All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Friday, June 27, 2008

green soup in shotglasses - kale and sweet pea soup with mint

I have always wanted to serve a soup in shotglasses like the fancy restaurants do. This week, not only did my never-to-be-missed swap shop at the dump have four pristine shot glasses, but I had just picked up some Red Russian kale at the farmer's market. So instead of the traditional English pea soup with mint ( English peas are the kind you pop out of non-edible pods and can buy frozen year round) - I decided to cut the sweetness of a straight pea soup with kale. It worked beautifully!
The Red Russian kale has softer leaves than the frilly, somewhat tough kale you buy toward the end of the summer and into fall. You can blanch or simmer it in a matter of minutes, and serve with just olive oil and salt and pepper. It's a more interesting green side dish than spinach, and goes with everything. You can also use it in the traditional kale soup with linguica. But my favorite way to serve many greens is in a pureed, intensely green, loaded-with-vitamins soup - and in these shot glasses with a little mint and chive , it looked just beautiful.
You will need:
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups water
1 T. scallion greens, sliced
1 T. jasmine rice
2 cups sliced Red Russian kale
1 cup English peas ( frozen is fine)
1 t. unsalted butter or olive oil
dash hot sauce (optional)
Bring stock and water to a simmer. Add scallion greens and jasmine rice. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the kale. Cook another ten minutes, add the peas, simmer another five minutes. Using a regular blender or immersion blender, puree the soup with:
1T. sliced mint
1 T. scallions
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Serve in shot glasses or bowls with a garnish of chives and mint.

Featured in Tastespotting!

Monday, June 23, 2008

making strawberry jam

For years, strawberry jam making was a huge undertaking - I'd go to a farm, pick flats of berries, and come home to process two dozen jars for the family's PB&J sandwiches for the year. Now, I might make a few jars a year.
It always starts when I come across a fruity waft of strawberry - this time at the Farmer's Market. I grabbed the quart box of tiny, almost-wild strawberries and spirited them home. Fresh strawberries are so perishable - in a matter of hours they can turn brown and mushy, so I hulled them and stuck them in the freezer. Long ago, I read this tip from a grower, because it makes a juicier jam. This morning, my schedule was clear, the storms were coming and going, and I had plenty of time to make the recipe carefully. Since I make a country jam with no pectin added, it's important not to rush.
First, prepare your jars and lids. You want to simmer them in hot water, then, using clean tongs, turn them upside down on a very clean cloth.
Prepare your heavy stockpot and wash very well.
To make:
1 pound hulled strawberries ( about 2 1/2 cups)
juice from two lemons
1 3/4 cup sugar, warmed in an oven briefly
Mash the berries and simmer in the pot, along with the lemon juice. Since this is a small amount of jam, you need to watch the jam carefully- it burns quickly, and then it's ruined.
Simmer berries and lemon juice about 15 minutes.
Add the sugar and stir constantly .
Using your wooden stirring spoon, lift up a few drips of jam and watch carefully. You'll be able to tell the jam is almost done when it thickens and is slow to drip. This took about 20 minutes today.
Ladle the jam into jars, screw on tops, and let cool on a thick towel. I was making just one pot of jam that I planned to use immediately, so I used plastic wrap, then a paper cap tied with twine.
I find this a really useful recipe, because you can use small amounts of just-picked berries through the summer for a few jars of jam. The jam is heavenly - soft to spread, just the way I like it.

-Katrina Hall

Saturday, June 21, 2008

children welcome in the garden!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

new orleans coffee cookies

Every once in a while I get a craving for these coffee cookies. They're crisp, they're loaded with coffee flavor, and they're easily dress-upable with whipped cream, if you'd rather make them for a somewhat fancy dessert.
The recipe comes from Paul Prudhomme, so you know it's authentic New Orleans!
PS/ Eating these just before you go to bed ( notice I said "bed" and not "sleep") is probably not a good idea - as I discovered two nights ago. There is quite a bit of caffine in these, after all - but, a breakfast cookie on the run?
To make:
Preheat oven to 350.
Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment.
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup good instant coffee powder
( the coffee and chicory kind makes it even better)
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 egg yolks
2 1/4 cups King Arthur flour
Cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for a minute or two.
In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks, vanilla, and coffee powder until smooth and blended. Add the coffee mixture to the bowl of butter and sugar and beat. Scrape down the bowl sides, since the butter tends to stick to the bowl.
Right here is where Mr. Prudhomme and I differ. He says to drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking sheet. I did that once, and it was ugly. So I fill a pastry bag with a zig-zaggy tip, scrape in the dough, and pipe out coffee "sticks", about 4 inches long. They spread a little bit, so leave enough room. The dough is also pretty stiff, so be prepared.
Put cookie sheet in the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove, wait a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies. They seem to hold up fine uncovered, even when it's humid.
- Katrina Hall

Sunday, June 15, 2008

clafouti with blueberries: comfort food

Today is damp and chilly and the perfect day to make clafouti - a fresh fruit and custard dessert that takes minutes to prepare. That way you have the whole day to finish off the entire dish as you read the Sunday paper! It's creamy and dreamy, and not too sweet or heavy. It's the kind of dessert you can serve for breakfast, brunch, dinner, or, as mentioned, reading the paper or watching a movie late at night.

Clafouti is a traditional French dessert made with the first crop of sour cherries - but I use blueberries, black raspberries, raspberries, and strawberries as they come into season. The dish is best eaten the same day - and I did notice the blueberry clafouti custard I made yesterday was quite blue today - not really appetizing, but still delicious.

To make:
Butter a souffle dish and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar on the bottom. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 340. ( in my oven, 350 is a little hot)

3 eggs, large
1/3 t. salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup King Arthur flour
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh fruit ( blueberries, raspberries, cut up strawberries, pitted cherries)

In a mixing bowl or blender add:
The eggs, salt, nutmeg, sugar, cream and milk. Whiz or beat.

Add the flour and vanilla and whiz or beat again.

Sprinkle the fruit on the bottom of the souffle dish, and pour the batter over the fruit.

Place in oven and bake for about 40 minutes. The custard will be a little wobbley, but it firms up as it cools. The clafouti will be gently browned on top.

This dessert is best served warm, I think - but leftovers straight from the fridge are still mighty tasty.

Friday, June 13, 2008

breakfast on the terrace : blueberry muffins with toasted walnuts

Where did the week go? Oh yes, waiting for an emergency dentist appointment much of the time, followed by orders not to chew as much as possible........

But this morning, I decided a juicy blueberry muffin could be gently eaten before work without much damage. I made them with pre-toasted walnuts and a hefty dusting of cinnamon in the batter - delicious and a change from oatmeal and/or yogurt.

To make:

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease 8 Texas size muffin cups .

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

3 T. melted butter ( or canola oil, for lowfat muffins)

3 cups King Arthur flour

1 cup milk

1 T. baking powder

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, toss unthawed with a tablespoon of flour before you toss them in the batter)

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces (optional)

This recipe makes 8 muffins.

In mixer bowl, add eggs, sugar, cinnamon,milk, and melted butter and mix well.

Add the flour and baking powder and mix gently.

Using a spatula, fold in the blueberries. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop two scoops of batter into each Texas size muffin cup, until batter is used up. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and place in oven for about 30 minutes - your baking time will be longer if you use frozen berries.

Remove from oven when tops of muffins are somewhat firm and springs back when you gently press the top of the muffin.

Cool on rack for five minutes, then turn out.

- Katrina Hall

Saturday, June 7, 2008

From the Farmer's Market: Chard Soup

Every Saturday, beginning three weeks ago, I visit either the Hancock, NH Farmer's Market, or the Keene, NH Farmer's Market to buy five or six fresh, organic vegetables to use during the week. Sometimes, it's a challenge to come up with a new recipe - but today, I had made this soup last week and loved it -so I made it again, using the Bright Lights chard from Thomas Hanna at the Keene Market.
To make:
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smushed
1 chopped onion
1 T. cumin
1 red skinned potato, diced
3-4 cups chard, stems and leaves chopped ( keep separate)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil, and add garlic and cumin. Stir and cook a few minutes.
Add the onion and cook for five minutes.
Add the diced potato and the chicken( or vegetable) stock and bring to a simmer.
Add the chard stems and cook until the potato is tender.
Add the chopped chard leaves and cook another five minutes.
Use an immersion blender ( or regular blender) to puree the soup.
Serve with rustic bread and butter or oyster crackers.
To find out your closest Farmer's Market, just go to Support your local farmers! And buy organic whenever possible. Thanks!

Friday, June 6, 2008

homemade lemon curd ( for the berries!)

There's something so satisfying about making lemon curd - much like making jam, although I tend to make lemon curd and then use it up right away.
I suppose it's because it's so useful that I like to have it on hand - I made a genoise jellyroll cake last August and used it as a filling, but it's wonderfully tangy on strawberries and blueberries, as well as the usual British passion - curd on bread, curd on English muffins - or curd straight from the jar.
To make:
6 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large lemons, zested and juiced
3 eggs
In a double boiler ( I use a heavy saucepan in a skillet of simmering water), melt the butter.
Add sugar, lemon juice and zest and stir until sugar is no longer grainy.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, and slowly add to the lemon mixture. Continue to stir over medium heat until the curd thickens. Remove from heat and pour into a jar or bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge until needed. This should last several weeks, as long as you keep it in the fridge.
That was easy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

green chile spoonbread

The whole time I was making this, my old Southern accent kept creeping out.
"Uh -HUH, got to get mah grits, now!" That one. The one I lost in a big hurry when I moved back up North from Pascagoula, Mississippi. In a fond wave, I'm dedicating this to my kin in Decatur, Alabama.
This is a nice, moist, and easy side to make for Sunday chicken dinner or a roast, or just plain comfort food watching a Sunday movie. The recipe comes straight from an old Lee Bailey cookbook, though I added parsley and more chiles.
You will need:
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
2 T. unsalted butter
2/3 cup cornmeal ( I was tempted to use white grits, but didn't)
1 4 oz can green chiles, drained, minced
2 T. freshly chopped parsley
2 t. baking powder
Preheat oven to 400.
Grease a medium sized souffle dish with butter or crisco.
Combine 2/3 cup milk with the eggs and whisk. Set aside.
In a medium pot, combine remaining milk with the butter and bring to a simmer.
Increase heat and slowly add cornmeal in a steady, but slow stream to the milk and butter , whisking constantly. Stir in the salt and parsley. Remove from heat.
Add milk and egg mix to the hot cornmeal mix, whisking rapidly. Add the chiles. Sprinkle the baking powder on top and mix in.
Pour batter into the souffle dish and grind some pepper on top.
Place in oven for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
Scoop out servings with a large spoon and enjoy!