Saturday 19 April 2008

rosemary & cheese biscuits

Jonas and I made these cookies for the first ever housewarming party we threw, a few weeks after Jonas arrived in Australia in 2001. Those were the days when sweet and savoury confusions were not so well known and our friends scoffed when we presented savoury biscuits.

It was funny to serve these biscuits again, a few weeks ago, to some of the same friends who scoffed at them the first time. Perhaps they tried them with more mature concepts of food (or palates), but this time they declared them a success.

Jonas and I smiled at each other. It only took them seven years!

These are a type of savoury shortbread, heady with the aromas of rosemary. They are a wonderful contribution to any selection of snacks and appestisers and are perfect picnic food too.

They are easy to make and very addictive.

Rosemary & Cheese Biscuits
Cocktails and Finger Food by Murdoch Books. Makes 50.

1 cup plain flour
100g chilled butter, chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream
60g cheddar cheese
60g parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
3 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
½ teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 180’C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sift flour into mixing bowl. Using fingertips rub butter into flour until the mixture is fine and crumbly. Do not overmix.
3. Add remaining ingredients, mix well with a knife. Press mixture together into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 10-15 minutes.
4. Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls and place on baking trays, allowing space for spreading. Flatten slightly with fork.
5. Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack
Variation: instead of mixing the salt through the recipe, sprinkle crushed rock salt over the biscuits just before baking.
Note: cookies can be stored in airtight container for 1 week or dough can be stored in the fridge for 2 days before cooking.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb which is native to the Mediterranean region, which is still the main source of commercial dried rosemary today.

Despite the many connotations to Christian beliefs and Jesus’ mother Mary, the word rosemary derives from Latin rosmarinus, which translates to “dew of the sea” and was probably named because it grew in arid, coastal areas. It was also closely linked to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love who rose from the sea.

There was an ancient belief that rosemary stimulated and strengthened the memory. Ancient Greek students would bring rosemary to their exams and in European cultures the herb has always symbolised remembrance.

Rosemary has been used as a medicinal treatment for thousands of years. External applications of rosemary oils and spirits can relieve muscular and arthritic pain, rheumatic conditions, bruises, and circulatory problems, stimulate the hair-bulbs to prevent premature baldness and prevent/treat headlice.

Internal ingestion shows rosemary is a good source of the minerals iron, calcium, manganese, Vitamin B6 as well as dietary fibre. Due to its levels quinones, which inhibit carcinogens, it is high on the list of anti-cancer herbs and is said to protect from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases.

Rosemary is supposed to assist gall bladder and liver diseases, act as an anti-inflammatory to reduce asthma attacks, treat dizziness from inner ear infections, and is also used as a sedative, diuretic, stomach relief, aromatic, antispasmodic and antiseptic.

As an antiseptic it is used to treat flu, viruses and colds and infused in warm water is a good gargle for mouth ulcers and canker sores, and as a mouth wash for halitosis.

Consuming a lot of rosemary, however, can lead to spasm, vomiting and fluid in the lungs, which can be fatal! It can also cause autoimmune diseases.

Health professionals warn pregnant women against eating too much rosemary, even if they are just breastfeeding.

Epileptics are also warned against medicinal rosemary, which can aggravate seizures.

Fresh rosemary should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel, while dried rosemary will keep fresh for about six months if stored in a tightly sealed container. Fresh rosemary sprigs can be frozen with water in ice cube trays then added to soups and stews.

This week the WHB host is Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook. Be sure to visit her blog to read over the recap!

One last thing - I scoured the web for other interesting rosemary recipes, and this is what I found:
Breads & Snacks
Rosemary Popcorn
Rosemary & Lemon White Bean Dip
Rosemary Provencal Almonds
Pinenut Rosemary Shortbread
Rosemary & Polenta Breadsticks
Rosemary Feta Beer Bread
Rosemary & Ham Scones
Rosemary Jelly
Sides & Soups
Potatoes Boulangeres w Rosemary
Rosemary Polenta
Walnut Rosemary Quinoa
Lamb Stew w Rosemary Dumplings
Chicken Soup w Rosemary Matzo Balls
Lamb & Rosemary Pies
Potato & Rosemary Tart w Onion Jam
Rosemary & Smoked Paprika Chicken
Braised Lamb Shanks w Rosemary
Pork w Rosemary & White Wine
Diver Scallops on Grilled Rosemary
Rosemary-Anchovy Lamb
Rosemary Duck w Apricots
Turkey on Rosemary Skewers
Grilled Rosemary Trout w Lemon Butter
Pork Belly w Honey & Rosemary
Rosemary-Lemon Lamb Rack
Spinach, Garlic & Rosemary Griddlecakes
Rosemary Scented Chocolate Truffles
Rosemary Loaf Cake
Castagnaccio (Chestnut & Rosemary Cake)
Grilled Pineapple w Lime, Chilli & Rosemary Syrup
Rosemary Honey Ice Cream
Lemon & Rosemary Popsicles
Pear Rosemary Crème Brûlée

Rosemary Liqueur
Rosemary Schnapps
Peach & Rosemary Lemonade




  1. I'm drooling. I can pass up the sweet things with no problem, but something buttery and savory like this is my absolute favorite type of treat! Great list of rosemary recipes too!

    P.S. I just planted some rosemary today!

  2. Very informative. Love those savoury biscuits, they would go well with a nice aged cheddar.

  3. Rich and luxurious! I have a weakness for shortbread of any kind.

    Anna, thank you for serving these to WHB!

  4. Anna, may I have just six? lol

    I think these would go great with a seafood chowder.

  5. I love these! I was one of the lucky recipients at your first house warming and you gave me the recipe then. Yum.

  6. I'm too scared to give this one a go ... I would probably finish the whole batch in one sitting :)

  7. I love rosemary in everything!! I've not tried it in biscuits yet and your's look so delicious. I'll try that next week for sure!

  8. What a nice recipe! I have a nice bush of rosemary under my window and will these cookies to my wish list.

  9. that a neat recipe! thanks for sharing:)

  10. Anna, I baked these last week for a work group and everyone loved them. Thanks for the recipe!

    Actually, I had a bit of trouble pulling together the dough with this small amount of moisture and ended up added extra sour cream. As a result my biscuits were softer rather than shortbread-y.

  11. i've found two bloggers who have successfully made these little gems:

    cindy from where's the beef?

    frances from crunchy green things


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