All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

puckery lemon cookie ice cream sandwiches

Yesterday it suddenly hit 80 degrees, and all day I kept thinking about ice cream sandwiches - specifically, lemon puckery cookies with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. When I got home, I set to work making a traditional lemon shortbread cookie and sprinkled them with sugar as they came out of the oven. The crystals glittered sweetly on the cookies, and reminded me of ice crystals on a cold winters day. But when I assembled the ice cream sandwiches (which you'll see above), it was so hot the ice cream melted - still, though sticky and messy, it was the perfect pairing for a non-chocolate lover.
Here's how you can make your own.
For the cookie:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 T. lemon zest ( I used a micro grater)
1-2 t. fresh lemon juice
2 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
2 cups King Arthur or other unbleached flour
Mix the butter and sugar well in a mixer bowl. Add the vanilla and salt and mix again. You will feel some sugar crystals, but they cook away and the final cookie is just fine. Add the flour and mix well, then add the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix.
Scoop the dough onto a long piece of plastic wrap and gently mold into an oval. Wrap and place in the fridge for an hour.
Sprinkle the counter or board with flour, and roll out dough to about 1/3 of an inch. I used a fluted round cutter, but choose whatever works for you.
Place in a preheated 325 oven for about 20 minutes - maybe 22 minutes - it depends on your oven.
Sprinkle cookies with sugar as you take them out of the oven and let cool. For ice cream sandwiches, they need to be very, very cool!
You can serve the cookies with iced tea with lemon balm or mint sprigs for a pretty presentation. To make the ice cream sandwiches, just take a pint of Haagen-Dazs vanilla and chip away with a spoon, pressing the ice cream into the cookie cutter. Pop it out onto a lemon cookie, top with another cookie, and serve with a sprig of lemon balm - or you can wrap them in plasic wrap and stick them in the freezer for another hot day.

Friday, May 23, 2008

a little plate of black bean and olive salsa

Spring is continuing to blossom and bloom radiantly around here. We've rarely seen the fruit trees so spectacular as they are this year - no doubt a record-breaking snowfall had something to do with it.
With the Memorial Day weekend here at last, I thought I'd make a little of my black bean and olive "salsa" dip/salad/side - you can make it for a crowd, or just for two. I like individual servings on plates, with a clay bowl full of tortilla chips on the side for dipping, but you can also make a huge platter of it if that's the easier way to go. It's fresh and tangy with fresh scallions and lime juice, with a little bit of heat from hot pepper flakes and cumin. And did I say healthy? Have a safe holiday weekend, everyone!
Black Bean and Olive Salsa
1 large can black beans, Progresso preferred
1 large can black olives, small size
1 bunch fresh scallions, chopped
2 cloves pressed garlic
3 T. canola oil
2 T. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. chopped parsley
about 1/4 t. dried hot pepper flakes, or more
1-2 t. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 large package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes ( optional)
Drain the black beans and olives, running water over the beans briefly. Briefly chop in a bowl using a mezza luna, or on a cutting board, so the pieces are a little smaller and more manageable as a dip.
Add to the bowl with the olives and beans; the garlic, oil, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and cumin. Let sit for ten minutes.
Add the parsley and scallions and mix well. If you're using tomatoes, you can add those at this point.
Taste carefully and add the salt and pepper as needed.
Mix the cream cheese and sour cream together. For small, individual plates, just smooth out about two tablespoons of the mixture for each plate. For a platter, just smooth out almost to the edges.
Add the beans and olive mixture on top of the cream cheese and sour cream.
Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips. This is also a terrific filling for soft pita bread or wraps.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

meringue madness

Ever since I picked up a new cookbook on Saturday, I have been churning out meringues - vanilla meringues in miniature sweeps and swirls, and some bigger slightly-bigger-than-golfball sized ones with ribbons of chocolate. I have been seized with a kind of goofy madness, especially when you consider I don't really like to eat meringues! But the recipe was fun, and I loved squeezing out those mini-meringues with turrets and curly tops. And late one night, I did rummage through the kitchen and finished off the meringues while watching Iron Chef.
I got this recipe from a cookbook called "got milk - the cookie book" by Peggy Cullen ( who writes for Saveur and Martha Stewart Living), and I loved her chocolate marblizing idea for the golfball sized meringues.
To make:
First of all, look out the window and read the weather forecast, because if it's raining or very humid, you cannot make meringues.
Fit two baking sheets with foil or parchment.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2 ounces unsweetened or dark semisweet chocolate
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
scrapings from a vanilla bean, if you have one
1 1/2 t. sifted cornstarch
Melt the chocolate in a microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and melted when stirred.
Set chocolate aside.
Beat egg whites in a mixer bowl until foamy and white, and you get soft peaks when you lift the beater. Then start adding the sugar ONE TEASPOON AT A TIME. If you dump it all in too fast, the meringue batter won't work.
Beat whites and sugar until stiff and shiny, then add the vanilla, vanilla scrapings, and the cornstarch. Beat briefly.
Using a large spoon, drizzle chocolate over the top of the egg whites. Do not mix in.
Take a small ice cream scoop and scoop across the lines of chocolate and whites to make a ball of meringue. Place on baking sheet.
Continue to scoop across the chocolate drizzles and placing balls on baking sheet. When you need more chocolate, just drizzle more on top of the now depleted bowl of meringue, until used up. You will have some chocolate left over.
Place baking sheets in oven and bake for an hour and 20 minutes.
Turn off oven and let meringues sit in oven until cool.
(If you find the meringues are still a little sticky on their insides, just run into a 200 degree oven for another 15 minutes - this will work even if you do it the next day)
Fancy Mini-Meringues for decorating or teatime
Just make the meringue above without the chocolate. Using a spatula, scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and make small circles ( twice- sort of a two story circle) ending by pulling up quickly to make that curlicue top.
Meringues should cool completely before placing in a tightly closed tin.
Serve mini-meringues with a bowl of - say, strawberries or other fresh fruit, or as a terrific decoration on a cake. Or, of course, piled onto a plate for that late night snack!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

portuguese kale soup with linguica

Have you ever seen such a beautiful soup? Chunky with linguica, which is a Portuguese pork sausage that is lean and tasty with spices, and loaded with that beautiful ( and healthy!) kale, throw in some potatoes and a few kidney beans and you have a lovely meal.
I grew up on Cape Cod, and my stepfather was Portuguese - put those two together and you'll understand why this soup was a familiar and eagerly anticipated meal.
If you've never heard of linguica, it's a lean pork dry sausage with lots of spices and herbs. Unlike its cousin, chorizo, it is not hot, as in way too spicy for me. I'm lucky enough to find it at my local supermarket, but if you can't find it, just go to Gaspar's Sausage ( and you can order some online.

To make:

1 coil of linguica ( it's sold that way)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 T. olive oil
about 6-8 cups chopped kale, stems removed
6 red or white potatoes, large dice
1 can kidney beans, drained
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups beef stock
pinch of dried thyme
1/2 large can italian plum tomatoes, with juice, chopped
2 T. medium salsa, Green Mountain Gringo preferred

Place olive oil in large pot and heat. Add onions and garlic and stir until a little browned.
Add chicken and beef stocks to pot.
Cut linguica into 1 inch pieces and add to pot.
Add large diced potatoes to pot.
Add thyme to pot.

Bring pot to a simmer and cook for a half hour. (You can add water to pot if the stock doesn't cover the potatoes and linguica)

Add kale.
Add tomatoes.
Add salsa and kidney beans.

Add more water or stock if necessary.

Cook another half hour. Serve with rustic bread and butter, for dunking !

If you prefer a slightly spicier soup, add hot pepper sauce or pepper flakes.

This soup improves as it ages.

This is my entry into the Tastes to Remember blog event:

Friday, May 16, 2008

chocolate chip and cranberry cookies for your sweet tooth!

Today I woke up with a longing for one of these chocolate chip cookies instantly. So I made them for breakfast, enjoying the warm milk chocolate melting all over the dried cranberries. I've made them with fresh cranberries, using a little less than the dried cranberries, and those were even better! The fresh berries have a nice sourness to them that the dried ones don't have - but I'll have to wait for cranberry season in the fall to make those again.
To make:
2 sticks soft unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (use Domino's for a drier sugar)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 1/4 cups King Arthur flour
1 t. baking soda
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup milk chocolate ( or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
This is the basic Silver Palate recipe which rarely fails - and if it does, it's usually because the temperature of the butter is too cold.
Preheat oven to 325. Fit a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
Cream the butter and sugars til fluffy.
Add the vanilla and eggs and beat well.
Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well.
Stir in the cranberries and chocolate.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop balls of dough, 6 to a baking sheet.
Gently press down on dough, smushing lightly.
Bake for 17-20 minutes.
Cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

celebrating Spring with lemon-chive pasta!

Here in New Hampshire, Spring takes her time getting here, so when I finally see the chives up, it's a day to celebrate. And here is how I throw a little party - with hot pasta, drizzled with virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and lots of fresh chives from the garden! Could anything be simpler or more delicious?

To make:

Cook a fat handful of vermicelli, drain.

Toss with:

4 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1 T. unsalted butter

salt and pepper

4 T. minced fresh chives ( or more)

zest from half a lemon.

Pass the pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2. Save some for lunch the next day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

a little pizazz with herb cheese

If you're looking to add a little zip to your food, this herb cheese is wonderful on everything from poached chicken to homemade bread to soups. A little of this garlic and herb cheese will put some sparkle on your tongue. It's creamy, chock a block full of tarragon and chives, and is a great way to use those chives that are growing fiercely in the garden.

To make:
In mixer bowl add:
8 oz. soft cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dijon mustard
1 T. fresh parsley, minced
1-2T. minced fresh chives
1 t. dried tarragon
1 garlic clove, pressed
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all in mixer bowl and taste carefully. It usually needs salt. Serve in soups for a little interest, on bread, nudged under the skin of chicken before you cook it - and on the side with some slivers of poached chicken, in a roast beef sandwich, whipped into hot boiled potatoes, or with fish. Crudites? Mais oui!

Monday, May 5, 2008

apricot and ginger scones

Oh, these scones cause a definite problem- I can't stop eating them! No matter how generous I'm feeling as I make a batch for friends and family, when they come out of the oven and I bite into the juicy chunks of hot apricot and sugared ginger, I end up saving half the batch for myself.
Because they're so fast and easy to make, there I am again five days later, mixing up another batch. The only roadblock seems to be to run out of apricots. I think you'll have the same problem when you make these delicious scones. There's something about that kick of ginger.............
To make:
Preheat oven to 350.
4 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted, cold butter, cut in little cubes
1 T. baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups snipped apricots and diced crystalized ginger
(use scissors to snip apricots)
egg wash ( a beaten egg)
In mixer, mix butter, sugar, and flour until the butter is in little pieces.
Add the baking powder and buttermilk. Add ginger and apricots.
Mix until it forms a ball. Take ball of dough out and knead briefly.
Place on board and roll into a 9 inch circle. Cut into half, then half again, then half again, so you end up with eight triangles. Place triangles on baking sheet covered with foil or parchment. Brush with egg. Cook for approximately 25 minutes. They should be golden on top and feel light when you pick them up.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

creamy potato soup with scallions and dill

We just love potatoes in our family, and this soup is so soothing and
comfy I could eat it all the time, if it were in a pot in the fridge. I do
forget to make it, which is good, because then I eat all the glorious
green vegetables pining in the vegetable drawer.

I like to serve it lukewarm, or slightly chilled. While it's chilling
a little, that gives you time to race out to the garden and snip some
fresh chives to add to the garnish.

You will need:

six red skinned or other boiling potatoes, diced
3 T. unsalted butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 t. dried thyme
2 T. snipped fresh dill or chives
1/2 cup sliced scallions, including crunchy green part

Melt butter in pot and add chopped onions. Turn heat to
low and cover for about ten minutes, letting the onions
Uncover and add water, chicken stock, thyme, potatoes,
along with some salt. Let cook uncovered until the potatoes
are tender.

When the potatoes have cooled a little, puree and add the

cream, dill or chives, and salt and pepper. Serve slightly chilled

with a sprinkle of crunchy scallions on top.