Restaurant experience to share

Published 1:11 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Michael and I love Romano’s Macaroni Grill, along with several hundred thousand others.

One of my favorite things is actually waiting on our meal to come because they bring this great rosemary peasant bread to the table.

The waiter then pours some extra virgin olive oil on a little dish and sprinkles it with fresh ground back pepper. We then tear into this bread like we’ve been starving for a week.

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Dipping the bread into the dish of oil, we just can’t seem to get enough. The only reason you stop or don’t ask for more is that you would be taking your meal home.

Long story short, I opened up my Food Network Magazine and what did I find?

This wonderful bread recipe out there for the world to enjoy, so I had to share it with you!

Almost Famous Rosemary Bread

1 quarter-ounce packet active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving

2 and a half cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons dried rosemary

1 teaspoon fine salt

half teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Stir the yeast, sugar and quarter cup warm water in a large bowl. Let sit until foamy, about five minutes.

Add one tablespoon olive oil, the flour, one and a half tablespoons rosemary, the fine salt and three-quarters cup warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting lightly with flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or knead with a dough hook on medium-high speed, adding a little flour if the dough sticks to the bowl, about 8 minutes.

Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until more than doubled, about two hours.

Brush two baking sheets with olive oil. Generously flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the flour and divide into four pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle some flour on the dough, then fold the top and bottom portions into the middle. Fold in the sides to make a free-form square. Use a spatula to turn the dough over, then tuck the corners under to form a ball. Place seam-side down on a prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining dough, putting two balls on each baking sheet. Let stand, uncovered, until more than doubled, about two hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the loaves 10 minutes. Brush with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt and the remaining half tablespoon rosemary.

Continue baking until golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve with olive oil seasoned with pepper.

THOMASTON – This is the year of Alabama Music.

In recognition of the role of music in our rural heritage, the Alabama Rural Heritage Center is making music the centerpiece of the 2011 Pepper Jelly Festival.The Festival will open on Friday night with the “Jelly Jam” which will feature local entertainers.The line up will include a little something for every taste.

Included in the line up from Linden will be Mitzi Gates, Dylan Daniels and sister Chelsea Daniels Morgan (Linden native but now of Tuscaloosa), and the Master’s Hand men’s ensemble from the Linden Baptist Church.Carla Gaines McIntosh, Margie Walker, Camilla Tutt, Jill Tutt, Laura Clements and several of her voice students, and Kelly Kirkham will represent Demopolis.Add Claire Findley, Miss University of West Alabama, and violinist Jonathan Williams of Thomasville to this talented group, and you can see what a treat is in store.Other local favorites will perform on Saturday.

The Jelly Jam starts at 7:30p.m. on Friday, April 29 at the Rural Heritage Center Stage in Thomaston.Admission is $5. Bring your lawn chair, sit back, and enjoy this celebration of our musical heritage.

On Saturday, the Pepper Jelly 5K Run will begin at 8:30 a.m.Registration is $15 or $20 the day of the race.For further information or to register, e-mail us at or call 334 627-3388.

At 10 a.m. the Pepper Jelly Festival opens.In honor of the Year of Alabama Music, the Sucarnooche Revue with Jackie Jack White will have center stage.They will be joined by local favorites.Again, bring your lawn chair and enjoy the music.There is no charge for the Saturday performance.

The Pepper Jelly Festival has something for everyone to enjoy.There will be a food show featuring local food entrepreneurs, a children’s area, and craft vendors of every sort.Thomaston barbecue sandwiches and chicken salad sandwiches will be for sale in the Rural Heritage Center. Other food vendors will be selling favorite Southern “goodies” outside.Enter the domino tournament.Register for the gift basket to be given away by the Rural Heritage Center.Go to the Rural Heritage Center garden area and check out the hoop house.Buy some pepper jelly (made at the Center) or a t-shirt.Bring your family and enjoy a day of food, fun, and music devoted to our rural Southern heritage.