All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

lemon glazed teacakes with strawberries and mint

I will never understand the whimsy of baking. I was making tiny lemon cakes for the second time in two weeks, mostly to admire the ceramic cake mold my friend Mr. B brought me back from Italy. I thought I'd try out my new mini bundt pan while I was at it, and wouldn't you know? Half the cakes stuck, in spite of greasing them well, including the lovely ceramic one. I'm chalking it down to the humidity, which remains high after umpty ump weeks of rain.
I diced some strawberries, not being in the mood (highly unusual) for whipped cream, and macerated them in an orange juice, mint, and lemon verbena sauce I had reduced. Very cheery!
To make the lemon cake:
Preheat oven to 335F.
Grease mini bundt pan or small cake molds.
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 T.) softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 T. fresh lemon zest ( microplaned)
3 extra large eggs
2 1/4 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. nutmeg
Beat the butter, sugar and zest til fluffy-creamy.
Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, nutmeg, and lemon juice and mix again til creamy and smooth.
Fill the cake tins a little over halfway and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the center is firm to a gentle touch. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
Make the lemon glaze:
1/2 cup lemon juice ( fresh)
1/2 cup sugar
Simmer briefly until sugar is completely dissolved.
Unmold cakes when cool and brush glaze on cakes several times.
Strawberries in orange juice, mint, and lemon verbena sauce:
Dice strawberries ( enough for 2 tablespoons berries per cake)
In small saucepan, mix:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (Tropicana's fine)
2 leaves lemon verbena
4 large leaves mint
a few teaspoons sugar (optional)
Simmer gently for five or so minutes, remove from heat.
Let juice sit until cool.
Remove leaves from juice/glaze, and pour over diced strawberries.
Mound strawberries on top of glazed cakes and serve.
Featured in Photograzing!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

coconut and apricot clafoutis in lemon balm and vermouth honey syrup

I never cease to be amazed how recipes have a way of going their own way, in spite of a clear image of how you want it to look and taste. Case in point: these clafoutis. I bought the apricots carefully - they felt slightly soft to the thumb, so I thought they would be ripe. Once sliced and bitten into , the slices seemed to need a little pizazz, so I made up a delightful honey, vermouth, and lemon balm syrup to slightly poach them in.
As I whizzed the clafouti batter and poured it into the assortment of dessert dishes, I ran out of apricots for the last dish, so threw in some dried coconut. Wouldn't you know that was the clafouti I liked best? From now on, I'm going with coconut and maybe some fresh raspberries for a simple and fresh dessert. I liked the apricot, but I loved the coconut.
I used both shallow and deeper souffle dishes, as an experiment, and ended up preferring the deeper dishes.

The poaching syrup:
In small saucepan combine:
2 sliced apricots
2 T. honey
a few scrapings of lemon zest
a small piece of vanilla bean
1 T. dry vermouth
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
2 large lemon balm leaves, sliced ( or basil leaves, which are amazingly delicious)
Simmer briefly, stirring gently. Remove from heat.
Butter little souffle or ovenproof dishes.
Preheat oven to 340F.
1 cup milk
1/4 cup medium or heavy cream
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
1/2 cup King Arthur flour
1/3 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling
Whiz in a blender.
Pour batter about 3/4 way up dishes, then place several slices of apricot in each dish, if using apricots. Drizzle a little liquid in as well.
For the coconut clafouti, sprinkle about 1/2 cup dried, sweetened coconut into the dish and cover with batter. Drizzle a little poaching liquid on top.
Place dishes on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar, and bake until slightly puffed and firm, approximately 30 minutes.
Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, June 15, 2009

rainy day cookies: cranberry, milk chocolate chips and toasted walnuts

I am probably one of the few people around who is still loving the rain - the kale is growing like crazy, and so are the sugar snap peas. But it does put a damper on outside activities - like walking with my granddaughter, Izzie. So when our visiting day came around and it was still raining, I was prepared with a plateful of these homemade, deliciously lumpy cookies. After the rumpus and wild rides on a beach towel around the house, after her cheese and grapes, she nibbled her cookies in a flash and shot me a huge smile. A highly qualified thumbs up from a picky 3 year old.
To make about two dozen medium cookies:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cover baking sheets with fresh foil.
Get out an 1 1/2" ice cream scoop for dough.
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted briefly in a toaster oven.
In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugars.
Add egg and mix well.
Add vanilla and mix again.
Add flour and baking soda and salt and mix.
Add walnuts, cranberries, and milk chocolate chips and mix briefly.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto baking sheet. You can usually fit a dozen on a sheet with no problem.
Bake a sheet at a time in upper middle of oven for 15 minutes.
Remove to cooling rack and slide the other sheet into oven.
Bake second sheet for 15 minutes and remove to cool.
Enjoy the rain!

Friday, June 12, 2009

pretty little coconut cupcakes with lime curd

A week or so ago I found a beautifully illustrated cupcake book, Cupcakes, at the book store, which I bought with huge excitement. It really is an amazing addition to my baking library, because her cupcake presentation goes far beyond any baking book I have.

When I tried her coconut-lime cupcakes, I was a little disappointed. I didn't like the texture of the frosting at all, and really preferred my own cupcake recipe. That's what makes cooking interesting, right? For me, it's probably just personal preference. What I adored was her concept of flavors, and "building" the cupcake. You scoop out a little hole in the baked cupcake, and fill it with lime curd, then cover it with a fluffy frosting.

To make her cupcake: ( I didn't feel it tasted super coconutty, so maybe add extract?)

1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus 1 cup for garnishing

1 cup King Arthur flour

1 1/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 T more sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 t. vanilla ( I would use coconut and vanilla extracts)

1/2 cup coconut milk ( the liquid, unsweetened kind)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place cupcake papers in regular size cupcake tin.

In medium bowl, toss coconut, flour, baking powder, and salt. In mixer bowl, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy.

Add the egg, egg white, and vanilla and/or coconut extract and beat. Add the flour mixture in two addiitions, alternating with the coconut milk.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin hole up to 3/4 full with batter. It made 9 cupcakes in my tin.

Bake about 29 minutes, or until tops are sfirm when you gently press on tops.

Remove and cool tin 15 minutes on rack, then remove cupcakes to cooling rack for another 45 minutes.

Lime Curd

6 T. fresh lime juice

1/2 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

salt - pinch

4 T. unsalted butter, cut in pieces

2 t. grated lime zest

In heavy-bottomed nonreactive pan, whisk together the juice, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Cook over medium heat, wisking constantly until curd thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside. This was really good!

When cupcakes are cool, hollow out a 1 1/2 inch piece from each muffin. Fill with lime curd.

Frosting ( this is my cream cheese frosting recipe)

1 large package cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 t. coconut extract

1 t. fresh lemon juice

1 box confectioners sugar.

Beat together until fluffy, then tint as wished. Using a star tip and pastry bag, pipe frosting in a circle from the outer edge to the center, then pull up. Sprinkle each cupcake with shredded coconut and serve.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

wicked greens soup

This is one of those powerhouse soups - loaded with gorgeous greens and mint fresh from the garden. Sometimes I make it with English peas, but today I opted for some sweet potato instead.
I began by filling a bowl with all the freshest greens I had, which included a box of mixed salad greens with baby spinach, arugula, and radicchio; then some new scallions ( green onions), baby kale, and mint. Something like that, you have to breathe in a heady whiff of garden greens - oh, it is intoxicating!
It cooked up in no time, and, served with crusty sourdough bread and melting mozzarella, was perfect for this rainy day.
To make:
3 cups water
3/4 cup diced, peeled sweet potato
4 trimmed scallions, sliced
2 cups torn kale, no stems
2 handfuls salad greens ( mostly spinach)
1 T. olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped mint
1 minced garlic clove
a pinch of nutmeg
Simmer potato in the water until just tender.
Add the greens, scallions, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes.
Take off heat, add the nutmeg and mint, and blend, using an immersion blender, or a regular blender.
Taste carefully, adding more pepper or salt as needed.
Serve with warm, crusty bread and cheese.
Featured in TasteSpotting!

Friday, June 5, 2009

grilled chicken with citrus marinade

I came across the most beautiful looking marinade the other day at The Wright Recipes. Caroline had sliced up several kumquats and spices for a citrus marinade. I had no kumquats, but I did have several little sour oranges from my indoor clamondin orange tree, so I decided to go ahead and fiddle with the recipe for my first-of-the-season grilled chicken.
And was it incredible? Well, yes.! I think I could eat this all summer, using pork, beef, or chicken. A nice little bonus is that you can reserve a little marinade ( before you put the chicken in, of course) and by adding just a little olive oil, you have a tasty salad dressing as well. The meat marinated for an hour, then was tossed on my antiquated grill. I use the rustic method with grills - snipped twigs from apple trees and a little birch.

Adapted from The Wright Recipes
To make:
1/2-1 cup sliced sour oranges or kumquats. If you don't have those, you could try mandarin oranges or tangerines, with some slices from in-season key limes .
4 scallions, trimmed, sliced
2 cloves ( about 1 T.) minced fresh garlic
shake of red pepper flakes
a handful of arugula, sliced into ribbons
several slices of red onion, halved and separated
2 t or more kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
Mix marinade ingredients together well. If you want to reserve a few tablespoons for salad dressing, this is the time to do it.
Pour marinade into large zippered plastic bag, add four bone-in chicken breasts, and marinate one hour or more in the fridge, then grill.
For sauce, simmer leftover marinade until reduced, and spoon a little on top of cooked chicken.
SO, so delicious, I'm just going to have to make it again tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

life is just a bowl of cherries

I fell in love with this Emile Henry bowl called Japanese Cup. Sometimes, it's good to remember life is, indeed, a beautiful bowl of cherries. Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

concombres a la creme

While browsing Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 , I came across this long forgotten recipe for baked cucumbers in cream. I have no idea how long it's been since I made this dish, but I DO remember loving it. It's a wonderful warm side to fish, especially, and the delicate taste of cucumber really shines through, in a very subtle way. It would go just as well with a nice roasted chicken.
To make enough for 4 servings:
2 large cucumbers
1 T. white or cider vinegar
pinch salt
pinch sugar
Peel cucumbers and using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the seeds.
Cut into 1/2 inch or so semi circles, or if you prefer, you can slice the cucumbers into two inch pieces, then slice the cucs into sticks.
Place in a ceramic bowl with vinegar, sugar, and salt and let sit 30 minutes.
Drain cucumbers and pat dry.
Baked Cucumbers:
The drained cucumbers
2 T. melted butter
1 t. fresh dill, minced
3 T. sliced scallions, white and green part - about 1-2 scallions
several grindings of pepper
pinch salt
Turn oven to 375F.
In a casserole dish, toss cucumbers with the butter, dill, scallions, pepper, and salt.
Place in oven for 40-50 minutes.
Remove when baked. Make the quick cream sauce:
Quick sauce:
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
Simmer cream until reduced by half. Add:
salt and pepper
1 T. minced parsley
Toss with cucumbers and serve warm.