There’s an old English saying “Where Rosemary flourishes, the Woman rules” and it was believed that rosemary would not grow well in a garden unless the mistress was the master. Well, thanks to Watermill gardener Flavio Terenzoni (and presumably his wife Marida and my wife Lois), rosemary flourishes in the Walled Garden of the Watermill. (Flavio and I are not commenting!)
Sage, basil, mint, thyme, chives and other herbs also grow well here and we use them daily in our cooking. We’ll also be picking fresh aromatic herbs and using them during our unique L’arte di mangiar bene cookery course at the mill this Summer (details below).
In the Tuscan kitchen we tend to use rosemary to flavour meat and potato dishes, but Lois and Ingrid Fabbian, who will be running the course along with some fabulous local Italian cooks, including Marida, Mirella and Angelina, will also be showing you how to bake a moist and delicious apple and rosemary cake.
Here’s the recipe, to whet your appetite:
Ingredients 190g plain white flour 1/3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp baking powder 85g unsalted butter, room temperature 85g dark brown sugar, plus extra for dusting 2 eggs 1½ tbsp olive oil 240g peeled and cored Bramley cooking apples, very finely diced+ (optional) one extra apple just sliced into thin slices either with a mandolin or carefully with a sharp knife. ½ tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped More sprigs of rosemary & a couple of pinches of brown sugar for topping & a handful of oats (optional too) One 23cm round cake tin OR 10 individual cake tins,well greased with olive oil
Method Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan assisted. Whisk together the flour, spices and baking powder to ensure they are evenly mixed. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – approximately 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, then add the oil and beat to incorporate. Mix in the diced apple and chopped rosemary, then fold in the dry ingredients. Transfer into the prepared cake tin/s, lay the slices of apple on top,sprinkle with oats If using and brown sugar & press the extra rosemary into the top. Bake for around 15 mins for mini cakes and 25-30 minutes for a larger cake – or until firm in the centre and a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely, or serve warm.
Put a sprig of rosemary on top, too – and, gentlemen, have a good sniff: A man who is indifferent to the fragrance of rosemary is unable to give true love to a woman and those who smell rosemary frequently will retain their youth.
L’arte di mangiar bene, the art of eating well, lies at the heart of the Italian lifestyle — and that’s just what you’ll enjoy on The Watermill’s first-ever cookery week. You’ll learn the secrets of healthy eating from Lois and The Watermill team, among them an Italian grandmother (Mirella, to the right), an organic farmer and our gardener’s wife Marida. You’ll choose freshest local ingredients (we’ll pick many of them ourselves each day) and prepare them deliciously for the table.
We’ll visit markets, vegetable gardens, olive groves and vineyards. The Italians are the healthiest people in Europe and this is due not just the quality of the food, but to la bella vita italiana, the relaxed lifestyle which means taking time to talk to friends and to enjoy their company, not least in convivial meals around the dining table. You’ll be savouring all that, too.
Over the years Lois Breckon and The Watermill team have built a reputation for the quality of their food and we’re keen to share our secrets with you, from antipasti to dolci – and dozens of mouth-watering, freshly prepared, health-promoting dishes in between.
with Lois Breckon, Ingrid Fabbian and The Watermill team
To learn more about this delicious cookery course, please click here