All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

craving simple carrot soup ( with ginger)

Oh my word, life has been changing in a snap - one day I wake up and remember my dearest daughter, daughter-in-law and grands have moved to Minnesota, after being two miles away for a few years, when I am suddenly presented with a beautiful new grandson, a fair distance away, but, still, here in New Hampshire.  I haven't seen him in person yet, but he looks so much like my son, I am flabbergasted, and I cannot wait to hold that little boy in my arms.

There it is, the essence of family.  You say goodbye to a sister, a father, mother, stepmother, and miss them every day, and then?  All these little new ones come along, and you love them with all your heart.

Seeing the autumn berries ( and some chilly mornings) reminds me of this earthy soup I love:   sweet with fresh carrots and ginger root, a little thyme, brightly colored, easy to whip up after your farmer's market visit, or a visit to your own garden.  Add a greeny salad on the side, a slice of cheddar and good bread, and lie lazing on the lounge chair on the terrace, looking up at the sky, and accepting the sad and the joy all together.

Fresh Carrot Soup

4 cups light chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups peeled and sliced medium sized carrots (do not use baby carrots, which are dry)
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 - 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
kosher salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a simmer and cook until the carrots are just fork tender.  Remove from heat briefly, then puree a few cups at a time in a blender.  It will be a beautiful bright orange color.  Taste and adjust seasonings before serving, and if it's too thick, just stir in a few tablespoons of water.  You can serve this hot or cold.

Makes four to five servings.

Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Green Zebra tomatoes - and a new baby boy

Finally, I found my favorite tomato - the Green Zebra, nestled in a basket at our local market on a Friday afternoon, when all the gardeners and farmers bring in their greens and flowers, their vegetables and herbs, fresh breads, and bouquets.

Green Zebras, with beautiful stripes of grass green and yellow, are hard to find -a little tart, very pretty, and heavenly with a little balsamic and olive oil , a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of fresh basil and pepper, a soft crust of bread and butter for sopping up.  My thanks to Hand Drawn Farm for growing these lovely tomatoes  - and here, tossed with a few Sun Gold's , and a few of my own somewhat uninspiring cherry tomatoes - it has been a cool and wet summer here in New Hampshire - not the best weather for these sun lovers.

And now the best news - I have a beautiful new grandson, Max.  Dear Max, welcome to the world, little boy!

Happy August, and welcome to my new grandson, Max, born on the 20th of August!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

braised kale and broccoli with feta and olives

I'm embarrassed to say I have forgotten where I found this recipe, but the second I saw it, I was sure it was something I would love.  I am a huge fan of kale, but not raw kale, and lately there are so many recipes for that.  Not me - I love kale in my favorite kale recipe ever, Portuguese Kale Soup ,with potatoes, linguica ( a Portuguese sausage common on the Outer Cape), and tomatoes.  And I often make whipped potatoes with cooked kale, just for the greenery and the knowledge I am, hopefully, making a healthy meal.

But this combination knocked me out.  I also love broccoli, and feta, and olives, for heaven's sake, so how could it go wrong?

I have now made this three times - I have had it for brunch, breakfast AND supper, and it was so pleasing every single time.  You really need to make this, my friends.  It will be on your menu for years, and will never disappoint.

Braised kale and broccoli with feta and olives

Lightly braised in olive oil, the kale and broccoli are cooked until just tender, then tossed with salty feta and pitted Kalamata olives.  A wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving, or a chilly autumn supper or brunch, the recipe is easily halved.

To make about 6- 8 servings:

4-5 cups broccoli florets
10 cups torn kale leaves, slightly packed, stems discarded
4 tablespoons mild olive oil
about 1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 ounces cubed or crumbled feta cheese

Place the olive oil and the water in a large heavy skillet, adjust heat to medium, then add the broccoli florets and stir.  Cook for 6 minutes or so, stirring a few times, until just tender.

Add the kale and stir gently, then cover the skillet for 5 minutes.  Uncover, stir, and  remove from heat.
Add the olives and feta while the greens are still warm, tossing gently before serving.

I promise you, you will love it.

And that beautiful sunflower?  In memory of a wonderful woman, Pat Fairchild, who died recently.  Her  fellow gardeners planted a beautiful garden for her outside the post office, with towering , sunny sunflowers even taller than she was.  We all miss her marvelous spirit, and her feisty, loving personality.  What a woman.

Enjoy the last days of summer!  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

roasted and fresh veggie salad-in-a-jar

I must be the last person to jump on the In A Jar bandwagon, but I'm sold on these salads in a jar.  After my daughter and her family moved away, my mealtime (what mealtime?) habits slid into opening the door of the fridge and grabbing some smoked turkey.  Sugar snaps straight off the vine in the garden.  A banana in the morning, waiting for my coffee to brew.  Pathetic.  So when I saw this, and this, and this on Pinterest, I thought I'd try them:  open the fridge and there's lunch (or dinner).

First you need wide mouth Mason jars, which can be found at any supermarket or grain store.  Make sure they're very clean and very dry.

When I was cleaning out the freezer, I came across a huge bag of colored peppers I'd prepped and frozen after finding them on sale.  I spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzled a little olive oil over them, and roasted at 400F for half an hour.  I went out to the garden and picked sugar snaps and green beans, trimmed and sliced into bite size pieces, then did a quick blanching in simmering water, then a cold water bath.

Fresh cherry tomatoes on hand were a little big, so I quartered them.  I also grabbed a can of light tuna fish in water:   if you can find the Italian tuna in oil, even better!  I also rinsed a can of cannelini white beans and added a layer of those - next time I would double it - they are delicious.

After carefully layering everything, I drizzled a few tablespoons of vinaigrette over, then screwed on the top and stuck in the fridge.  Bliss!  That night I had it for supper (on a platter), and the next day for a very late lunch.  Sooo much better than giving in to a box of Cheez-its and another cup of coffee.  

The vinaigrette:
1 garlic clove, peeled and gently smashed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
a few pinches kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
a little dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
Minced fresh herbs or dried herbs:  tarragon, basil, oregano, parsley

If you're brown-bagging it, this is such a great idea - and for picky kids or children on special diets, this is brilliant, though a non-breakable container is probably a good idea for school lunches - don't forget the fork.

Hope you're having a wonderful August!  

Monday, August 4, 2014

leek and potato soup: potage parmentier

Oh my word, it is swampy today - humid, still air, damp, damp, damp.  The weathervane is pointing toward my Southern kin in the South - thanks, guys:)

On days like this, I always cook early in the morning, when the coolness of night is still retained in the kitchen floor tiles - I am barefoot, of course, as I pull the leeks out of the fridge for this soup - vichyssoise, really, but I don't like chilled soup, so it's more a potage parmentier, not hot, not cold, just right to taste the velvety blend of herbs, leeks, potatoes, and butter.

The leeks were very sandy, so I sliced them up and swished them in several pots of water, until I could no longer feel the grains of sand at the bottom of the pot.  Don't neglect this step, or your soup will be ruined.  I learned my lesson long ago not to rush, after one batch I made for company was so agonizingly sandy it was inedible.

I used my lion bowls, which hold one and a half cups, so this made just enough for two:  3 cups.


1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups well-washed and sliced leek whites
1 1/2 cups peeled red potatoes, cut in large dice
2 cups light chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh dill, pulled off stems
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, pulled off the stems
3/4 cup whipping cream
kosher salt to taste
fresh pepper to taste

Wash the leeks very very well!  

Place the leeks and butter in a heavy bottomed pot and braise on medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times and making sure they do not burn.

Add the potatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, and the thyme and dill to the leek whites and simmer on medium until the potatoes are soft.

Remove from heat and add the cream and stir.  

Using a stick blender or a food processor, puree soup.  If it's very, very thick, add a little more cream or water.  Taste and add salt, pepper, or more dill as you wish.

You can serve cold, hot, or somewhere in the middle - I like it warm because it brings out the flavor beautifully.

Hope you're all enjoying summer!

Friday, July 25, 2014

fresh lemon scones with drizzle icing

You know how crazy I am about lemon by now -  nine times out of ten I'll pick lemon over chocolate.  Yesterday was one of those days, when I woke up with a yearning for a tangy lemon scone.  Even better, how about a lemon icing, sticky and sweet-tart?

Oh, my gosh, these were delicious!  I had them with my newest favorite, seltzer with lemon slices and sprigs of fresh mint from the garden, sitting in the shade and listening to the burble of Moose Brook.  Does that sound like summer or what?

Fresh Lemon Scones (with drizzle icing)

Preheat oven to 375F.
Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

zest from one large lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
2 pinches kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

The glaze:
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
sanding sugar

Place the zest, flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in mixer bowl and mix briefly.
Add the cold butter and mix until incorporated well, but you can still see tiny pieces of butter.
Add the lemon juice to the buttermilk and add to the flour mixture, mixing briefly again until the dough clumps together. If it's too dry, add a little more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time.
Remove dough to a clean counter and pat into a circle.  Cut the dough into 8 pieces and arrange on the baking sheet.
Brush each scone with the egg white glaze, then sprinkle on the sanding sugar.
Place in preheated oven on the upper third shelf.
Bake 20 minutes, or until scones are golden.

While the scones are baking, make the drizzle icing:

3/4  cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
one drop of vanilla
a tablespoon or so of milk  - enough to make a thick but easy to drizzle icing using a fork or whisk.

Let scones cool completely before icing, then drizzle on as you wish.  You can also serve the icing in little dishes for dunking instead of drizzling on (kids love dunking!).

The blueberries are ripe, peach season coming up, followed by apples -  don't you just love summer?

Monday, July 21, 2014

fresh cherry scones with lemon zest

When it comes to cherries and strawberries, I usually think fresh.  Fresh fruit salads, green salads with a handful tossed in at the last minute,  cottage cheese with mint, basil and cherries or strawberries.  But for some reason I went searching Pinterest very early this morning for a muffin or scone recipe for that last cupful of pitted cherries.  And I found the almost perfect recipe - except I didn't have any sliced almonds nor almond extract.  You know how it is - you plunge ahead merrily anyway, and I'm happy to say it came out just fine, though I would love to try it with the almonds sometime, nice with a little crunch!

I did change a few measurements - a little less baking powder, a little more buttermilk because the batter was so firm, lemon zest instead of almond extract, and a slightly lower temperature since my oven runs a little hot sometimes.  But all in all, a lovely new recipe for those special brunches.  Many thanks to Table for Two!

Fresh Cherry Scones

Preheat oven to 375F
Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

For the scones:
3 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
zest of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes
1 1/4  cups buttermilk  plus a little more if needed
1 cup halved fresh cherries
sparkling sugar

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
few drops of almond or vanilla extract

Place the flour, lemon zest, sugar, baking powder and baking soda, and salt into the mixer bowl and mix briefly.

Add the butter and use a pastry blender to break the butter pieces down before using the mixer - I've found the dough gets too tough if I use the beater blade too much.

Pour in the buttermilk and mix just until the dough comes together - if it's too thick, add another 1/4 cup buttermilk and quickly stir again.
Gently stir in the cherries quickly and without staining the dough too much.

Use an ice cream scoop to space out 7 scones per sheet and sprinkle scones with sparkling sugar before sliding into the upper third of the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, remove to cooling rack,  then bake the other sheet .  Using a spatula if needed, remove the first scones to a cooling rack to cool completely before icing, then do the same with the second sheet.

When scones are completely cool, mix up the glaze with a small whisk and drizzle quickly over cooled scones, using the whisk or a fork to make zig-zag lines.  Let dry completely before placing on a platter.   This made 14 scones.

I just got a new picture of our Izzie - who has grown SO much I can't believe it!  Minnesota seems to be agreeing with all of them  - and they are constantly biking or hiking, swimming or visiting museums, or taking the Light Rail trains, which Frankie is mad about.  And Noah? Mr. Tractor is finally walking and talking!