All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

asparagus & eggs redux

Yesterday I had this breakfast on the terrace with oozy eggs, this morning I let them cook for 10 minutes, instead of 8 , and I much prefer the firmer eggs.  Luckily, there was just enough leftover asparagus (also cooked for 10 minutes in a separate pan with salted simmering water)), and a nice firm roll for dipping in the puddle of melted butter and lemon juice.  Even more delicious!

The sun is out and off to town to pick up the Sunday paper - have a glorious Sunday!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

brunch on the terrace: asparagus & eggs

Finally most of the snow has melted away on the terrace  - until this week the gigantic snow drifts from the roof shoveling sat in the shade and refused to melt.  At last, at last! Happy Spring at last!

To celebrate, I had a late breakfast outside - a little wind and in-and-out clouds, but fresh air and the roar of the brook.  

Although I love fat asparagus, all I could find at the market were these skinny spears - so both the eggs and asparagus cooked 8 minutes (separately)  before taking off heat.  Drizzled with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon was all it needed.

And around the front of the house, the daffodils are growing inches everyday and about to pop. Best of all, the bugs have not woken up yet.  Happy Spring!

What I'm watching:  The movie "Chef".  Terrific!
What I'm reading:  Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young - yes, I have a rock and roll past:)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

egg salad sandwiches with celery, parsley and horseradish

Easter is one of my favorite holidays - and not because of chocolate rabbits.  Oh, no, it's all about eggs, which I love more than any food group you could imagine.  Eggs.  Egg salad.  Omelets, frittatas, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, fried, poached, quiches, you name it, I love it.  So you can imagine how I felt when I saw this post from Smitten Kitchen about the lowly simple hard-boiled egg sandwich.  

I read the post, but forgot to write down the recipe - instead soaring off to my own dreamland of egg.  Later I checked it and was surprised that Deb didn't use mayo, and I had also switched out horseradish for her dijon, but no matter - it was delicious.  Lots of parsley, and her pickled celery and red onion topping was inspired.

You will need:

2 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons of minced celery
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon bottled horseradish
2 pinches of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon Hellmann's mayonaise 

Hard boil two eggs for 10 minutes, pour off the water, then cover the eggs with cold water.  Set aside.

In a bowl, add the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt and whisk.  Add the minced celery and red onion and let sit for 20 minutes or more.

Peel the eggs and then mash the hard boiled eggs and scoop into a bowl.

Add the vinegar mixture, then add the horseradish, the parsley, the mayo, and the egg mixture.

Mound onto a slice of good bread, or a nice ciabatta roll, and top with arugula, if you have ( I did not).  Is that heaven or what?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

zesty lime chicken with capers and olives

Good grief, it's been a while!  But I'm back with a winner of a dinner that I've now made three times - it is that good.  The snow here in New Hampshire is melting - too slowly for me, since there is still a good two feet of snow, but every day is a little warmer, so I'm happy with that.  And my daughter and granddaughter have been visiting from Minnesota, which has been , well, every moment cherished.  

Zesty Lime Chicken with capers and olives

2 or 3 bone-in chicken breasts, or chicken legs, or a combination
a few slices red onion
several bay leaves
peeled, slivered garlic
2 teaspoons whole thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice for each piece of chicken
several slices fresh lime
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon or so of bottled capers
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives for garnish

I used a round ceramic tart pan to bake these, so if you are using a metal baking sheet or pie pan, your time may be shortened.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Arrange the chicken in the the baking pan.
Loosen the skin and tuck the slivered garlic and a bay leaf under each piece of chicken.
Drizzle each piece of chicken with the fresh lime juice, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and whole dried thyme, then drizzle with olive oil.  Top each piece with half rounds of fresh lime.  I had to buy several extra limes, because I got so little juice from each.  If anyone is a lime expert, please let me know what I should look for to find a juicy lime!

Sprinkle the capers with a little caper juice over the chicken, then place in oven.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until chicken is tender.  Using a ceramic plate took a little longer than using a metal baking pan.  Since the temperature is fairly low, you can safely bake it a little longer without it drying out.

Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before serving, then remove to a platter.  Drizzle the juices from the pan over the chicken, then add a few more capers and the olives to the platter, then serve.  You can also carve the chicken off the bones, and serve in a tidy little mound, garnished with capers, olives, and a clean bay leaf.

Happy Easter to you, and welcome Spring, finally!

Monday, March 23, 2015

coffeecake muffins with cinnamon topping

10 degrees again, and the snowmelt has refrozen into slick ice as I try to shuffle my way to the car.  The calendar says it's almost April and time to start walking outside, but right now?  Ice skates would be more appropriate.

It's been a long, cold, snowy winter, and my frustration with the weather showed in too many tortilla chips, leading to tighter pants and sweaters.  The diet I started was going well, but yesterday I'd had enough.  Muffins for Sunday breakfast?  Absolutely!

Instead of those buttery lemon poppyseed muffins I usually make, I opted to make light-as-a-feather, spongy, lemony coffeecake muffins again with that crunchy, sugary topping.  I ate two, and hid the rest in the freezer for my next sugar craving.

Coffeecake Muffins

This makes 5 large Texas size muffins.

Preheat oven to 375F.
Grease your muffin tin or use parchment muffin liners.

First, make the topping in your mixer bowl:

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup King Arthur flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt

Mix until you have a crumbly mix. If the sugar mix clumps, just chill briefly in the fridge and mix again briefly.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

In the same mixer bowl, mix the dry ingredients:

1 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
zest from half a lemon

Then add the wet ingredients:

3/4 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until smooth, then, using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, scoop one large scoop into each muffin cup, and sprinkle a heaping tablespoon (or more) of the topping on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are firm to the touch when gently pressed , then set on a cooling rack to cool.  When cool, use a dull knife to carefully remove from muffin tin.

Can you believe it's almost Easter?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crunchy romaine salad with garlicky buttermilk, goat cheese and fresh dill dressing

I am trying - oh, am I trying!  I joined a dieting group in January, and making every effort to watch what I'm eating.  Today it was sleeting outside, sheets of ice and snow, and every inch of me wanted to slide over to making mashed potatoes, with lots of butter- after all, it's almost St. Patrick's Day, right?  But my commitment to my fellow sufferers held true, so I made this wonderful, fresh and crunchy salad instead.

The recipe is super simple - throw 11 ingredients in a blender, slice up some really fresh romaine, and there you go.

Here's how to make it:

1/2 clove peeled garlic, sliced 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons mayonnaise - I used Hellmann's olive oil mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Puree the above ingredients, pour into a small pitcher.

Scoop handfuls of sliced romaine lettuce into a big salad bowl, sprinkle with a little more goat cheese, then drizzle with the dressing.  I like to serve this with a nice hunk of rosemary bread or a roll, but this time held back, thinking of my fellow dieters.  But honestly, I wouldn't mind cheating today, thanks to Mother Nature's winter weather - yet again!

Monday, March 9, 2015

how Finnish fruit soup saved my winter

At last, at last - the sun is out and the snow is melting - not that we'd notice a few inches less in these drifts and snow corridors carved out from the house to the car, but that bone-chilling cold has lifted today all the way to 45 degrees.  I can't tell you the relief I felt when I suddenly thought winter is on the way out.  Now, I know we'll probably get a few more snowstorms - but the worst of winter, cross fingers, is over.

And I looked down at my almost daily bowl of Finnish Fruit soup and smiled.  Last night I made up a new pot of it, and thankfully wrote down the recipe, which has been slowly modified through this long winter: more spices (including those spicy green cardamom pods, which I split to flavor the fruits), lemon and orange peel, whole cinnamon sticks, a slice of fresh ginger root.

My fruit choices expanded to adding dried currants for the tang, and the usual pitted prunes and dried apricots and raisins.  Sometimes a few slices of fresh apples found their way into the pot as well.

I don't know why I abandoned the oatmeal with apples, but when winter moved in, in a serious way, I switched to fruit soup, using a recipe I got from a Finnish cook and baker on the Cape.  And every time I ate it , I noticed each spice, each fruit, in a different way - and in the process, forgot about the latest blizzard.

The recipe :

1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tablespoons dried raisins
1 tablespoon dried currants
3 dried green cardamom pods, split 
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons thinly sliced lemon and orange peel
a thin slice of fresh ginger root

Add the above to a cooking pot and cover with cold water - just enough to cover.
Bring to a simmer, simmer for 6 minutes.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot for an hour before eating - by then, the spices and the fruits are well infused, and very delicious.  If you prefer a heavier, more syrupy juice, just simmer it a little longer - I prefer the lighter version.

Happy Monday!