All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

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?