All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Friday, May 29, 2009

potato,leek, and smoky bacon chowder with dill

Pouring buckets here, and the 80 degree days we had have plummeted to the 40's again. Browsing through all-too-delicious food blogs, I saw a thick, rich cheese and potato soup that really inspired me to make this chunky potato chowder, instead of my usual blended soup.
How to make:
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, whites only
1/2 large onion, sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 T. unsalted butter
4 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 t. thyme, or 1 t. fresh thyme, leaves pulled off stems
4-5 medium to large California White Long potatoes, or Yukon Gold, peeled,
diced into one inch cubes.
1/2- 1 cup thick cut, cooked, smoky bacon
1 1/2 T. fresh chopped dill
salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cook the bacon and drain, then cut or crumble into pieces.
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot, then add the leeks and onion slices.
Cook leeks and onions five minutes, then add the stock and water.
Add the potatoes and thyme to the water and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Add the bacon, the fresh dill, and salt and pepper ( carefully!) to taste.
Remove from heat and add the heavy cream, and taste again.
Serve with parsley, or slivers of leek whites on top.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jam Time!

The last two days have been dudish. The white bean and rosemary soup I made wasn't bad, but it was so not-exciting it never made it into the blog. The bittersweet chopped chocolate I tossed into the apricot scones ended up just tasting odd. So thank goodness for little rays of sunshine! I stopped by Rosaly's Farmstand, and there sat the very first strawberries of the season in this chilly area of New Hampshire! Tomorrow will be jam making morning, and that always makes me happy!
I use a recipe based on an English cookery book " Notes from a Country Kitchen" - it was there I discovered the secret to making a fragrant, somewhat soft, pectin-free jam, and better yet - it only takes about 20 minutes. These days I make smaller amounts of jam than I used to - this recipe makes about 5 jars or so of the most delicious jam, depending on the size of your jars, of course. No matter, it will be gone in a matter of weeks, as I recall last years efforts. The secret to this jam seems to be in warming the sugar in the oven before mixing it into the strawberries, so don't skip that step!
To make:
Make sure everything is very clean - counters, stockpot, jars, and NEW lids. Clean dishtowels to place the lids and jars on.
Simmer jars in very hot water for several minutes, then turn upside down on clean towels. Simmer new lids in boiling water for a few minutes and , using tongs, remove to another clean towel.
1 pound of hulled strawberries ( about 2 1/2 cups)
juice from two lemons
1 3/4 cups sugar, placed in heatproof bowl and warmed in the oven briefly
Mash the berries and simmer in the stockpot, along with the lemon juice. Since this is a small amount of jam, you need to watch the jam carefully, or it will burn.
Turn the oven on to 200F and place the sugar in the oven.
Simmer strawberries and lemon juice about 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the warmed sugar to the berries and lemon juice and stir constantly on medium heat.
Using your wooden stirring spoon, lift up a few drips of jam and watch carefully. You'll be able to tell when the jam is almost done when it thickens and is slow to drip. You can also test it in a glass of cold water - a few drips will firm up softly ( softball stage). It usually takes about 15-20 minutes.
When it's thickened, take off heat, turn the jars upright, and ladle hot jam into the jars.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth, screw on the lids, and let sit. Do not move the jars around for at least 6 hours.
When the jars have fully cooled, check the lids by tapping down - a good seal will suck in the lid top, but if the lid seal has not worked, the middle of the lid will wiggle up and down. Just stick that one in the fridge and use first.
This is a great recipe for all those bramble fruits you pick all summer , as well as strawberries - and because the jam is made in small amounts and so quick, it's easy to make a few jars at a time.
Happy strawberry season!
I just made the first batch of jam, keeping track of the time it took:
My strawberries were hulled and halved and at room temperature. The timing for cooking the strawberries and lemon juice: 5 minutes.
I added the warmed sugar and cooked them at a low rolling boil until thickened. Time: 14 minutes.
This recipe today made 3 1/2 pint jars.
Featured in Tastespotting! ( and lickity-split, too!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

rapini and pasta soup

I am on a rapini kick right now, and feeling not only healthy and wise, but doing a little rock and roll in the kitchen as I make this look-feel-taste- good soup. I made rapini ( or broccoli rabe) and pasta about a year ago, but I like it better as a slurpy soup. I was also surprised that the soup version had no bitterness at all. I don't mind bitter greens at all, and I eat them happily, but for those who don't like the slight bitterness of rapini, this cooking method would suit you better.
This makes about 3 large servings.
To make:
Cook up some thin spagetti in a large pot, drain, and toss with a little olive oil. Set aside.
1 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups of water, chicken stock, or half water, half stock
2 T. fresh rosemary, briefly chopped
pinch hot pepper flakes
2 cups packed rapini leaves and little broccoli-like heads ( no stems)
1/2 large onion, cut in half horizontally and thinly sliced
salt and fresh pepper
parmesan cheese, shaved, served on the side
In large saucepan, heat the oil and butter.
Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes.
Stir the garlic briefly, then add the onion.
Add the water and/or stock and rosemary. Bring up to medium heat and add the rapini.
Cook about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Add the pasta to the pot.
Taste and carefully add salt and pepper.
Serve in large soup bowls with the bowl of cheese on the side for sprinkling.
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day!
I just read this article that encourages hefty amounts of "greens" to protect your eyesight - so now you have an even better reason to eat your rapini!
Featured on Tastespotting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

making herb vinegars

What a lovely morning! I even had time to take the back way from the supermarket trip, stopping at my favorite river and marshland, which reminds me so much of the salt marshes on the Cape. The trip was precipitated by an overgrown oregano plant, which I haven't yet dared to plant in the garden because of cold nights. As I fingered the oregano, I decided it was time to make another batch of my son's Red Hot Chili Pepper vinegar. It's actually not super hot, but it does have a nice bite to it. I found the peppers I'd dried last fall, and picked out a few nice red ones. Then, realizing I was out of white and cider vinegar, made a quick trip to the market. I'd washed out a nice big glass bottle for steeping the vinegar, so I was set to go.
Here are the basics:
Always use glass containers for vinegars - and if they have metal tops, fold a piece of plastic wrap between the cap and the vinegar when you close it tightly. They will rust if they come in contact with the vinegar.
I use half white vinegar, half apple cider vinegar. It's light and doesn't overpower the herb flavors.
Steep vinegar with herbs in sunlight for a week, then strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a very, very clean bottle. Discard the first set of herbs, and, using a chopstick, arrange the herbs as you wish in the bottle before putting the vinegar in. If you use dried spices,like the chili pepper, they will plump up as they soak up the warm-from-the-sun vinegar. I reuse the same chili peppers on the final bottling, but discard the oregano.
To make the chili vinegar:
Fill clean bottle with snips of fresh oregano - both small and long.
Place a few black peppercorns in the bottle, then drop two chili peppers in.
Slowly fill with vinegar and cork tightly.
Let sit in sun for a week.
Strain the vinegar, using a coffee filter, into a pitcher.
Take a clean bottle and fill with snips of oregano, peppercorns, and the now plumped chili peppers from the first steeping.
Fill with the strained herb vinegar.
Cork tightly and dip into some melted paraffin so it doesn't leak.
Keep in a dark cupboard for best results.
Some other wonderful herb vinegars I've made are:
Chive blossom vinegar - a gorgeous magenta color! You must fill the jar with the blossoms to get that color, and keep in a dark cupboard so it doesn't fade. Purple basil also makes a magenta vinegar.
Borage and Lovage - a nice light cucumber taste for summer salads.
Straight Dill, Rosemary, or Basil vinegars.
Give it a try! It's lots of fun and great for hostess or Christmas presents - or a farmer's market stand.

Monday, May 18, 2009

tian of roasted sweet potatoes, rosemary, and grape tomatoes

It is very chilly today in New Hampshire - 40 degrees when I got up. I was going to make poached chicken with green grape salad for an early lunch, but with the weather change, I was craving something hot and earthy. I poached some boneless chicken and sliced it, then topped it with the roasted vegetables - but I liked the vegetables so much, I ended up eating almost all the veggies, and only a few bites of chicken.
Obviously, you can substitute all sorts of vegetables, especially if you don't like tomatoes. I think next time I'll try this with some artichoke hearts, in addition to the sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Doesn't that sound good?
You can also serve this atop orzo or a nice bowl of hot rice.
To make:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small box grape tomatoes, rinsed and dried
Half a yellow pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 large onion, peeled and sliced into strips
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. thyme, or several sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper
2 T. fresh rosemary, stripped from stems
Preheat oven to 375F.
Drizzle the olive oil into a non-reactive casserole or tian - I used a flat ceramic tart pan.
Add the vegetables, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Place uncovered in the hot oven, baking approximately 40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Remove and scatter rosemary over top, mixing in gently with a large spoon. Serve with chicken, or on top of rice or pasta. Check seasoning before serving - more salt is usually needed, as well as freshly cracked pepper.

Friday, May 15, 2009

le weekend: coffeecake muffins

I have a rule for myself these days - no junk food unless made from scratch ( except for Wavy Lays, of course). Whenever I get gas at the local pit stop, I linger at the cash register, looking at all the cellophane wrapped pastries and cakes, longing. No matter they are loaded with fat and preservatives, I still long for them.
My junk food habit began in ninth grade, when I was at boarding school. I had had candy before, but never little packets of chips and cheez curls, no Drake's coffee cakes that shed brownsugared bits down one's sweater. One bite into the fluffy tender crumbed cake and I was hooked.
I have been very good about staying away from temptation, but the other day I gave in to my longing . I made a few batches, tinkering with the recipe until it was perfectly junk food worthy.
(And yes, I ended up giving most of them away, virtuous me.) They're the ultimate blend of soft and tender insides, with the crunchy, sugary cascade of crumbs you remember.
I used Texas size muffin molds, which usually take two ice cream scoops of batter. Here, I filled them with one scoop of batter, then tumbled 2 heaping tablespoons of sugar topping over the batter. They rose nicely, without spilling all over the oven floor.
Preheat oven to 380F. ( my oven runs hot)
Grease one Texas size 6-muffin tin. This makes 5 large muffins.
First, make the topping.
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 T. softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup King Arthur flour
2 t. cinnamon
Place in mixer bowl and mix a few minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
1 cup King Arthur flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
zest from about half a lemon
Mix dry ingredients briefly.
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 T. ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, large
1 t. vanilla
Mix until the dough is incorporated.
Using an ice cream scoop, place one scoop of batter per muffin cup. It should come up about halfway.
Sprinkle two heaping tablespoons all over each muffin.
Place in hot oven and bake 20 minutes.
Remove to cooling rack, then carefully remove from tin with a dull knife.
Featured on TasteSpotting!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

parsnip vichyssoise with violets

Oh, what a beautiful day! Spring cleaning all morning left me with a tidy spare room and a heap of odds and ends to take to the dump tomorrow. What a huge sense of satisfaction it is to finally get organized! I went searching for newts, but they seem to be hiding from me today - there are lots and lots of violets, though, so I thought I might decorate a springtime soup with their prettiness.
As I was pulling out the enormous leek I bought, then some potatoes, I spied one of the last bags of parsnips of the season, lurking in the vegetable drawer, so I thought I'd see what a parsnip vichyssoise would taste like. Ummmmm, that was a yes! The parsnips and leeks were sauteed in a little butter for a bit, which sweetened them much as caramelizing onions does. My first thought was how interesting it was, and my second was a wish for a nice slice of roasted pork - I think that would go beautifully with the soup. As it was, I had some lovely roasted tomatoes with basil breadcrumbs - a recipe I found on Karina's Kitchen.
I tasted it both warm and room temperature, and liked them both ways.
How to make Parsnip Vichyssoise:
1 cup cleaned, sliced white of leeks
1 T. unsalted butter
2 cups peeled, sliced parsnips
2 cups scrubbed potatoes, sliced
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
pinch of thyme
1 cup milk
1 cup medium or heavy cream
1/2 cup finely minced chives
1/2 t. dried dill or 1 t. fresh, minced
salt and pepper to taste ( add at the end, after pureeing)
a few violet blossoms for garnish
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the leeks and parsnip slices. Saute for ten minutes , covered, then add the potatoes and water and chicken or vegetable stock.
Add the thyme and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Using an immersion blender, or a regular blender, puree the soup.
Add the chives, milk, and cream, then the dill.
Stir well and taste carefully. It will need salt and pepper, but I do it slowly - adding salt, tasting, adding pepper, tasting. Better too little salt than too much!
Ladle into bowls and garnish with violet flowers, ( or chive flowers, if you have them).
Featured Top 9 on Foodbuzz!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

street food: linguica rolls

If you live in a Portuguese community - or Southern Massachusetts - you will find this spicy sausage called linguica. It's a smoked pork sausage with spices, and the very best linguica comes from Gaspar's, near New Bedford, MA. When I was growing up on Cape Cod, you could find it at the Blessing of the Fleet celebration, juicy and popping on the grill, served dripping and delicious on Portuguese rolls. We had it at beach parties, and we put it in Kale Soup. For those lucky enough to be able to eat shellfish, linguica added to steamed clams or mussels, or baked in seaweed along with lobster and more clams is a treat.
The other morning I woke up with a powerful hankering for it, and luckily I had some linguica stashed in the freezer. Since I like it when it's plump , rather than grilled, I unwrapped it and simmered it in water for ten minutes. I fried the Vieira Saloio ( Portuguese Sourdough bread) slices in butter, sliced off the linguica into manageable chunks, and - voila! My very favorite Street Food! And what a breakfast!
You can mail order the linguica from Gaspar's, and I found the sourdough bread at Shaw's Supermarket. It's a wonderful treat for a BBQ or grill party, too! Most New England supermarkets carry Gaspar's linguica, usually in the bacon section.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Julia, and strawberry clafouti

On this weekend of Mother's Day, I am sending a wave of joy to the woman who started my journey. Dearest Julia Child, no-nonsense lover of food and life, though never having children of her own, certainly can count millions of passionate fans and followers: she was my mentor, and I adored her. I offer this homage of affection with her Clafouti - silky, aromatic, comforting.
I met Julia once, whe I was cheffing at le Bocage in Cambridge. She appeared suddenly, all 6 foot something of her to my 5 foot 5. She was all laughter and jollies; I suddenly wobbled and came very close to fainting, as she spread smiles and gushed in her usual Julia way about our food. She was on her second wave of popularity, and thought nothing of sitting briefly on the trash barrel in the kitchen as she spoke to each of us. Bless her heart.
Her original recipe called for fresh cherries, but, as I think she would understand, I substituted fresh, fragrant California strawberries.
Julia Child's Clafouti
1 1/4 cups milk ( or half light cream, half milk)
1 T. vanilla extract ( make sure it's a good one!)
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 t. salt
A few scrapings of nutmeg ( my addition)
1/2 cup flour
2-3 cups quartered fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar, divided between ramekins, or, if in a casserole dish, sprinkled on top.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter several ramekins or one large casserole dish.
In a blender, combine milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour. Whiz.
Pour a 1/4-1/2 inch layer of batter into each dish, or the large casserole dish.
(I usually skip this and just place fruit on the bottom and cover with batter)
Place in oven and bake until a film of batter sets in the dishes or casserole dish.
Remove from heat and spread the strawberries over the batter - I used 1/2 cup per ramekin.
Sprinkle on the sugar, dividing between ramekins.
Pour on the rest of the batter, dividing between the dishes, or the one casserole dish.
Place back in oven and bake until the clafouti is puffed and golden and set( about 40 minutes).
Serve lukewarm.
And, yes, those are my now grown babies above!
Featured in Photograzing!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

garlic and rosemary potatoes for breakfast

What a great way to start this rainy day! Peeled potatoes are sliced thickly and parboiled. Drain and let dry, then brush with clarified butter ( so they won't burn) and place in a 400F oven for half an hour. Turn and sprinkle with coarse salt, fresh rosemary, and finely diced garlic. Place back in oven and cook another 15 minutes, or slide under a broiler until gently browned.
Serve with a smile.
Enjoy your day!
* To clarify butter:
Place unsalted butter, cut in pieces, into a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium and melt butter gently. When the butter foams up, skim off the foam and remove from heat. Carefully pour off the melted butter into a container, leaving the milky residue in the bottom of the pan. That milky residue is what can turn butter brown when heated, then black and bitter. Clarified butter has a marvelous toasty taste, and can be used for cooking at higher temperatures ( like sauteing) without burning.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

orange-scented olive oil cake

Ever since I got his book I've been wanting to make this cake - part curiosity, part disbelief that an olive oil cake would taste good. Well, Nick Malgieri scores again with a tender-crumbed, orange scented cake that will now be my second favorite cake, next to the lemon cake I love to make. It's a real pleasure to have consistently delicious results from his recipes.
Because his recipe made two cakes, and I needed only one for Mr. B's birthday, I cut the recipe in half. This made a perfect 8" cake, and I served it plain, with fruit, and/or sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. Frosting would be too rich on this cake, so I'm glad I didn't give in to the urge. The one thing to remember is to NOT use extra-virgin olive oil, but light, or plain olive oil. This has a delicate flavor of oranges, and the only possible change I would make would be to add almond extract; just a tiny bit.
From The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri
To make:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease an 8" cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment disc. ( I didn't do this, but it was a little hard to get out of the pan)
1-2 large navel oranges
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup olive oil, or light olive oil
3/4 c. milk or soymilk
1 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
Microplane or grate the zest from the oranges right into the mixer bowl.
Add the eggs to the zest and mix.
Add half the sugar to the eggs and mix well.
Add the olive oil and mix, then add the milk, mixing til creamy.
Place the rest of the sugar, the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and mix with fork. Slowly add the flour mixture to the olive oil mixture in three parts. I added a bit more flour because the mixture looked too soupy to me - maybe 2 T., but wait and see before you add more.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and place in oven. Bake for 50 minutes.
While the cake is baking, cut the peel and pith ( the white bitter part) off the oranges. Slice the oranges into sections, and remove any membrane you see. Place in a bowl and set aside.
When cake is fairly firm to touch, remove to cooling rack. let cool about 15-20 minutes.
Run a knife around the pan edge and carefully unmold it, removing the parchment bottom.
Serve with sectioned oranges and/or a dusting of confectioner's sugar.
I hope you'll enjoy this cake as much as I have!