All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Thursday, December 19, 2013

sugar-roasted walnuts and almonds for giving





I can't believe I first made this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod in 2009 - it feels like such a Christmas tradition that dates back to gingerbread cookies, meaning forever.

Everyone likes these sugar-roasted walnuts ( and I do use more walnuts than almonds, but that's just my preference) - wonderful for parties, stockings - and friends and family.  I usually package them in cello bags ( I found some nice clear ones at Michael's craft store) with curly gold ribbon.  Did I mention they're gluten-free?  Izzie is back on a GF diet, so I do try to have some of these around for snacking, even when it isn't December.

Preheat oven to 250F.

Line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons cold water
4 cups walnut halves and whole almonds - not too small
6 tablespoons white sugar
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the egg whites and water in a large bowl and beat until frothy, then add the nuts and stir to coat well.
Mix the sugars, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl then sprinkle over the nuts.  Use a large spoon to again coat the nuts evenly,

Spread out on the parchment fairly evenly and bake on upper third of oven for one hour.  After 30 minutes, use a large spoon to stir up the nuts a little, then continue baking.

After an hour, turn off heat, but leave the nuts in the oven for another 20 minutes or so, just to make sure they're crunchy.

Cool completely before packaging.

Hope you have time for a walk in the snow !  We have had two snowstorms in the last week, about 1 1/2 to 2 feet altogether. 



And make sure you save a handful for yourself - while you make lists for next Christmas:)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

creamy brussels sprouts and arugula soup and 10 inches of snow





Well, we knew it was coming and the weather people were right on the mark - 10 inches of pretty snow, and thankfully no sleet or freezing rain.  I don't know - winter isn't ringing my jingle bells much these days, but it's lovely to look out on.

I am recovering from a little accident with my hatchet, so hunting and pecking on the computer without my speediest finger, which is firmly wrapped to protect the stitches.  The doctor gave me a scolding for not using a glove while splitting off some kindling  - and holding the piece of pine board with my bare fingers. Oops.

Today was another perfect day for my newest soup - made with just cooked brussels sprouts and arugula, cumin, hot pepper flakes, thyme, and fresh lemon juice, quickly pureed.  A few days ago I made it with spinach, and that was just as wonderful.  On the really cold days (10 degrees) a cup of  hot soup warms me up faster than coffee,  - another reason I like to keep at least one container of soup in the fridge.   AND I'm wearing my new Santa hat, which keeps me toasty and smiling.  Hope you're enjoying the season!


Brussels Sprouts and Arugula soup

This makes four servings in medium sized cups.

3 1/2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or half water, half stock
1 medium onion, sliced
1 smallish potato, peeled and sliced
1 large clove garlic sliced
hefty pinch of thyme
1 T. unsalted butter OR olive oil
kosher salt
pinch hot pepper flakes, or dash of hot sauce
1 rounded teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups trimmed brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 cups packed arugula or spinach
1-2 lemons, quartered

Drizzle oil or melt butter in large saucepan.  Add the onion, garlic, and cumin and cook five minutes, stirring.
Add the stock or water, the potatoes, salt, hot pepper flakes, and thyme, bring to a simmer, then add the halved brussels sprouts, cover and cook for ten minutes.  

After ten minutes, uncover the pot and add the arugula or spinach.  Stir, then cover and cook another 10  minutes - no more than ten minutes!

Remove from heat, uncover, and let cool for ten minutes.

Using an immersion blender, carefully puree until smooth.  If it's too thick, and a little water, then taste and correct seasonings.  I find it always needs salt.  Squeeze in about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and taste again.  Serve with extra lemon quarters on the side.

I love this along with a chunk of warm bread and Vermont cheddar cheese.

Hope you're staying warm and cozy ~



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

spicy gingerbread stars




I seem to have been uninspired lately as far as muddling around in the kitchen, preferring instead to go on one of my reading jags.  I have had company though, and for the last two lunches I've tucked away a nice disc of this gingerbread in the fridge, ready to be pulled out and rolled into spicy cookies.  My cardboard box full of all kinds and seasons of cookie cutters has taken up permanent residency in a corner in the kitchen - I just pull it out, put it on a table, and let people pick their favorites.  It may be December, but if you're hankering for a cactus cookie, that's just fine.  And if you're a 3 year old, you'll choose the gnome - and then carefully eat only the hat.  Remember that?  I do - and I distinctly remember the agony of wanting a whole cookie, but afraid to decapitate a ginger man.  So maybe a cactus is safer.

We've had a little snow, thankfully not much - but chilly, and perfect walking weather, which I manage to fit in in between work and reading.  Let's hope I feel a little more inspired next week.

As I said, I keep some of this dough in the fridge, ready to be rolled out at a minute's notice.  It rarely lasts more than a week:  because I know it's there, I'll bake up some cookies for the neighbors or the grandchildren , and sometimes bake a batch and stick them in the freezer, because I know there are days when I suddenly want one - just one.

The recipe is from Craig Claiborne, from the New York Times cookbook, and the cookies are delightfully spicy and soft, but firm enough for mailing.

To make:

Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment.


1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 large egg
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and spices.
Add the egg and mix, then add the molasses.  Sift the flour, soda, and baking powder together, then add to the molasses mixture and mix until completely blended.

Pat the dough into an oval, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll out half the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut out shapes as you wish, placing the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven, for 10 minutes.  If your cookies are very thin, they will obviously need less time.
Let cool a few minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack.

Let the baking begin!