Rosemary in Italy
Seeing as it's Easter today I'd like to reminisce about one of the most beautiful Easters I've experienced so far during my time on the planet. I was 18 and working on a farm outside of Siena, Italy, where I was given partial responsibility for a herd of 70 pigs, 2 horses, 1 donkey and a half dozen pure-white heirloom breed cows who loved escaping their pasture to wander the woods like something out of a bucolic oil painting.
One of the hors d'oeuvres I made this weekend was in homage to the flavors of Tuscany. Tuscany has been called the "meat and potatoes" region of Italy, so it's a no-brainer that I concocted something by pairing potatoes and rosemary. Below is a recipe for roasted fingerling potatoes filled with rosemary-lemon mascarpone. And while pulling my rosemary out of its little plastic package wasn't as romantic as harvesting it from a hedge outside of an Etruscan villa, the memories it induced while I chopped was enough to make me swoon.
Roasted Fingerlings with Rosemary & Lemon Mascarpone
1/2 lb fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (8 oz) container mascarpone
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (about 3 TB)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp salt
Tools: Potato corer
1 large zip lock bag or pastry bag
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. To create the little cavity in the fingerlings, first cut the potato in half, and then slice a little off the rounded end so it can stand up. Then, in the wider end, use the end of a vegetable peeler (the part you use to get the eyes out of potatoes) and carve a hole in the fingerling, being careful not to tear through the edge. Carve about halfway down. Continue with the rest of the potatoes, then place in a small baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are slightly golden. Cool for five minutes before piping in the mascarpone.
To make your own pastry-bag: fold over the edge of a plastic bread bag (or large Ziplock) and spoon in the mixture, pushing the mascarpone down into the corner of the bag. Once you've pushed it all down into the corner, unfold the folded-over section of the bag and push the air out. Then snip the corner of the bag and squeeze about a tablespoon of mascarpone into each little cavity of the potato.
Place on a nice board and serve while still warm.