All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Welcoming the New Year with Hoppin' John

Who couldn't use a little good luck in the New Year? While traditionally a Southern New Year's Day dish to encourage prosperity in the brand new year, there's no reason you can't grab a little luck of your own , no matter where you live, with a bowlful of Hoppin' John.
While Hoppin' John is usually made with everything from salt pork, ham hocks, bacon, pork belly or chunks of ham, I've always preferred it plain and simple: Uncle Ben's rice, black-eyed peas, a little parsley or cilantro that symbolizes money and good fortune, maybe a few juicy slices of Portuguese linguica ( talk about culture clash!), and a bottle of Tabasco on the side. If you want the more traditional gumbo-like recipe similar to the bottom picture, you can find the basics here.

Hoppin' John

Makes about 5 servings.
For the black-eyed peas:

1 1/2 cups dried black -eyed peas
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. oregano
water to cover

Soak the peas in cold water for 30 minutes, along with the bay leaves and oregano.

Bring to a simmer on medium heat and cook about 30 minutes. Black-eyed peas turn mushy fast, so keep your eye on the pot.
Drain and drizzle with olive oil.

For the rice:

1 cup Uncle Ben's Original converted long grain rice
2 1/2 cups water
2 T. butter or olive oil
1/2 t. kosher salt
a few turns of the peppermill

Place the rice, butter or oil, salt, and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, take of heat, and cover again. The rice will become even fluffier after sitting for ten minutes.

The green:

a few tablespoons snipped cilantro or parsley or a helping of cooked collards, kale, or rapini

Happy New Year to you all! Hope it's a grand one ♥

Monday, December 27, 2010

fresh apple scones in a blizzard

We are in the middle of a blizzard . Luckily, the snow is fine and dry, and huge swirls of snow are blowing across the roads and fields, and when it meets an obstacle, like a door or house, the drifts pile up. So much snow had piled against the front door, I spent a half hour trying to get it open. But so far, we still have power, so , after a little shovelling, I raced to the kitchen to make a special breakfast, just to celebrate. I was going to make an apple pie, but thought it might never finish baking if the power went off. How about a tender-crumbed apple scone, studded with juicy fresh apple chunks and sprinkled with cinnamon? 25 minutes later, I was biting into this delicious oats and apple scone.
Oats and Apple scones
Makes 8 scones.
Preheat oven to 360F (375 is a little hot with my oven)
A baking sheet, no need to grease
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats ( not instant)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed firmly
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 t. vanilla
1 cup peeled and diced apple
1/2 cup plus 2 T. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 360F.
In mixer bowl, mix together the flour and oats, then the brown sugar, salt, and baking powder and cinnamon.
Add the cut up butter and mix until well incorporated.
Add the apples and mix, then add the buttermilk and vanilla, and mix just until it forms a ball.
Pat the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface.
Cut dough circle into eight triangles and place on baking sheet, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 25 minutes, remove, and cool briefly.
Slather with butter or jam, or apple butter and enjoy warm.
Here's hoping all you New Englanders are safe and warm!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Joyful day to all! Near the top of our tree sits Stuart Little, paddling his canoe down the boughs, and reminding us each year to keep love close in our hearts as we navigate the rivers and waves of life. Blessed Day to each and every one, and many, many thanks for your patience lately; for your visits, and for your cheerful and friendly comments. All these computer glitches will hopefully be a thing of the past because.....I got a new computer!
Take Joy
I salute you. I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant - Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look.
Take joy!
And so I greet you, with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever,
the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Fra Giovanni, 1513

A very Merry Christmas and winter holiday to you all !

with love


Monday, December 20, 2010

goat cheese appetizers with herbs & rosemary knots

I'm always on the lookout for a good appetizer - and if it includes goat cheese, all the better! After a string of testing four new recipes that were instantly rejected, I hit on this winner that paired beautifully with my much beloved rosemary bread. Instead of making loaves or large rolls, I made a tray of tiny rolls that came out looking like knots, thence the name.

The fresh goat cheese is whipped with cream cheese and unsalted butter, along with dill and scallions ( green onions) and hot sauce, making a smooth and tasty herb cheese, which can be served a few ways: a large cheese ball rolled in parsley and served with crackers or breads, the tiny cheese balls, also rolled in parsley, that can be served alone or with crunchy vegetables or vegetable chips; or the goat cheese alone, spooned into tiny rolls ( gougeres would work, too).

The next time I make this goat cheese mixture, I'm saving some to spoon onto hot baked potatoes - delicious!

You can find the recipe for the rosemary bread here. I simply formed little balls of dough, let them rise for a bit, then snipped them with scissors before spritzing them with water and sprinkling them with salt. I baked them at 400F for about 10 minutes.

The goat cheese mixture:

1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, room temperature

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 t. worcestershire sauce

6 dashes Tabasco, or to your taste

1 t. dried dill or 1 T. fresh dill, minced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

1 T. fresh lemon juice

2 T. minced fresh scallions

about 1/2 cup or more minced parsley for covering the cheese


Mix the ingredients together in a mixer bowl ( except for the parsley) until smooth and creamy. Taste carefully and adjust to your taste.

Set the minced parsley on a plate, then gently scoop out a ball of the goat cheese mixture using an ice cream scoop - you choose the size. Plop the scoop onto the parsley plate and gently roll until covered. Cover and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

I hope your holiday season is bright, loving, and joyful!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Carrot and Orange Soup to ward away a cold

Welcome to the mad Christmas season! The temperatures have been wild, with 2 degrees one day, and 40 the next. Which of course has just multiplied the number of people coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, of which I was one yesterday. Waking up with a virtual brick on your chest isn't the most cheerful way to start the day, so I lept into the kitchen and rustled up this surefire cold remedy: lots of fresh organic carrots, fresh orange juice, and a shaving of fresh ginger. This is a longtime favorite adapted from The Silver Palate cookbook, and for some reason, it always works on the kind of sneezles and wheezles I was coming down with.
The shopping is almost done, and I joined the Buy Local movement in our area, finding so many new favorite shops I had never visited around here. And buying local meant I could walk around the town at a calm, cheery pace, taking the time to chat with storekeepers and friends I hadn't seen in years. I found everything from Tibetan prayer flags, to wacky birdhouses built from the discarded lumber from the Peterborough dump. I found homemade chocolates, glittering and gleaming with tiny flakes of gold - and sweet balsam sachets to tuck under your pillow. Homemade soaps are everywhere, from the winter farmers markets to the local health food store. It really has been a delight to shop this year, and I've found prices to be moderate everywhere.
So now - onto the soup!
Carrot and Orange soup with ginger and thyme
Serves two or three.
2 T. unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock plus more for thinning
2 cups peeled and sliced organic carrots
1 t. shaved fresh ginger
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, along with some of the zest
kosher salt
ground pepper
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook for about 25 minutes, until the onions are a little golden.
Add the carrots, thyme, ginger, and chicken or vegetable stock to onions and again, cook on low, covered, until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.
Pour the soup into a strainer over a bowl, then transfer the solids to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, along with some of the cooking liquid and puree.
Return puree to the pot, and add the orange juice and zest and more stock if needed. Taste, add salt and pepper, and serve with some rolls or toast.
This soup does thicken as it sits, so just add a little more stock, or water, as needed.
freshly ground pepper

Monday, December 13, 2010

crackly ( and dairy-free) spice cookies

What an odd couple of days. Three days ago it was 2 degrees, and it felt as though it never warmed up that day. The next day, it was back to 20 degrees, and the day after that it snowed and rained. Yesterday I ended up being stranded at home, because the dirt roads were so slick with ice I couldn't drive back down the hill, after buying the Sunday paper in town. The town trucks said I could either be stranded in town, or at home, so when I chose home, they led a sanding procession to my house, which they said would last 25 minutes before icing up again. So did I bake and cook and wrap, listening to Christmas music and jingling a bell at Miss Domino? I did not. I vegged out on the sofa, reading the Sunday paper, then football ( which I still don't understand), and then a series of sappy holiday movies.

Today I finally whipped out that recipe I've been wanting to make , from Suzanne Lombardi, founder of the Dancing Deer Baking Company in Boston. This very New Englandy spice cookie is a lot like a gingersnap, but with more cloves and nutmeg, and it is delicious. Paired with ginger ice cream or sandwiched with cream cheese frosting comes to mind, but sprinkled with a little sparkling sugar and served with tea works for me just fine. It's also a very sturdy cookie, so it would be fine for mailing or packaging in those cello bags for giving. Enjoy! ~

This makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.


Preheat oven to 350F.

Fit two baking sheets with foil or parchment.


2 1/4 cups King Arthur all purpose flour

1 t. baking soda

pinch of kosher salt

2 t. cinnamon

2 t. ground cloves

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

3/4 t. ground ginger

1 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling.

3/4 cup canola oil

1/3 cup molasses

1 large egg

Mix the flour, spices, and salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In mixer bowl, combine the sugar, canola oil, and molasses and mix for 5 minutes.

Add the egg and mix again.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in four batches to the flour/spice mixture. It should come together in a ball - if it's dry, add water, a few tablespoons at a time, JUST until it forms a ball.

Using a small ( I used a one and a half inch) ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto baking sheets, about 12 to a baking sheet. Press gently with two fingers on each ball to flatten it slightly. Sprinkle with regular sugar or sparkling sugar., or diced sugared ginger ( see above).

Bake one sheet at a time in upper third of oven for 11 minutes, let cool, then remove with a spatula to a cooling rack. Bake the second sheet.

If you are packaging these, let cool completely for an hour, then package as you wish.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

butter-braised celery/celeris braises au beurre

If you have never tried butter-braised celery to accompany so many warm winter dishes, from roasted chicken with tarragon sauce, to a simple mushroom omelet, poached sausages or salmon, or even the warm pasta dish, you're in for a treat. This ordinary vegetable reaches new highs with this meltingly soft and tender treatment of blanching and braising with herbs: here, I've used tarragon, but you can subsitute with fresh rosemary, if you're one of those people who loathe tarragon. Please allow a little over half an hour of your time - trust me, it's worth it!
For each two cups of sliced celery to serve two:

Wash and slice the celery diagonally into 2 inch slices. Bring a pot of water to a boil , then blanch the celery for five minutes. Drain and place the celery in a heavy bottomed saucepan, adding for each 2 cups celery:

2 T. unsalted butter
a pinch of kosher salt
1/2 t. dried tarragon
(or 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary if you prefer)
a little freshly ground pepper
3 T. chicken or beef stock, or dry vermouth

Turn heat to the lowest degree ( I have an electric stove, so the setting was 1) and braise for 25-35 minutes, covered, checking the celery every once in a while to make sure it's braising, and not burning.

Turn braised celery out into a warmed serving dish and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: nutmeg custard and bouef bourguignon

You see what I do on a chilly day at home? These lovely dishes warmed up the kitchen beautifully ~

Sunday, December 5, 2010

lemon candy cane cookies

I can't take total credit for these delicious and tangy cookies, since they're based on a recipe from The Modern Baker - but I did change a few things, and my cookie baked up differently than Nick's did - fat and substantial, just the way I love my cookies! I made some very tiny ones and several hand-sized ones, both sprinkled with crushed candy cane and a zesty batter with fresh lemon peel. I think they'll be beautiful wrapped in cello and tied with a gold ribbon with some wee little candy canes. And there you see my paperwhites, which seem to be growing faster than ever before: I just hope they won't be done flowering by Christmas.
This recipe made 10 tiny cookies and 8 monster cookies, using differently sized ice cream scoops.
To make:
About 1/2 cup crushed candy canes
2 cookie sheets, lined with foil or parchment
Preheat oven to 325F.
1 1/4 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
4 t. baking powder
hefty pinch of kosher salt
1 stick ( 8 T) softened unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
a few drops of lemon extract
2 t. fresh lemon zest

Stir together the flour, salt, cornstarch and baking powder and set aside.
Place the butter and confectioners' sugar in mixer bowl and beat on low until mixed well, then increase the speed to medium and beat another few minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Beat in the extracts and lemon zest, then decrease speed to low and add the flour mixture.
Mix very well.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter onto the cookie sheets and gently flatten a little bit on top, then sprinkle with the crushed candy canes.
Bake about 20 minutes for the large ones, a few minutes less for the tiny ones.
Let cool completely before packaging.
Enjoy the season!
More Christmas cookies!
Christmas biscotti
Italian Anise cookies

Monday, November 22, 2010

brussels sprouts chiffonade with lemon and thyme

Oh, what a crazy several days! My computer got hit with several somethings that left me without access - just as the holiday was gearing up to Thanksgiving Day. Friend Will ( wizard of computers) has patched things together via email directions, until my savvy son can review what happened when he comes on Thursday - I'm just sorry that will be less time to visit with him.
Now, on to the brussels sprouts. This has been a staple for all my Thanksgivings - my father usually just boiled them to death and served with butter. My daughter likes to roast them, but I love this very quick saute/simmer , with the aroma of fresh thyme and the tang of lemon juice, which also helps the brussels sprouts stay that lovely green color.
This recipe makes about 3 servings, so multiply as you need to. If you're cooking them in several batches, makes sure everything is prepared and it shouldn't take too long at all. The only tedious part is trimming and slicing the brussels sprouts, but they're so pretty done that way, it's worth the time and trouble.
Brussels Sprouts Chiffonade

I used about three handfuls of sprouts, which I bought loose. Wash the sprouts, trim the ends, and slice each sprout very thinly, a cut which is known as chiffonade.

2 cups brussels sprouts, cut in chiffonade
2 T. olive oil
2 T. water
1/2 t. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1-2 t. fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
2 T. fresh lemon juice

Place the water and olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium high.
Add the brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper, then stir and turn down heat to medium low. Cover the skillet and cook for about 8 minutes, then uncover and stir in the fresh lemon juice.
Remove from heat and serve.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fluffy Green Salad

I know , I know, a post about green SALAD? Well, actually, yes, since Thanksgiving is next week and as I look at the table, mentally arranging phantom dishes and platters, I always point to a space right next to the turkey and think: "the fluffy salad goes THERE."
This has always been our standard salad, but one year when our friend Ana confirmed her appearance for Thanksgiving dinner about a week before the day, she said just before she hung up the phone: "Oh - and don't forget the fluffy salad!" From that day on it's been the fluffy salad. And everytime Ana and my son are both at the table, there's a little possessive action going on around the salad bowl. I usually end up making another bowlful, at least.
For a normal sized salad bowl's worth of salad:
1/2 head green leaf lettuce, dried, and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 head romaine lettuce, dried and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. good olive oil ( it doesn't have to be extra-virgin)
1/2 t. kosher salt, or Vege-sal if you have it
1 medium clove of garlic
a few grindings of fresh black pepper
Peel the garlic clove and rub around the bottom of the salad bowl. Press the clove in a garlic press and scrape into the bowl.
Add the red wine vinegar and stir well. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and stir.
Let dressing sit until just ready to serve, then add the lettuces and toss very well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

cranberry scones for breakfast!

As a native of Massachusetts, and especially Cape Cod, cranberry season is the signal the holiday season is beginning. While we didn't have wet bogs on the Outer Cape, we passed them coming and going on our trips back and forth from Cambridge or New York. Just before the Sagamore bridge, in the Carver area, there they'd be - glorious crimson ponds of floating cranberries just off the highway, as we travelled home at Thanksgiving. And so, cranberries have always been not only a very favorite fruit, adding a tang and rosy blush to everything from applesauce to cookies to scones and fresh cranberry sauce, but they bring many happy memories of the Cape.
And speaking of travelling, nothing is easier to make and bake than these delicious scones, tucked in a backpack or picnic basket for the long trip home. Wrapped in cello and tied with a ribbon, they're a welcome treat for the pre-Thanksgiving dinner breakfast.
To make 8 large scones:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 stick (8 T.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 T. baking powder
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/2 cups ( or more) buttermilk. Dough should not be dry.
egg wash for tops ( a beaten egg and a pastry brush)
In mixer bowl, stir flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and butter until mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add the dried cranberries and mix.
Add the buttermilk and fresh or frozen cranberries and mix until it forms a ball. Dough should not be dry - if it is, add more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time, until it forms a soft dough.
Roll dough out into a 9 inch circle. Cut circle in half, then cut each half twice again - making 8 triangles .
Brush each scone with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar.
Place scones on baking sheet and bake for 30+ minutes or until tops are golden. If you're using frozen cranberries, it may take a little longer. Scones should feel light when picked up carefully.
Let cool on cooling rack completely if you're packaging them for giving.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Countdown: four vegetarian, gluten free starters/salads

This Thanksgiving is going to be a little bit different, with four year old Izzie on a strict gluten-free, dairy-free diet. She is already feeling the isolation of "being different", so my approach is to try to have everything ( except the rolls) within her diet range. Not difficult, with these beautiful appetizers/salads! I like to plate these up ahead of time - I use these square , inexpensive plates from Crate and Barrel.
My father used to start our Thanksgiving dinners with fresh oysters he had dug from Wellfleet Harbor , a fresh, briny beginning to the holiday meal. These salads have the same feeling, with fresh, seasonal ingredients and zesty dressings.
From the top, there's Fresh Shaved Fennel Salad, tossed with parsley olive oil, and lemon or orange juice ( I'll skip the tablespoon of buttermilk) and paper thin strips of fennel bulb.
Next is Roasted Butternut salad with arugula and a tangy pomegratate dressing and shaved parmesan, always pretty and delicious. Just omit the shaved Parmesan for dairy free diets.
Roasted eggplant salad is tossed with parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, red pepper and lots of lemon juice, - my favorite new recipe this year!
Last is Crunchy Bok Choy salad with mandarin oranges - another delightfully fresh way to complement the turkey and all the trimmings.
Of course, you don't have to wait for Thanksgiving Day to enjoy these!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

tiny gougeres with scallions, parsley, and lemon

I am, as usual, doing four things at once. I decided to re-test a savory gougeres recipe, in anticipation of Thanksgiving Day appetizers, clean the house, paint the trim - no, wait. Maybe I should paint the walls first. Actually, I wonder what the floor would look like a different color.
Yesterday I wandered around the Benj. Moore displays, which seem to multiply every time I visit. I am quite sure that particular paint company hires poets and painters to name their colors - and these are just the soft grays! Sleigh bells, Winter solstice, Bear creek, Timber wolf, Temptation, French beret, Smoke embers, and my favorite, Going to the chapel. I'm sticking with London Fog for now, but one never knows.
Oh, you want to know about the gougeres?
Tiny, soft puffs sprinkled with finely minced scallions and parsley, with the zest of a lemon and several scrapings of nutmeg and pepper, with just a hint of parmesan. Mmmmm, perfect for my very late breakfast. I've been told you can freeze the formed but unbaked gougeres, so I'm testing a batch in the freezer , but in the meantime I think these tasty little bites will make a very nice addition to the pre-Thanksgiving nibbles.
To make about two dozen puffs:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Fit two baking sheets with foil or parchment.
6 T. unsalted butter
1 t. kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
several scrapings of nutmeg
several grindings of fresh black pepper
3/4 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
3 extra large eggs
zest of one lemon
4 scallions, finely chopped
3T. minced parsley
2 T. parmesan cheese, grated
Bring one cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the butter, salt, peppers, nutmeg. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour with a whisk. Stir rapidly until it forms a ball, then return to medium heat, stirring another minute or so.
Add the eggs one at a time to the dough, then parmesan, parsley and scallions, and the lemon zest. Scrape mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, and pipe one little circle of dough, then another on top of the first circle, pulling up gently to make a little swirl on top.
Place gougeres in the hot oven, and bake for about 21 minutes, or until gently browned.
Continue with the second sheet.
Let cool a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack with a spatula.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

silky, rich homemade hot chocolate

It's a brownish day, as so many November days are. No longer russet, but dried and curled , leaves flutter from the oak trees everywhere. I never realized how many oaks there were, and I miss the brilliance of the yellows and oranges on the maples that we had until very recently. A definite chill in the air, and an overcast, cloudy day led me straight into the kitchen for a bracing, silky, over-the-top delectable homemade cup of hot chocolate. There are times when only chocolate can lighten the day, and I'm happy to report that that rich, creamy cuppa ( with a little whipped cream stirred in at the last minute) has me warmed and smiling as I tackle the pre-holiday clean-up.
To make two or three cups of hot chocolate:
4 ounces finely chopped Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
another 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T. Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
homemade unsweetened whipped cream ( optional)
Place chopped chocolate in a microwave safe china bowl.
Heat the 1/2 cup of cream to a boil, and pour over chopped chocolate.
Stir until chocolate and cream are fully melted together.
In a pan, heat the milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream, then whisk in the unsweetened cocoa powder.
Add the melted chocolate/cream to the milk mixture, stir, and serve in a prewarmed cup, with a little dish of whipped cream on the side .
If you need to reheat, pop into a microwave for a minute before serving.
Indulge, unwind, and smile!

Monday, November 1, 2010

spicy butternut soup with goat cheese toasts

Happy November! The last glorious shower of bright autumn leaves seems to be over, and the walk I took yesterday with my daughter and granddaughter into the woods had us grabbing our fleece jackets and winter hats. Winter is on the way.
I made this spicy butternut soup again - the one with the Indian spice mix called bhindi masala. If you don't have that particular mix, you can approximate it with this mix:
2 t. cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1/8 t. ground cayenne
1 t. tumeric
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. curry powder
To make about two big bowls of soup:
2 T. olive oil
1 stick of celery, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups peeled butternut squash, seeded and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 cup peeled sweet potato, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 t. cumin ( in addition to the bhindi masala)
1/2 t. thyme
1 or 2 t. bhindi masala spice mix
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (you may need more depending on the moisture content of the squash and potato - it also thickens after pureeing)
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and the bhindi masala spices, the thyme and cumin. Stir.
Add the celery, butternut, and sweet potato and stir. Lower heat to medium.
Add the vegetable stock and cook until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.
Using an immersion blender, or a regular blender, puree the soup.
Taste carefully and add salt and pepper and more spice as wished.
Serve with croutons that have been sauteed in a little olive oil until browned.
Now, you're wondering about those goat cheese toasts, aren't you? I was reading Ruth Reichl's book, Comfort Me with Apples, and came across her adaptation of Wolfgang Puck's grilled California Goat Cheese on Toast - it sounded as though it would go beautifully with this soup, and it did. I only made two toasts, instead of six, so this is my adaptation.
4 or 5 slices fresh goat cheese, cut in 1 1/2 inch slices
about 2 T. fresh thyme leaves, pulled off stems
3 T. olive oil
freshly cracked pepper
2 large slices good French, Italian, or Portuguese white bread
Place the goat cheese in a shallow bowl, sprinkle on the thyme leaves and the pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil. Marinate for an hour at room temperature.
Use an oven or toaster oven to toast the bread, then top the bread with the goat cheese. Drizzle the olive oil left in the bowl on top of the toasts with goat cheese, and broil until the cheese is soft, warm, and a little melty. Sprinkle with more thyme leaves, and serve ( with a napkin!).
Butternut squash photo featured on TasteSpotting!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

panzanella ( italian bread salad)

What a beautiful salad! Chunks of fresh, fresh cucumber, red or yellow peppers, thinly sliced shallots, and parsley and basil marinate overnight in a zesty, sparkling dressing of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, capers, and anchovies tossed with slightly stale Portuguese, French, or Italian bread. If anchovies scare you, don't worry - you can't even taste them, unless you triple the amount ( which I do). Even then, I add one or two fillets on top. If you're heading into fall and winter recipes, toss this together, marinate, and inhale the scent of summer. This is a wonderful salad for packing for work, as a side to dinner, or well, just anytime. ( I had it for breakfast! How could I not, after inhaling that fantastic cloud of deliciousness?)
This tends to be a toss-together recipe, but I'll try to make a real recipe here.
*Note: I use V-8 juice for the marinade, now that our summer tomatoes are gone. If you have really good home grown, sun ripened tomatoes, just cut up a handful , toss in the blender, and strain the juice onto the bread salad.
Italian Bread Salad ( Panzanella)
Serves 3 or 4.
3 T. red wine vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
3 anchovy fillets, diced ( I use 6)
1 T. capers, drained
kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 t. dried basil, or 1 T. fresh slivered basil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
about two cups cubed slightly stale bread ( make it a nice quality Portuguese, French,or Italian bread)
1/2 a red or yellow bell pepper, roughly diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced very thinly, or 1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
3 T. roughly chopped parsley
4 T. V-8 juice or strained juices from chopped tomatoes
In a medium bowl, place the red wine vinegar, the anchovies, salt and pepper, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, basil, and the capers. Smush with a spoon, and mix well.
Add the bread chunks, the red or yellow pepper dice, the cucumber and tomatoes, the shallot or red onion, and the parsley. Toss several times. Drizzle the V-8 juice or tomato juices on top, and toss again. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight.
In the morning, toss the ingredients together, taste, and add more salt, pepper, basil, or capers and anchovies as you wish. Feel free to add little mozzarella balls, scallions, or Italian canned tuna, canned in oil - or?

Monday, October 25, 2010

creamy polenta saves the day

I began feeling odd four days ago. That tight, headachey feeling in my head. The flickering feverish feeling that wouldn't go away, even after hot showers with lemon verbena scrub, or peppermint and thyme baths. Three days ago I made some lovely sardine toasts, with Thai sardines and hot sauce. I couldn't even think of eating them. Then I made roasted walnuts with rosemary and hot peppers, salt and thyme. I scraped them into a jar and put them in the cupboard. The more I couldn't eat, the hungrier I got.
That's when I remembered polenta. Creamy, wonderful polenta made with roasted chicken broth and finely ground cornmeal, which I've been eating for three days now, graduating from a baby rice cereal texture, to a hardier almost-polenta-cake. I even added a little cheese today.
I've watched a lot of the Cooking Channel, new to me. I fumed over a horrible book about politics and agribusiness called The End of Food, and could only breathe when I got to the last chapter, one that airily mentions locavores, farmers markets and organic farms, dubiously. I looked out the window a lot. Now that I'm on the mend, I'm back to scribbling down recipes for Thanksgiving and hoping for an oozy, cheesey and veggie laden forkful of omelet.
Creamy Polenta with roasted chicken broth and cheddar
Makes 2 servings or so
2 cups roasted chicken broth or stock
1/2 t. kosher salt
3/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 t. butter or olive oil
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or parmesan (optional)
Bring the broth or stock, salt, and oil or butter to a boil.
Slowly, very slowly, whisk in the cornmeal, tablespoon by tablespoon. If you dump it in quickly, it will clump up and will be inedible.
Keep stirring the polenta for another five minutes, adding the cheese, if you're using it.
Pour into a shallow bowl and eat.
You can also make little cakes by oiling ramekins, and pouring the polenta into them.
They can go in the fridge, covered, then unmolded and fried in a skillet for breakfast.
Be well!

A year ago :
2 years ago: