All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

roasted parsnip fries with parmesan

I've always loved parsnips , a root vegetable similar to carrots, but with an earthy, slightly sweet flavor that tastes like autumn to me.  They're a pretty cream color, and should be used when they are not too big or fat, as the larger ones often have a woody core when harvested, that has to be trimmed off.

I often peel and slice them, like carrots, and simmer in water until soft, then drained, mashed, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and butter.  But when I saw this recipe from BBC Good Food, I was intrigued and decided to try the high-heat roasting method they used.  The recipe called for rolling them in a cornmeal and grated parmesan cheese mixture, and roasting at high heat, which I did, but they needed another ten minutes or so to brown up and soften - a perfect excuse to sprinkle more parmesan over them:) .  A delightful lunch for me, but also a perfect side dish at dinnertime.

Roasted Parsnip Fries

1 bag parsnips (mine was 20 ounces - about 8 parsnips), peeled and cut into fries
6 tablespoons olive oil

The cheese and cornmeal coating:
6 tablespoons fine cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese - plus a little more for sprinkling
   after you turn the fries
a few scrapings of nutmeg
a pinch of thyme
a few leaves of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 450F.
Spread the olive oil evenly over a cookie sheet.

Peel the parsnips, cutting each parsnip in half, then cutting each half into sticks.  When my grandchildren tried them tonight, they liked the fatter, wider ones, so next time I'll probably stick with that size. 

In a bowl, mix the parmesan and cornmeal, thyme, rosemary and nutmeg.

Bring a pot of salted water to a bowl, then place parsnip sticks into the boiling water and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the parsnips are just tender.  Drain well.

Roll each parsnip fry in the cheese and cornmeal mixture and place on the oiled cookie sheet until all the fries are coated .  Sprinkle salt over the fries and slide into preheated oven.

Roast the fries for 15 minutes, then turn the fries over, sprinkle with a little more parmesan, and cook another 15 minutes.  Serve nice and hot - enjoy!

2014:  egg timbales with chopped herbs  
2015:   rainbow beet salad with oregano and lemon
2012: butternut squash muffins on a glowing day
2013:  rapini and rigatoni pasta with olive oil and hot pepper flakes  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fried Green Tomatoes

First really chilly morning here - Autumn is definitely here.  My neighbor was inspecting her tomato plants, which have stayed stubbornly green.  She sighed and said she might as well pull them up later, since it was clear they were never going to turn red.  I suggested harvesting them and putting them on the windowsill, but she wasn't interested - "too small" she said.  I told her I'd take them, and she waved a hand and said to go ahead, as she walked off grumbling to attend to her flowers.

I picked a bowlful of those hard, pretty little tomatoes and set them on the table.  "Fried green tomatoes" started whispering in my head, but I refused to listen - for a while.  I never had much luck with fried green tomatoes, but my inner cook kept on and on, so I said "Okay, ONE more try".  I googled and came up with a new to me recipe from Southern Living.  The grumbling turned into curiosity, and wouldn't you know it?  This one was a keeper.  I added a few extra things:  basil, hot sauce, a little dipping mixture, olive oil for frying since I had no other oil, but kept pretty much to the recipe, as I usually do if it's the first time I've tried it.

Fried Green Tomatoes recipe

I made a very small batch - maybe 10 sliced small green tomatoes, but only fried half of them.

About 2 cups sliced green tomatoes

Set out three shallow bowls.

Drizzle a few tablespoons olive oil into frying pan.

First bowl:
1/4 cup flour

Second bowl:
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
a few shakes of hot sauce 
Beat together until well blended.

Third bowl:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch or two of dried basil

Dipping sauce:

1/2 cup Hellmann's mayonaise 
2 tablespoons hot pepper relish (I used Mezzetta gourmet deli, tamed)
Stir well until blended.

Heat the oil in the frying pan.
Dip each tomato slice first in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the cornmeal, coating both sides of each tomato slice.  Messy work, so you may have to wash your hands a few times.
Add to skillet until you can't fit anymore.  Keep a sharp eye out, turning them with a fork so they don't burn, until they are all nicely toasted .  Remove to a platter, make up the dipping sauce, and serve with a smile!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

chunky feta and buttermilk salad dressing

Another little piece of paper discovered in my messy "letter box" - which should be called The Compost Heap at this point.  I rarely remember to go through it a piece of paper at a time, but when I do, I find little treasures like this hastily scribbled note for a creamy, chunky salad dressing.  

While I prefer it on crunchy romaine, if it's in the fridge I'll drizzle it on a baked potato, or snuck into an omelet (just a little), along with the grated cheddar - or use it on sandwiches and cold chicken slices.  I haven't compared it to ranch dressing ( which I like when I eat out ) because I never buy it, but it's similar in creaminess and flavor.  I'm always so pleased when I see the little container of this already made when I open the fridge door:)  I'm guessing it makes about a cup of dressing, since I've already eaten half of it at this point.

Chunky, creamy Buttermilk and Feta salad dressing:

1 small peeled garlic, pressed into bowl
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground pepper
4 tablespoons mayonaise 
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill, or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup buttermilk (more if mixture is too thick)
3 tablespoons mashed or crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Assemble all your ingredients in a bowl, and mash with fork or potato masher to your desired consistency. If you don't have fresh buttermilk, you can make this homemade from Emeril.  Store in the fridge in a covered container.

Lots of walks around the St. Paul neighborhood - as a New Englander the autumn colors seem more muted here - but on the other hand, it doesn't seem as chilly as it might be in New Hampshire at this time of year - which in my mind is a good thing!  Happy October and apple picking time to you all!  And take a look at these fabulous Halloween costumes inspired by books!

A year ago:  Beet salad with oregano and lemon
Two years ago:  Dorie's custardy Apple cake
Three years ago:poached apricots with cardamom cream
Four years ago: The bison burger
Five years ago:  Green garden sauce - and roasted chicken,the end of summer.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cannellini bean soup with golden chard and brussels sprouts

Wonderful produce from Mississippi Market in St. Paul inspired this soup yesterday: cannellini beans, golden chard, a few brussels sprouts, fresh rosemary, thyme, onion, olive oil, sweet butter, chicken broth. Oh, and a slug of hot sauce:)  It was so good I made it again today.

The recipe

Cannellini Bean Soup with golden chard and brussels sprouts:

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup good chicken broth
1 cup water 
one 15 oz. can cannellini beans, partly drained of the canned bean liquid
1 1/2 or 2 cups roughly chopped golden chard, both leaves and stems
3/4 cup sliced brussels sprouts (the ones I got were huge)
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to your taste
hot sauce to your taste

Saute the onion in the oil and butter in a large pot.  When golden, add the chicken stock and water, then the canned beans with their liquid.  Stir gently on low heat, then add the chard, brussels sprouts, scallions, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper.

Cook uncovered on low heat until the chard and brussels sprouts are tender, stirring slowly.  If it seems to be too thick, add a little more stock or water .

Taste test before serving, adding more salt if needed. Serve with rolls or French bread.

SO good!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

leek and potato soup (vichyssoise)

A chill in the air the last few days:  the inevitable march toward autumn and winter.  My friend Joe and I took what might be our last walk halfway around Como Lake .  A beautiful sunny day, and a parade of almost every dog you can imagine.  The food vendors were gone and the windows shuttered, but the fall wildflowers were blooming everywhere , and just enough briskness to the air to be thankful for that pot of vichyssoise in the fridge.  Served not cold, but carefully warmed up (never bring to a boil once the cream is added!) and served with some very good cheese and steamed kale.  

Leek and potato soup (vichyssoise)

2 cups yellow or red potatoes, cut in large dice
2 cups sliced white of leek (you can include a little of the pale green)
2 tablespoons sliced white of scallions
Half chicken stock, half water to cover the potatoes and leeks
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh dill
3/4 cup medium cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes, scallions and leeks in large pot or saucepan.
Cover with half water/half chicken stock.
Add the thyme and dill.
Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat.  
Scoop out a cup of the broth and reserve.
Puree the soup, then add the cream.  Add reserved broth if needed.
Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

                                           Happy Autumn!


Friday, September 16, 2016

freezing basil and a little vacation

I am back from a splendid "vacation" visiting my daughter and three grandchildren (and the cats and doggie) in their lovely house in Minneapolis. It was truly a wonderful visit, in spite of the alarming moment when the puppy Maisie ran away (found a few blocks away hanging out with a little brewfest party:), and the sigh when I realized, yes.  The three year old still bellows his rising and shining at 4 or 5 am.  I was thrilled to find the lavender turtleheads flowering in the side yard, right on schedule as it is in New Hampshire.

Now back at my place, and checking on my basil in my little garden, I saw the first golden leaf beside the bush.   First an inhaling of that wonderful scent, and then snipping away to fill a bowlful of those gorgeous, fragrant leaves.  It rained last night, but by afternoon the leaves were dry - perfect for freezing.

This is a trick I learned some time ago - that if you clip basil when it's perfectly dry and place in a clean, dry, freezer container and stick in your freezer, the basil will stay green and fragrant - and that is such a treat in February!  As I'm not familiar with the frost date in St. Paul, I decided to stash that beautiful basil while it was on my mind. Just remember, it has to be completely dry before clipping.  Simply snip off the very dry leaves and layer in the container, discarding the stems.

Happy September!

Two years ago:  Buttery Cabbage Slices(steaks)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

buttermilk lemon cake

How can it be the last day of August already?  The last few months flew by, with me hobbling around with what I was told was gout, but tests confirmed it was not.  Still limping, but slowly able to walk further - to the store to buy ingredients for my daughter's favorite birthday cake!

Buttermilk Lemon cake is a combination of two recipes -  a sticky, lemony cake with a lemon glaze, and a creamy cream cheese and lemon frosting I usually top my carrot cakes with, and it is delicious!  I forgot to take a picture of the big cakes, but there was a tiny "extra" cake with the last of the batter.  I did a hasty piping and dollops of frosting, not so pretty, but it would have to do as an after picture.

Buttermilk Lemon cake

You can use a sheet pan, or several round pans.  Grease the pans and set aside.
Preheat oven to 325F.

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
3 cups sugar
zest of 2 lemons

Beat in mixer until blended and creamy, then add:

5 eggs
4 1/2 cups King Arthur flour, all purpose
1 teaspoon baking soa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Scrape the batter into the greased pans and bake - it usually takes an hour and ten minutes for mine.  The cake will be slightly brown on top and firm to the touch when you press the center gently.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  While cooling, make the lemon glaze:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

Place lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring the whole time, then take off heat to cool. 
If using a rectangular pan for the cake, cut the cake into equal rectangles or squares and let cool on a rack.  If using round pans, cool, run a knife around the edge, and very carefully unmold cake onto a wire rack.  Brush the lemon glaze on the cakes .

The Cream Cheese frosting:

In mixer bowl, place:

1 large package cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
juice of one lemon (about2-3 tablespoons)

Cream the ingredients, then slowly add:

1 box confectioner's sugar (or 3 1/2 cups loose confectioners sugar)

Pipe or spread on cooled cake, or cake pieces.