All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

parmesan flans with tomatoes and basil

Last night I was looking through my old recipe notebooks - large black sketching books where I pasted recipes from Gourmet and other food magazines.  I put this in my notebook in July 2008 from Cooking Light, and always wanted to make it, and somehow never got to it until this morning.

The first batch was a flop - I oiled the ramekins, made the egg and parmesan mixture, poached gently, cooled - and tried to unmold them. Disaster, as the bottom stuck and the tops broke into pieces.  I wasn't giving up, so I whipped up a quick batch of quiche batter, oiled the ramekins again, and cooked in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.  This time it worked.  The flans are prone to breaking up, so use a small spatula to move them after you unmold them.





 Oil 3 or 4 ramekins with mild olive oil.  Set oven temperature to 340F.  Fill a pan halfway with hot water - it should be big enough for your ramekins to fit easily.

The egg-cheese mixture:

2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup medium cream
1/2 cup milk
a scraping of nutmeg
black pepper 
1 or 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
3/4 cup good grated Parmesan cheese

Mix well and divide between your four ramekins.  Place in hot oven and bake for 35 minutes (they should be soft but firm).
Using a potholder or kitchen towel, remove ramekins from hot water to cool.

Make the tomato mixture:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, then quartered (more if you need)
3/4 cup peeled, diced cucumbers
two small yellow mini peppers, seeded and diced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil leaves

Run a knife around the flans and carefully unmold about an inch from your platter.
Space the flans a few inches apart, then sprinkle the tomato and cucumber mixture over each one, then top with the slivered basil.

These are pretty mild tasting, so feel free to jazz them up, if you want.

My thyme plant has been attacked by birds, with a tiny few inches left.  I was puzzled, until I found this article.

Enjoy this beautiful day!







Friday, May 19, 2017

the herb garden and a product review (hummus)






Oh, holy allergies!  I had hoped to be taking some long walks, but it's a wicked allergy season for me, not sure who the culprit is.  The best I can do is check on the new herb plants and keep them watered when we had those hot, dry days.  And Mr. Rabbit is very interested in the new calendula plants - I read up on rabbit problems, and apparently rabbits hate strong-smelling plants, which is why he hasn't eaten any of my new herbs - most of them are mints, rosemary and basils.  I'll be using a peppermint spray on the plants on dry days, and hope it keeps him away.

As I was rummaging through the pantry, making up a shopping list, I came across this hummus add-garbanzo-beans-and-blend packet I bought several months ago, and, being out of tahini, decided to try it. (this is not a sponsored post, by the way).  I guessed it would probably need more lemon, but it was surprisingly tangy.  A little too much salt for me, and I added half a clove of garlic, though it already had garlic in the ingredients.  It was a perfect texture , not soupy, and not too thick.  So, though I usually make my own, this was very good.  I would buy this again.  I really hate messing with a large container of tahini.  It always separates into an oily glop.

Hope you have a grand weekend!  


Saturday, May 13, 2017

on turnip greens



You know how I love any kind of greens - I found the most beautiful bunch of turnip greens yesterday, then realized I wasn't quite sure how to cook them.  I cook collards for at least an hour, but turnip greens are more like kale - a modest cooking time keeps the peppery flavor intact.

It was a good try, but definitely needed more fat (I only had lean ham and a few tablespoons of bacon grease) while cooking, and a cup or so of chicken stock, instead of 3 cups of water.  Live and learn.  Next time I'm going to try fatback and maybe chicken sausages, and follow this recipe, or this one.  I ended up dressing the greens with lemon, olive oil, and hot sauce .

The most important prep is to slice the greens, then wash throughly in a big bowl of water.  Mine looked clean, but after two rinses, there was a lot of sand and dirt in the bottom of the bowl.  Second is not to overcook the turnip greens - no more than 20 minutes for the entire bowl of chopped greens. (Collards are a different story - at least an hour with fatback).






Thursday, May 11, 2017

interlude





Dear friends -  it has become clear in the last several months that a thoughtful break is in order for me and the blog.

Just as I was thinking about it two months ago, my camera agreed with a slight meltdown, and a month after that, a computer malfunction. Even though I get 10,000 views a month, I wasn't making money, so not enough to consider it a successful situation. I stubbornly plodded on, but the thought of a break after 10 years of blogging felt more and more comfortable.  I wanted to write more, though what , I wasn't sure.

True, the tiny oven didn't help, or the heat detector going off when I was baking.  But really, I missed cooking for people, feeding people, messing about in the kitchen.

So I'll call it a recharging of creative energy and hope to be back.  In the meantime, I'm starting another book of poetry, at least, I think that's what's been prodding my thoughts:)
and finding my food muse again.  If I feel inspired, I'll certainly post.

Thank you for reading, you wonderful people! - and look forward to coming back refreshed.

lots of love -

Katrina

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

fresh banana muffins with oats & lemon zest

You know how New Englanders always say "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute"?  It's been like that here in Minnesota.  Rain, gloom, sun - and heavy snowflakes late afternoon yesterday.  This morning is windy and overcast and a perfect morning to make muffins and stay inside.






I settled on my old recipe for banana muffins with oats and buttermilk, cinnamon and  - wait!  Why do I have both white and brown sugar?  Forget that!  So I erased the 1/3 cup white sugar (keeping the 1/2 cup brown sugar) and really, there really wasn't a big difference.  Recipe corrected.  

These are moist (especially hot from the oven), and have lots of fiber from the oats, not too much sugar (now, anyway:), and canola oil instead of butter.  The muffins are slightly sweet, spongy and I'm sure they must be healthy - right?  I think you'll like them.



Fresh Banana muffins with oats and lemon zest

This makes 6 Texas size muffins.

Grease the muffin tins and set aside. (I used a Texas size muffin tin) 
Preheat oven to 350F.

In mixing bowl place:

2 medium ripe bananas, peeled, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup buttermilk

Using your mixing paddle on your mixer, stir on low until the mixture is fairly blended.  It will be a little lumpy.

Add:

2 cups King Arthur flour (unbleached)
1/2 cup rolled oats -I use Quaker oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ( or more, if you wish)

Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups to 3/4ths full.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until muffin tops are springy when gently touched.
Remove to a cooling rack , let cool, then dig in!



The first of the spring baskets on the railings!

Friday, April 28, 2017

eat your veggies soup ( and using up your veggies)

Spring is here, but a little too cold to put out new herb plants - though I found my fresh parsley and dill in a very overcrowded vegetable drawer, eureka!  My New England background scolded me to "use it up",  - and so this soup was born.  I had kale, parsley, baby potatoes, broccoli, celery, and onions, which always seem to get soft too fast in the dark cupboard.  All of the veggies were nice and fresh.

To my great surprise, it was really delicious, so this off-the-cuff recipe stays in my files - it's definitely a keeper!





This is a beautiful rhubarb plant - but did you know the leaves are poisonous? Trim the leaves off from the red stems and throw the leaves in the trash - I never even put them in the compost bin.  I caught Izzie about to pick some because she thought it was kale!



Eat your veggies soup

2-3 baby potatoes. halved
1 cup firmly packed kale, leaves only, torn
1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup chopped broccoli, no stems
1/2 cup sliced celery
a few sprigs of dill
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon roasted chicken base or bouillon cube.  

Place the vegetables, thyme, dill, and bouillon paste in a large saucepan.  Add water halfway up the pot.  Bring water to a boil, turn down, and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium.

Remove from heat and blend in blender, adding small amounts of water if needed.
Taste and add salt and pepper before serving.  

Let me know about your veggie drawer clean out recipes!





Tuesday, April 25, 2017

orange avocado breakfast salad






Isn't this the prettiest breakfast?  Avocado, fresh oranges, a few sprinkles of dill and scallions - and a few sugar snap peas for the delightful crunch.  

I was sorting through the newspapers for recycle, and it caught my eye, even though the picture was black and white.  I've been thinking much more about what I eat, and it should include far more fruits and vegetables.  I also think I crave chicken, bacon, and ham when I'm feeling any stress or when I'm worried, so back to my normal eating pattern I go.  The original recipe credited to Deborah Madison had a lime-cumin sauce, quite a bit of shredded radicchio, or napa cabbage, garlic, a chile, cilantro (you know how I feel about cilantro!) paprika, mustard.  I went with a very simple lemon-olive oil, sea salt flake and pepper dressing, a little sprinkle of fresh dill and sliced scallions.

Orange Avocado Breakfast salad

For two servings:

2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 ripe avocado, cut in half lengthwise and peeled, sliced thickly and cut in two
1 or 2 sliced scallions
a few springs of fresh dill
a small handful of sugar snap peas, raw

Dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (next time I'm trying orange juice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
a few pinches of sea salt
freshly ground pepper
a pinch of dried dill

I'm digging a little garden for my soon to be bought herbs !  I use a lot of herbs, and they often seem to wilt in the fridge, even in packaging, so it's been frustrating. Much better to have them close by (and I hope the wild rabbits leave them alone!).





Wednesday, April 19, 2017

the last of the brussels sprouts




I'm always a little sad when the brussels sprout season is over - I do love them!  But on that sunny, warm day, I blanched them for barely 10 minutes (they were very small), drained them, and made a summery marinade:

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
oregano - a pinch or two
a pinch of so of caraway seed
a generous sprinkling of crisp bacon

Makes two servings.

Happy Spring!





Thursday, April 13, 2017

lemon shortbread cookies

Inspired by the first wildflowers of spring, I headed to the kitchen to make these intensely lemony , flaky shortbread cookies.  I know most people crave chocolate, but lemon is my very favorite flavor of all .  I never use lemon extract, because it doesn't have the same tang that freshly squeezed lemon juice has, though I do add vanilla to balance these cookies.  A little sweet, a little puckery.





You make the dough ahead of time and stick in the fridge or freezer.  It thaws fairly quickly if you freeze it, thanks to the unsalted butter, then just roll it out fairly thickly, cut out the cookies and bake.  I tend to use my round fluted cookie cutters  - perfect for a sturdy cookie that shows just the tiniest amount of toasty edges.  Yummers!


This made about 40 cookies for me today - I forgot to count!


Lemon Shortbread cookies

2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top, if you'd like)
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 and 3/4's cups King Arthur flour
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt

Cream the butter in the mixer bowl, add the sugar and mix.
Add the lemon zest and juice and mix.
Add the flour and mix.
Add the vanilla and pinch of salt and mix.
Gather the dough into a ball, pat it down into an oval, and wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer.  I left it in the freezer for two days before I was ready to make the cookies.

Later:  take the dough out of the freezer to thaw a bit.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
As soon as the dough is pliable, mold into an oval with your hands, roll, and proceed to cut out your cookies.  If you'd like, sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top of the cookies.
Bake one cookie sheet at a time for 20 minutes .  I like a little toasty browning on the edge, but that's up to you.  Remove cookies to a cooling rack and continue rolling and cutting out cookies - but make sure the cookie sheet has cooled in between batches.

That's it!

Happy Easter to you all!







Saturday, April 8, 2017

spring is spronging!




A long delay in posts, my apologies.  My ankle is slowly getting better, making it a little easier to get to the supermarket - but often I get there and realize I forgot my shopping list.  I do make a list and email it to myself on the cellphone, but just as often "forget" my cellphone, which I have a love/don't love relationship with - I had a landline in NH all those years because of the mountains, and definitely prefer it.   My camera is acting up (I love, love those Canon PowerShot cameras, lightweight and small enough to stick in my pocket) but a trip to Target turned up empty - the only Canon on the shelf was the the Rebel, much too big to cart around, and much more expensive.

Spring comes earlier here in Minnesota, and I discovered these pretty wildflowers suddenly blooming all along the back yards in my neighborhood - it gives a lift to the soul!

I think cookies are in my future, a request from the almost 4-year old, so stay tuned!

Happy Spring!






Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pantry cannellini bean and tomato salad with artichokes

Once again, I've been sidelined by that ankle injury several months ago.  Which meant no long walks to the supermarket, but on the happy side, reading and re-reading books from my library, everything from Buddhist philosophy to cookbooks to mysteries.  It's been lovely, but I'm impatient for the ankle to heal a little faster.








I've also browsed more on Pinterest, which is where I found this salad-from-the-pantry, made very simply with cans of diced tomatoes, beans, and artichoke hearts from my pantry shelves. I had green olives, but no black olives - I think I would prefer the black olives next time. And I did drain the diced tomatoes, but they were still juicy, next time I'll drain them a little longer. I also cut the artichoke hearts in half, instead of quarters.  But still, it was a wonderful filling salad for lunch.

Do check out the link for full directions  - her salad is lovely!

What I used:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 fat garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons bottled capers
a handful of olives
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 cans dried tomatoes, drained
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
My parmesan cheese was very dry and hard, so I skipped the 1/4 cup parmesan shavings.








Friday, March 24, 2017

ginger and strawberry jam







A chilly, damp day today.  When I opened the fridge, I could smell those Florida strawberries, fragrant and sweet.  So, of course , I made a fresh little pot of jam.  And just for fun, I added a spicy slice of fresh ginger root -  mmmmm, smells wonderful!



The directions are here:  http://shesinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2015/01/winter-strawberry-jam.html


Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, March 20, 2017

stove top chicken thighs in spicy tomato sauce



What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been - mostly political, which often sends me instantly to my bed for a nap.  I tinkered with the Paleo diet after noticing the poundage was creeping up, but I missed too many foods .  Sensible eating seems to be the best way for me to go. I was delighted , however, with the thumbs up for chicken thighs , which I have always preferred over the chicken breasts.

This is one of the Paleo-friendly recipes I came up with and have now made 3 times in the last month:


Stove top chicken thighs :

3 or 4 good sized chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 sliced onion
1 sliced red or yellow sweet pepper
1 cup diced canned tomatoes (I used the one with basil and oregano)
1 cup pitted black kalamata olives
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon thyme
kosher salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet on medium.
Add the chicken thighs.
Add the sliced onion, peppers, tomatoes, olives, water, and thyme and salt and pepper.

Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook another 20 minutes, covered.  Cut into the chicken to make sure there is no pink - if it is, cook another 15 minutes, covered.  I served with very fresh skinny asparagus topped with lemon juice and olive oil.

Yummers!




This is a Paleo treat I nibbled on whenever I wanted something sweet - homemade Paleo peanut butter cups.  I found it on Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/260927372142296396/



Be well - and carry on:)





Friday, March 10, 2017

poached eggs with asparagus



I woke up at 5 am, hungry and as always, happy to see a new day.  There's always a thrill to rummage through the fridge, wondering just what might be perfect for this beautiful new day.  A fresh bunch of new skinny asparagus winked at me through the thin plastic bag. And?   Gently simmered in a little water until it was just tender.  Drained and set aside.      And what else?

Those marvelous eggs from Locally Laid, somewhere in Minnesota.  Ah, here it is - PO Box, Wrenshall, MN, also gently poached until the whites were opaque and the yolks a little firm when I pressed a fingertip to them after draining off the water, and set them on a plate.  A little cheese sauce, I think.

Add a little cheese, as always, here a half cup shredded sharp cheddar and mozzarella, salt and pepper, a little cream, in a small saucepan and set on very low heat until melty, and DONE.  Even though it melted, there was a milky residue in the saucepan, which I drained off.  It was too early to forage through the cookbooks for a proper creamy sauce.  A sprinkle of Italian parsley topped it off.

Note:  I tested a proper white cheese sauce later :
  3 T. butter
1.5 T. flour
Melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk in the flour on low heat.
Add 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup cheddar, and 1/2 cup milk, salt and pepper.
Whisk until the sauce is smooth.  Drizzle over the eggs and asparagus.


All in all, a perfect breakfast on a very cold morning (8 degrees) . Here's to a beautiful new day!




Monday, March 6, 2017

quick chicken soup with greens and rosemary

A few days ago I started a vaguely paleo/keto low carb diet, after a unfortunate side view in the mirror and trying on pants that were a little too tight.  Lots of protein sits well with me, and so do vegetables, and if I have a sudden desire for sugar or pastry, I eat a demitasse spoon full of my homemade marmalade or strawberry jam.  I even bought an old scale at my favorite Goodwill, just to show I'm serious.



I do use a lot of eggs on this diet, so when I emptied the egg carton last night, that meant no frittata this morning.  I had leftover chicken, and loads of greens, so a quick chicken soup was in order.  I'd bought thinly sliced skinless, boneless chicken that had very little flavor, so I bumped it up with lots of herbs and sweet butter.  Here and now, I vow never to buy them again - the bone-in with a jacket of skin and fat has a lot more flavor.

And I have news!  In eleven days heading back to New Hampshire (from Minnesota) for a week to visit family, and finally meet my new grandaughter!  I'm over the moon with excitement!

Here's this morning's soup:


Quick Chicken soup with greens and rosemary
Serves 2.

1 leek white, washed and sliced
1 - 2 sliced carrots, peeled
1 clove garlic
3 cups light chicken stock
1 heaping cup leftover chicken, diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme (I use dried)
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
nice sprig of fresh rosemary

Simmer until the carrots are soft, then add:

1 heaping cup broccoli rabe, sliced or 1 heaping cup torn kale
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
salt and fresh pepper to taste

If you want to sneak in some leftover pasta, that would work, too.






Here's a quick peek at my favorite birds - crows!  They sit on the flat rooftops of the apartment building, and swoop down to snack on the seeds and bread a neighbor puts out, then sit in the high trees and converse in their crow-talk, which can sound like a creaky door, to a ha-ha-ha, and I think I heard one whistling the other day.  It's hard to get a picture because they fly away if I get too close. This is snuck through the window screen 30 feet away.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

kale, bacon, and boursin frittata






Ah, February.  While it does bring snow, and not as many of those subzero nights, it also seems to be the month I notice my clothes are a little tighter - which brings the inevitable diet.   I usually go on a modified South Beach/Keto/Paleo diet -high protein with low carbs, and try to step up exercise.  This time I have even more motivation:  a trip back to New Hampshire in two weeks to visit my son and family, and finally get to meet my new granddaughter!  Yay!!

This frittata is somewhat flat - not fluffy and high as many quiches are, but incredibly easy to throw together.  I try to keep a few pieces in the fridge at all times, so I don't have a snack attack while I'm standing by the warm pastries at my nearest convenience 
store.  I don't add a lot of cheese, but you're welcome to add more if you want.  Note that you need to prep the kale and bacon ahead of time.


Bacon,Kale, and Boursin frittata


Preheat oven to 340F.
Butter a glass pie dish, set aside.

In a large bowl combine:

4 extra large eggs
1/2 cup light cream or half and half
a handful of cooked bacon, crumbled or torn into small pieces
a heaping handful of tiny multi-colored tomatoes
1 cup blanched kale
fresh rosemary, stripped from stem
salt and pepper
1/2 cup crumbled boursin cheese (you can also make your own boursin with this recipe)

Pour into prepared pie dish, add the boursin on top, and bake for 35 minutes, or until the egg mixture is firm and fully cooked.

Let cool before cutting into slices.

That's it - easy as can be!  Hope you all have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

skinny fresh strawberry muffins (with a lemon glaze)



A week or so ago I had to fess up to the fact that I had gained a little weight. I don't have a scale, but I could tell by the fit of my clothes that it was time to be a little more careful about my eating.  I wasn't really eating more, but getting less exercise because of an ankle injury.  

I've been eating mostly fish, chicken, and all sorts of salads, but today longed for a nice sweet muffin ,  Most of my muffins have a lot of sweet butter, but I do make a lemon low fat muffin, that would go nicely with the last of the strawberries I got a few days ago.

Done!  
It was just perfect with a last minute lemon glaze.  And they passed the "give the leftovers to the carpenters" installing a new outside door.  They were thrilled (and hungry).


Fresh strawberry muffins

Makes a dozen medium sized muffins.
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease or butter regular size muffin tins (I also did a few minis)

1 heaping cup strawberries, cut into slices or diced
2 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
zest from a lemon (about a teaspoon)
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Chobani)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 extra large egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons water ( my batter was a little stiffer than usual, so I just added a little water)

Place the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl and mix briefly.
Add the lemon zest, yogurt, canola, egg, vanilla, and lemon juice in mixer bowl and mix slowly. Fold in strawberries.  Add the water if your batter is too stiff.
Use an ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups 3/4's full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffin tops bounce back when touched.
Remove to a cooling rack.

While still warm, you can brush them with a quick glaze:

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


I'm loving making up salad bowls - this is my latest after a trip to Whole Foods where I finally found large arugula leaves!  Tossed in some water canned sardines, 1/2 piece of good bread , diced, and a strong garlic-lemon salad dressing. 





Happy February!