Makes 2 loaves

1 tablespoon instant yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 3/4 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary, chopped and divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Coarse salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer if you have
one), combine the yeast, sugar and water. If using active dry yeast, let
the mixture stand until foaming and bubbly, about 5 minutes. If using
instant yeast, proceed with the recipe.
Add two cups of the flour, salt
and 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary. Mix. Continue adding flour,
gradually, until a soft dough is formed. Judge the dough based on
texture and feel versus how much actual flour you’ve had to add based on
the recipe. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch but should
hold it’s shape while still being soft and smooth. Knead the dough by
hand or with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, adding additional flour
only if the dough is overly sticky and not clearing the sides of the
bowl.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with greased
plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, approximately
1-2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Once doubled, gently
deflate the dough and divide in half. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet
with parchment paper, a silpat liner or lightly grease with cooking
spray. Shape the dough into two smooth, oval shaped loaves and place
them on the baking sheet, one on each half of the tray so they have room
to rise and bake without touching. Use a brush to slather the melted
butter over the top of the loaves. Continue brushing on the butter until
it is gone (the loaves will be well-saturated). Sprinkle the remaining
chopped rosemary over the top of the loaves, patting down gently to set
into the dough, if needed. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic
wrap and let them rise again until puffy and nearly doubled, about an
hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly sprinkle coarse salt over
the top of the loaves. Bake the loaves for 18-20 minutes until browned
and baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

ratatouille and rosemary breadsticks

Hi there!
Welcome to my new blog, Cannella Vita. Instead of boring you all with a bunch of info about this blog (which I will probably do in a post soon to come!), or an “about me” post (which is also on its way!). I thought it would be nice to jump right in and inspire you all with one of my favorite comfort recipes — a colorful ratatouille with delicious, homemade, chewy breadsticks brushed with EVOO, sea salt, and fragrant rosemary. I don’t really like all of the heavy cream and cheese that goes into some versions of ratatouille — so I created this recipe that has no cheese, and tons of flavor! Hopefully you all can warm up in this chilly month with this nice ratatouille. As delicious as it is on its own, I also love to use the leftover ratatouille in sandwiches — a great lunch to pack for school or work! Enjoy! 
With love, Erica

Look at all the vivid colors — simple vegetables baked together and enhanced with delicious, fragrant herbs and olive oil









Ratatouille
as envisioned by Erica


1 onion, finely chopped
2 squirts amore garlic paste concentrate (I highly recommend this, I HATE chopping garlic cause it makes your hands smell all garlicky — I get mine at the local Balduccis)
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Dried Basil
Dried Rosemary
Dried Oregano
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Pour tomato sauce into bottom of an oval baking dish. Squirt the garlic paste into the bottom of the dish add the chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices.
On top of the tomato sauce, arrange slices of your vegetables from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, alternating vegetables and making a pretty pattern 🙂
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt pepper, and the Italian herbs. Add the sprigs of fresh thyme on top.
Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not completely limp.
Enjoy with some rice, on a sandwich, with my homemade breadsticks. (recipe follows)


Erica’s Homemade Breadsticks

For the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast
1¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
For the glaze:
2 squirts amore garlic paste concentrate
3 tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. rosemary
Sea Salt

To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients.  Add the olive oil, milk and water.  Mix until ingredients have formed a dough.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 10-inch long rope. Put ropes on a  baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
To make the glaze, squirt the garlic paste into a bowl.  Mix with the melted butter and rosemary.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy freshly baked, breadsticks 🙂