All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

polenta cakes with fresh tomatoes, scallions and basil

Hooray for tomato season!  Such a glorious assortment of sizes and shapes everywhere, from farmers markets to home gardens, to co-ops and grocery stores  - and because I'm without a garden this year, it's all the more thrilling.  I was hoping to make a tomato tart, but got blindsided with a gimpy ankle for a few days which kept me off my feet and away from the markets.  But I did have a stash of fresh herbs and baby tomatoes - and remembered those polenta cakes I used to make soooo......  I gave it a whirl, and was actually stunned when I unmolded the polenta cakes - they were so PRETTY!

This is such an easy, simple recipe, I'm sure you'll come up with some beautiful ideas of your own.  And don't forget, they're gluten free.

Polenta cakes with fresh tomatoes, scallions, and basil

First, you will need 6 of those little white souffle/dessert cups.  Drip a little olive oil in each one, and rub the oil on the bottoms and sides.  Set aside.

Tomato/herb mixture:

About 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
2-3 tablespoons sliced scallion greens

Mix together the herbs and tomatoes and and sprinkle equal amounts on the bottoms of the souffle cups.  Set aside.

The polenta:

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup cold water
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

Whisk the cornmeal into the cold water and set aside.

In a separate saucepan:

3 cups water, brought to a boil in a medium sauce pan

When the water is boiling, scrape the cold water and cornmeal into the hot water and whisk briskly.  If you want to, you can add 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan to the mixture.

Whisk the mixture until it makes plopping noises and bubbles.  Remove from heat.
Using a large spoon or a spring loaded ice cream scoop, fill the oiled cups right up to the top and smooth with another spoon.  Let cool for 25 minutes, run a knife around the lip of each cup, and unmold very carefully onto a platter or individual plates.

Serve at room temperature, along with a fresh green salad, some nice brie and rolls or good bread.  Yummers!

And that gimpy foot?  Turned out to be gout, of all things, which runs in my family.
No more sardines, chicken, hamburgers, tunafish, or mackerel - or gelato, either. Not for a while, anyway.   Hope you're having a glorious summer!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

one jar of strawberry jam (recipe)

Oh, my, it is hot today - temperature heading to the 90's - not exactly jam-making weather, but when you're out of fresh jam, nothing gets in your way, right?  This is my quick recipe for a small amount of strawberry jam, which is pretty much the only jam I eat.  It takes maybe half an hour, start to finish.

Choose either a jam or jelly jar or glass that is somewhat heat proof (the jam will be poured into the jar/glass while still very hot), wash it well, dry, then pour hot water in halfway up the jar.  This is to temper the jar a little before you fill it with hot jam.  Set aside.

You will need:

1 heaping cup hulled and sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar

Cut up clean strawberries into a one cup measure, then place berries in a saucepan on medium heat.  Cook them for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon all the while, then add the lemon juice and the sugar. 

Continue to stir for another 15 minutes or so, checking to see if the mixture is jelling.  You can use a candy thermometer , but it's such a small amount it's not always accurate.  I just stir, lift the spoon up sideways, and check the dripping jam - which coats the spoon and thickens very quickly.  If it seems watery, cook a little longer, but keep stirring and checking.

Pour the hot water out of the jar, and place a metal spoon in the jar or glass - an old wives tale is that it has to be silver, so who am I to challenge that?  

Scrape the jam into the glass or jar and set aside to cool.  Once cooled, you can either screw on a lid or cover with plastic wrap, if it's a glass.  Place in fridge and you're done!

Four days later - time to make another jar!

In the past, I've added cinnamon sticks, orange peel, slivers of ginger root, herbs from the garden (lemon balm and lemon verbena) - and sometimes just a handful or raspberries found on a walk.  Just don't add too much liquid/juice to the mixture or it won't jell.

Enjoy - and stay cool!

PS/  I'm a grandmother again!  A big welcome to Madelyn Skye, born 20 July in New Hampshire!  

One year ago :  Jamie's red pepper pasta sauce with lemon, parsley, and ham
Two years ago:  Fresh lemon scones with drizzle frosting

Monday, July 11, 2016

Italian turkey meatballs

Settling in finally, though I still look at that tiny gas stove warily.  But yesterday I was so hungry I finally made those turkey meatballs I love so much - perfect for snacks and/or an actual sit down supper.  They're super simple to make, quick to cook, and loaded with freshly chopped herbs.

To make you will need:

1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons sliced scallion tops (the green part)
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1 extra-large egg (the egg makes the meatballs very tender)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
lots of black pepper (lost my pepper grinder in the move) - I used boxed pepper
1 or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (for the cooking)

First, wash your hands.
Place the turkey, parsley, egg, thyme, salt, pepper, and scallions in a medium bowl.
Stir the mixture until it is well combined.
Pinch off tablespoon sized pieces of the mixture and roll carefully into balls, setting the balls on a platter.  The mixture is quite sticky.

Wash your hands again, then pour the olive oil into a medium sized frying pan and heat on medium.
Using a large spoon, move all the meatballs into the frying pan, cover, and cook for ten minutes.  Uncover the pan, and use the spoon to roll the meatballs over, then cover again.  Cook another ten minutes.  Take a meatball out and cut in half to make sure the ground turkey is cooked and not pink.  Remove from heat and serve - or set aside to cool before placing in the fridge.  I like to serve it with salsa, but you can also use guacamole or hummus as a side.

This usually makes about 25 meatballs, depending on size.


A year ago : kale salad with breadcrumbs and garlic
2 years ago:  fresh cherry scones with lemon zest

Sunday, June 26, 2016

a new apartment

Ah, here I am - in a different city (Saint Paul, MN) and a new little apartment .  Moving again so soon meant lots and lots of naps, packing and unpacking, walking in a brand new neighborhood - and getting used to my very tiny (but cute!) city kitchen.  The stove is propane, which I'm very, very wary of, especially as the only smoke detector is entirely too close to the stove.  I have been making quick picnic food - grilling and sauteing will have to wait.  Ah, you noticed there is no counter?  I didn't realize it for THREE days:)  But all is well, and I look forward to slowly getting back to some new recipes.

                                                             the kitchen
                            kale with onions, peppers, blistered tomatoes, basil  
lovely June strawberries almost every day

sardines in olive oil and hot pepper sauce & lemon

Happy almost end of June!

Monday, May 9, 2016

rainbow chard, baby tomatoes and sorrel with red wine vinaigrette

Oh, my, life has been busy!  For months I've been searching for a place back in beloved New Hampshire, then, when that turned up nothing affordable, the Minneapolis area.  I move at the end of the month , yet again rooms filled with boxes.  But plenty of walks to take in the beauty of the season here, the flowering trees are truly stunningly beautiful.  A visit to Lake Nokomis, to watch the ducks and ducklings.  A visit to a community garden, picking rhubarb for stewing and sorrel for this light supper one night.  Oh, the colors and tastes of May!  Many walks with the new puppy, Maisie, take me outside more than usual - she has yet to get the whole potty training down pat. It reminds me of those days with my then-toddler children:)  And all those new friends I've made out here have made my days busier and full of good conversation and rambles - and good food.

Rainbow chard, tomatoes, and sorrel with red wine vinaigrette :

5 leaves (stems included) rainbow chard, roughly cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1-2 heaping cups baby yellow and red tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh sorrel, thinly sliced
about 1/2 cup water - more if needed
kosher salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

Place the olive oil and water in a stainless steel frying pan and heat.
Add the chard and tomatoes and cook, covered, until wilted.
Uncover and add the sorrel, cook until the chard stems are a little soft, and the tomatoes are just about to burst.
Drain, if necessary (I had no water left, but you might)

The vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon good olive oil

Mix well and pour over the vegetables, toss gently.  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then the sorrel leaves and serve.
Serves two.

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

leek greens and sweet potato frittata

After making that creamy, oh-so-delicious vichyssoise the other day, the leftover leek greens greeted me every time I opened the fridge door.  Yes, I am one of those people who tries not to waste food and feels guilty every time I throw away yet another icky bag of old arugula or fresh spinach.

Wait a minute - what about a frittata? I poked through the fridge to see what might go with sauteed leek greens and found the fresh chives and a sweet potato.  The light green middle part of the leeks I washed carefully, then cut into 2 inch pieces and tossed in the food processor for a quick blitz - just enough to mince them - then did a quick saute in olive oil to soften them before adding them to the egg mixture.  It was so good I'm sorry there are no leftovers today  - it was last night's supper and it went very quickly!

Leek and sweet potato frittata

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut off the light green leaves from the leftover leek greens and wash well. 
Cut into 2 inch pieces and briefly pulse in the food processor.  I ended up with 1 1/2 cups - if you have more, you can keep it in a container in the freezer to add to soups.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter in a skillet and add the leek greens.  Saute on medium-low until the greens are soft.  Take off heat and scrape into a bowl.  

The frittata:

Oil a 9 or 10 inch glass pie plate and set aside.

Mix together:

6 extra-large eggs
1 heaping cup of the cooked leek greens
kosher salt or Spike vegetable salt to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 cup grated, peeled sweet potato (I used a box grater - it was surprisingly easy)
lots of freshly grated pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Scrape mixture into the prepared pie pan and bake 20-25 minutes, or until the frittata is firm and golden on top.  Remove to cool before cutting into slices.

Monday, April 25, 2016

vichyssoise with fresh chives and thyme

What a wonderful way to celebrate my blog getting fixed (thank you, Kelci) - four distressing days I never want to go through again, when my account was suspended due to a questionable email I had gotten.  I was out for a walk two days ago, worrying and hyperventilating, when I saw my neighbor's two enormous chive plants and admired them.  She handed me some scissors and a plastic bag and told me to help myself, which I did -  then promptly celebrated with a pot of delicious vichyssoise.

This is the classic vichyssoise that you can also find in Julia's books:  when it's cold, it's vichyssoise, when it's served warm, it's potage parmentier - a smooth, creamy soup (though it only has 3 tablespoons of cream) that I sprinkle with fresh chives and thyme leaves - thyme being my favorite herb of all.  Served with a fresh green salad, it's a fine welcome to Spring.

To make:

3 cups sliced leeks (white only)
3 cups diced potatoes (I used small yellow potatoes)
3 cups light chicken broth
1 teaspoon or more kosher salt
a few thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Simmer the leeks, potatoes, broth, salt and thyme sprigs in a large pot for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.
Remove thyme twigs from pot and toss.
Puree soup in blender or Cuisinart and return to cooking pot.
Swirl in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 4 tablespoons heavy cream and stir well.
Serve cold in mugs or bowls, sprinkled with minced chives and a few thyme leaves picked from their stems.

Happy Spring to you all!