All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

two quick frittatas - and one blue egg



For the first several years of my life, I lived on a saltwater farm a sand dune or two away from Cape Cod Bay. Remarkably , I remember my father putting me in an empty sheep stall for safety, while he did the chores. I can't have been older than 15 months, but the scent of hay and the soft sounds of the sheep, and chickens, and cow are remembered with a profound sense of total contentment.

As I got to the older toddler stage, my father said he never worried about where I was - because all I did was patiently walk behind the chickens, arms outstretched, for hours. It didn't seem to be a desire to hold them as much as be a part of the flock.

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I not only adore chickens, but their eggs to me are the most perfect food in the world - and beautiful, as well. I never jumped on the "one egg a week" bandwagon, because I figured you couldn't get anything so perfect, so simple, so organic and have it be bad for you.


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For years I've had an omelet or two a week, maybe two gently fried eggs, or the soft boiled egg with buttery toast fingers, but lately I've swung over again to the frittata. The Italian method of cooking frittatas on low heat seem to keep the eggy batter very tender, as opposed to the quick high heat used with omelets. And it's versatile : a few strips of cooked bacon and a handful of fresh rapini are just as lovely as a cup of fresh asparagus and a sprinkle of fresh dill. Frittatas are cooked in olive oil, not butter, with a spoonful of grated parmesan stirred into the eggs, so they feel quite substantial. As soon as the first summer tomatoes arrive, I can imagine a basil-and-tomato frittata with a fair amount of excitement. Anyway, here's the recipes - enjoy!

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This recipe serves two, made in an omelet pan, and cut, traditionally, into quarters, two per person.

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Asparagus Frittata with fresh dill

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1 T. olive oil

1 cup sliced fresh asparagus

4 large eggs

1 T. finely grated parmesan cheese

1 t. minced fresh dill

kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Heat omelet pan and olive oil on medium low. Add the asparagus and cook until tender. While the asparagus is cooking, beat the eggs, dill, and parmesan together well, then pour over the cooked asparagus. As it cooks, use the spatula to lift the edges of the frittata, so the uncooked egg flows to the hotter bottom part of the pan. While the top is still a little uncooked, place under a preheated broiler and cook very briefly, just until the egg is set.

Take off heat, let sit for a minute, then slide onto a plate and cut into quarters.

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Rapini and Bacon frittata

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a few strips of thick cut bacon, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces and cooked, then set aside.

1 cup rapini, cut into strips

1 T. olive oil

4 large eggs, beaten well

1 T. grated parmesan

salt and pepper as needed

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Heat the olive oil, then add the cooked bacon and the rapini and cook for two minutes.

Add the parmesan to the eggs, beat again, and pour over the bacon and rapini. Again, lift the edges of the frittata and let the uncooked egg mixture flow to the bottom of the pan. While the top is not quite set, slide under a preheated broiler and cook just until set. (about a minute).

Slide onto a plate, let cool a minute, then cut into the traditional quarters, then dig in.


On the blog a year ago:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake for the Women's Club






I have lived in this tiny (population around 1700) village since 1982, which used to have a robust farming community, but now seems to be more and more a sidebar to our more integrated ( i.e. less affluent) communities north and south. Because I had children that needed to be driven to outlying schools, and had a farm, I didn't really have time to connect with the community. As my children grew, I focussed more on my herb, baking, and catering businesses, so I wasn't as involved in the village as I might have been. I did start one of the first farmers markets in the state, but my focus was more on the family and my interests. I used to hear about the Women's Club, but, since I thought one needed to be invited, any announcements in the local paper tended to slide away. Was I ever wrong, sorry to say. The meetings are open to all, and they have some fabulous speakers! I hope in the future to try to remember to swing by and check out some of their Wednesday offerings.
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~ But in the meantime, I was asked by a member to help out with their free Thursday Community Dinners with a dessert. I was thinking chocolate for days, and then a supermarket sale on strawberries changed my mind. While strawberries may not be seasonal eating just yet, I couldn't resist the sale, and so strawberry shortcakes came to mind - and here they are, tender, slightly sweet buttermilk biscuits topped with juicy strawberries and homemade whipped cream. As I walked in with the platters, my neighbor shrieked " You brought strawberry shortcakes?" I nodded and had a moment of panic - was I supposed to bring something else?
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Glancing around, I saw beautiful plated salads, and at least a dozen stews with delicious sounding names (scrawled on a piece of masking tape), and lots of brownies. I should've stayed to investigate, but it was the end of a long day, so I dropped off these gorgeous shortcakes and retreated to a lovely hot bath and early bedtime.
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This makes a baker's dozen (13 servings)
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The strawberries:
2 plastic boxes of strawberries, sliced and sprinkled with sugar and a few squeezes of lemon juice, allowed to sit at room temperature for at least two hours.
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The shortcakes:
Set oven to 425F, and line two baking sheets with fresh foil or parchment.
4 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
8 T. sugar
2 t. grated lemon peel
1/2 t. or so freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. kosher salt
2 T. baking powder
1 stick ( 8 T.) cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
Combine the flour, sugar, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix, then add the butter and process until the butter is well incorporated. Mix the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl, then add to the flour mix until it forms a ball. It should be sticky, so if it isn't, add a tablespoon or so more of buttermilk until it looks right. Using an ice cream scoop of normal size, scoop out balls of dough, six to a baking sheet, with seven on the second baking sheet - just space the balls of dough a little to make room.
Sprinkle the dough balls with sugar and bake , one sheet at a time, about 15 minutes. The shortcakes should be golden on top.
Remove to cool, then move the shortcakes to a cooling rack. When cool, slice in half with a serrated bread knife.
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The whipped cream:
One 16 fl. oz container whipping cream
1 T. cornstarch
4 T. confectioner's sugar
Place a clean mixer bowl in the fridge for 15 or more minutes. Remove and add the cream, cornstarch, and confectioner's sugar and whip until the cream forms soft peaks. Serve on top of the fresh berries. ( the cornstarch acts as a stabilizer, so the cream will not get watery). Serve at once.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

toasted walnut biscuits with fig jam






One day I found an interesting email from King Arthur flour in my inbox: Whole Wheat-Walnut biscuits with Grape Seed Flour. I printed it out, intrigued - never mind that whole wheat flour and I don't really get along, and I didn't have any grape seed flour, and with the unpredictable Spring weather ( sleet, snow, ice, sliding, crashing cars) I wasn't driving 25 miles for it. But I DID have the most beautiful fig jam, a birthday present from my blessed daughter.
This morning the walnuts tumbled out of the freezer shelf onto the floor, and I took that as an omen I should fiddle around with this recipe, so here it is.
Makes about 15 biscuits, using a 2 1/2" round cutter
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2 1/4 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ, toasted in the toaster oven
1 1/4 cups chopped walnut pieces, toasted in a toaster oven
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. kosher salt
1 stick ( 1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
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Preheat oven to 400F ( my oven runs hot, so I set it a little lower than the 425F they called for)
Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and toasted wheat germ in mixer bowl.
Grab a handful of the walnut pieces and set aside, then pulse the walnuts in a food processor until fairly fine. Add it to the flour mixture in the mixer bowl.
Add the butter pieces to the flour and mix until incorporated.
Whisk the egg and buttermilk together and add to the flour/walnuts, then mix quickly until the dough forms a loose ball.
Gently turn out onto a floured counter, and roll out to one inch thick.
Cut into biscuits, very gently molding the leftover scraps into one or two "extra" biscuits.
Brush with a little milk and sprinkle the set aside walnut pieces on top of the biscuits.
Bake for 16 minutes, or until toasty brown on top .
I think these would be much heavier if you use the whole wheat flour and the grape seed flour - but these biscuits came out very light and tender.
Serve warm with fig jam and enjoy! These would also be wonderful with a nice soft cheese like brie - a nice change from plain old crackers.

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What I'm reading:
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass, which I LOVED

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

smashed potatoes with fresh dill and curry Flor de Sal








With St. Patrick's Day the day after tomorrow, how could I not blog about my fondness for potatoes ? Baked, boiled, smashed, sauteed, pureed, chipped and sometimes added to a fry up, potatoes are my one carb weakness that assures I will not ever be able to stay on the South Beach diet. At least I've discovered those small bags of baby potatoes, which helps with the portion control. But any day, I'd choose potatoes over pasta or rice. And my favorite herb with potatoes is always fresh dill. I make French Potato salad with dill, Corn Chowder with dill, and my latest, One Pot Chicken with tiny potato balls carved out of big white potatoes with a melon baller. They're extremely cute.
Smashed potatoes have been out and about on blogs and in magazines lately, so I finally decided to make them. I made them plain, with just dill and salt and pepper, with browned butter and with olive oil, sprinkled with dill just before serving - then my favorite, which was with both browned butter and olive oil. Just to make sure I wouldn't starve, I also boiled up some wee potatoes, rolled them in olive oil, and sprinkled those with fresh dill, too. My blessed daughter had just surprised me with a lovely bag of food goodies for my birthday, including curry Flor de Sal, so I tried that as well. Is it any surprise I loved them all?
To make any of these dishes, you start with about a pound (half a 2 lb bag) of tiny potatoes. Sometimes they're labeled "creamers". I picked up some baby Idaho potatoes for these recipes, all about the size of Bantam eggs.
Smashed Potatoes for two:
1 pound baby potatoes
1 T. fresh dill, snipped
kosher salt and/or Flor de Sal
fresh pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
or
1 T. butter
or both the butter AND the olive oil.
Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil.
At a slow boil, cook potatoes for 20 minutes, or until tender, then drain.
Using the same hot saucepan, melt the butter and oil together, set aside.
Using the bottom of a glass, gently press down on each potato until it is slightly
flattened.
Using a spatula, place potatoes on a toaster oven pan, then spoon a little of the olive oil and butter on each smashed potato.
Cook at 400F for 20 minutes, remove, sprinkle with salt , pepper, and dill and serve while still hot.
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For the Flor de Sal smashed potatoes:
Smash potatoes, drizzle with olive oil/butter, then sprinkle about 1'4 t. Flor de Sal on each little potato. Bake as above, at 400F for 20 minutes, then remove and serve. I skipped the dill on these.
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For the plain baby potatoes:
Boil as above, drain, and melt the olive oil and butter in the still warm saucepan you used for the potatoes. Add the potatoes to the oil and butter, and roll them around until coated well. Turn the heat up a little and do a quick saute, then scoop onto plates and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the freshly snipped dill. Serve instantly.
Enjoy!





Monday, March 7, 2011

one pot chicken with dill and vegetables on a foggy day





We still have several feet of snowpack, and yesterday as the air got warmer, it made for a very foggy day and lots of gentle rain. This morning I woke up to welcome sound of racing water in the brook below the house. When the ice has finally melted on the brook, you know Spring is on the way. And is there anything more perfect than tender chicken simmered with herbs and vegetables as you watch the winter departing? Better yet, it's cooked in a skillet, so you only have one pot to clean.
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This is also a good way to use up all those halves of peppers and 3 leaves of kale left in the vegetable drawer, so feel free to adapt the recipe to what you have on hand.
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Serves at least 4 people.
To make:
6 chicken tenders, or just cut up two breasts
1/2 cup red peppers, cut into large strips
1/2 cup yellow peppers, cut into 1" pieces
2 handfuls of baby carrots, cut in half
1 cup kale leaves, torn from stem
1/2 large shallot or yellow onion, peeled and sliced
heaping cup of celery, cut into pieces
baby red or white potatoes ( I actually used a melon baller since I had only large white potatoes!)
a few leaves fresh green cabbage, cut into large strips
a few scallions, cut up
1/2 t. dried thyme
several sprigs of fresh dill ( or dried is fine, too)
( fresh rosemary branches work well, too)
1 clove garlic
1 very thin slice of fresh ginger
2 T.olive oil or unsalted butter
water or chicken or vegetable stock
Place the chicken tenders in the bottom of a large skillet. Scatter the vegetables and herbs over the chicken, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add stock or water - just enough to barely cover the chicken and vegetables.
Drizzle on the olive oil ( or butter, if you're using that)
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
If you want more broth, just add a cup of stock toward the end of cooking.
Serve with a little hot sauce , if you like.
Enjoy!
Featured on Tastespotting!


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A year ago on she's in the kitchen: