All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Thursday, April 30, 2009

gorgonzola and watermelon salad

This salad was a complete accident. I often combine gorgonzola and strawberries in a spinach salad, but when I pulled out the spinach it had gone icky overnight. Pulled out the green leaf lettuce and spied the chunk of seedless watermelon........the rest is history. Well, modest history.
I made a little more lemon and dill dressing, beefing up the lemon juice to counteract the sweetness of the watermelon, and added a few slivers of garlic. YUM!
Hope you enjoy this soon - it is delicious!
For each plate or bowl you will need:
a handful of clean, torn green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1 cup seedless watermelon, cut in chunks ( not too small)
2 basil leaves, sliced thinly ( chiffonade)
2 T. lemon-dill dressing
Lemon-Dill dressing:
2 T. good olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. herb vinegar
1 t. fresh or dried dill
1 garlic clove, cut in slivers
freshly ground pepper
Mix well and keep in fridge, covered.
Assemble salad and drizzle with dressing. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

salade nicoise with smoked salmon for a hot day

Suddenly, our weather has gone from the 40's to the 80's - and I couldn't be happier! After sweeping the terrace and potting up the geraniums and a few herbs, I decided to celebrate summer with a Salade Nicoise - but made with smoked salmon instead of the usual tuna.
Salade Nicoise is such fun to compose - you basically check your vegetable drawer and go from there. I like a mixture of spears ( the potatoes and sugar snaps) and rounds ( the zucchini, a few olives, grape tomatoes) and the oval of the hard boiled egg. I also charred a few scallions, which sadly went limp and not crispy, but not a huge problem. You can obviously make this in any amount - this recipe was for two.
First, I made the lemon-herb dressing:
2 T. olive oil
1 t. herb vinegar
1 t. lemon juice, fresh
pinch dill ( I only had dried)
salt and freshly cracked pepper
one basil leaf, chiffonade ( sliced thinly)
1 red skinned potato, cut in wedges and parboiled til just barely tender.
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and halved
a handful of sugar snap peas, just barely cooked and popped into cold water and drained
a few grape tomatoes
one zucchini, sliced thickly, parboiled and drained
a few pitted olives
a few trimmed scallions ( green onions)
2 wedges lemon
several pieces of smoked salmon, rolled loosely
Place the potato wedges, the scallions, and the zucchini in a heat proof pan . Brush with a little dressing and place under broiler , cooking til they are just charring or browning.
Arrange either a large platter or individual bowls or plates with your salade makings, drizzle with dressing, and serve.
Dessert was just as easy - fresh strawberries drizzled with honey and sprinkled with mint!
Ah, summer.
Enjoy your day!
Featured on Photograzing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

veggie salad

Yesterday I made the first batch of veggie salad in ages . Now that the weather is a little warmer, I'll make this at least once a week. It's healthy, delicious, and versatile - I use it in omelets, stuffed into pita pockets with tuna or thinly sliced chicken, on pizzas. And it's easy to pack for picnics, as well.
I now use the little grape tomatoes thrown in, instead of diced fresh tomatoes, so people who don't like tomatoes can easily pick them out. I also make a variation with low fat cottage cheese, but I leave that out if the weather is really warm, or if I'm serving it to the non-dairy folk.
How to make:
2 cups thinly sliced or shredded fresh cabbage ( I use the Kitchenaid shredder cone)
2 cups thinly sliced, de-stemmed spinach
a handful or two of grape tomatoes, whole or halved
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced thinly
4 tablespoons or more finely chopped parsley
1 cup low fat cottage cheese ( optional)
The dressing:
I find sometimes I need to add a little more olive oil, or more vinegar after the salad is dressed - it depends on the cabbage, I think, which changes from batch to batch.
3 T. red wine or herbal vinegar
4. T. olive oil
1 t. oregano or basil
several turns of the peppermill
kosher or vegetable salt to taste
Toss gently and serve. This also packs well for brown-bag lunches. It should keep well for about 5 days, properly refrigerated.
Enjoy Mother Earth Day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

the last of the jam

I finally have a free day - a day to knock around, putter, garden, and finish at least a few of that long list of unfinished things "to do".
This morning I decided to simply have rolls and jam, so I made a batch of my favorite rolls, and rummaged around the back of the fridge for my jars of strawberry jam. Gasp! Could this be the very last tablespoon of the last pot of jam?
I opened it, inhaled its summer scent of fresh strawberries, and will now be counting the days until it is strawberry season here again. The jam is an English style, no pectin jam - somewhat soft and perfect for spreading over a butter-slathered roll or muffin. It's only cooked a short time, so it retains the perfume of fresh berries.
So I'll enjoy the last spoonful , and wait for the seasonal calendar to flip over to strawberry picking time - a little impatiently, but with eagerness.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

spring tonic - bitter greens soup

As a longtime student of herbs, both culinary and medicinal, as soon as the snow melts and the herbs start peeping up, thoughts turn to the spring ritual of tonics and bitter greens. I usually make a thin soup of two or three kinds of bitter greens and puree it, pour it in a mug, and sit outside looking up at the sky and the trees. Pute contentment. You can FEEL your body waking up and shedding the heaviness of winter!
If you feel adventurous, you can snip your own dandelion greens, or new nettles ( wear gloves!) but I opted for a mix of fresh rapini and watercress, with a little parsley for detoxification. After a few sips, I thought a spoonful of my garlicy homemade herb cheese would add a little pizazz, so in it went. Just delicious!
To make the soup:
A homemade chicken stock is the best. Simmer some chicken thighs and legs along with a bay leaf or two and strain it. Reduce it down a little and proceed.
3 cups homemade chicken stock
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
3 cups chopped rapini ( no stems)
3 cups chopped watercress ( stems ok)
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley ( stems ok)
Bring the stock to a simmer and add the greens. Cook for ten minutes, then take off heat.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Pour into mugs or bowls and serve with a heaping soupspoonful of herb cheese, stirring it into the soup as you sip it.
Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

dropkick scones: the easiest, best scone yet

Okay, so these were previously known as the quick "drop" scones, which soon became the Dropkick Scones. After fiddling around with a scone recipe for a friend, this morning it became that magical moment - a fast, easy, quick scone recipe that could have multiple variations, all delicious. You can throw it together, shove it in the hot oven, take a shower, and come back 25 minutes later to the perfect, buttermelting scone you've ever had, with hints of fresh lemon zest and nutmeg, plump with raisins, golden and lumpy, just right for a smear of unsalted butter and marmalade.
Here's how to do it:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Fit a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
6 T. cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup King Arthur whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
pinch nutmeg, or 8 scrapings from a whole nutmeg
1/4 t. freshly grated lemon zest
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins
Place flours and cold butter pieces into a mixer bowl and mix until incorporated. It should look crumbly.
Add the nutmeg, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.
Mix well.
Pour in the buttermilk and raisins and mix until it just holds together.
Using a normal size ice cream scoop, scoop batter out onto the baking sheet. This should make 8 scones. Sprinkle with a little sugar, if desired.
Place in oven for 25 minutes - they should be golden and craggy looking.
Remove to cool on cooling rack.
Serve with soft, sweet butter and marmalade or jam, as you wish. Delicious alone, too.
These freeze well, if you have any left over!
You can add snipped apricots, figs, peaches, etc. instead of the raisins.
Featured in Photograzing!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

quick drop scones with lemon and nutmeg

This was a successful experiment for a friend who requested a drop scone . He didn't want any dried fruit, or anything too sweet, so I simply added a little nutmeg and lemon zest for a little interest. He wanted "nooks and crannies" for slowly melting butter and this scone certainly has them! Quick and easy, too.

To make:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Fit a cookie sheet with foil or parchment.

6 T. cold butter, cut into tiny cubes

1/4 cup whole wheat flour, King Arthur

1 1/2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

pinch fresh nutmeg

1/4 t. fresh grated lemon zest

pinch of salt

1 cup buttermilk

Place flours and cold butter pieces in a mixer bowl and mix until incorporated.

Add the baking powder, nutmeg, and lemon zest and salt.

Mix well.

Pour in the buttermilk and just mix until it holds together.

Take a large tablespoon and scoop a spoonful of dough onto the cookie sheet, continuing until dough is used up. This recipe makes 8 scones.

Sprinkle scones lightly with a little sugar.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. They should brown very slightly.

Serve with soft butter and jams.

Featured in TasteSpotting, where they love a little butter.

Monday, April 13, 2009

easter day

Easter Day, chilly , cold, and windy - but inside around the table, the Ham with thyme and maple syrup glaze was devoured, the whipped potatoes with chives snapped up, the carrot cake splendid, the company of family a treasure. Only one misbehaving cat, attacking the two visiting dogs. I hope you had a wonderful Easter Day as well!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

the easter carrot cake

This is last year's Easter Carrot Cake - decorated by a then 2 year old. She put 1 1/2 inches of frosting on the top, and managed to do a pretty great job with the marzipan carrots ( some of which were made by her mama) . If you haven't got your dessert for tomorrow, this is a moist and delicious cake! You can find the recipe here. I'll post new pictures tomorrow, after we get it frosted and decorated.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

easter dinner and celery-tomato soup with tarragon

Whenever I'm having people over for a special meal, I think about color. And this Easter, I'm thinking whipped mashed potatoes with from-the-garden-chives, herb rubbed ham, the favorite "fluffy" green salad, asparagus, and the Easter cake: carrot cake with cream cheese and lemon frosting ( lots of frosting!) with handmade marzipan carrots that we plunk into the thick frosting at the last minute. White, pinkish, green, white and burnt orange ( that would be the cake). So I'm thinking this vibrant red soup, loaded with herbs and simmered celery pieces, would be a perfect starter. Served with flour rolls, it should look very pretty.
And, as always, I have a backup recipe - for Baked Grape Tomatoes with cornbread crumbs at Karina's Kitchen that have the same vibrant color and sound really, really good.
If you think of textures, this soup is a wonderful balance between thick chunks of celery and a tomato-herb broth. If I made, say - a smooth leek and potato soup, it wouldn't be as interesting, even with a sprinkle of green chives on top. So Celery Soup it will be.
To make:
2 T. olive oil
3 stalks of celery, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, roughly chopped into largeish pieces
2 cups grated carrots ( I use a grater on my Kitchenaid mixer, but you can use the large holes on a hand held grater)
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes in juice, cut up into medium pieces
1 28 oz can of chicken or vegetable stock - I use the tomato can to measure
1/2 t. basil
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. oregano
2 t. dried tarragon
salt to taste and freshly cracked pepper
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot. Add the carrots, celery chunks, and onions and stir on law for a few minutes. Cover and braise for 15 minutes.
Uncover the pot and add the tomatoes, the juice from the tomatoes, the stock, and herbs.
Simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes, checking the pot once in a while. If it needs a little more liquid, add some water.
Make sure the vegetables are soft, and taste before serving, adding pepper and salt as needed.
Serve with Portuguese Flour rolls, or just some curls of parmesan.
This serves 4.
Enjoy and have a wonderful Easter!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

portuguese flour rolls- REVISED

I grew up on the Outer Cape - the very tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and then later, two towns over, in Wellfleet. My stepfather was part of the commercial fishing fleet, and was part of the first American born generation in his Portuguese family. His family came from Olhao in Portugal, but in Provincetown you had also had Azoreans and Cape Verdeans. As children, our favorite stop was at the Portuguese Bakery in Provincetown - still there. We would tear apart hot sweet bread and eat it on the wharf, watching the boats come in. The simple white, floury rolls were another treat, and sweet potato turnovers, "trutas". Years ago I picked up a cookbook written by a local woman; I had high hopes of duplicating those joys of my childhood. Unfortunately, none of the recipes work. We've all known cooks that never give out a complete recipe, and I suppose she is one of them. So, slowly, by trial and error, I've been able to come up with a recipe for those white, floury delicious rolls that go so well with Portuguese Kale soup - actually, they go with just about everything. They have a very thin crispy crust, while the inside is fluffy but moist.
27 November 2009 note: I have made these rolls four times in the last few days, and each one came out differently. One was too dry. One was too wet, and spread out more than I'd hoped. Now that I think about it, the kitchen was very cold when I made the too wet rolls. So were all the ingredients. As I made batch after batch, with each one different, the kitchen became, well, almost tropical with the oven at 400 degrees. Maybe that's the secret. The too wet rolls made a nice, soft, perfect- for -fried eggs n' bacon roll. But that's not what I was looking for, though they were delicious. The last batch came closest to the original recipe. So just keep an eye on the dough, which should be pliable and almost like soft Silly Putty ( if you know what I mean?).

To make:
2 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. dry yeast
1/2 t. sugar
3/4ths to 1 cup warm water
2 t. canola oil or vegetable oil
In mixer bowl, place the flour and salt.
In a small bowl, add the warm water and yeast, starting with 3/4ths cup warm water. Add the sugar and whisk.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour and add the oil. Mix on low, and then switch to a dough hook. If the dough does not form a ball and looks dry, add more warm water, a tablespoon at a time, until it looks more elastic(the same if it is too sticky, adding flour a tablespoon at a time). You can also do this by hand, kneading until the dough is smooth. If the dough is super elastic and somewhat wet, add a little more flour.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot, and let double in size - about an hour.
Oil a baking sheet.
Knead the ball of dough, then cut into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on baking sheet.
Place rolls in a barely warm oven ( or in a warm spot in the kitchen) for 20 minutes.
Remove rolls from oven and set temperature to 400F.
Place a cup of boiling water at the bottom of the oven - make sure it is heatproof! This provides a little steam to the oven.
Sprinkle a little flour on top of each roll and spritz water on the rolls just as you slide them into the hot oven. This insures that crispy, thin crust.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the rolls are golden and light when you pick them up.
Remove from oven and enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

the best lemon poppyseed muffins

That is not an idle description of these muffins - around here, they are legendary. Eight years after I closed my baking business, I still have people stop, look at me in a stricken way, and say "You're the lemon poppyseed lady". Maybe I should start baking them again!
These muffins are dense, but not heavy. Forget rice crackers - these muffins hold the fort for a good few hours after eating. The tops are brushed with a lemon/sugar glaze, so they are delightfully sticky and have that sweet/tangy taste on the tongue. There are not so many poppyseeds that they taste dusty and awful. They can be baked in any form - Texas size, minis, regular muffin size, hearts - and I suppose rabbits and eggs, as we come up to Easter. I'm making and freezing these for Easter company, since we'll be busy with the carrot cake and turkey ( ham?).
To make:
Preheat oven to 340F.
Grease the tins of your choice with butter or crisco.
zest of two lemons ( nice, big ones)
6 T. poppyseeds
3 cups King Arthur flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 t. baking powder
6 large eggs
1 T. vanilla
6 T. milk
3 sticks softened unsalted butter
Grate the lemon zest into the mixer bowl. Add the poppyseeds.
Add the flour, sugar, and baking powder. With mixer on low, add the eggs, vanilla, and milk.
With mixture still going, drop in the butter, piece by piece. This is really important! A picture of what the batter should look like is above. The butter must be soft and must be whipped in properly.
Scoop the batter into tins - I use two normal size ice cream scoops for Texas size, one scoop for regular size. This makes 20 regular size and around 9 Texas size.
Bake for around 30 minutes ( all ovens are different) or until the muffins have risen and are somewhat firm in the middle of the crown. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 5-10 minutes.
Make the glaze:
In small pot, place equal amounts of sugar and fresh lemon juice. I usually use:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Bring to a simmer and cook for 4 or 5 minutes. Pop the muffins out of the tins, and place on racks set into a baking sheet to catch the drips.
Brush muffins with lemon glaze several times. The second photo from the top shows what they will look like - sticky, and somewhat shiny. As the glaze soaks in, they will become less sticky.
So there it is - absolutely the best lemon poppyseed muffin ever! Enjoy!
Note: I have no connections with King Arthur Flour. I specify King Arthur because it is my flour of choice. If you use a different flour, you may need to adjust the measurements. Thanks!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

starry chicken pie

When my daughter was little, stars figured everywhere in her world, from glow-in-the-dark stars on her ceiling, stars in her pictures and notes, starry socks, and a favorite book, "Nora's Stars". Her love of stars spilled over into the kitchen, where we made dozens of star cookies and even sweet and savory pies, with tiny star cutouts .
This is one of those pies. I make only a top crust, because I don't much like a bottom crust, and never eat it. It's loaded with herbs, diced vegetables of your choice, and chunks of chicken.
First, you need to make the crust so it can briefly chill. This is Martha's.
1 1/4 cups King Arthur flour
1 stick ( 8 T) unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
4 T. ice water
salt and fresh pepper and rosemary
Pulse the flour, salt and pepper in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse again until butter is incorporated.
Slowly add the ice water by tablespoons, running the processor. After 4 tablespoons of water, it should be perfect, but add another tablespoon if it's too dry.
Mold into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge.
The filling:
3-4 cups peeled and diced vegetables. I used:
sweet potatoes
frozen peas
1 t. thyme
1 t. fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups shredded or diced leftover chicken
Add a little water to vegetables and chicken in a heavy bottomed pot, cover, and simmer til just tender.
The white sauce:
1 1/2 T. melted butter
1/3 cup King Arthur flour
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk ( or more)
Heat the butter and add the flour. Whisk together, then add the stock and milk and continue to stir until you get a nice, thick sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water from the vegetables.
Drain vegetables and chicken and mix in the white sauce. Taste carefully and add more thyme or pepper as you wish. Since you're going to sprinkle salt on the crust, hold the salt.
Take out the dough and roll out one 9 inch circle. Using a star cutter, cut out stars randomly. Set aside.
Place veggies and chicken in sauce in a pie pan. Carefully lift the pie crust and place on top. Trim neatly. Moisten the stars and stick on pie crust. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle kosher salt over the top.
Turn oven to 350F and place chicken pie in oven for about 45 minutes. Enjoy your starry chicken pie!