All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Monday, March 29, 2010

dark chocolate coconut pudding







Yesterday, I was reading about a friend's experience eating in Bobby Flay's restaurant in New York - and she ended with chocolate cream pie. Since then, I haven't been able to get that out of my mind, so I checked around for recipes and found what looked like a stunning recipe at Heidi's on 101 Cookbooks - and it was for a coconut and deep chocolate pudding, even better than just chocolate cream! A few things I didn't have, so I substituted, and her preferred spice was curry ( yes!) while mine was cardomom and chile. You can see her recipe here.

If you've only made instant pudding using a boxed mix, you're in for an eyeopener. This pudding was chocolatey with a definite coconut flavor, thanks to coconut milk ( the unsweetened kind) pureed with coconut flakes, not overwhelming as extract might be. I also used some cream of coconut, which was sweetened ( the kind you use in drinks) and added a little more subtle coconut flavor. I whipped up a little cream, again with the cream of coconut, and finished with a sprinkling of coconut flakes. I spooned it up, still warm, and have to say it's the best chocolate pudding ever. The coconut isn't overwhelming, and the chocolate is ....well, pretty over the top amazing.
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Makes about 4 servings, or 2 for a really greedy person, like me
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1 14 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk ( I used KaMe), divided
1/2 cup coconut flakes ( I used Baker's)
2 T. coconut cream ( I used Coco Lopez)
1 T. cornstarch
1 t. ground cardomom
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3.5 oz bar bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao),chopped
1 t. vanilla
coconut flakes for garnish
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Shake or stir the can of coconut milk well. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of the milk and place in a blender. Add the coconut flakes and puree, then pour into a heavy saucepan, along with 1 T. coconut cream and the salt. Bring to just a simmer and remove.
While the milk is heating, mix the remaining coconut milk, the cornstarch, the cocoa powder, and the spices with a whisk until fully incorporated.
Put the warm coconut milk mixture back on the burner on low, and drizzle a little of it into the slurry of cocoa powder, cornstarch, etc. Mix, then whisk into the warm coconut milk mixture.
Whisk until the pudding begins to thicken, then take off heat. Whisk in the chocolate bar that's been chopped, and the vanilla, and keep whisking until melted in well. Stir until smooth, then ladle into serving dishes.
Before placing in fridge, pat a little square of plastic wrap on top of each pudding, to prevent a skin forming. ( It comes off easily when cooled)
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The Coconut Whipped cream:
In mixer bowl using a whisk attachment whip:
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 T. coconut cream
Whip until semi-firm peaks form, then scoop onto the pudding, or pipe from a pastry bag. Sprinkle with a few flakes of coconut and enjoy!
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Looking for an Easter dessert? You might look at:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

chicken-vegetable soup with cornmeal dumplings





It was clean-out-the-fridge day this morning. I had leftover roasted chicken, and an abundance of fresh, fresh veggies, plenty of herbs, and a hankering for chicken soup. I started making a lowfat chicken-vegetable soup recipe, but detoured into trying out an idea I had for cornmeal dumplings. Go figure. Leave it to me to end up with MORE leftovers. However, both are wonderful and will be gone by tomorrow, I'm sure.
The chicken and dumplings reminded me of those chicken pot pie recipes- thick, almost like gravy. Since the dumplings absorb some of the soup liquids, I add a cup of water to the finished soup, after scooping out the dumplings, then whisk the soup gently. These dumplings held together very well, much better than the parsley dumplings I made last year. (actually, it was 2008!)
The basic chicken and vegetable soup recipe:
* about four servings
3 cups strong chicken broth
2 cups cut up leftover chicken ( I used mostly the breast)
1 1/2 cups baby carrots, cut in half diagonally
1 T. fresh chopped parsley
1 T. minced fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped celery
1-2 cups chopped kale
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. finely minced peeled ginger root
1 T. olive oil (or unsalted butter)
Place all the ingredients into a soup pot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the carrots are just tender, then taste before adding salt and pepper.
For the dumplings:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup King Arthur flour
1 t. baking powder
salt and pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 T. diced cold unsalted butter
1 T. fresh dill, minced
Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and butter in mixer bowl until fully incorporated.
Add in the milk, salt and pepper, and dill and mix until it forms a ball. Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon up the dumplings (or roll into 1 inch balls by hand) and place on top of the simmering soup. Lower heat, cover tightly, and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover and remove dumplings to a plate. Add a cup of water to the soup and stir well.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with the dumplings. To keep the dumplings moist, I roll them once or twice in the soup before serving.
Enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

the perfect chocolate chip cookie? (almost!)





After several sunny, warm days I was all set to rake out the garden, but when I woke up this morning the sky was overcast and the air chilly. When your agenda changes suddenly, you just have to roll with it, so I headed, of course, to the kitchen.
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I had in mind trying a different chocolate chip cookie recipe than the two I usually make, so I logged on to TasteSpotting and typed it in. I knew I wanted a plump cookie, slightly cakier than the ones I've been making. I spotted a beautiful cookie from Habitually Hungry, and when I clicked on it, it sent me to Cooks Illustrated for the recipe. And what a recipe! Four pages of explanations ( and illustrations) led up to a scrumptious browned butter and semisweet chocolate recipe that I could sense was going to be a winner. The batter is allowed to rest several times, to avoid that gritty sugar problem you run into every once in a while. And, while I opted for raisins over walnuts, I would definitely go with toasted nuts next time . The toasted nuts would mesh beautifully with the nutty browned butter. So, is it the best? I ran over to my friend Jenny's house to get a second opinion. In between the "mmmmm's" she mumbled, "I think....mmmmm, yes, almost." So we agreed on almost, which just proves that every single cook and baker in the world thinks there's an Absolutely The Best recipe out there, just waiting to be found, but this is really, really close.
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To find the recipe, click here.
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What I'm reading:
by Katherine S. White

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

crunchy bok choy salad



And a Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone! Rather than make those fabulous Dropkick Scones again, I've opted instead for a crunchy bok choy salad with citrus dressing - sneaking in a few chunks of baby mandarin oranges just for fun. The sun is shining (finally!) and it's above 40 degrees, so it's Salad Season in New Hampshire.


This makes about 4 servings.


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about 4 cups bok choy, mostly the white part, sliced into 1" pieces

(some green is nice, but not too much)

several slivers of red onion, sliced very thinly

a few mandarin orange sections ( I used canned)

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The Dressing:


1 T. olive oil (this is optional - I skipped it)

1 T. orange juice, freshly squeezed

2 t. fresh lemon juice

freshly ground pepper

1/2 clove garlic, pressed

Mix well with a fork before drizzling on the salad.

Enjoy your day!


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Featured on TasteSpotting!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

hot cross muffins!




I know - it's sleeting and snowing outside, but Easter will be upon us in no time. One of my favorite holidays, Easter is the long sigh that winter is over , in spite of some pretty quirky weather. For a cook and gardener, what better celebration - baskets of pansies and colorful eggs, the Easter Dinner, the egg hunt ( and the more children around, the better).
I came across this recipe in a tiny little book and had to try it - while I love Hot Cross buns, I've never actually made them. This seemed like a quick short-cut, and how cute would these be as mini-muffins for the kids? I used the standard dried fruit mixture for fruitcake, but if you prefer to use just one or two fruits (cherries and citron?), by all means do.
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease muffin tins, whatever size you prefer
(I used Texas size, which made 6 enormous muffins)
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2 cups King Arthur flour, all-purpose
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 t. cinnamon
a few scrapings of nutmeg
1 t. fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup milk plus 1 T milk
1 cup mixed candied fruit
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, and sugar in mixer bowl.
Add the egg, canola oil, and milk and stir, then mix in the candied fruit.
Using an ice cream scoop for large muffins, or a teaspoon for mini muffins, fill muffin cups to 3/4 full.
Bake for 25 minutes (large muffins) and 15-20 minutes for smaller ones.
Remove to cooling rack, then pop out of tins to completely cool.
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Icing:
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 T. milk
1 T. melted butter
1/2 t. vanilla
Whisk in a bowl, then scrape into pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.
Pipe a cross on top of each muffin.
Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

apricot scones in the midst of tears








For the last several months, the kitchen has been my refuge, since my mother was injured in a fall. When it was clear she was not going to be able to move back to her assisted living apartment, my sister packed up all her things to be given away to her family. Yesterday, I looked at her purple hat, and lavender throw; inhaled her favorite perfume, and wept. It will not be long before she is gone, and the finality of it has finally sunk in.
Like most cooks, the kitchen holds our tears, our sorrows - and our joy and laughter. So I made some scones for my sister, wishing my mother could taste just a crumb. Why I didn't think to make her a soup, I don't know. The mind scatters under sorrow, I suppose.
So here are the delightfully tender scones I made, with bits of chewy apricot and crystallized ginger, that are the most perfect teatime treat - I hope you enjoy.
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To make:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Line a cookie or jellyroll sheet with foil.
2 cups King Arthur flour
1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup snipped dried apricots (use scissors)
1/3 cup diced crystallized ginger
3/4 cup( +) buttermilk
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In mixer bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cold butter until the butter is fully incorporated into the flour mixture.
Add the ginger and apricots and mix again.
Add the buttermilk (sometimes you need a little more than 3/4 cup - if it's too dry and doesn't make a dampish ball, add a little more) until it JUST holds together in a ball.
Pat or roll the dough on a lightly floured counter.
Cut circle of dough into 6 or 8 triangles and arrange on baking sheet.
Brush scone tops with a little milk, and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove sheet to cooling rack for ten minutes, then to another cooling rack until cool.
If you're packaging them, make sure they're completely cool before wrapping up.



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: olives marinated in olive oil, rosemary, and green cardomom pods





I've gotten hooked on these herby olives lately. Nothing could be simpler: drain a jar of brined olives, spoon into a jar along with fresh rosemary and a few green cardomom pods, and top with olive oil. For hors d'oeuvres, just scoop out, drain a little, and serve on a platter with cornichons, or good cheese.
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What I'm reading: Julia's Kitchen Wisdom - an excellent little paperback with recipes, techniques, and explanation of cooking terms.
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Featured on TasteSpotting!

Monday, March 1, 2010

winter jam

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Wild weather here in New Hampshire lately - everything from over a foot of wet snow, to rain, to a wild windstorm that knocked out power. And is there anything better than whipping up some warm, fresh strawberry jam to spread on toast once the power comes back on? I'll certainly vote for it!
Winter strawberries may not be as fragrant as the early Florida berries, or the local June and July strawberries, but they still taste wonderfully better than store-bought jam. I like to put a drop of vanilla in winter jams; it captures some of the perfume of sun ripened berries. And it's quick to make (under a half hour), so you can have a bowl of warm jam on the table in time for breakfast.
To make:
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2 cups sliced strawberries
1 drop good vanilla
1 1/2 cups warmed sugar
3 T. fresh lemon juice
Turn oven to 200F.
Measure out the sugar and place in a heat proof bowl. Set aside.
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Place the berries, vanilla, and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pot and turn to medium-high heat. When the berries start bubbling, mash them with a potato masher, and keep stirring.
Place the sugar in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove.
Add the warmed sugar to the berries and lemon juice and continue stirring on medium-high heat.
Cook for approximately 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until jam thickens and drops heavily from a wooden spoon.
Remove jam from heat and cool.
Scoop into jars or glasses and serve immediately. It will thicken even more as it cools.
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Note: This jam is just wonderful on rosemary rolls!