All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, August 31, 2009

juicy turkey burger with garlic, mint, and rosemary

Yes, I just said JUICY turkey burgers! These burgers came out loaded with the flavors of garlic, mint, rosemary, and parsley with a secret ingredient that insured you'd be biting into a juicy, dribble down your chin, burger. Olive oil made all the difference, in this wonderful recipe slightly adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen.
Her recipe included some spices I didn't have, like coriander and sweet paprika, so I minced up some rosemary along with the parsley and mint. While those spices are on my grocery list for the next shopping, this adaptation was fabulous. I was also able to make two fat, large burgers, along with a dozen "turkey meatballs" to simmer in broth for brown bagging lunches.
So do check out her recipe, which includes a yogurt sauce for dipping.
To make:
1 pound ground turkey
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
3 T. minced parsley
2 T. minced fresh mint
2 T. minced rosemary ( or you can use fresh dill if you prefer)
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
3 T. olive oil
1 1/2 t. salt
freshly ground pepper
Mix ingredients together well. Form into 4 patties, or make two burgers and a dozen medium-sized turkey meatballs. Cook in a skillet with olive oil over medium heat until cooked through.
I served the burgers on sandwich flats with heirloom tomatoes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

fresh fruit crostatas

Until yesterday, I had never made a crostata - a freeform sweet ( or, I suppose, savoury) crust filled with fresh fruits that's baked until fragrant and bubbly, then topped with a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Some little part of me was offended by the lack of structure and prettiness. No more, no way, no how!
In yesterday's food section of the Boston Globe, I found an article about Connie's Bakery and Fresh Food in Provincetown, and with it was a delicious recipe for individual fresh fruit crostatas.
Perhaps it was the smaller size ( most crostatas I've seen serve six), maybe it was the two boxes of strawberries and a box each of blueberries and raspberries I knew were cooling in the fridge; whatever it was, it propelled me into the kitchen to try my hand.
I was so pleased with the results! I was afraid the crostatas would be overcooked - not at all. Fresh and tasty whether served hot, warm, or cold ( yes, it was my breakfast, as well as my dessert last night ). And after an overnight in the fridge, the crostatas were less fragile, so think brown-bagging and/or school lunches.
The Globe article featured blueberry-peach crostatas, but I made blueberry, and also strawberry-raspberry. In a few weeks, I'll make a wild pear batch, I think. Mmmm, how about apple? Anyway, here is the recipe for your delight!
From the Boston Globe, adapted from Connie's Bakery
The Dough
2 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted cold butter, cut into little pieces
1/2 cup , more or less, ice water
Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Mix briefly.
Add butter and pulse until butter is incorporated well and mixture is crumbly.
With motor running, slowly add the ice water. Don't add all of it at once, since you often need less than called for. Buzz it just until it makes a ball.
Gently knead dough into a round, wrap in plastic or foil, and chill.
The Filling:
About 4 cups fruit , cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T. flour
1/4 t. ground mace, cinnamon, or nutmeg ( I liked the mace best)
1/2 t. salt
confectioner's sugar for sprinkling.
Since I was using two different fillings, I made up the sugar/flour/ mace mixture and divided it between the two bowls of fruit I was using. Stir and let sit for a bit.
To make:
Preheat oven to 375F
one foil or parchment covered baking sheet/cookie pan
Cut the dough into 4 pieces.
Roll each piece out on slightly floured board into a circle - about 6 inches.
Heap the fruit into the center and fold up the sides about 3/4ths, leaving an open center where the fruit peeks out.
Continue until all four crostatas are completed.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbly.
Remove, and cool.
Sprinkle heavily with confectioner's sugar and serve, or wrap gently in foil and store in fridge.
I know you're going to LOVE these!
Featured on TasteSpotting!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

little lemon cakes and a hatbox

New Hampshire ( and New England) has been in the grip of not only a heat wave, but that high humidity that makes moving two feet a trial, unless you're sitting on the edge of a lake with your feet in the water. And, mais oui, I also had a catering job.
Here is one thing I discovered: high humidity can affect your baking recipes. When I made the batter for the New York lemon cake, I was shocked. The batter was very light, and very fluffy, when it was supposed to be creamy and thick. Your intrepid baker did not panic, thank heavens, nor did I toss the batter and start again, or worse, bake it, hoping it would magically transform itself. I added about another half cup of flour and stirred it gently. It was still not quite right, but the texture was better. So I crossed my fingers and baked it. I'm happy to say it was just fine, although it needed twice as much time to cool, thanks to the 85 degree weather.
I brushed the uncut cake several times with a glaze, let cool some more, and cut into bite size pieces. I "glued" blueberries on the tops, and added tiny little leaves of lemon balm and lemon verbena, then popped them into dark green cupcake papers. I thought they were adorable.
After I delivered the salads and dishes and sweets, I drove by a shop I had often passed, but never stopped to investigate. And I'm delighted I finally did! Sarah's Hatboxes
was chock full of colorful, beautifully made hatboxes and boxes of every shape and size. These would also be perfect for mailing cakes , so I've tucked that away in my party/birthday/catering notebook. Above is the one I got for my mother to keep her postcards and letters in, and the striped fabric is just gorgeous.
You probably know my New York Lemon Cake by now, but here's the recipe again.
New York Lemon Cake:
Preheat oven to 330F (350 is too high, 32r too low)
Grease a standard baking pan 14"x9"
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
zest of two lemons
4 extra large eggs
4 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
1 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. nutmeg
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest.
Add the eggs, flour, baking soda and salt and nutmeg.
Mix well.
Add the lemon juice and buttermilk and mix. The batter should be thick and creamy.
Bake for an hour, or until the cake is firm when gently pressed in the middle.
The Glaze:
Simmer equal parts fresh lemon juice and sugar.
I use:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar.
Let the cake sit on cooling rack ( still in the pan) for about 20 minutes.
Brush a few times with the glaze.
Let cake cool another 1/2 hour.
Mark off squares with a ruler and cut cake.
Remove pieces to a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.
Brush a few times with the glaze, add blueberries to tops, and drip some sticky syrup to "glue" the berries on top of the cake. Add tiny leaves from your herb plants, and let set.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

yellow pepper gazpacho on a hot day

It's blisteringly hot and humid in New Hampshire today , for the fourth day. I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to eat in this kind of weather - at least until it cools off a little in the evening, or after a nice long swim. Since I had no time to drive out to the lake, I've been wilting as the day goes on. But then I thought of making gazpacho, and an enticing thought it was; a nice blended vegetable soup, bright with yellow peppers, and refreshing with celery and cucumbers, nicely iced. Tomatoes, you say? Since I only had red tomatoes, I decided to skip them. I'm sure it's some kind of blasphemy to call it gazpacho, but there it is.
I also skipped garlic, just on a whim, thinking it might overpower the fresh subtle flavor of the cucumber and pepper. But if you want them, feel free to toss them in.
To make 2 large bowls or 4 small ones:
1 large yellow pepper, roasted and skinned, cut into small pieces ( about a cup full)
1 heaping cup of roughly chopped celery
1 1/2 cups seeded and peeled cucumber ( doesn't have to be English)
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1-2 T. fresh chopped Italian parsley
1-2 T. virgin olive oil ( optional)
several drops of green Tabasco, or just put on the table
To roast the pepper, you can use an electric or gas grill, charring the skin all over, then tightly wrapping in a small paper bag. When cooled, rub off the charred spots, or trim with a knife. Take the core and seeds and membranes out before chopping.
Place all the chopped vegetables in the food processor, and process until smooth.
Add salt, and olive oil, as wished, and hot sauce, if desired. Chill well.
Serve in bowls, or for fun, in a martini glass.
Stay cool!

Friday, August 14, 2009

crepes fines sucrees for Julia's birthday

Today I suddenly started craving crepes. As I whipped up the batter from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I was reminded by the scrawl on my birthday calendar that tomorrow is Julia's birthday, so I hastily raised a fork full of these delicious, apricot-stuffed dessert pancakes to Julia's dear memory.
When I worked in a French restaurant, I was the crepe maker - stacks and stacks of crepes for dessert, and often for a savoury fruits de mer entree. It's hot work, and you have to work fast, but once you get the hang of it, you can whip out a few dozen without any trouble. A crepe pan is a must for me, with a heavy bottom that holds the heat, as well as asbestos fingertips, if you tend to flip them with your fingers, as I do, instead of the more sensible spatula.
The batter needs to be made a few hours before you intend to use it. You'll need:
A blender
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water ( today I used 1 cup water to get the right consistency)
3 egg yolks
1 T. sugar
2-3 T. dark rum
1 1/2 cups sifted King Arthur flour
5 T. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking the crepes
Place the ingredients ( in the order listed) into the blender. Puree and add a little more water if the batter is too thick. When you ladle it into the hot pan, you need to swirl it quickly, which won't happen if the batter is too thick.
Let the batter sit for 2 hours in the fridge.
Two hours later.....:
Place a stick of unsalted butter on a plate near your stove.
Heat up the crepe pan ( or omelet pan works, too) and swirl the tip of the stick of butter around the pan. The heat should be at medium.
Using a small ladle, scoop the batter out and , using a swirling motion, drizzle into the hot pan. Immediately grasp the pan's handle, and tip it around and back and forth so the batter covers the bottom of the pan. After a minute, the edges will look bubbly. Another minute and you're ready to flip it quickly, using a spatula. Cook another minute or so, then flip the crepe out onto a platter.
Continue to butter the pan, scoop the batter, and cook until batter is gone - this makes around 10 crepes.
If you're serving them right away, simply flip onto a plate, spoon some chunky apricot preserves around the disc of the crepes, and roll up. Three to a plate is usually plenty per person. Dust a little confectioner's sugar on top and serve. If you're holding them, place squares of waxed paper between the crepes so they don't stick together.
And blessed Happy Birthday, Julia! Where would we be without you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

sweet succotash

According to Betty Fussell in her book, I Hear America Cooking, the word succotash is Native American for hodgepodge. It most often contains squashes and corn, and some kind of bean. I have always made it with lima beans, my favorite bean in the world. It's a wonderful side dish to make during the full flush of summer garden bounty, but , thanks to Birdseye frozen vegetables, you can make it year round.
I have no idea when I first ate succotash, but it is considered a New England dish. I grew up on Cape Cod, mostly in Wellfleet, an area that was settled by the Punanokanits ( now Wampanoag) tribe over 7,700 years ago. Their corn caches in the sand dunes of Truro were famously dug up and stolen by the Pilgrims on their first landing in America, which happened to be the Outer Cape. Though they pulled anchor and sailed on to Plymouth, it was the Indian corn that sustained them after a treacherous and long journey.
This is my usual recipe for succotash, though I sometimes cut up sweet potatoes along with the squashes. I'm sure winter squash would be just as delicious as the zucchini.
1 large onion
2 T. olive oil, or half oil, half unsalted butter
2 cups zucchini, cubed
a few strips of yellow or red pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen baby lima beans
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. dried oregano, or 1 T. fresh oregano leaves
optional: 1 T. mild green chiles, chopped or a few drops of Green Tabasco
Heat the oil or oil and butter in a medium sized saucepan.
Add the onion and saute five minutes, then add the corn, squash, lima beans, and chiles.
Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender.
Add the oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ceviche with fennel and creme fraiche, and a discovery

Do you ever get excited about trying a new recipe? Who is the muse that seizes one in a haze of
joyful discovery as you taste and chop , add pinches of this, and teaspoons of that?
While visiting my French friend Mme. B, I was instantly fascinated when I saw a bowl sitting on her counter. It smelled delicious, it tasted fresh and summery. I asked what it was. Although she called it fish in lemon juice with creme fraiche, I recognized ceviche. I couldn't wait to try my own version of it, thinking instantly of pairing it with fresh fennel.
I bought the haddock ( alas, no pollock), went home, and marinated it in lemon juice for six hours. I drained it, and added the chopped fennel, and some herbs and spices, and the creme fraiche. Then I tasted it.
It tasted bland, though fresh, and it looked like potato salad. I hated it. I kicked myself for wasting the fish on it. Only later did I realize that creamed anything isn't something I usually prepare, or eat. Perhaps if I'd skipped the creme fraiche and made a melange of hot peppers and fresh vegetables to go with the fish, it would have suited me better.
However, for those who might like to try it, here is the recipe:
1/2 pound of haddock or whitefish, cut into small pieces
juice of 3 lemons
Marinate fish for at least six hours, in the fridge, in the lemon juice.
Drain well.
1 cup chopped fennel bulb and a few fronds
1 T. minced fresh dill
1/2 cup diced , peeled cucumber
a few drops of Green Tabasco
2 T. chopped red onion
1 cup creme fraiche (recipe here)
salt and fresh pepper to taste
You can also add sliced grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, garlic, and scallions or chives. I didn't get that far.
Mix together well, and serve chilled, along with a green salad and French bread.
And now I know this about myself ; that I love perfect fish chowder, and poached, thick, chunks of pollock or haddock. Not fried, not mayo'd, just fresh scent of the sea. (You can find the chowder recipe here)

Friday, August 7, 2009

a fruit platter and sugar sticks

I love serving these sugar sticks along with a big platter of cut up fresh fruit - the more colorful the better. The recipe comes from Lee Bailey's terrific cookbook, Cooking for Friends.
I didn't use coarse sugar, which is called for in the recipe, even though I know it looks much prettier. The problem with that coarse sugar is that it's often difficult to chew, so I skipped that and went with granulated.
So enjoy these splendid, sunny August days so perfect for brunch or picnics, and make a tin full of these simple, crunchy sugar sticks to accompany a quick dessert of melons and berries.
Make the pastry several hours in advance, since it needs to sit in the fridge before baking.
To Make:
1 cup King Arthur flour
2 T. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into bits, frozen
3-4 T. ice water
pinch salt
Place the flour, sugar, salt, and frozen butter in a food processor.
Process until the butter is about the size of peas.
Turn the processor back on and add the ice water, a little at a time, until it gathers together.
Place the dough on a sheet of waxed paper and flatten slightly, then place in a plastic bag and put in fridge for several hours.
After dough has chilled, sprinkle a cutting board with granulated sugar.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll dough out slowly to about 1/2 inch.
Sprinkle dough with sugar, and cut dough into "sticks" of about 5 inches.
Carefully ( the dough is sticky), use a spatula to lay sticks on a foil covered baking sheet.
Bake about 25 minutes . The bottoms of the cookies should not burn, so if your oven runs hot, check them after 20 minutes.
After cookies have cooled a few minutes but are still hot, remove them carefully to a cooling rack and sprinkle with a little more sugar.
Store leftover cookies in a tight container.
This recipe makes about 18-24 cookies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

summer milk pudding with rum, berries, and caramel

Yesterday was a perfect lazy summer day. Between the two mysteries I read, I browsed one of my favorite cookbooks; Lee Bailey's Country Weekends. I discovered him just after Martha Stewart's Living magazine started being published - his cookbooks really pioneered beautiful food pictures, simple and tasty recipes with a Southern slant, and gorgeous glimpses of his vacations abroad and stateside.
I was intrigued with his milk pudding recipe - not really a custard, but a briefly cooked pudding that's lightened by stiff, sugared egg whites. I couldn't decided whether I wanted to garnish with black raspberries or caramel from The Secrets of Baking, so I did both. And I loved them both! The pudding is light and served at room temperature - a nice end to a summer meal, whether barbeque or simply soup and salad. I think you'll like this sweet , milky pudding. And the best part ( besides eating)? The scent of sweet milk.
To make:
If you're using the book, please note there's a typo that leaves out half the flour.
2 cups whole milk
2 large or extra large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 T. King Arthur flour, or all purpose flour
1/2 t. grated nutmeg
1 T. dark rum
pinch of salt
Fresh berries, or fruit to garnish or a heaping tablespoon of creamy caramel sauce - or both.
In heavy saucepan, let milk slowly come to a low boil.
Beat the egg yolks and add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the flour.
Scoop the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk, and whisk on medium until it thickens.
Add the rum and nutmeg and stir again with the whisk. Remove from heat.
Beat the egg whites until stiff, then beat in the sugar.
Fold the egg whites into the hot pudding, then whisk until all the bits of egg white are incorporated.
Pour into bowls or souffle ramekins and let cool. This pudding should be served at room temperature, so don't stick it in the fridge! ( I wouldn't leave it out more than a few hours, even though it is cooked)
Garnish with berries or caramel sauce, or both. Serves 5 or so.
Caramel Sauce ( partly based on Sherry Yard's recipe)
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 T. light corn syrup
Note: You MUST use a candy thermometer.
Combine water, corn syrup, and sugar in heavy saucepan.
Stir carefully, trying not to get dry sugar crystals on the sides of the pan.
Cover pan and place on medium heat for 4 minutes.
Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Do not stir.
When temperature reaches 300F and syrup is golden, remove from heat.
Let bubbles subside, and stir carefully. Nothing is worse than a sugar burn.
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 T. sugar
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 T. unsalted butter
pinch of salt
Stir again and let cool.
Featured on TasteSpotting!