All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Goodbye, summer!


Ah, summer was grand, and no sooner was I back from visiting my son and family near the ocean in New Hampshire,  it was off to visit some of the lakes in the Minneapolis area.

After days of rain in August, Lake Nokomis overflowed onto the broad swaths of brilliantly green grass - which attracted at least a hundred wild ducks, all shoveling up mud and weeds, worms and grass.

And a visit to the beautiful Lake Harriet on Frankie's birthday was simply stunning.  The water sparkled and rippled on a very mild September afternoon , and a charming regatta silently circled the center of the lake .  The grandkids leaped gleefully into the water .  

October has been wonderful walking weather, and my light fleece jacket has only finally come out of the closet in the last week - bliss!  Finally unpacked, I'm itching to get back to baking and cooking.  Moving always leaves me discombobulated for at least a month !






             I moved back to Minneapolis at the end of July - and I have a real kitchen!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

smashed avocado & fresh pea sandwiches


Eureka!  We have a post!  Not quite up to normal after iphoto disappeared suddenly, but I'll take it.  

There is a very good food writer  (Beth Dooley) in one of the Twin Cities newspapers ( the Star Tribune), and I've been delighted to find such delightful, fresh, recipes. This open faced sandwich was inspired by her post on Thursday, though her recipe involves vinaigrette, chevre, radishes, and olive oil, which mine does not.  I thought mashed avocado would be a perfect addition ( I'm on an avocado kick these days, so my fruit bowl still had three avocados, just ripe).

Bursting with fresh flavors, this made a wonderful lunch - the peas, though frozen, were quickly dipped in simmering water, until they were just about to pop, and the mashed avocado was silky and mild.  The fresh sugar snaps a crunchy delight, and I loved the breeze of slivered mint.  I think this is the first sandwich I ever made with peas, and it was wonderful.





To make:

2 slices rye bread
two tablespoons homemade boursin
1/2 an avocado, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup frozen peas, quickly cooked for a minute in simmering water and drained 
3/4 cup fresh sugar snap peas, washed and sliced in 1 inch pieces
several mint leaves, washed and sliced into slivers
1 tablespoon or so of fresh lemon juice over all
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
hot sauce if you wish

Spread the bread with the boursin.  Add the peas and sugar snaps gently, sprinkle with mint leaves, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and the optional hot sauce.  A few flakes of good parmesan would also be a treat.

Serves two.



I hope your summer is blossoming and full of joy !



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vacation

I've been on vacation visiting family on the New Hampshire seacoast .  First meeting with my 10 month old granddaughter and my grandson is almost two years older than when I last saw him.  Bliss, bliss, bliss.

A friend came to visit on a rainy day and whisked me off to a beautiful garden center that specializes in roses, (among many other varieties) - I took this video, if you want a breath of sea air!  

And sad to say, many things changed on my computer while I was away - no more iphoto means getting pictures onto the blog is very complicated, so I doubt I will be posting in the future.  Such a shame - I really enjoyed it.





Wishing you a happy summer!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

parmesan flans with tomatoes and basil

Last night I was looking through my old recipe notebooks - large black sketching books where I pasted recipes from Gourmet and other food magazines.  I put this in my notebook in July 2008 from Cooking Light, and always wanted to make it, and somehow never got to it until this morning.

The first batch was a flop - I oiled the ramekins, made the egg and parmesan mixture, poached gently, cooled - and tried to unmold them. Disaster, as the bottom stuck and the tops broke into pieces.  I wasn't giving up, so I whipped up a quick batch of quiche batter, oiled the ramekins again, and cooked in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.  This time it worked.  The flans are prone to breaking up, so use a small spatula to move them after you unmold them.





 Oil 3 or 4 ramekins with mild olive oil.  Set oven temperature to 340F.  Fill a pan halfway with hot water - it should be big enough for your ramekins to fit easily.

The egg-cheese mixture:

2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup medium cream
1/2 cup milk
a scraping of nutmeg
black pepper 
1 or 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
3/4 cup good grated Parmesan cheese

Mix well and divide between your four ramekins.  Place in hot oven and bake for 35 minutes (they should be soft but firm).
Using a potholder or kitchen towel, remove ramekins from hot water to cool.

Make the tomato mixture:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, then quartered (more if you need)
3/4 cup peeled, diced cucumbers
two small yellow mini peppers, seeded and diced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil leaves

Run a knife around the flans and carefully unmold about an inch from your platter.
Space the flans a few inches apart, then sprinkle the tomato and cucumber mixture over each one, then top with the slivered basil.

These are pretty mild tasting, so feel free to jazz them up, if you want.

My thyme plant has been attacked by birds, with a tiny few inches left.  I was puzzled, until I found this article.

Enjoy this beautiful day!







Friday, May 19, 2017

the herb garden and a product review (hummus)






Oh, holy allergies!  I had hoped to be taking some long walks, but it's a wicked allergy season for me, not sure who the culprit is.  The best I can do is check on the new herb plants and keep them watered when we had those hot, dry days.  And Mr. Rabbit is very interested in the new calendula plants - I read up on rabbit problems, and apparently rabbits hate strong-smelling plants, which is why he hasn't eaten any of my new herbs - most of them are mints, rosemary and basils.  I'll be using a peppermint spray on the plants on dry days, and hope it keeps him away.

As I was rummaging through the pantry, making up a shopping list, I came across this hummus add-garbanzo-beans-and-blend packet I bought several months ago, and, being out of tahini, decided to try it. (this is not a sponsored post, by the way).  I guessed it would probably need more lemon, but it was surprisingly tangy.  A little too much salt for me, and I added half a clove of garlic, though it already had garlic in the ingredients.  It was a perfect texture , not soupy, and not too thick.  So, though I usually make my own, this was very good.  I would buy this again.  I really hate messing with a large container of tahini.  It always separates into an oily glop.

Hope you have a grand weekend!  


Saturday, May 13, 2017

on turnip greens



You know how I love any kind of greens - I found the most beautiful bunch of turnip greens yesterday, then realized I wasn't quite sure how to cook them.  I cook collards for at least an hour, but turnip greens are more like kale - a modest cooking time keeps the peppery flavor intact.

It was a good try, but definitely needed more fat (I only had lean ham and a few tablespoons of bacon grease) while cooking, and a cup or so of chicken stock, instead of 3 cups of water.  Live and learn.  Next time I'm going to try fatback and maybe chicken sausages, and follow this recipe, or this one.  I ended up dressing the greens with lemon, olive oil, and hot sauce .

The most important prep is to slice the greens, then wash throughly in a big bowl of water.  Mine looked clean, but after two rinses, there was a lot of sand and dirt in the bottom of the bowl.  Second is not to overcook the turnip greens - no more than 20 minutes for the entire bowl of chopped greens. (Collards are a different story - at least an hour with fatback).






Thursday, May 11, 2017

interlude





Dear friends -  it has become clear in the last several months that a thoughtful break is in order for me and the blog.

Just as I was thinking about it two months ago, my camera agreed with a slight meltdown, and a month after that, a computer malfunction. Even though I get 10,000 views a month, I wasn't making money, so not enough to consider it a successful situation. I stubbornly plodded on, but the thought of a break after 10 years of blogging felt more and more comfortable.  I wanted to write more, though what , I wasn't sure.

True, the tiny oven didn't help, or the heat detector going off when I was baking.  But really, I missed cooking for people, feeding people, messing about in the kitchen.

So I'll call it a recharging of creative energy and hope to be back.  In the meantime, I'm starting another book of poetry, at least, I think that's what's been prodding my thoughts:)
and finding my food muse again.  If I feel inspired, I'll certainly post.

Thank you for reading, you wonderful people! - and look forward to coming back refreshed.

lots of love -

Katrina