All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Thursday, March 29, 2012

grapefruit scones





I have no idea why I never thought of using grapefruit zest in baking - I certainly use enough lemon and orange zest! But grapefruit never crossed my mind, until yesterday, when I was fiddling with a scone recipe and noticed my breakfast leftovers on the counter - half a grapefruit. Hum, why not?

I tried it out and was stunned as I pulled out the baking sheet to find puffy, light, and very high scones. I think it's most likely that the acid in the grapefruit juice reacted strongly with the baking powder, and oh, what a difference it made!

Paired with a new jar of homemade marmalade, this was the most swoonable scone I've ever made - hope you enjoy.

Makes 6 scones.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Fit a baking sheet with clean foil, shiny side up.

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 T. grapefruit zest
1 t. orange zest
pinch kosher salt
1 T. fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 cup buttermilk

In mixer bowl, add the flour, butter pieces, sugar, grapefruit and orange zest, salt and baking powder and mix until the butter is well incorporated.

Add the grapefruit juice and buttermilk and mix quickly. It should form a soft but not wet ball of dough. If it's too dry, add more buttermilk or grapefruit juice, a tablespoon at a time.

Scrape the dough onto a floured counter and pat gently into a circle, sprinkling a little flour as you form the circle.

Cut the circle in half with a floured knife, then cut each half two more times so you have 6 pieces.

Place the pieces on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until the scones are firm on top when gently pressed and very light when you pick them up. Remove to a cooling rack until cool, and serve with jam or marmalade, sprinkle with a little confectioner's sugar if you wish.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

wordless wednesday: homemade marmalade and grapefruit scones




Two days ago, I made my favorite homemade marmalade ever from my 5 foot Calamondin orange tree. Today, I yearned for a scone. ( I know you're putting this together:)

I've been on a grapefruit spree lately, and the cutting board was littered with grapefruit peelings this afternoon. I was thinking lemon scones, but those rinds just sitting there made me wonder. What about grapefruit?

It worked. Amazingly. I've never seen such fluffy, airy scones EVER. That tablespoon of fresh juices from my breakfast bowl of grapefruit had the most astonishing reaction to the baking powder, resulting in lightly flavored, but a most definite citrus/grapefruit scone that defied gravity.

If this was a Twitter hashtag, I think it would be #bakingmiracles. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 26, 2012

happy monday!






What a beautiful day! Windy, a little chilly, but sunny enough for the magnolia trees to be blooming, as well as the daffodils and forsythia.

My weekend round up?

Painting one of the bedroom walls this beautiful spring green.

Making what will probably be the last bunch of these muffins until Fall.

Bringing home a six-pack of those lovely violas for transplanting.

Making more fresh cucumber salad.

Admiring the arugula seedlings that have popped up in the garden!

Keeping up with my walking goals via my new pedometer - 60 miles in a little over 3 weeks!

Back into the kitchen, hope you're having as beautiful a day as we are here! And how was YOUR weekend?

Monday, March 19, 2012

salade a la Grecque: composed Greek salad




It is 88 degrees here today. The 19th of March. I can hardly believe it, since we usually still have a three foot snowpack, but here are the daffodils budding. Last night I planted arugula and sugar snap peas: the back of the packet said to plant as early as ground can be worked, and so it is, and so I did. Skeptical neighbors are predicting an Easter blizzard with this odd weather, but today is sunny and beautiful , so I figure we should just enjoy the day.

Yesterday I was checking the vegetables I had on hand, laying them out on the kitchen counter. Looking at the colorful peppers and leeks, scallions, celery, and mushrooms, and two shallots, I was reminded suddenly of a French vegetable side dish "legumes a la Grecque" that I used to make . Prepared vegetables are simmered in a fennel-scented court bouillon, removed to a platter, then the broth is reduced and poured over the vegetables and served as a composed salad, or simply as a side. The vegetables are cooked just enough to be wilted and soft - a nice change from so many raw salads I have these days.

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1

2 cups water
6 T. olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 t. kosher salt
2 T. minced shallots
about 2 T. parsley stems ( they have the most flavor)
1/2 t. fennel seeds
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
1/2 t. thyme
12 peppercorns
a few coriander seeds, or a pinch of ground coriander
a few grindings of pepper

Simmer the herbs , shallots, and celery in the water and olive oil and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and let sit another 10 minutes, then strain the court bouillon into a bowl. Rinse out the saucepan, and return the strained broth to the pot and bring to a simmer again. Add:

8 mushrooms, quartered
2 cups sliced colorful peppers
3 scallions, cut into 3 inch lengths
3 leek whites, halved
1-2 sticks celery, cut in 3 inch lengths

(This was what I had available, but feel free to improvise with fennel bulbs, artichoke hearts, endive, onions, and cucumbers)

Simmer the vegetables for 10 minutes in the broth, then use a slotted spoon to carefully lift the vegetables out and place on a small platter.
Simmer the remaining broth until it is reduced to about 1/3 cup, then pour over the cooked vegetables.
Serve at room temperature.

Hope you're enjoying your day, wherever you are!




Monday, March 12, 2012

colcannon soup for St. Patrick's




And what would be under the lid of my lovely new birthday pot from my daughter? Mmmmm, something smells good!

Like many Americans, I can count many relatives on both sides of the family who were Irish ( Leary, Sullivan, Hughes (originally Welsh, but ended up in Ireland), O'Hanlon, among others) so of course I celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I often make colcannon, which is a cabbage and potato mash, but it's best hot and fresh, oozing with butter. I wanted something I could reheat, so I decided on a colcannon soup today: warm homemade chicken stock, leeks and baby potatoes, sweet green cabbage, and fresh dill and parsley.-, and of course, sweet unsalted butter, and a little olive oil. It was so good for lunch, I'll heat it up again for dinner, wishing I had photographs of all those ancestors I only know on the genealogy chart.

Makes about 4 servings:

1 cup sliced leek whites
1 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
4 cups chicken stock
about 9 small potatoes, sliced into thirds
1/2 t. thyme
2 cups sliced/shredded sweet green cabbage
kosher salt and fresh pepper
1/4 cup medium chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup medium minced fresh dill
1 cup medium cream
more butter to your taste(optional)

Saute the leek whites in the oil and butter for 15 minutes, then add the stock, potatoes, thyme, and cabbage and simmer until the potatoes are tender - about 20 minutes.

Toss in the cream, dill, and parsley, and remove from heat and cover. Stir, then let the colcannon soup steep for another 15 minutes, covered.

Taste the soup ( it will need salt), and adjust seasonings as you wish. Too late, I thought a little bacon or sausage might be nice in this, so let me know if you add some.

May the hill rise to greet you, friends, and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day!

What I'm watching:

What I'm reading:

Friday, March 9, 2012

real quick strawberry jam





I used the last of the summer jam last week, always a sad moment. The next day I snipped all the tiny Calamondin oranges off of my very large indoor tree, intending to make marmalade. Somehow, I never did get around to it, but coming across the bag of washed oranges and the two boxes of strawberries I got on sale made me wonder. Could I? Should I? Oh, why not?
So I did .

This is a wonderful recipe for a few pots of jam that can be made quickly, without making a big all-day production of it. Because I make the jam for immediate use, I don't worry about the lids sealing ( though they did) - they go right in the fridge for my morning yogurt topping. And I still have enough oranges for a few jars of marmalade! It's easy to throw in a little fresh ginger, or rosemary, or a handful of some delicious fruits to make this your own really amazing and unique jam ( think cranberries or raspberries).

To make the jam:

I used one large mason jar and one very small, with proper rubber lined lids.

Simmer the jars and lids you're using in a pot of water for ten minutes, then, using clean tongs, turn them upside down on a clean dishtowel.

2 cups hulled strawberries ( 2 1/2 cups strawberries if you're not using the oranges)
1/2 cup finely sliced Calamondin oranges, or any other thin skinned orange
juice from two fresh lemons
1 3/4 cups sugar

Mash the berries and oranges briefly in the pot, add the lemon juice, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let it burn.

Add the sugar and stir well, increase the heat a little bit, and continue to cook the jam, stirring constantly until a bit of jam tipped from the side of a wooden spoon thickens and is slow to drip. If you're using a candy/jam thermometer, this is the soft ball stage.

Turn the jam jars upright and ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom.
Screw the lids on tightly and let sit to cool. You'll hear the jar lids pop as they cool - that just means the seal is working. Since you"re using this right away, you don't have to worry about the seal - just cool and place in the fridge.

How I use this:

as a topping for Greek yogurt
on toast and muffins
stirred into warm oatmeal
a tablespoon goes into a coconut water or soymilk smoothie
a teaspoon swirled on top of an omelet, then quickly rolled up
as a crepe filling
breadstick dipping sauce
brushed on grilled chicken just before serving
as a filling for thumbprint cookies

How would you use it?

Enjoy!








Saturday, March 3, 2012

hermit bars with coffee raisins





I was so excited when I woke up this morning: finally we had snow , and snow that was hiking worthy. Pulled on my snowpants and snowboots and stepped out the door into....rain. To be more specific, soggy, rain-sodden snow. Take a step, and your footprint fills with an inch of water. Definitely not hiking worthy. I turned around and grabbed Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, and started thumbing through the pages, finally stopping at mousseline au chocolat. I remembered making this for the restaurant, loving the creamy texture and slight whiff of orange liqueur....but, this is not about the mousseline. This is what popped into my head a minute later, which was shiny-topped, deeply spicy and plump with coffee-soaked raisins Hermit bars.

I have known so many cooks in my life, but I knew this belonged to my childhood. But try as I did to remember if it was Gladys at boarding school, or Julia in Mississippi, or a family friend sifting flour in her kitchen as I sat on a kitchen stool, I couldn't place her. But I did remember every little thing about those hermits.

The first recipe was taken from Joy of Cooking, and it was a dud. It didn't look or taste like hermits at all, just a pale imitation. I finally Googled hermits, and found a recipe from King Arthur flour, though I knew it would need some tinkering. Oil instead of butter for the shiny top, soaking the raisins in coffee, instead of tea ( that I did remember from my childhood: the scent of strong coffee and the raisins soaking in a mug), and doubling the spices. You see above the anemic "Joy" hermit, and the rich, warm brown of the second version. My thanks to King Arthur flour for pointing me in the right direction.

I used an 8x8 inch square pan, greased with vegetable shortening, then pressed in foil with overlapping edges, then greased again. I do this because my very good pan often results in impossible to remove cakes and brownies. Thus, the added and greased foil ( or you can use wax paper) with tails, so you can lift out the cooled cake/brownie/hermit easily.

To make:

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease an 8x8 pan, see above, and set aside.


3/4 cup raisins, covered with hot, strong coffee
4 T. canola oil, or light olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 pinches kosher salt
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Grandma's molasses
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Place the raisins in a cup or bowl, and cover with the hot coffee. Set aside to plump.

Cream the oil and brown sugar in mixer bowl.
Add the egg, buttermilk and molasses and cream well again.
Add the salt and spices and mix briefly.

Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the wet mixture.

Drain the raisins, and, by hand, fold in the plumped raisins.

Smooth into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the hermits springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove to a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully pull the wax paper or foil tails up, removing the hermits from the pan. Place on cooling rack for another 10 minutes, then cut into bars or squares.

This makes around 8 squares, depending how you slice them.

No matter what the weather, enjoy your day!

What I've been watching: Downton Abbey