Monday, January 30, 2012
I have discovered bergamot oranges. I have discovered bergamot oranges paired with rosemary. Aside from the recipe today, that is all we need to know.
That is, unless you don't know bergamot. Bergamot is the lovely, odd citrus fruit that gives Earl Grey its special flavor and bouquet. Its fruit is tart, and I use it much like I use lemons or limes. It is what someone got when they crossed a Seville orange with a pear lemon.
I found a mound of them nestled in a basket on my favorite olive oil table at the farmer's this last weekend. To my slight embarrassment, I squealed when I saw them. I have been on the search for some different citrus varieties, and last week I found from the same vendor that I had missed her season of Yuzu. I was deflated. All I saw were lemons and oranges and honey tangerines. Nothing against these, but I want something wintery to fill the loquat-quince void (ie: fragrant, floral, unique).
And this week she had bergamot! And another vendor had all manner of citrus intrigue. I picked up kaffir limes, pixie tangerines, blood oranges, oroblanco grapefruit, and missed a morning of a whole lot more. I made some of this salt for fun out of the limes and one of the bergamots, and because I was expecting company that afternoon, I had Cedar help me make a quick batch of shortbread. To those cookies I added bergamot zest and some of the rosemary that has been hanging out for a while on my counter. (Storage revelation: if you have no rosemary plant, buy a bunch and put it in water on your counter. Replace water every week or so and it will stay good for 4 weeks and counting.)
The results are stunning. Not only did the kaffir salt taste gloriously fragrant, floral, and different on my weird salad of leftover squash stir-fry and endive greens, but the cookies! I shouldn't be that shocked that butter sugar and flour do really well when they get together, but I was. The bergamot. Oh, if only you were here. This is my first time baking with bergamot, and it just provides that heart-swoon of beauty, just like a really good cup of Earl Grey. Only this time it is coupled with rosemary, which makes both of the flavors do a little twirling dance on your tongue and in your lungs as you breath it all in.
If you have no access to bergamot oranges, I apologize. I would use lemon or orange or grapefruit or a mix of them all if I didn't have it. On second thought, just use the tea. If you do, use a lot, like maybe two tablespoons worth. Let me know if you try it. I might try it too in the off-season.
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped bergamot orange zest
1 egg white
1/3 cup plus sugar for coating
Cream butter and sugar together with the zest in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add flour and rosemary and mix until combined. Must be smooth, or rolling with make you want to die.
Halve the dough and squeeze and roll each mound into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment and place on a cookie sheet to help the log keep its shape and refrigerate 1 hour (or more), or until very firm.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush with egg white and roll in sugar. Cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Keep unused logs refrigerated.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden and center is set and dry. Let cool on sheets at least 10 minutes. (If you have multiple pans, just cool on pans on racks.) Eat cooled, with Earl Gray tea, if you like. Enjoy!