All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Sunday, November 29, 2009

scallion pancakes on a sparkling morning



What a sparkling day in New Hampshire! As the sun peeked through the trees at seven this morning, I couldn't resist a quick walk down to the pond near my house. I'm happy I did, because it was beautiful - the early sun danced on the still water , looking like a field of diamonds.
When I got back, I was starving, so I made up these little 3 inch scallion pancakes and topped them with softly scrambled eggs and dill. Lots of savory herbs in a protein packed breakfast - what could be more delicious?
To make:
Makes about 10 tiny pancakes
3/4 cup flour
1 large egg
2 T. minced parsley
2 T. sliced scallions
1/8 t. baking powder
2/3 cup milk
2 pinches of salt
Whisk together until smooth, then let sit for a few minutes to blend.
Wipe a crepe pan or skillet with vegetable oil and heat to medium.
Place about a tablespoon of batter in the hot pan, let cook about 1-2 minutes, then flip.
Cook other side 1-2 minutes, then remove to plate.
Continue until batter is gone.
Top with softly scrambled eggs seasoned with tarragon or dill.

Friday, November 27, 2009

leftover turkey soup


I hope everyone had a delicious and joyful Thanksgiving ! The kids made THE most wonderful desserts (apple pie, pumpkin-chocolate brownies, and a wonderful cranberry upsidedown cake from an Alice Waters recipe), and an amazing amount of conversation was centered around either food, recipes, or Top Chef favorites. I am so pleased to see two more great cooks carrying on the tradition in our family.
As usual, I'm making the Day After Turkey soup - and I wait all year for this. It's a lovely soothing, hearty ( but not heavy) soup that efficently uses up many of those leftovers.
Today, I'm giving you a general recipe, so you can adjust it according to how much turkey and trimmings you have.
First, I make a quick turkey stock:
Cut the useable meat off the turkey and set aside.
In a stockpot place:
turkey bones and carcass, broken up
a little browned turkey skin
cut up onions
mushrooms
cut up carrots and celery (include some leaves)
thyme
fresh rosemary
bay leaves
Whatever else (small amounts leftover squash, roasted potatoes, etc.)
Cover with water, or part water, part chicken or vegetable stock.
Bring almost to a boil, then simmer for an hour.
Strain the stock and taste. If it's too watery, reduce the stock by simmering until you feel it tastes right.
Add:
Carefully cut up turkey meat ( no bones or tendons, please)
a bag of baby carrots (or more)
a few chopped onions (or more)
sliced celery
salt and freshly cracked pepper
more thyme and rosemary
a handful or so of brown or jasmine rice (or more)
a handful of finely chopped parsley
Simmer until the rice is done and the vegetables are soft-tender. Taste again and adjust seasons, then serve with a little more chopped parsley.
Here is the blessing we read yesterday, with thanks to Ralph Waldo Emerson:
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
May this Thanksgiving blessing bloom in your life all year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

thanksgiving countdown: creamed onions











Heaven help me if I forget the creamed onions again! The last time I forgot them my kids gave me no end of grief, so I made sure they were at the top of the shopping list today.

When you shop, the sign usually says "white boiling onions" - and pick through for the smaller ones , which are preferred. They're also a pain to peel, but I can deal with it once a year for my beloveds.

I won't give any amounts, since it's the process that matters, rather than the weight. Take a small onion and, using a sharp knife, shave off most of the stem end ( not the twisty Hershey's kiss top), then trim the top. Cut one onion layer through the onion, then peel away the top layer with the onion skin. Continue until all the onions are trimmed.


Place the trimmed onions in a large saucepan with a bay leaf. Fill with water, so the onions are floating with about two inches of water below them. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the onions are tender, but not falling apart.
Using a strainer, drain the onions but save the onion water. Rinse out the cooking pot, then melt a tablespoon or more of unsalted butter. Whisk in a few tablespoons of flour, then add a cup or so of the onion water to the mixture, whisking all the while. Add a teaspoon or so of thyme, and whisk , whisk, whisk in some lowfat milk ( surprise! No cream!) until the mixture is creamy but thick. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the onions and gently stir them so they're coated. Top with a little chopped parsley and serve alongside the turkey. Delicious!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

thanksgiving countdown: two dairy-free treats for kids



It seems to me more and more children are being diagnosed with food allergies. At holiday time, especially, it's difficult to know what to make or serve to kids when you hear the words "dairy free". And this year, you also need to be aware of the H1N1 flu that targets children from infant to 5 especially, so try to avoid the communal bowl. Here are two great healthy choices for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner snack, or to offer as a dessert that's worry free. Arrange a serving tray with single serve cups, glasses, or bowls with these delicious treats , complete with spoons, and relax. And they're so pretty, aren't they? I'm sure several adults will be sneaking over to sample these goodies.
The creamy coconut dip with fresh fruits is just wonderful! Use a melon ball cutter for any melon you like, or cut up strawberries or bananas to dip in the smooth coconut milk sauce.
The Rosy Applesauce is made from fresh apples and tart cranberries, with just a little honey for extra sweetness. Who can resist it?
Wishing you a peaceful, happy, and delicious Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

my little marmalade tree






Nine years ago, I bought an indoor orange tree about a foot and a half high. It's a Calamondin. and every winter ( sometimes Fall) it makes lots of little, bright, sour oranges over the period of a few months. It has beautiful, fragrant white flowers that make you forget winter is happening just outside the window.
For the first few years I might nibble on the inch-sized oranges, but usually I ended up throwing them away. Then a few years ago I suddenly wondered: what about making marmalade with them? Well, I did, and it's wonderful. Because the fruit is so sour, you don't even need pectin or lemon juice, and the skins are soft and thin, so you just slice the whole fruit up, throwing away the random seed or two. The marmalade is somewhat soft, and easily spreadable.
A note : Before you run out and buy a Calamondin, be aware that nurseries and greenhouses use poisons on their plants, so you need to wait a year before eating the fruit: use organic or natural liquid fertilizer and you can be assured the fruit is safe.
To make the marmalade:
Gather up the little oranges and wash. Slice very thinly, discarding any seeds you come across. This recipe is for 2 cups of sliced oranges, so adjust if you have more or less.
Simmer four or five jamjars and lids in boiling water, then let drain on a fresh, clean dishtowel.
Place the 2 cups of sliced oranges in a heavy bottomed pot, along with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Add 3 cups of sugar and stir, turning heat down to a high simmer.
Continue to stir marmalade for approximately 25 minutes, stirring quite a lot, until it reaches around 230 on a candy thermometer, or drips thickly from a wooden spoon. This is just around soft-ball stage.
Ladle marmalade into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom, then place the lids and rings on and tighten. You should hear them ping about a half hour later as they seal. If they don't seal well, just keep in the fridge, where, I assure you, they won't last long.

And to folks in warmer areas, I envy you! These can grow outside as long as the temperature stays above 20F.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you're using a different citrus, like clementines, unless they are marked "organic", make sure you rinse the citrus well in a vinegar bath of 2 tablespoons vinegar (any kind) to a quart of water. Rinse again in clear water, and pat dry before slicing. I do think clementines with 2 tablespoons lemon juice would approximate the taste of the Calamondin oranges - the peels are thin with very little pith. I'll let you know when I try it.
Featured on TasteSpotting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

thanksgiving countdown: two soups




Even with a feast like Thanksgiving, there are some people who like to start the dinner with a light soup. I'm definitely one of them. I don't use cream in these smooth soups, preferring to simply use more vegetables before pureeing. I doubt you'd ever notice the difference. And because there's no cream, the soups are less heavy and filling. And (pssst), they're healthy, too!




At the top, there's the Spicy Mushroom soup, with toasty sauteed mushrooms and lots of thyme.




At the bottom, the gorgeous Spinach soup, with handfuls of baby spinach pureed to that beautiful bright green.

Serve with some of those Portuguese flour rolls, or a few crackers and enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

thanksgiving countdown: two pretty salads




Both of these salads add a burst of color to the overloaded Thanksgiving table. The roasted butternut with pomegranate dressing and arugula has a lovely zest to it, while the watermelon salad with gorgonzola is a real stand out!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

thanksgiving countdown: simple cakes




















There's always someone who doesn't like the pumpkin pie. For those people, and for extra rations for company, I've included several unfrosted cakes that can be made ahead and frozen. The silly 3-minute microwave cake-in-a-cup is included , simply as entertainment for the kids. It's not bad, either, especially if you drizzle a little chocolate sauce on top after it comes out of the microwave.

From the top, there's the lovely spiced Pumpkin Cake with sugared ginger, then the Orange-Scented Olive Oil cake, and then my current favorite, Fresh Apple Gingerbread.






Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

chicken, pumpkin, and white bean soup with spinach cream


I really was going to make my Black Bean chili today, but lo and behold, by late morning it was 60 degrees, so I scratched that idea and moved on to a lighter chicken , white bean, and pumpkin soup with a lovely garlicky spinach and ricotta cream inspired by a dip in the December Martha Stewart Living magazine. So lovely!
To make:
2 chicken legs, thighs, or chicken breast poached in light chicken stock and shredded or cut
light chicken stock - about 4 cups
1 1/2 cups peeled pumpkin, cut into chunks
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
2 rosemary springs, about 3" each
2 cups white cannelini or Great Northern beans, cooked
(if using canned, drain well before adding)
Green Tabasco
salt and pepper
Poach the chicken in the stock. When chicken is tender, remove from stock and cut or shred.
Add the onion, pumpkin, onion, and rosemary to the stock and cook on low until pumpkin is tender.
Add the beans and chicken and heat til just simmering.
Add the salt and pepper to taste, and the hot sauce.
Top with a good spoonful of the spinach cream and swirl in before eating.
Spinach cream:
In food processor blend:
3 chopped scallions, both green and white parts
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut up
2 cups rinsed, destemmed baby or regular spinach
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1 cup part skim ricotta
1 T. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper and Tabasco to taste
Whiz all in food processor and place a nice dollop to the side of the soup.
If you prefer, use as a warm or room temperature dip. (Martha bakes her dip for 1/2 hour)
I sincerely hope these pictures are in focus. My eye doctor thinks I may need eye surgery in my left eye. And all this time I thought it was my dirty reading glasses!
Enjoy this beautiful day ~


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

shepherd's pie with thyme and red-skinned potatoes





You must know by now that thyme holds the number one place in my herb heart. And thyme specifically does marvelous things to a fine roasted chicken, a beef and wine stew, and even the lowly shepherd's pie. The aromatic oils in thyme are released as the dish is simmered - one reason one adds thyme at the beginning of the recipe, rather than the end, as you would with basil.


When Fall rolls around, so, invaribly, does shepherd's pie season. You can use a mix of ground lamb and ground chuck , which has more flavor than ground sirloin, or just the ground chuck. I've been meaning to try ground turkey instead of meat - I think it would make a wonderful pie!

If you pinch off tablespoon sized chunks of meat and saute them in butter and oil for shepherd's pie, it gives a little texture, and more flavor, and it's certainly more appealing than a few inches of pebbly, grainy, cooked hamburger.


I made this for one small, three year old Fairy Princess on Halloween , just before she headed out to go Trick or Treating, hoping to avoid the dreaded candy meltdown, and happy to say it worked.


I tend to use red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, for the whipped potato topping - and lots of it, with a little butter drizzling on top. I'd say about 1/3 meat to 2/3rds potato. You can make one big shepherd's pie, or do individual servings.


To make about 4 servings:


5-6 good sized organic red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and quartered

1 pound of really good hamburger or hamburger and ground lamb, pinched into tablespoon sized pieces

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 t. or more thyme

salt and pepper

4 T. unsalted butter ( for the potatoes)

1 T. unsalted butter ( for the onion)
1 T. olive oil

about 1/3 cup milk

Heat one tablespoon butter in a skillet and add the chopped onion. Stir and cook on medium heat until the onion is golden. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.


Add the hamburger or lamb to the same skillet, adding olive oil, the thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high heat until meat is almost cooked through.


Mix the onion into the skillet with the meat, then scrape into a casserole dish.


Add the potatoes to a large pot of water , making sure you have about 3 inches of water covering the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.


Drain the potatoes and place in a mixer bowl, along with the milk and butter. Whip the potatoes until creamy and fluffy . (potatoes have to be whipped while still hot, or they won't be creamy)


Smooth the potatoes over the meat and onion mixture and place in a medium oven, covered, for about 20 minutes.


Serve hot, with a few small pieces of butter melting on top. Yum, yum!


Top photo credit J. Dawson