All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

happy new year cupcakes!

These are beginning to be a tradition! A buttery batter with a tinge of lemon, and cheerful pink frosting sprinkled with whatever fancies you have, it's a lovely way to welcome the New Year.
The batter:
2 sticks ( 1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
zest of one lemon
2 cups King Arthur flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 c. sour cream
2 T. vanilla (yes)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease two Texas size muffin tins .
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until absorbed.
Add the lemon zest.
Mix in the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and the pinch of salt.
Add the sour cream and mix.
Add the vanilla and mix.
Using an ice cream scoop, add two scoops to each muffin cup.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until tops are somewhat firm to the touch.
Place on cooling rack. After five minutes, unmold and let cool completely, or the frosting will melt.
The frosting: ( I got this from the Magnolia Bakery in NYC)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
6-8 cups confectioner's sugar
2 t. vanilla
Whip in bowl until creamy. I started with 6 cups confectioner's sugar, but the frosting wasn't thick enough , so I kept adding more until the consistency was what I wanted.
Add food coloring until you have the shade you want. You can also divide the frosting into bowls and make several colors - just make sure you have enough pastry bags!
Scrape the frosting into a pastry bag, fitted with a star tip. Squeeze bag, beginning in a circle around the edge of the cupcake, then circling in until the tope of the cupcake is covered. Pull up tip, and make a smaller circle of frosting right in the middle of the cupcake. Decorate as you wish.
A joyous New Year to all!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

lowfat lemon drizzle muffins

Can you believe we have only three more days to 2008? I was just getting used to writing "08"! As you see, I have one of my three wall calendars out - mostly to gaze on that cute puppy and vow this year I will finally get another Golden. I was, of course, also thinking about diets, so I whipped up this lovely, tangy lowfat lemon muffin - and the best part? The sugary drizzles on the top!
This is a nice, clean, light muffin - just what is needed after many recipe try-outs, tastings, and two dinners on Christmas Eve. I hope you enjoy it.
To make:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease a Texas size muffin tin. This recipe makes six large muffins.
2 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
grated rind of one lemon
1 cup plain yogurt (lowfat or not)
1/4 c. canola oil
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
The drizzle:
1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Mix all the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl. (the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda)
Mix the wet ingredients in a bowl - the lemon zest, yogurt, canola, egg, and vanilla.
Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined.
Fill the six muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes, or until gently brown on top and slightly firm to the touch when you touch the tops.
Remove to a cooling rack. Remove from muffin tins after 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
(otherwise the icing will melt and ooze)
When completely cool, mix the lemon juice and confectioner's sugar together until it is smooth . Using a fork, dip tines into icing and drizzle all over muffin tops. I usually have about half left over - very handy ( and delicious) for dipping my muffin in as I nibble it.
Happy last few days of the year!
featured on TasteSpotting!

Friday, December 26, 2008

turkey tenderloins with leek & rosemary sauce

This was my first experience with turkey tenderloins - and it made for a delicious Christmas Eve dinner. It was succulent and flavorful from its slow cooking on a bed of leeks, rosemary, and Granny Smith apples with a sprinkling of thyme. The hour it took to roast gave me plenty of time to set the table and saute the sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts we had as sides. This is definitely a keeper and I look forward to making it again.
To Make:
2 turkey tenderloins, about a pound each, rinsed and patted dry
1 cups thinly sliced white of leeks
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T. white wine or herb vinegar
a 5" sprig of fresh rosemary
1 Granny Smith apple, not peeled, sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 t. thyme
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 325F.
Sprinkle the leeks, apple slices, and rosemary in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole. Drizzle the vinegar and chicken broth on top.
Set the turkey tenderloins on top of the leeks and apples.
Sprinkle the turkey with salt and freshly cracked pepper, the olive oil, and the thyme. Cover with foil.
Bake in a 325F oven for one hour.
Uncover the turkey and remove tenderloins. Pour the juices into a blender, then scrape the leeks and apples into the blender and puree - remove the rosemary sprig before pureeing.
Put the tenderloins back in the casserole and cover with the foil, then let the turkey rest for 15 minutes.
Cut the turkey into medium thin slices and top with the leek and apple sauce.
I served this with sauteed sweet and white potatoes in olive oil, thinly sliced brussels sprouts sauteed in a little oil and water, and an arugula salad. Delicious!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant - Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look. Take joy!
And so I greet you, with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Fra Giovanni, 1513

Sunday, December 21, 2008

christmas biscotti

I've been making these at Christmas for so long, I can't even remember when the tradition started. I do know I found a recipe in Biscotti that everyone loved, and it happened to be at Christmas, so I naturally kept thinking of them around December 15th. Since we had an ice storm, and I had no power, the making of the Christmas Biscotti ( cioccolato paradiso in the book) was delayed. But today it was snowing hard, so it turned out to be the perfect day for baking - especially since these take two hours to make and bake.
They are heavenly - crunchy with toasted almonds, diced orange peel, and milk chocolate - festive, dunkable, and wonderful to pack in pretty bags and attached to presents. Heaped on a plate or in a glass bowl works well, too.
To make about 3 dozen:
1 cup toasted whole almonds, then sliced into thirds
(it doesn't taste as good using slivered or flaked almonds)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 T. sugar, used in two parts in the recipe
3 eggs, extra large, separated
1 1/2 t. vanilla
zest of a large orange, finely diced ( take off as much white pith as possible)
3 cups King Arthur flour
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips or chunks
To toast the nuts, place in toaster oven until they start to smell deliciously toasty, remove to a cool plate immediately so they stop cooking.
In mixer bowl, place egg whites and beat until soft peaks form, then slowly add 1/2 cup sugar to the meringue. Beat until stiff, then scrape into a bowl. (don't forget to add it later!)
Using the same mixer bowl, add the butter and 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 T. and beat til fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla and orange zest.
Add and mix the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
The mixture will be crumbly.
Fold in the meringue very, very well, then add the almonds and chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Fit a baking pan with foil - you'll be cutting it in two later, so using foil or parchment is important.
Scoop the stiff batter into two lines about 3 inches apart diagonally. My batter logs measure about 12 inches by about 4-5 inches.
With wet hands, smooth the logs out and square the ends.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until tops of logs are golden and quite firm to the touch.
Remove baking pan to a cooling rack for ten minutes.
Cut the foil down the middle, so each log is separate.
Very, very carefully, firmly hold each end of foil and gently move log to a wooden cutting board. Roll gently over and remove foil.
Do the same with the other log.
Take a very good bread knife or serrated knife and saw the slices of biscotti into one inch pieces. Place the biscotti upright on the baking pan. Set oven to 300F.
Cut all the biscotti, filling the baking pan.
Bake biscotti a second time, at 300F for ten minutes. Turn off oven and remove biscotti.
Let cool completely, then package in bags or tins. Of course, after all that work, set aside some fresh biscotti , brew up some strong coffee or espresso, and dig in .
Having a party? These are lovely heaped on a big platter or in a glass bowl.
Featured in TasteSpotting!

Friday, December 19, 2008

a touch of the exotic - maamouls cookies

I love running into something I've never eaten, let alone heard of - so I was delighted when my sister gifted me a box of these cookies from a small bakery in NH. (Betz Baking in Chesterfield, NH)
These are traditional cookies from the MidEast : popular in Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia. The dough is ( I think) made up and pressed into traditional wooden molds, then filled and topped. The dough is delicious : made up of butter , flour, farina, sugar, rose water, and mahlab (ground sour cherry pits); the fillings range from apricot puree, pistachio, date puree with cloves and whiskey, or a date puree with walnuts, cloves, and whiskey.
Wish I could get my hands on one of those molds - I would love to make a sweet potato pastry, or...hummm....marmalade with something like ricotta.
The heavy sprinkling of confectioner's sugar brings out that great detail from the mold - and whoever thought up ground sour cherry pits for part of the dough just astounds me.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

safe and warm at last! ( the ice storm)

What a long haul it's been - almost a week to the hour since the ice coated trees began crashing down across every road and highway across New Hampshire. Even days later, when I ventured out for candles and drinking water, the huge, 3 story trees lay across the road, resting on curls of wires and transformers. To pass, you waited, eyeing the wires, then the trees. You rolled your window down so you'd hear the crack as the wires and trees went down, and then gunned the car, just barely sneaking under the fallen trees, hearing the car antenna boing when it was just too close.
It's been tough, but all I can say to the hordes of public service workers, the guest volunteers from Florida, Oregon, and other states so far away who drove up to help, to the firemen and women, the Rescue departments - all volunteers, and gracious and hardworking. - THANK YOU! Now - off to wash dishes in WARM water and finally , maybe, get a good nights sleep.
Thank you all for sending good thoughts my way.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An Update for Katrina

Hi everyone, Kelci Hedrick here, posting a quick note on behalf of Katrina.  If you've heard anything about the weather in New England lately, you're probably aware that Southern New Hampshire got hit hard by a major ice storm. It's expected that many residents in this area will have no power for several days, and Katrina is unfortunately one of those. 

She is told that she should have power to her home on Tuesday - in the meantime, she wanted her loyal readers to know why she's not creating any new posts or responding to your comments. 

I hope you are all warm and safe during this icy time of year. Sending best wishes to you all,
          - Kelci   

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

potato soup with crunchy scallions

I posted this back in summer, but this one has a slight variation for winter. As you know, I love anything potato, and with all the cookie and candy making going on for Christmas, this soup is just the right thing to be eating after "tasting" all those sweets - soothing, smooth, with a surprise of crunchy fresh scallions and the sweetness of dill.
To make:
2 cups large dice potatoes - red or white
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/1/2 T. unsalted butter
3 cups water/chicken stock - I like it half to half, but you may prefer just stock.
1 t. dried dill
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 cup light cream
salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 T. sliced, very fresh scallions, trimmed - include both green and white parts
Serves two.
Melt butter in a pot and add the chopped onions.
Turn heat to low and cook, covered, for about ten minutes, or until soft.
Uncover and add the water and chicken stock, the thyme, potatoes, and salt and pepper.
Let cook uncovered until potatoes are soft.
Turn off heat and add the dill.
Using a blender or immersion blender, puree soup.
Add the cream and stir.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with sliced scallions.

Monday, December 8, 2008

southern breakfast: silky collards and cornmeal cakes

I made a real Southern style lunch yesterday - with silky collards, cornmeal mush cakes - and even pralines - and ate it happily as I watched the snowflakes fall.
I spent several years in the South, and it remains part of my cooking ( and eating) history.
I never used to cook collards right. I'd rinse them, slice them up, and then briefly parboil them, wondering why they were a little too tough. Then I ate at Redbones BBQ in Cambridge, and tasted their silky collards flecked with hot pepper flakes and fatback and realized my mistake. You have to cook them a long time - about an hour is right, with plenty of fat - I use smoky bacon and salt pork or fatback.
My side was simply cornmeal mush cakes with fresh scallions and rosemary, cut into a disc.
To make:
A bunch of collards, rinsed and trimmed of stems ( I cut off the stems, then tear the collard leaves off the center stem on each leaf)
Up to 2 cups diced salt port and thick, smoky bacon
hot pepper flakes
Place trimmed collards in a large pot.
Add water to just below the top of the collards.
Add the salt pork and bacon. hot pepper flakes, and some salt
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about an hour, covered, checking often and stirring the collards.
Pick out the diced fatback ( or some of it) place in microwave-safe dish, and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for 2 or 3 minutes and it will brown up.
Scoop the collards into bowls or mugs, add some of the cooking liquid, and top with some of the browned fatback.
Serve with hot sauce.
For cornmeal cakes:
2 cups water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup chopped scallions and fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring water to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add salt , pepper, and herbs to boiling water, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal ( and cheese, if using).
Turn down heat and continue to stir until cornmeal is thick.
Pour onto a plate and cool.
When cool, cut cornmeal into discs and briefly reheat in microwave.
You can also skip the herbs and make plain cornmeal mush and serve the cakes with syrup - kids love it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

nick's christmas eve focaccia

This is Nick Malgieri's Christmas Eve focaccia - with a few changes, of course. I'll have to post the recipe later, since I'm running late and the computer is running sloooooow. Isn't it gorgeous?! Enjoy your day!
OK, I'm back. I found this post of Nick's here, and instantly went into the kitchen to try it out.
The dough was incredibly easy to make, and got to say, it's the best focaccia dough I've ever tasted. It's a keeper, for sure.
The topping was another matter. The recipe is based on an old Italian recipe from Bari, in Italy, and called for anchovies, onions, and olives. The anchovies I had were not those sweet little curls of little fishies, but more a mush when I turned them into the onion topping. Next time, I would not add the anchovies at all.
As I sauteed and tasted, I kept adding things that I felt honored the earthy taste of the topping - mushrooms ( not sauteed, but sliced in raw), then some scallions, then a little oil, then some rosemary and fresh pepper. Next time I might even add some bits of tomato and cheese - just a little.
I think this would be wonderful party food, as well as a brunch - or, well, breakfast? You make it in a jellyroll pan, so, cut up, that's lots of apps!
To make:
The dough:
4 cups King Arthur flour
a little salt
1 envelope dry yeast ( I use Rapid Rise)
1 2/3 cups warm water
3 T. olive oil
More olive oil for the jellyroll pan
One jellyroll pan or similar 11x17 inch pan, oiled with olive oil
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large onions, peeled, halved, and sliced thinly from stem to root end
fresh pepper
a little salt
1/2 cup oil or brine cured black olives, in halves or pieces
3 scallions, sliced thinly
6 or so raw white mushrooms, sliced medium
1 T. fresh rosemary
(1 tomato, diced - optional)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella - optional)
1 t. basil, dry, sprinkled over all
To make the dough:
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir.
Measure water into a small bowl.
Using a fork, mix yeast in warm water and olive oil and briskly whisk.
Make a well in the center of the flour and add the water/oil/yeast mixture.
Using a rubber spatula, scoop the flour into the wet mix until incorporated.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in barely warm oven ( I do this by turning on the oven for a minute, then turning off. Feel the rack to make sure it isn't too hot.)
Let dough rise to double - about an hour or so, depending on temperature.
Oil the baking pan, if you haven't yet.
Scoop dough into pan and spread out with your hands, until the dough covers the pan. This is a soft, easy to press, dough.
Place dough in turned off oven and let rise about a half hour.
While it's rising, prepare the topping.
Pour half the olive oil into a large skillet and heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, but turn often. They should look golden to slightly charred, about 20 minutes or more.
Add the mushrooms and cook five minutes. Add the olives.
Add the scallions, rosemary, and pepper and turn off heat.
Take out the risen dough and dimple with your fingers. Spoon the topping over the dough and spread out evenly. Add the tomatoes, if using, and the cheese, if using. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the basil and a little salt.
Place in preheated 425F oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Absolutely the best! Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

fresh apple pancakes - dairy free!

These pancakes have always been our special breakfast - or even sometimes dinner on a snowy evening. They're loaded with fresh, diced apples, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and are deliciously thick and fairly small, just the way we like them. I usually serve them with a blueberry sauce ( for my son, who didn't like maple syrup) and warm maple syrup for the rest of us. So when I started to make them this morning, a little bell started banging in my head. Why not try soymilk instead of milk? The same son recently discovered he had painful reactions to dairy suddenly - I had never tried an alternative, but what the heck. So I did. Imagine my surprise when they tasted exactly the same!
So here you go - a fantastic pancake recipe that will work both ways.
To make:
about 3 apples, peeled and diced small
1 egg
1 cup milk or soymilk ( I used Silk Plain)
3 T. unsalted butter, melted in skillet ( or vegetable oil or butter substitute)
1 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
2 T. sugar
Beat the egg, butter or oil, and milk or soymilk together in a bowl.
Add the diced apples.
Add the flour, sugar, spices, and baking powder and stir well.
In skillet or griddle set on medium low, add a teaspoon of butter or oil to pan.
Let pan heat evenly, then scoop out batter with a ladle - mine holds about 3/4 cup of batter - and make two medium pancakes.
Allow pancakes to cook for about 4 minutes, or until you see little bubbles on the sides and top of the pancakes, then flip and let cook another 4 minutes. Because of the apple, they need to cook at a lower temperature than regular pancakes. Check to make sure they're not charring.
Remove pancakes to a platter, then add a little more butter or oil, then more batter - and so on.
This should be enough for 8 fat pancakes.
If you have a griddle that will cook more pancakes than two at a time evenly, by all means try.
Serve with warm maple syrup, honey, jam, or blueberry sauce.
Blueberry Sauce:
1 cup frozen blueberries
squeeze lemon juice
2 T. orange juice
1 T. honey or sugar
Simmer until it makes a thin, fruity sauce.
Enjoy the snow!
Featured in TasteSpotting!

Friday, November 28, 2008

the day after

Is there anything more welcome today than a steaming cup of turkey soup? Enriched with rosemary, parsley, and thyme broth, chunky with sweet carrots and fresh celery - and a little jasmine rice.
Featured in TasteSpotting!

Monday, November 24, 2008

cranberry scones for thanksgiving day breakfast

As far as I'm concerned, fresh cranberry sauce is right up there with the turkey and whipped potatoes on Thanksgiving Day. Cranberry in any shape or form is right at the top of my list of favorite foods. I buy cranberries now and freeze them in bulk for these delicious scones or my chocolate-chip-cranberry cookies - that's how much I love them. And these scones are so easy to pull together and stick in the preheating oven for the rest of the dinner, well - why not make a batch? If you're traveling, nothing is easier to bake and stick in a plastic bag for the road trip to Grandma's - or the long flight home. Can you still stash some homemade goodies in your bag, or are you stuck with peanuts?
All you need is ten minutes to mix up, and a half an hour for baking. Why not wrap some in cello for your host, or to slip to a hungry 3 year old? These are tried and true, so I do hope you'll give it a whirl and enjoy nibbling on these tangy, rosy pastries, as you wait for the Big Thanksgiving Show to go on.
To make:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
4 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling tops
7 T. unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 T. baking powder
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cups buttermilk ( more if you need it, dough should not be dry)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
egg wash for tops (1 beaten egg and a pastry brush)
In mixer bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and butter until mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add dried cranberries and mix again.
Add buttermilk and fresh or frozen cranberries and mix until dough forms a ball.
Roll dough out to a 9" circle.
Cut in half, and cut each half two more times - you will have eight triangles.
Place triangles on baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle heavily with sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until scones are golden and light when you pick them up. If they feel heavy, let them bake a little longer. All ovens are different, so baking times do vary.
Let scones cool very well ( 30 minutes) before packaging for giving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

profiteroles with ginger ice cream and chocolate sauce

This is one of the desserts I'm making for Turkey Day, and what a delight! Delicate cream puffs filled with a creamy ginger ice cream from a local producer, Walpole Creamery, and a thick chocolate sauce. I know, I know - it's not pie - though it's possible a little pumpkin or apple pie might end up in this, since everyone will be assembling their own cream puffs.
For the profiteroles, I used Julia's recipe, since I'm pretty sure it's the same one I have scribbled - and lost - somewhere in my stack of clippings.
To make puffs:
1 1/2 cups water
9 T. unsalted butter
1/4 t. salt
2 t. sugar
1 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
5 large eggs, plus one for the egg wash. ( at room temperature)
Preheat oven to 425F.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment or foil.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil. When the butter has melted, remove pan from heat and throw in the flour all at once. Furiously stir with a wooden spoon until the dough makes a ball. Plop into mixer bowl.
Using the paddle attachment, add the eggs, one at a time.
The dough will be sticky. Very sticky.
Spoon dough into a pastry bag ( or just use two spoons) and pipe out 3 circles of dough for each puff - one on top of the other. If you're using spoons, just measure out what looks right and drop onto baking sheet.
Mix up the egg wash by beating an egg in a small dish. Use a small pastry brush to dab the tops of the puffs so it will brown up a little as it bakes.
Place baking sheets in the upper and middle levels of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake another 10 minutes. The puffs should be golden and almost twice the size they were before baking.
Check the puffs to make sure they're golden and puffed. If all is well, turn off the oven and leave the puffs in the oven, with the oven door slightly open. This helps them to dry correctly.
While you're waiting, make the chocolate sauce:
1/2 cup semi sweet or milk chocolate chips, good quality
3 T. heavy cream
1 T. unsalted butter
1 t. vanilla or Grand Marnier
Place ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave a few minutes, until the chocolate is smooth and melted when you stir it.
To assemble:
You will need ice cream. I used ginger, which was awesome, but feel free to pick your own. Traditionally, vanilla is used.
Gently break the cream puffs in half, scoop the ball of ice cream on the bottom, cap it with the top of the profiterole, then drizzle chocolate sauce on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

kidstuff: lemon sponge

I was sifting through my stack of old recipes and came across this crazy recipe my mother used to make - a lemon pudding/souffle/cake. The batter separates as it bakes, leaving you with a soft cake and a tangy lemon pudding, all in one. It's one of those fascinating, and delicious, desserts that also doubles as entertainment - and kids ( and adults!) never get tired of it.
To make:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter a souffle or other ovenproof dish
a pan to hold the dish as well as a few inches of water ( also known as a water-bath)
3/4 cup sugar
2 T. soft unsalted butter
2 t. grated lemon zest
3 eggs, separated
3 T. King Arthur flour
1 cup milk ( I used 2%)
1/3 cup plus 2 T. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
Beat egg whites until stiff in mixer bowl. Scoop into a bowl and set aside.
Cream the sugar, soft butter, and lemon zest in mixer bowl. No need to wash it after mixing the egg whites.
Add the egg yolks, milk, and flour.
Beat in the lemon juice .
Fold in the egg whites and pinch of salt - some lumps are fine.
Scrape into the buttered dish and place in the pan ( I use a brownie pan) Add a few inches of hot water and place in preheated oven.
Bake for 45 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes.
Using a large spoon, dish out portions and scoop up some of the pudding, as well as the souffle cake.
Have fun!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

classic french beef bourguignon: chasing away the chill

I knew I was coming down with something last night - was it the faintness after shopping, the chill in the air, the brooding grey sky, the frozen toes? As soon as I woke up, I craved chile peppers in soup. I managed to pull together a hasty red pepper and udon noodle soup for breakfast, but I knew what I really needed - this classic French red wine and beef stew, fragrant with bacon, thyme, merlot, and beef, balanced with a touch of garlic and salsa.
Although I normally eat almost vegetarian, there are times when the deep flavors of meat and wine with herbs can resurrect me like nothing else. Forget the pre-Thanksgiving jitters, the memories of my father on Thanksgiving, the silent phone, the bleached grasses just before the snow, the tension that November brings. The hours of the wine blending with the beef make for an extraordinary experience. This is, indeed, Slow Food at its best. This is the one stew I don't add carrots and onions to, because it's perfect, just as it is. There is a deep robustness to this stew, that is unlike any other I've made.
So throw a log on the fire as the pot bubbles, and take joy in this day.
To make:
a pound of stewing beef
4 strips of bacon ( I use thick cut), sliced into slivers
3 cups merlot, or other robust red wine
olive oil and unsalted butter for the saute ( about 2 T. each) butter is optional.
2 cups beef bouillion
2 T. good salsa (I use Green Mountain Gringo, from Vermont)
3 cloves mashed garlic
1 t. thyme
bay leaf
salt and pepper
Place beef on paper towels and blot until dry.
Put bacon in a skillet and cook until brown. Remove to paper towels.
Add olive oil and butter to the skillet and brown, about five pieces at a time, the beef chunks. Remove beef when browned, reserve, and continue to brown beef until all the chunks are done.
Place browned beef in an oven-proof dish or pot.
Drain the fat from the skillet, then add the merlot and beef bouillon, and the thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and the salsa. Simmer for a few minutes, scraping up the browned bits.
Pour over the beef, then add the bacon bits.
Cover and place in a 325F oven for two hours.
Taste the stew and adjust seasonings, then serve with good bread and butter, or buttered noodles.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

spicy pumpkin cake with sugared ginger

This is the most wonderful cake - spicy, fragrant, and studded with juicy chunks of ginger. I've also been known to throw in some currants as well, but just the crystallized ginger is absolutely knock down fantastic. It's everything you ever expected a holiday cake should be.

I've been making this recipe for years - as Texas size muffins. Then one day I looked at the recipe and thought - why not make this as an 8 1/2 inch cake, so I did, and it's just perfect. I use cake tin with a high side - 2 inches. The recipe comes straight from the Nantucket Open-House Cookbook , and I've never changed anything ( although I do sometimes do a dairy free alternative) - the spices are just perfect.

I've been serving this with lightly sweetened whipped cream, but I just realized hard sauce would work as well. My stepmother was a native of Baltimore, and she was a strong believer in serving hard sauce with just about any dessert - especially around Turkey Day and Christmas. I've included the standard recipe for hard sauce below.

This recipe will make two cakes - or one cake and 6 Texas size muffins, which can be immediately eaten or stuck in the freezer(hurray!).

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease 2 cake pans or one cake pan and one 6-cup Texas size muffin tin.

To make:

1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree ( if you use homemade pumpkin, drain it in a sieve to make sure it isn't too wet)

2 cups brown sugar ( one box)

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (or 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup applesauce for dairy free)

4 large eggs

1/2 cup apple juice or cider

3 1/2 cups King Arthur flour

2 t. baking soda

2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

4 1/2 t. cinnamon

4 1/2 t. ground ginger

1 t. nutmeg

1/2 t. ground cloves

1 1/2 cups chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup currants ( optional)

In mixer bowl, place pumpkin, sugar, and melted butter. Mix. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth. Stir in the apple juice.

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix well.

Fold in the chopped sugared ginger bits ( and currants, if you're using them).

Fill cake pan about halfway up with batter.

Using an ice cream scoop of regular size, place two scoops of batter in each muffin cup of the Texas sized muffin tin. You should have just enough batter for both.

Bake about 25 minutes for the muffins, or until tops of muffins are firm, and about 40 minutes for the cake - again- the middle, especially, should be firm before you take it out of the oven.

Remove muffins and then the cake to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool at least a half hour before you unmold it. The muffins need just a quick cool, then they'll pop out nicely from the muffin tin.

Serve with whipped cream or hard sauce. The cake serves eight.

Hard Sauce:

1 stick soft butter, salted or not

1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar

2 T. ( or "a good splash", as my stepmother always said) brandy or rum

OR 1 t. vanilla extract

Cream ingredients well and serve in a small bowl on the side.

Here come the holidays!

Featured in photograzing! And Tastespotting!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

that's what friends are for

I just wanted to say thank you to my wonderful friend, Kelci Hedrick, for helping untangle the mysteries of blogging.

Kelci is a fantastic cook ( with a cookbook in the works), a gifted graphic designer, and now - a web consultant. She leaped in to help me decipher the puzzling world of Blogger, so that I could concentrate on my writing and photography - and a life that was becoming increasingly stressful.

In spite of a recent move to Vermont with her husband ( I know , she looks about 20), she's always full of energy, enthusiasm and good cheer - and a fast learner. I have no doubt we'll be hearing from her soon on the Blogger Channel. And, wonder of wonders, she was a friend that really came through for me.

She can be reached at . She'll also have her contact number on this blog, as Website Consultant. And here's a big smile and wave.......

Sunday, November 9, 2008

chicken soup with pasta, carrots, and parsley dumplings

So, after I'd eaten the tarragon chicken, I still had lots left over. Instead of my usual chicken soup with rice, I decided to finally try a recipe from a very old NYTimes Cookbook for parsley dumplings, and a good strong chicken broth loaded with carrots, pasta ( a very cute pasta called Cellentani from Barilla which is curly) and herbs.
Take your leftover roasted chicken out of the fridge. Break up the chicken pieces and add the pieces to a stockpot. Add the bones, if you've saved them, from dinner. I added some leeks, parsley stems, unpeeled carrots,( cut up), onions. Add water to cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then drain the broth into a bowl, straining out the solids.
For the soup:
about 2 cups bite size pieces of chicken
2 onions, coarsely chopped
a bag of small, peeled baby carrots
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped or not
1 t. or more dried thyme
chicken bouillion cubes or strong chicken stock if needed
salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring soup to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes. While it's cooking, make the parsley dumpling dough:
1 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
2 t. baking powder
salt and pepper
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
3 T. cold unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk or chicken stock ( I used a little over 1/2 cup, the recipe called for 3/4 cup)
Place flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, and herbs in mixer bowl. Add the butter and mix until it resembles cornmeal. Start with adding 1/2 cup liquid to the flour mix - if it forms a good dough, you're fine. If it's too dry, add a little more liquid.
Form into a large ball. Pinch off pieces of dough about the size of a large marble, and roll into balls.
After your soup has simmered for 40 minutes, carefully place the parsley dumpling balls on top of the simmering soup in a layer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove cover and, using a slotted spoon, remove parsley dumplings to a microwave-safe dish.
Add a few handfuls of pasta ( I used a curly one) to the soup and continue to simmer until the pasta is just tender. Taste the soup for a final seasonings check and add salt, pepper, more parsley, rosemary, or thyme as you wish.
Place parsley dumplings in a microwave and zap for 3 minutes. This firms them up a little.
Ladle soup into large bowls, and, very gently, add the parsley dumplings.

Top photo featured in TasteSpotting!

Friday, November 7, 2008

roast chicken with tarragon sauce (creme a l'estragon)

I was amazed last week when my son asked for this recipe. It's always been one of those quick quasi-fancy classic dishes - but I had no idea he loved it that much.
It's gloomy , rainy, and foggy outside - the perfect day to roast a chicken, don't you think? The sauce takes about three minutes to make, so it isn't difficult - as long as you remember to buy heavy cream and tarragon.
To roast the chicken:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Take any size chicken ( this one was 3 lbs), and rinse it off. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Place it in a roasting pan and squeeze a half a lemon over it, then place the lemon inside the cavity of the chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken, and a few tiny pieces of unsalted butter. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with a teaspoon of dried tarragon.
Place in oven and reduce oven temperature to 350F.
Roast about an hour, or until chicken is browned and the juices run clear when you tip the pan. Jiggle the leg - if it jiggles freely, it is done. If it seems stiff, roast it another 20 minutes and try again.
To make the sauce:
Pour the juices from the chicken into a skillet. Using a spoon, remove as much of the fat as you can. A little is fine, but too much makes for an oily sauce.
Heat the juices until they're simmering, then add several tablespoons of heavy cream, whisking the juices and the cream together. Add another teaspoon of dried tarragon, whisk again, and taste carefully. Add salt, pepper, and more tarragon if wished.
Either serve pieces of chicken, or slices of chicken bathed in the sauce.
Obviously, the amount of sauce depends on the amount of juices - so if you have a larger chicken, it will take longer to cook, and require more cream and tarragon.
So there you go - a classic French sauce creme a l'estragon!
And featured on Saveur online 9 November, 2009!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

comfort food on an epic day : creamy rice pudding with a twist

Just when I thought I was done with tears of joy, I see a picture, or hear another speech by President-elect Obama, and the tears come rolling down my cheeks again. It is a glorious and wonderful day for America, and I'm so proud - proud to all those people who waited so patiently to vote, proud of the 18 year olds who voted for the first time, relieved there were no voting glitches, relieved it's over, because now we can get rolling again.
Who could eat given the sort of emotional rollercoaster we've been on? The only thing I wanted was comfort food - and this coconut milk rice pudding filled the bill.
To make:
4 T. unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut milk (NOT coconut cream)
2 cups milk ( I used 2%)
1/3 cup Uncle Ben's long-grain rice ( the normal Uncle Ben's)
1/2 cup sugar or less
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
2 t. microplaned lemon peel or grated zest
Slowly heat ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Simmer for about 1/2 hour, stirring often.
After a half an hour, increase heat a tiny bit, and stir constantly until rice pudding is creamy and thickened, which usually takes about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


9pm 4 November: I'm happy to announce the great state of New Hampshire has gone blue, supporting the Obama-Biden ticket.
And by 10:15 pm, we had our new president - Barack Obama.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

where'd these gougeres come from?

I swear, I didn't really mean to make these today, even though there was a chunk of asiago cheese staring at me everytime I opened the fridge.
But in my frustrations with staring at paint chips, I drifted into the kitchen and - just like that, here were these heavenly cheesy puffs, still warm from the oven, being popped into my mouth.
Somewhere between the Balboa Mist and the Olivetint I went straight into the kitchen to mix up some gougeres to stave off the chill in the air today.
This recipe makes about 2 dozen small gougeres .
To make:
Preheat oven to 400F.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butter
pinch cayenne pepper
a few twists of black pepper
1/4 t. salt
1 cup King Arthur flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups grated Asiago cheese
2 baking sheets, lined with parchment or foil
In saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter until simmering. On medium heat, add the flour, salt , and peppers all at once and stir until it clumps together. Remove from heat and scrape dough into a mixer bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg in completely before adding the next one. Add the grated cheese and mix in well.
Spoon dough into a medium-large pastry bag with a star or plain tip ( or just use two spoons to mold dough).
Make two quick circles, one on top of the other, for each puff. Space them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Place into hot oven and bake for 20 minutes. The tops will be a little browned.
Let cool on pans, then remove to a cooling rack.
Great with everything, from soup to snack - or simply alone.
(These go beautifully with hot mushroom soup)

the halloween cake

That's our Izzie last year - this year the camera was forgotten as we went out with the toddler posse. Watching the tinman, bumblebees, ladybugs, and princesses stop short and check each other out while trick or treating was hilarious. Another 2 1/2 year old slipped past Izzie with a nod and a "Hi, Ladybug".
Before going out, I had made a little something to fill her up before the mouthfuls of chocolate and sweettarts : buttermilk cake with a vibrant orange frosting and diced candied ginger and apricots on top, and some chicken and rice. The cake was her Saturday treat, wrapped up carefully in foil - but she got a hefty scoop of frosting before my daughter packed it away.
I hope your Halloween was as entertaining as mine, and now - is it really November?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

sweet potato lunch

Yesterday the day stretched out before me, with no appointments, no work, and the joy of a whole day to do anything I wanted. The rainy mist softened the bones of the lonely tree branches, devoid of leaves; a morning walk was quiet and fresh.
I came back from my walk to a sparkling kitchen ( which I had cleaned at 6 am), pulled out a squash and gorgeous sweet potato, and peeled them. Roast or saute? Ginger or rosemary? I decided on a slow, long saute. The kitchen was heady with the earthy sweet smells of sweet root vegetables, olive oil, rosemary and garlic. I picked up Thich Nhat Hanh's book of essays, and started reading one called "Transforming Our Compost". I read:
"Traditional (Buddhist) texts describe consciousness as a field, a plot of land where every kind of seed can be plants - seeds of suffering, happiness, joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and hope. Store consciousness is also described as a storehouse filled with all our seeds. When a seed manifests in our mind consciousness, it always returns to the storehouse stronger. The quality of our life depends on the quality of the seeds in our store consciousness.
We may be in the habit of manifesting seeds of anger, sorrow, and fear; seeds of joy, happiness and peace may not sprout up so much. To practice mindfulness means to recognize each seed and to practice watering the most wholesome seeds whenever possible.
During each moment that we are aware of something peaceful and beautiful, we water seeds of peace and beauty in us.....
The length of time we water a seed determines the strength of that seed. If we stand in front of a tree, breathe consciously and enjoy it for five minutes, seeds of happiness will be watered in us for five minutes, and those seeds will grow stronger. During the same five minutes other seeds, like fear and pain, will not be watered."

The cubes of squash and sweet potato were caramelized perfectly. I heaped them onto a plate and ate a lovely lunch, looking out at the mist, thinking about the squash from Abenaki Farm I was eating. Abenaki is run by couple with four children, and they grow the tastiest vegetables I've ever had. I thought of the long, rainy summer we had, and the family nurturing this squash and smiled. Joy. It does indeed chase away the fear and sorrow that sometimes threatens to ruin our day.
To make:
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups winter squash, peeled and cut into chunks
olive oil
garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a skillet, add squash, garlic, and sweet potato. Cook on medium high for about five minutes, turning the cubes so they are browned and caramelized evenly. After five minutes, turn heat to low and cover skillet. Check skillet a few times to stir the cubes. When they're tender, sprinkle fresh rosemary on top, and serve.
Have a wonderful day - and don't forget to water your seeds.
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