All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the glow of pumpkin scones











I had to race outside to catch the last rays of sun that reach this house - which is between 2:30 and 3:00PM this time of year. The heap of snow in front of the house doesn't help. So there I was, running full speed to pose these lovely glowing pumpkin scones in the snow.


A few weeks ago, I nibbled on a pumpkin scone my daughter had bought at a coffee place. I was disappointed - it was very dry and quite tough. It stayed in the back of my mind, though, and last night I experimented with making a moist, somewhat dense pumpkin scone. I also cut the butter content a bit, by using applesauce ( which was homemade and chunky) - and added a few currants for interest. I hope you enjoy them.


You will need:


Preheat oven to 350F. Fit a baking sheet with foil.


2 3/4 cups King Arthur flour, plus more for rolling

1 t. b. powder

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ginger

1/2 t. cloves

5 T. chilled unsalted butter, cut into little pieces


the wet ingredients:

3/4 of a One Pie Pumpkin can

1/2 cup applesauce, or cook one peeled and cut up apple til tender and mush up

1 large egg

1/2 cup currants (dried)

1/3 cup buttermilk


Mix the dry ingredients together in mixer bowl. Add the cut up butter and mix until it looks a little like cornmeal.

Add the wet ingredients and mix. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour. Turn out on floured counter and pat into a circle. Cut into 6 pieces, shaped like triangles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg ( it will be shiny) or coffee - which I did....using coffee will remove any flour remaining on the scones, in addition to bringing out the color.


Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes. Remove and cool. The scones will stick to the foil, so wait until cool before removing firmly with a spatula.


Enjoy with tea or hot chocolate, or warmed milk with a cinnamon stick!









Monday, January 26, 2009

cheap, healthy, delicious: breakfast for $1.42



Like everyone else, the food budget is shrinking for me and I'm watching my pennies. Only recently have I started trying to estimate meal costs - and be good about using up the vegetables in the drawer before they get mushy and squishy.
Yesterday, I made this enormous, filling and wonderful omelet, with a rainbow of diced and sliced veggies I briefly cooked before scooping them into the omelet, along with some slivers of mozzarella and cheddar. If you use potatoes or carrots - or celery, come to think, you need to cook them until tender, drain, and then put in the omelet.
Along with the omelet, I peeled and sliced a beautiful ripe avocado and squirted it with a little lemon juice. Add in the two cups of home brewed good coffee, the total came to $1.42. Not bad!
Here's what I used in my two egg omelet:
a few grape tomatoes, cut in half
a few thin slices butternut squash
a few thick slices potatoes, large dice
fresh dill, chopped
3/4ths of a carrot, peeled and diced
about 2 T. sliced scallions
2 slices leek whites, diced
a handful of sliced up spinach
4 thin slices cheese
Parboil the hard vegetables until they're tender, and drain. Keep warm in pot and add the scallions, spinach, tomatoes, dill. Mix and cover pan to keep them warm.
Place a little oil or butter in omelet pan and cook until the edges are cooked. Pull the edges in toward the center - keep up until the eggs are no longer liquid. Add the cheese and vegetables, and salt and freshly cracked pepper and fold one side over the vegetables. Placing your right hand thumb on the top of the omelet pan's handle , flip over onto a plate.
Next to oatmeal with raisins, this is my absolute favorite breakfast!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

chocolate dipped strawberries











The markets are full of those sweet, beautiful Florida strawberries this time of year, and they're perfect for desserts, snacks and company - and even better dipped in chocolate!


You can use any kind of chocolate chips, or you can break up a gourmet chocolate bar to make the dipping sauce. You can serve a bowl of berries, some bamboo skewers, and some warm dipping sauce, or you can dip ahead of time, let them dry, and serve on an elegant platter with skewers or forks. I collect what I call "pickle forks" - tiny little silver forks that are perfect for spearing. I just found out they actually are Victorian seafood forks - but I'll think of them as pickle forks forever.


To make the dipping sauce:


1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips

2 teaspoons Crisco vegetable shortening


Place the chips and Crisco in a microwave safe souffle bowl, or any other somewhat deep container so the chocolate doesn't cool too fast.

Microwave about 2 minutes, take out, and stir.

Microwave another minute, or until the chocolate chips are completely melted and the sauce is smooth when stirred.


Dip the strawberries and let dry on a baking rack. It should take about 20 minutes to dry.

You can then serve, or "double dip" with another layer of a different chocolate, if you wish, and let them dry again. I like semisweet with white chocolate, or semisweet with a little milk chocolate, but I'm sure you'll come up with your own favorite!


This can also be used for dipping cherries, pineapple chunks, grapes - I suppose just about any fruit you think would work with chocolate. These are also perfect for a Valentine's Day dinner - along with some flowers and a smooch.


Enjoy!





Featured in Photograzing ( on Serious Eats)!



Friday, January 23, 2009

turkeyball soup with fresh cabbage & thyme




My kids always made fun of my name for this soup - but I noticed they sure ate it up fast. It's simply fresh ground turkey mixed with herbs and gently simmered in chicken broth and thinly sliced cabbage. It's a nice, light meal for winter, and perfect for those January diets we all start after the holidays.
You will need:
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups chicken stock ( and 2 cups water)
1 t. dried thyme
salt and pepper
1 T. fresh Italian parsley, minced fine
2 handfuls thinly sliced cabbage
2 T. scallions ( green onions) chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
1 t. herbes de provence
more thyme if needed
Mix the parsley and 1 t. thyme, plus salt and pepper, into the raw turkey. Form into small, marble sized balls and set aside.
Heat the chicken broth with the water and rosemary sprigs. Turn heat to medium and add the cabbage. Simmer until cabbage is tender - about 15 minutes.
Add the herbes de provence and scallions to the broth, and gently float the turkeyballs on the top. Cook until the turkey is cooked through - about ten minutes.
Ladle into soup bowls and add a little parsley or scallions to bowl.
Enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

snow and sweet rolls









Like many people, I've been glued to the television and the computer, watching the goings on for the inauguration and Martin Luther King Day. It's hugely emotional and exciting: the unrolling of reels and pictures from my own childhood times, right up to the present - watching our President-elect and First Lady rocking to Stevie Wonder.
Is it any wonder this morning I pulled out a recipe from the newspaper for "buttermilk-cinnamon rolls" from Far Land Provisions, Provincetown, Ma. ( and one of my hometowns)? And, ohhh, am I glad I tried these, because they are delicious! Fluffy, tender - and with a hint of fresh oranges, the only change I made to the recipe.
Now that I'm fortified, I can go out and shovel some more of the fresh snow that fell during the night. I know you'll enjoy these!
To make:
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a round pan with high edges - I use an 8"x2" pan.
2 3/4 cups King Arthur flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 T. sugar
grated zest of an orange
6 T. unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle in the orange zest.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and pour in the buttermilk. Remove from heat.
Stir the buttermilk/butter mix into the flour bowl and stir with a fork until it forms a ball.
Sprinkle the counter with a little flour, and knead the dough a little. Shape dough into a rectangle measuring about 7"x12".
The Filling:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
4 T. melted unsalted butter
Mix the sugars and spices together. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the filling almost to the edges. Roll up the long side so it forms a long roll. Cut the roll in half, then half again. Cut each piece two more times, so you have 12 rolls.
Fit the rolls into the greased pan, and brush with the rest of the butter.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until rolls are firm and slightly browned. While still hot, drizzle with glaze. Save some glaze for dipping using a small shotglass or bowl.
Glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 T. fresh orange juice
When the rolls have cooled about 5 minutes, cover with a cooling rack and tap pan. The rolls should fall out easily. Cover the unside down rolls with another cooling rack, and flip right side up. Pull apart and serve with a little dipping glaze.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

sweet potato sticks



I am reposting my recipe for sweet potato sticks for Will, of Dover, NH - who nibbled on these sticks this afternoon and wanted to know how to make them.
As I was browsing the South Beach diet cookbook, I realized these fit into the second Phase of South Beach - so indulge and enjoy!
I make these two ways - my original recipe, which called for cooking them in a toaster oven, ideal for a quick sweet potato fix for one or two servings. The second way, which I use more often lately, is to saute as many batches as you need in a skillet. I tried making large batches in a hot oven, but the result was disappointing. So I would stick with the toaster oven method, or the semi-quick saute.
Sweet Potato Sticks Method #1 - in the toaster oven:
You will need:
olive oil
sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large matchsticks
fresh dill, minced
salt, and pepper if desired
Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut into large matchsticks.
Drizzle olive oil ( I use virgin olive oil) on a toaster oven tray and add sweet potato sticks, rolling well in the olive oil so they're coated on all sides.
Set oven to 350F.
Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the sticks are softening.
Switch to the broil setting and broil until some of the sticks show browning.
Remove, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and minced fresh dill and serve.
Method #2:
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large matchsticks.
Drizzle a hefty amount of olive oil - about 3 tablespoons, into skillet. Heat and then add sweet potatoes, turning in the olive oil on all sides until well coated.
Saute until the sticks caramelize, turning often.
Serve with fresh minced dill and salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Enjoy - and vow to keep eating healthy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

vanilla clafouti with fresh strawberries

When the temperature in New Hampshire is hovering around minus thirteen degrees ( without the wind chill - which I don't want to know), your mind does funny things. Like shopping at the supermarket and zeroing in on bright and cheerful boxes of strawberries. I was so hungry for a breath of summer, I snatched them up, not even checking to see if they were organic.

Back in the kitchen, I went into a strawberry frenzy, first making this creamy comfort food clafouti, and then later, ( much, much later) experimenting with chocolate dipping.

Clafouti is a traditional French dessert, most often made with the first cherries of the season. But I love clafouti too much to be limited to cherries, so I use whatever fresh berries I can find, any time of year.

It takes all of a few minutes to butter a dish, whip up the batter in the blender ( if Julia did it, so can I!), and pour it over the berries. 40 minutes in the oven, and there you go - a not too sweet dessert that can be served for breakfast, brunch, or supper. The picture above doesn't do the taste of this clafouti justice, so you'll have to take my word that it's creamy, fragrant with wafts of vanilla and strawberry , and not too filling.

To make:

Butter one ovenproof dish, or several souffle dishes. Sprinkle the bottom of the dish with a little sugar.

Preheat oven to 340F ( my oven runs a little hot at 350F).

3 eggs
hefty pinch of salt
1/4 t. nutmeg, or several scrapings of fresh nutmeg
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup King Arthur flour
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into chunks

In a blender, mix the eggs, salt, nutmeg, sugar, cream and milk. Whiz.

Add the flour and vanilla and whiz again until smooth .

Sprinkle the fruit on the bottom of the dish, then pour the batter over.

Place in preheated oven and bake about 40 minutes. The clafouti will puff up a little, and should be toasty on top and somewhat firm.

This is amazingly delicious while warm, but I've been known to eat it straight from the fridge.

Be well and stay warm!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ode to the Atlantic pollock & perfect fish chowder



I spied some very fresh pollock at Shaw's supermarket yesterday, so I snapped it up for my favorite fish chowder. The woman behind the counter was shaking her head, "I don't know why people don't buy this more - instead it's always haddock, haddock, haddock."
Pollock is my favorite fish - it's meaty and holds up well in chowders and poaching, which is my preferred method of cooking fish. As a child, we ate a lot of pollock - it was then considered a "trash" fish, so the fishermen and their families took it home to eat. Cod ( which the pollock is related to) and haddock were the fish that sold. Unfortunately, I just discovered Fishwatch ( http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/) is announcing later this year that it is on the not sustainable list, so I'm not sure what I'll do. For now, I'll enjoy my fresh chowder, and hope for the future of this beautiful fish.
You will need:
1 pound very fresh pollock
1 onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, washed and choppled
2 leek whites, sliced
5 small red-skinned potatoes, chuncked or large dice
2 bay leaves
water or clam juice for stock
1/2 t, tarragon or fennel seed
(You could probably slice up some fennel bulb, but I've never tried it)
3 T. unsalted butter
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 T. fresh dill, chopped
In a skillet, place onions, leeks, potatoes, bay leaves, celery, and the tarragon or fennel seed. Cover with water or clam juice - not too much, just enough to cover the vegetables.
Simmer until vegetables are tender, then take the fish and gently place in the simmering broth and vegetables.
Simmer until the fish "flakes" - when prodded with a fork, it will break into fat, juicy chunks. You shouldn't need more than ten minutes, usually, for the fish to cook.
Gently break up the fish, and swirl in the butter and dill. Taste for seasoning.
Serves at least 4.

Monday, January 12, 2009

spinach soup


As the New Year begins, I'm determined to go back to my healthy eating - especially dark green vegetables and leafy greens. A storm a week dumps another foot of snow, the wild winds whip and dance across fields, and the thermometer rarely goes above 15F. This soup is my protection against all those nasty flu and cold germs wandering around in January. And tasty? Absolutely!

To make about 3 servings:

4 cups packed baby spinach ( use organic)

2 1/2 cups half water, half chicken/veg stock

about 1/2 cup diced potato

1 medium onion, sliced

1 t. pressed garlic

pinch thyme ( hefty pinch)

a few scrapings of nutmeg

pinch hot pepper flakes

freshly cracked pepper

salt to taste ( taste at the end)

1 t. unsalted butter (optional) Or use olive oil, but butter is best.

Place potatoes, garlic, and onion in the stock and simmer until the potatoes are soft.

Add the nutmeg, thyme, red pepper flakes, butter or oil, and black pepper and stir in.

Add the spinach, stir, turn off heat, and cover for five minutes.

Using an immersion blender, or regular blender, puree soup until smooth. Taste for salt and add if desired.

I like to serve this with Ritz crackers and Tabasco.

Stay warm - and healthy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

hot chocolate!




This is the silkiest, most delectable hot chocolate I've ever had. I've tasted some hot chocolates that were so thick and rich, I thought I was drinking chocolate icing - not true of this recipe, which is adapted from Sherry Yard's recipe in The Secrets of Baking. And while I served this in a cafe au lait bowl, a demitasse would be plenty for me.


So let the winter winds blow, and the snow pile up - grab a mug of this hot chocolate and head outside to raise a toast to January!


To make:

4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate ( I used Ghirardelli 60% )

1/2 cup heavy cream


Finely chop chocolate, or chop coarsely and throw into the food processor until the chocolate looks like little crumbs, see photo above.

Place chocolate in microwave-safe china bowl.

Heat cream to boiling and pour over chocolate.

Let sit 5 minutes, then slowly mix together until chocolate is melted completely.


In another pan heat:


3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream


Add when hot:

1 T. good, unsweetened cocoa powder and whisk in.


Add the cocoa powder mix to the melted chocolate mix and whisk gently.


Add 1 t. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur


If the mixture isn't piping hot, microwave for a minute, then pour into bowls, mugs,

or demitasse cups.


Serve as is, or with a spoonful of unsweetened whipped cream.





Featured in TasteSpotting!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

one pot chicken & vegetables with rosemary


Talk about a winning combination! This is a great tasting, low fat, high protein, high fiber, and FAST winter dinner. It also has endless variations, so I doubt you'll get tired of it. I prefer using the chicken tenders, but you can use boneless chicken and just cut it into medium sized pieces.
To make:
1 package chicken tenders
Vegetable choices, cut into chunks or sticks:
red, yellow, or orange peppers
zucchini
baby carrots
sweet potatoes
halved small, red potatoes
radishes
celery
broccoli
green beans
asparagus
squashes
bok choy
mushrooms
red onions
etc.
4 springs fresh rosemary ( about 3 inches long) or 2 T. fresh, chopped
salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil (optional)
Place chicken tenders in a large skillet. Just barely cover with water or chicken stock.
Arrange vegetables and rosemary on top of chicken, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Make sure it stays at a simmer, and not a boil.
That was easy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

one minute creme fraiche





I'm still celebrating Christmas, thanks to the ice storm we had. My delightful French friend from Normandy surprised me with a deep green caramelized onion and fresh pea soup ( I'll have to get the recipe, absolutely!) served with this homemade creme fraiche.
I tasted and raised my eyebrows - deliciously tangy but smooth, perfect creamy texture - where did she find this? And Mme. B. pulled a jar from her fridge, offered me a spoon, and tossed off the recipe.
You will need:
1 clean jar
1 small container of heavy cream ( 1 cup)
1 small container of sour cream ( 1 cup)
And that's it.
Pour the cream into the jar, add the sour cream, twist on the lid - and shake hard. Leave the jar at room temperature for about 24 hours and stir. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
Use as thickener or swirls in soups, in dips, as a topping for fresh fruit compote - I'm sure you can come up with a million uses.
And the clementines? Just so pretty with the sun shining on them .

Friday, January 2, 2009

persil frise ( winter soup)





Do you ever have days when you suddenly crave greens? Hot greens in particular, which means a beautiful, thick, hot green soup. I not only feel virtuous, I feel strong and healthy - like Popeye!
When I serve this soup, I present it in my best French accent - "pairsil freesay" - which simply means curly parsley. It always has at least one cup chopped parsley, and I usually use the flat leaf kind, as it has more flavor. But the first time I made it, I only had curly parsley, so thence its name.
You can vary this by composing your own soup using:
4 cups of various greens
2 cups stock
1/2 cup diced raw potato or 1/2 cup cooked rice for the starch
Make sure the vegetables go together well by tasting them together before cooking them.
To make:
1 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter (optional)
1 T. cumin
pinch hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 large clove slivered fresh garlic
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup leeks, white only, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced, with some leaves
1/2 cup diced potato
2+ cups arugula and parsley, chopped
1 t. dried dill or 1 T. fresh, chopped
1 t. dried or fresh oregano
Heat olive oil and butter in pot. Add the garlic, hot pepper, and cumin and briefly saute.
Add the stock, celery, leeks, and potato and turn heat to medium.
Cook until the celery and potatoes are tender.
Turn off heat and stir in the parsley, arugula and the dill.
Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree.
Taste carefully and adjust seasoning. Very little salt, if any, is needed.
Float toasted croutons on top, or serve with a gooey, grilled cheese sandwich.
Happy New Year to all - and don't forget to eat your greens!