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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Rosemary Creme Brûlée from Karista's Kitchen for Home By Design Magazine

It was the moment when a subtle woody, fragrant scent wafted in my direction that I knew cooking and baking with fresh herbs would forever be in my culinary repertoire.   One of my first classes at culinary school, an intensive course in the use of fresh herbs, we prepared a Rosemary Creme Brûlée.  I couldn’t imagine how it would taste or if I’d even like it.  But I had to like it.  I was in culinary school and I couldn’t be the only student that appeared to have the palate of a five year old.  I was over the moon in love with every other dish we’d made in that unit, but what is traditionally a savory herb was now being paired in a sweet custard. It totally worked!  Since that day sixteen years ago, I’ve been using fresh herbs in all my recipes, savory as well as sweet.

If you know me or you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know another herb I can’t seem to get enough of is lavender. I adore lavender shortbread cookies, lavender scones, pinches of lavender combined with other fresh herbs over roast chicken, lemon thyme biscuits, Arugula Lemon Risotto, Arugula Chimichurri, and the list goes on.  It’s a rare occasion that I don’t incorporate some type of herb or spice in my recipes; they simply enhance and elevate flavor and create food moments to remember.

Rosemary Creme Brûlée is definitely memorable.  Although I prepare this dessert at home and for friends and clients (I originally created this photo and recipe for one of my favorite clients, Home By Design Magazine), I don’t think I’ve ever posted it here. Until now.

Creme Brûlée is a lush and silky custard that is so perfect any time of year.  I prepare this dessert most often around the holidays but I also make it during the warmer months because I can make it in advance, pop it in the fridge and then serve it when I’m ready.  Pairing it with fresh herbs changes the flavor profile but not the well loved custard.  I’ve used my beloved lavender a few times as well as lemon thyme, but rosemary has to be my favorite herb in creme brûlée.

I’ve prepared this recipe a few different methods, but I think the best method is when the fresh rosemary is gently steeped in the cream, allowing the oils to subtly scent and flavor the custard.  It’s a simple yet impressive dessert that will WOW your guests and your family.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Rosemary Creme Brûlée

Serving Size: serves 4

Rosemary Creme Brûlée


  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 1- 3 to 4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, cold
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
  • Place four ramekins into a baking dish or cake pan. Heat enough water to fill the bottom of the baking dish and come halfway up the side of the ramekins. This is called a Bain-Marie, a hot water bath.
  • In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream and sprig of rosemary over medium heat. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then remove the sauce pan from the heat and let the heavy cream and rosemary hang out for about fifteen minutes or so, allowing the rosemary oil to infuse the heavy cream.
  • In an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is light and creamy, adding in the ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • Strain the heavy cream removing any and all rosemary leaves and then while whisking, slowly add the rosemary infused cream to the egg and sugar mixture.
  • Divide the custard evenly among the four ramekins and place the baking dish carefully into the oven.
  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes, just until the custard is set. Allow the custard to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the crème brulee from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top of each custard with about ½ teaspoon of sugar. Using a culinary torch*, scorch the sugar creating the traditional burnt sugar topping.
  • Serve immediately.
  • *Culinary blow torches can be found at most kitchen and bath stores or larger home and garden stores.
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    Appetizers Giveaways Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly VRAI Magazine

    Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres and Giveaways!

    Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

    This month, VRAI Magazine will celebrate it’s first anniversary.  To celebrate this momentous occasion I created these lovely and delicious Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres.   Gougeres are a light and airy pastry that pair deliciously with wine, cocktails or even a Mother’s Day tea.

    Rosemary and Irish Cheddar Gougeres // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

    You won’t want to miss all the giveaways this month! To celebrate VRAI Magazine’s first anniversary each editor and/or contributor is giving away a special gift or gifts.  I completely adore this Italian Truffle Pesto so I’m giving away one jar for two fabulous readers!  Head on over to VRAI Magazine and enter to win!  To enter, sign up for VRAI Magazine’s newsletter and give a “like” to Karista’s Kitchen Facebook page.  The more you share, the more chances of winning.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



    Appetizers vegetarian

    Caprese Rosemary Skewers

    Caprese Rosemary Skewers

    Caprese Rosemary Skewers


    Summer has arrived and alfresco dining has begun!  I’m loving these seasonal appetizers that help me use the abundance of rosemary growing in my garden.

    They’re also a delicious way to use summer’s sweet cherry tomatoes.  Although if I have a bowl of cherry tomatoes sitting on the counter they don’t seem to last long.  A favorite snack for the Bennett Crew.

    Beautifully arranged on a platter, drizzled with my favorite California Ranch Olive Oil and aged balsamic vinegar, and served as an appetizer or last course with a favorite summer cocktail or wine.  To complement this lovely little nibble, I place a basket of fresh Italian bread on the table, you know, to soak up the extra oil and vinegar .

    A little announcement and the reason I’ve been a bit tardy about posting new recipes… we’re making a move.  Karista’s Kitchen is going to be a self-hosted website soon.  You will see a new look and much easier navigation.  New recipes coming with a more user-friendly method for printing recipes.  My super, duper fabulous web guy, Steve from SteveWare Labs is working hard, long and tedious hours to re-create Karista’s Kitchen.  It’ll be launching soon so I’ll keep you posted.

    Enjoy the deliciousness of summer!

    Loads of love,


    Caprese Rosemary Skewers


    Cherry Tomatoes

    Small Mozzarella Balls

    Sprigs of rosemary, preferably older rosemary so the sprigs are sturdier

    Basil leaves, torn into pieces

    Olive oil, I like the Arbequina from California Olive Ranch Olive Oil Company

    Balsamic vinegar, preferably aged


    Remove leaves from the rosemary stalks, leave just a sprig of leaves at the top for decoration.

    Skewer the rosemary, alternating with cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves and mozzarella balls.  Once they are all skewered, drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar or glaze and then with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.


    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

    Porcini and Rosemary Slow Braised Pot Roast

    Porcini and rosemary braised pot roast

    There is something exceptional about porcini mushrooms.  They aren’t your run of the mill button’s and much more interesting than cremini; although I do love a bowl of sautéed cremini’s.

    Still, much more flavorful than shitake‘s and almost as intriguing as chanterelles or oyster mushrooms.  I nearly swoon when I see the first of the fresh local chanterelles.  I will plan my menu around those little lovelies just to have the excuse to use them while fresh and seasonal.

    The porcini mushroom is often described as nutty, with a smooth texture and the distinctive aroma similar to sourdough.   Rarely do we find them fresh here in the states but once they’re re-constituted in  hot water, wine or broth, these flavorful mushrooms make the loveliest and quite delectable addition to many dishes.

    I don’t often use porcini in the spring and summer.  I always think to use them during Fall and Winter, when I typically braise more meats and poultry.  But it’s been a busy spring with cool evenings and a slow braised (or slow cooked) pot roast seemed perfectly suited to this time of year.   Honestly, there are days I just need pot roast for dinner.

    Comforting to the soul, fragrant to the senses, and most delicious to the taste buds.  It feels like a big hug on a plate. 🙂

    Loads of Love,


    Porcini and Rosemary Slow Braised Pot Roast

    This recipe can be slow braised in a Dutch Oven or slow cooked in a Slow Cooker.  Adjust the liquids as I’ve instructed below. 

    Serves 6 – 8


    4-5lbs beef chuck roast

    Salt and pepper

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

    1 package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1-2 ounces)

    Red wine (1/2 cup for slow cooker) (1 cup for Dutch Oven)

    Beef broth (1/2 cup for slow cooker) (1 cup for Dutch Oven)

    1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    Serve over Creamy Polenta (recipe below)


    If using a Dutch oven, pre-heat the oven to 325F.  If using the slow cooker, pre-heat the slow cooker on high.

    Re-constitute the porcini mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and covering them with very hot water.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes, then drain and chop.  Set aside.

    Season the beef with salt and pepper.

    Heat a large Dutch oven or skillet with a little oil and brown the beef on all sides.  Transfer the beef to a platter or the slow cooker.

    In the same Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic for a minute or two, adding the rosemary and porcini.  Stir in the red wine and beef broth and pour over the beef in the slow cooker.  Secure the slow cooker lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

    Or, add the beef roast back to the Dutch Oven and cover with the lid. Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for about 2-3 hours or until the beef is fork tender.

    When the beef is done, transfer to a platter and slice or lightly shred.

    To make the beef liquid thicker and saucier, pour the liquid in a sauce pan and reduce it until it thickens a bit. This will also concentrate the flavors of the sauce.  This sauce will be more of an Au Jus.

    For a thicker, more gravy like sauce, add a few spoonful’s of the hot liquid to a small bowl with a teaspoon of corn starch.  Whisk together to make a little paste.  Whisk this paste “slurry” into the simmering liquid.  The sauce will eventually thicken, adding additional beef broth if necessary.

    Adjust seasoning to taste.  Strain the liquid with a mesh strainer and ladle over the beef.

    Serve with Creamy Polenta and roasted Spring Asparagus for a beautiful and delicious meal.

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups milk

    ½ cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.

    Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen

    Tuscan Grilled Rib-eye

    Tuscan Grilled Rib-eye with Rosemary and Garlic

    The sun is slowly setting, gradually creating a luminescent twilight.  With twilight comes the warm fragrance of fresh and earthy rosemary, combined with the spicy knowing scent of simmered garlic in the freshest of olive oil.

    Two perfectly grilled rib eye steaks bask in the fragrant and luxurious liquid.  With just a moment of time, the tender and flavorful beef will be infused and ready to serve with the deepest ruby-red Cabernet Sauvignon.

    We dined in silence, Ranger Craig and I.  Savoring every bite, savoring every sip, and feeling as if we’d been transported to a grassy knoll on a Tuscan hillside.

    There is something magical about simplicity.  A Tuscan grilled rib-eye and a glass of Rocca Family Vineyards newest release, the 2009 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon.  A brilliant red, big without being too bold, velvet to the tongue and elegant to the senses.

    I was elated to discover this lovely little vineyard on my last visit to Napa.  A small family vineyard with a beautiful story of passionate and sweet beginnings, transformed into world-class and award-winning wines.

    A cool spring sunset, gastronomy at its most indulgent and a brilliant wine.  For just an evening, life was simply perfect.

    Tuscan Grilled Ribeye

    Serves 2-4


    2-4 bone in beef ribeyes

    Extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

    Sea salt

    Fresh cracked black pepper

    3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

    3 medium cloves garlic, thin sliced


    Set out the steaks while pre-heating a charcoal or gas grill, preferably around 400F.

    Brush steaks with a little oil and then season with sea salt and pepper.  Place on the preheated grill and cook to desired doneness.

    While steaks are grilling, in a small pan on low heat gently warm ½ cup olive oil, rosemary and garlic.  Do not boil; just gently warm for about 5 minutes.

    Pour the warm herbed and garlic oil into a large baking dish.  When the steaks are done, immediately transfer the steaks to the oil.  Coat each side of the steaks and let them sit in the oil for about 5 minutes.

    Serve immediately topping each steak with the herbed, garlic and steak jus oil.  A fresh salad of spring greens topped with Smokey bleu and candied hazelnuts is the perfect complement to the steaks.

    Serve with the 2009 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon from Rocca Family Vineyards

    *This is not a sponsored post.  I just wanted to share my love and heartfelt enthusiasm of Rocca Family Vineyards wine and California Olive Ranch Olive Oil.

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

    Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans

    Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans // Karista's Kitchen

    This Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans is what the Bennett crew calls “pork and beans”.  Most definitely not the traditional pork and beans I grew up on, you know, the kind that’s heavily laced with sweet barbeque sauce and lots of smoky bacon.

    Although the traditional pork and beans is a delicious dish, especially at a summer barbecue, this Italian slow roasted pork with rosemary white beans is a lovely and aromatic alternative for the Autumn and Winter months.  It’s a simple and humble dish that is herby and lush in flavor and hearty in texture.

    If I’m making this dish on a weeknight, and I forgot to soak the beans the night before, I use organic canned beans and it works just as well.  I also use these rosemary white beans on my Arugula and White Bean Salad. 

    Italian Slow Roasted Pork with Rosemary White Beans // Karista's Kitchen

    I have several pork recipes on Karista’s Kitchen, and I must say they’re all divine.  But this dish definitely highlights some of my favorite flavors… Italian herbs (which happen to grow abundantly almost year round in my herb garden).

    Rosemary, oregano, and Italian parsley are all exquisitely aromatic and beautifully flavor this pork recipe.  Combined with tomatoes, onions and garlic and set on a bed of rosemary white beans, this delicious Italian slow roasted pork makes a distinctive and enticing fall meal.  And of course it’s a slow cooker meal which is a super plus!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Slow Roasted Italian Pork Shoulder with Rosemary White Beans

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Slow Roasted Italian Pork Shoulder with Rosemary White Beans


    • 3-4 lb Pork shoulder, boneless, cut into 3 inch cubes
    • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
    • Sunflower or Safflower oil, or any high heat oil is fine
    • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
    • 2 3-4 inch stalks fresh oregano (can substitute with 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
    • 2 3-4 inch stalks fresh rosemary (can substitute with 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed)
    • 2 3-4 inch stalks fresh Italian parsley
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1 28 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen organic)
    • 1 bay leaf
      For the beans
    • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans with liquid
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
    • 2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (for garnish)


  • In a large skillet, or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown the pork in the hot skillet. Once the pork has browned transfer to a slow cooker, or a platter if using a Dutch oven.
  • Next add the onions to the skillet and saute until just wilted, then add the garlic and saute one minute longer. Add the fresh herbs, white wine, tomatoes and bay leaf. Stir the ingredients until blended. If using a slow cooker, pour the sauce over the pork and cover with the lid. Set on low for about 5-6 hours, or until the pork is fork tender.
  • If using a Dutch oven, place the pork back in the Dutch oven with the sauce. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in a pre-heated 300F oven for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. The pork will be done when it is fork tender. If using a bone in pork shoulder, braising time will be up to 2 1/2 hours.
  • While pork is braising, prepare the beans. Place beans in a medium pot and heat on low. Add the fresh rosemary and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pot and let the beans slowly simmer for about 15 -20 minutes. The rosemary white beans can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. Just reheat when ready to serve.
  • To serve, place warm rosemary white beans on a platter and top with the slow roasted Italian pork. Ladle a bit of sauce over the top and garnish with fresh Italian rosemary and fresh sage. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
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    Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Chicken Thighs Braised in Rosemary, Garlic and Tomatoes

    Chicken thighs are one of the easiest meats to prepare, and this recipe couldn’t be simpler.  Brown the chicken really well and then let it braise slowly in lots of garlic, tomatoes and herbs. 

    If I’m grilling chicken breasts, sometimes I’ll prepare the sauce by itself, let it simmer for a while and then top my grilled chicken.  Ranger Craig loves this sauce over grilled fish or a cornmeal fried Rockfish.  However you decide prepare this recipe, it’s simple, fresh and delicious!

    I love this recipe with a side of Creamy Parmesan Polenta (there I go again with the polenta, but I just can’t help myself).  It seems polenta pairs well with just about anything, not to mention it’s delicious.  If you’re tired of polenta and want a change of pace, try a big loaf of crusty bread to soak up all the yummy sauce.  Or how about  herbed brown and wild rice or garlic mashed potatoes.   Spring veggies are arriving daily so make sure to roast some spring broccoli or spring asparagus.  Recipes for those fabulous sides are found under “sides” in the category box to the right. 

    Happy Cooking! 

    Serves 4-6


    6 large free range or organic bone in chicken thighs (or 8 smallish thighs)

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    1-2 tablespoons refined safflower or sunflower oil (high heat oil)

    1 medium yellow onion, diced

    8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

    1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes)(or in the summer, 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes)

    ¼ cup good quality white wine vinegar

    1 large stalk of fresh rosemary

    Pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of Tabasco


    Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Heat a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium high heat.  When the oil begins to get hot, place the chicken thighs, skin side down, in the pot and let them sear.  When the thighs lift easily and are a rich brown in color, turn them over and sear on the other side.

    When the chicken has been browned, transfer to a plate.  If there is excess oil in the bottom of the pot, remove all but 2 tablespoons. 

    Add the onions to the pot and sauté until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes more. 

    Stir in the white wine vinegar and then the tomatoes.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes and then the rosemary stalk. 

    Place the chicken thighs back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.  Once the liquid has boiled, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 20 minutes and then remove the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes longer to reduce the liquid in the sauce and finish cooking the chicken.

    When the chicken is done, transfer the thighs to a platter and ladle the sauce over the top.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or grated parmesan.  Serve with creamy parmesan polenta or your favorite pasta. 

    OPTIONS:  If you’d like to prepare just the sauce, begin with sauteing the onions instead of the chicken.  Follow the remaining directions, only cooking time is decreased to about 20 minutes.  If the sauce is too thin, simmer a little longer without the lid. 

    Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    ½ cup quick cook polenta (I like Moretti brand)

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan

    Season with salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium stock pot heat the milk on medium.  Stir every once and a while so the milk won’t burn on the bottom.  When the milk comes to a slow boil, add the polenta and stir. 

    Continue stirring the polenta until it thickens to a heavy creamy texture.  Take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.