All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Saturday, April 26, 2008

eat your vegetables - fresh veggie salad!

When you're in the mood for something a little more substantial than green salad, this
is a good choice. Made with fresh, sweet ( and organic) cabbage and spinach, it's amazingly
versatile - and let's not forget the healthy part! I've used it in omelets, snuggled into a pita
and topped with cheddar, packed in a cold pack for a beach picnic, or even sprinkled on a
To make:
Using a shredder cone on a KitchenAid mixer ( or just slice really, really thin) shred:
4 cups shredded fresh cabbage
2 cups shredded spinach
Mix in a large bowl. Add:
Roma tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1 bunch trimmed scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup minced parsley
(1/2 cup cottage cheese -optional but delicious!)
Top with:
3 T. olive oil
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. oregano
Toss carefully until all ingredients are incorporated. If you pack this into containers,
it should last for a week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

new york lemon cake!

This is my favorite cake of all. While I adore the carrot cake I make, and devour the frosting in record time, this is the cake I really, really love. Lemony, fluffy but substantial with a buttermilk batter, it's also a perfect cake to dress up with all those summer fruits that will be coming our way soon.
The history of the recipe is hazy. I got the recipe from someone, but later found it was nearly identical to one from the old Boston Globe magazine, and also the Silver Palate cookbook. The glaze I use is a very simple half fresh lemon juice/half sugar brought to a simmer. This cake also freezes well, and, thanks to the lemon juice, stays fresh much longer than most cakes. You can slice it, add filling or fruits or jams, top it, and pipe on some billowy whipped cream for a fancier presentation.
You will need:
1 9x12 baking pan, greased
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
zest of two lemons
a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg
3 eggs
3 cups flour (I use King Arthur)
3/4 t. baking soda
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Glaze: half sugar , half lemon juice - usually 1/2 cup each brought to a simmer.
In mixer bowl, beat sugar and butter til light and fluffy/creamy. Add nutmeg and lemon zest and beat again. Add eggs and mix again. Sift in the flour, soda, and salt, then the buttermilk. Add the lemon juice and scrape into baking pan.
Place in a 340' oven for an hour. The cake will be firm and puffed in the center when it's done, and there will be toasted circles on top of parts of the cake - that's fine.
Remove pan to cooling rack for 15 minutes. When it's cooled, mark off your squares or rectangles and cut. Remove cake pieces to a rack, and brush with warm lemon/sugar glaze- and more is better than less, in this case. Some people poke holes in the cake and then glaze it, so the glaze gets into the middle of the cake.

Friday, April 18, 2008

baby vidalia onion "spring tonic" soup

Much of my life in cooking has been intermingled with my love for herbs. And I have a tradition as soon as we get a few warm days to make a green "spring tonic" soup. On seeing these beautiful baby Vidalias, I practically swooned with delight.

My first instinct was to make a raw soup, simply sliced and pureed. The baby Vidalias are sweet and crispy, and tastier than something like baby bok choy, but I ended up doing a quick braise, simmer, and puree instead.

This serves 2.

2 baby Vidalias with greens, chopped
1 small red potato, shredded
1/2 cup minced Italian parsley
1 T. minced fresh dill
chicken stock- about 1 1/3 cups
pinch dried thyme
shredded Vidalia bulb for garnish ( about 1 T. per bowl)
fresh corn, sliced off the cob for garnish ( about 1 T. per bowl)

Do not salt until after pureeing, then taste very carefully.

Place a tablespoon of unsalted butter and a tablespoon of virgin olive oil in a pot and heat. Add the chopped Vidalias and braise for 10 minutes, then add the shredded potato and chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the dill, parsley, and thyme. Using a blender stick, or a blender, puree. Taste carefully and season with salt and pepper, as wished.

Pour into bowls, and carefully add a tablespoon each of the shredded baby Vidalia bulb and the freshly cut corn kernels. Serve with a good bread and cheese, or simply bread and unsalted butter.

This is my blog entry into the Herbal Essence:HotM 15 over at

Monday, April 14, 2008

my favorite ratatouille recipe

For years I avoided ratatouille. Even when I was cooking at Le Bocage , I made it, but I didn't much like it. All that changed when I started tinkering with a low-fat, low oil recipe. All of a sudden I was in some sunny , basil-scented country, sitting at a long table with 19 smiling friends..............oh, it was glorious, and I never get tired of it.

You will need:

4 T. virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 red pepper, chopped in 1 inch pieces

1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped in 1 inch pieces

1 medium-large eggplant, very fresh, very firm, cut in large dice

2 zucchini, green or a mix of yellow and green, large dice

a large can of Italian plum tomatoes

several tablespoons of Green Mountain Gringo salsa, mild

tomato paste ( optional)

basil, oregano, salt and pepper

Heat oil in large pot. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the peppers, eggplant, and zucchini, stir, lower heat a little, and cover pot. Cook about 15 minutes, uncover, then add the tomatoes and salsa, and the herbs and salt and pepper. Start with one tablespoon dried basil ( or fresh), and a teaspoon of dried oregano to begin. Taste and season as you wish. If you want a little more tomato oompf, add a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir and cook uncovered until vegetables are just soft. You may need to add a little water - I usually add about a half cup of water. I've also been known to add a small can of V-8 juice to the ratatouille along with the salsa..

This freezes really well - so you might as well double the recipe.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

happy Spring! ( FINALLY!)

Finally! The snow is melting rapidly, and I've seen several pairs of busy ducks floating down
the streams and nibbling at the edges of pools - and the spring peepers are bellowing their chorus in the mucky mud of the swamps and puddles. We in New Hampshire know it's just a short time between black fly season and winter, so we have to celebrate with a real spring and summer lunch with salad, Tuscan Tomato soup - and some corn ( sadly, not fresh) and cheddar scones with fresh dill. Spring is whistling a very happy tune up here today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

vaguely asian - peanut pasta salad with fresh asparagus

I'm not much of an Asian food fan, but for some reason the other day I became completely obsessed with finding a good sesame noodle recipe. I Googled and found two recipes that looked promising. I made one with rotini, one with vermicelli. Neither sparked my tastebuds, so I charged ahead, adding this, leaving out that. The final result is a nice tangy peanut sauce for pasta and fresh vegetables, and a marinade for chicken , should you wish to grill or saute it and add to the noodle salad. You can also use chunks of tofu. This is such a wonderful picnic dish, and perfect for a buffet or party as well.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks Lazy Day Peanut Noodle salad.
For the pasta:
1 box vermicelli, rotini, or fettucine
Large pot of boiling water
1-2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed and sliced on a slant
1 bunch fresh scallions ( green onions) trimmed and sliced thinly
For the dressing:
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup rice, red wine, or cider vinegar
3 cloves mashed garlic
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. toasted sesame oil
hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
hot water to thin sauce ( it should have the consistency of yogurt or sour cream)
Optional: a handful of whole salted peanuts for garnish
Throw pasta into pot of boiling water. Just before pasta is done, toss in the fresh asparagus and cook another five minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water and drain again. Toss pasta and asparagus with the sauce and scallions. Adjust seasonings. Serve on a large platter of salad greens, with a sprinkle of peanuts on top. If you're making the chicken, grill or saute, then slice into thin pieces and place on top of the pasta.
The chicken marinade:
3 cloves mashed garlic
1 heaping T. fresh minced ginger or 1 scant T. dry ginger
3 T. soy sauce
2 t. hot sauce
2 T. toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice, cider, or red wine vinegar
1 T. brown sugar.
Mix marinade well, marinate chicken for at least a half hour before cooking.

Monday, April 7, 2008

patience and tenacity

This little lady has been on my kitchen windowsill for almost two years. It was a Mother's Day present and after the first blooms faded, I stubbornly refused to throw it away, even when the leaves yellowed and I had to snip off nearly all the leaves. For over a year, she's been equally stubborn, refusing to send up a single flower stalk. I waited. And waited.

Two days ago I looked, blinked, and looked again. There was a single flower bud, which blossomed within two days into this gorgeous orange flower. Right beside it is another bud coming slowly up beside it.

Life has been challenging so many of us, and here's a reminder to hold on, hang in there, and stop to watch the flowers . This is a special message for Marge in Alaska - I'm rooting for you!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

hello mac n' cheese!

I thought I was having sauteed chicken and spinach tonight, but I fell in love with this cutest little pasta while I was shopping in the supermarket today, sooooooo, it turned out I had mac n'cheese. Who doesn't love this soothing, smooth combination? ( well, maybe my son, who hates cheese) So here we go, for the BEST mac n ' cheese you've ever tasted.
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.
Add 2 cups pasta to boiling water.
Drain pasta and set aside when pasta is tender.
Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pot. Melt butter.
Add 3 tablespoons flour to the butter/oil combination and whisk briskly for a few minutes.
Add one and a half cups low fat milk to butter/oil, and whisk.
Add 8 oz brick of grated sharp cheddar cheese ( I use Cabot's, from Vermont), and continue to whisk, until cheese is melted. You can add a half cup mozzarella if you like it stringy.
Add pasta, stir, and serve. Add freshly cracked pepper, if you wish.
Comfort food, personified!