All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Sunday, January 31, 2010

white chocolate mousse with rosewater

Every year around Valentine's Day, I start thinking about a dessert I've never made. This year, I finally made it, and, as it turned out, ended up with three desserts: white chocolate mousse with rosewater, with rosewater and a raspberry sauce on the bottom, and with almond extract and caramel, again on the bottom, and all were creamy and softly scented as a dream. The rosewater ones were ethereal and light, perfumed beautifully, and I sighed as I spooned the last bit of mousse up. Definitely a girlie dessert! Thinking of ice cream sundaes, I drizzled raspberry jam ( you can use a puree if you'd prefer) on the bottom of the glass, then topped it with the rosewater mousse.
Now I was inspired - and straight away made a batch of almond scented mousse with caramel on the bottom, for those who might be intimidated by the rosewater flavor in the original batch.
Again, delicious. If you're looking for an airy and light Valentine's dessert, this is perfect.

Adapted from Sherry Yard
For the white chocolate with rosewater:
The Ganache:
1 cup finely chopped white chocolate
4 T. unsalted, soft butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 T. light corn syrup
1 t. rosewater (for the caramel, substitute 1/2 t. almond extract)
Place the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof , microwave-proof bowl.
Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil and immediately pour over the chocolate and the butter. Let sit a few seconds, then slowly stir together until melted completely. ( if it cools too fast, just stick in microwave for a second, then stir again)
Add the rosewater, stir, and set aside.
For the mousse:
1 cup white chocolate ganache
3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
1 cup heavy cream
1 T. sugar
Optional: about 1/3 cup thinned puree or jam ( I used a little lemon juice to thin the jam) for the bottom of the dish or glass.
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then sprinkle in the sugar slowly. Whip to medium-firm peaks. Scrape into a clean bowl and set aside.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, then add the warm ganache to the egg yolks and stir. If the ganache is too cool, microwave for a second, then proceed.
Whip the cream in the mixer bowl ( no need to wash) until it makes soft peaks.
Fold the ganache and egg mixture into the egg whites gently, then fold in the whipped cream, gently.
If adding the raspberry, add a tablespoon or so to the bottom of each dish or glass before pouring or scraping the mousse in.
If you have a few pink rose petals, you could sprinkle a few on top. (I used geranium petals here)
Cover and chill the mousse in the fridge.
For the white chocolate mousse with caramel, substitute
1/2 t. almond extract for the rosewater,
and about 1/3 cup soft caramel for the dishes. Drizzle caramel on the bottom of the dessert dishes, fill, then drizzle a little on top of the mousse.

What I'm reading: Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams: a different love story.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

slow-roasted tomatoes and provolone almost-panini

I can't take any credit for this sandwich, or for the addictive slow-roasted tomato recipe, but I can point you in the right direction for the most delicious almost-panini ever. The roasted tomato recipe comes from Pinch My Salt , and the panini idea comes from Panera Bread, where I had a delicious roasted tomato panini. I don't have a panini pan, but it is absolutely on my wish list now.
You can use supermarket tomatoes if you must ( and I must as it's winter here) but the summer tomatoes were definitely tastier. And after halving teeny, tiny grape tomatoes last fall, when I first tried this recipe, I decided to try plum tomatoes this time. After slow-roasting for three hours, the grape tomatoes were miniscule. I also tried a pan of thinly sliced plum tomatoes, but I much preferred the diced plum tomatoes. When they're done roasting, you can either store them in a lidded jar in the fridge with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of rosemary, or have a panini party.
To make:
Plum tomatoes , washed, dried, and cut in a large dice
Olive oil
salt and pepper
Dried thyme, oregano, and/or basil, minced fresh rosemary
Slice and dice the tomatoes and place in bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle about 1-2 teaspoons of herbs over the tomatoes.
Add the salt and pepper.
Toss gently.
Spread out on a parchment-lined baking pan, or non-stick baking pan.
Roast at 225F for between 3 and 4 hours.
The tomatoes should still be a little soft - if they're brittle, they're overcooked.
Butter two slices of bread and layer both sides with tomatoes. Cover with slices of provolone and press , broil, toast, or fry until cheese is melted. Or, use in salads, mac&cheese, or soups.
Any leftover tomatoes can be stored with a sprig of rosemary in the fridge in a lidded jar.

Monday, January 25, 2010

rain, fog, snow, ice: a day for kale & linguica soup with pasta

What a foggy morning! We are having rain on top of packed snow, so when the warm air hits the snow you get a thick blanket of fog. Hasty change of plans from a day in the nearest city to a cozy home day.

I had this idea that today I was going to re-construct Portuguese Kale Soup with linguica into a pasta dish with all those healthy and delicious ingredients. After an hour of steaming pots and draining kale and pasta, I had a taste. It was a puny little flavor, nothing like what I'd imagined it. So I reconstructed it instead, to my traditional kale soup with pasta. Instead of dark red kidney beans, which are traditional in this soup, I added Italian plum tomatoes for a little zing. Since there's so much food, it's time to invite the neighbors over! If you just want pasta and kale, you can find a recipe for that here.

To make:

1 lb or more of Gaspar's linguica, sliced into 1 inch ish pieces

1 large onion, roughly diced

a bunch of kale ( a big bowl full) leaves torn carefully from stems. (Discard stems)

1 1/2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, cut in quarters

2-3 cups cubed red skinned potatoes, unpeeled

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Water to cover

2 cloves fat garlic, minced or pressed

hot pepper flakes

3 T. olive oil

salt and freshly cracked pepper

Cooked pasta ( I used thin spagetti here)

Place the linguica, onion, kale, tomatoes, potatoes and chicken stock in the pot.

Turn up the heat to medium-high and add enough water to just reach the top of the vegetables and linguica. The kale cooks down by about 75%.

Add the red pepper flakes, garlic and the olive oil.

Cook until the potatoes are tender, keeping an eye on the liquid, adding more stock or water if necessary to keep soup from scorching.

While the soup is cooking, make a batch of pasta, drain, and toss with olive oil. Cover and set aside.

Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed.

Using two forks, fill the soup bowls halfway with pasta, then ladle the kale soup on top, making sure each person gets several pieces of the linguica. Ummmmmm - good, good, good!


What I'm reading: Robert Parker's classic " Potshot". I'll miss him dearly.

Please support Doctors without Borders and Partners in Health in Haiti! Thank you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

low-fat lemon drizzle muffins

Ah, January. The time of diets and snowstorms here. While I'm aiming to lose that stubborn 10 pounds I've been trying to shed, most of my crankiness had to do with not eating well. Without the farmer's market open, I've strayed far from the healthy greens I should've been eating. So, beginning on Sunday, I loaded up with kale and brocolli, pasta, lean chicken and turkey - and a small package of thick-cut bacon to use sparingly.

While I don't eat many sweets, I do like a little splurge once in a while, and these low fat muffins fit the bill. I usually make them with low-fat buttermilk, but today I used a carton of low-fat lemon yogurt. Wowser - good idea! It kicked the lemony flavor up by about a 100%, so I will definitely be using the yogurt again. PS/ I don't use fake sweetener - ever. I use so little sugar in my daily life, I figure it's okay to stick with the inexpensive white sugar once in a while. I also noticed the cups of yogurt have shrunk from 8 oz. to 6 oz., so I added a little buttermilk.

To make:

1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
1.4 c. canola oil
1 cup lowfat lemon yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1-2 t. lemon zest
2 cups King Arthur flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
The drizzle: fresh lemon juice and confectioner's sugar mixed to a thick, drizzable icing.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin well ( this makes 8 muffins)
In mixer bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, canola, lemon zest, yogurt and buttermilk until smooth
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda and mix well.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into the muffin tin, using one scoop per muffin.
Bake for around 25 minutes, remove, and cool, then remove muffins and let cool completely on a cooling rack ( otherwise the lemon glaze will melt and look really ugly)

Make up the drizzle and , using a fork, drizzle the icing back and forth on each muffin.

What I'm reading: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder:
the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his clinic in Haiti. Stunning.

Monday, January 18, 2010

soothing corn chowder with fresh dill

It has snowed again, and I came in from shovelling the walk with a raging appetite. Thankfully, I'd gone to the supermarket yesterday, where I grabbed a fresh bouquet of fresh dill, inhaling the perfume right there, between the romaine and the kale. Half the bunch went into the vegetable drawer in the fridge, but the other half I set in a vase, right on the counter, where I could smell it and admire its beauty.
Before I ventured out this morning, I'd done a quick post-Christmas freezer cleanout - so the bag of sweet corn was innocently sitting right next to the dill. Of course! Snatching up the corn and dill, I set to making this delightful and soothing corn chowder, which is one of my favorite soups in the winter.
Makes two large bowls of chowder.
2 or more T. diced thick cut bacon (optional)
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups peeled potatoes, large dice
2 1/2 cups light chicken or vegetable stock, or water
2 cups frozen sweet corn
1/2 t. thyme
1 1/2 T. minced fresh dill
1/2 t. salt and fresh pepper
1/2 cup any cream
1 T. fresh dill , minced for garnish, plus a few sprigs
Saute the bacon and onion together, or the olive oil and onion, if you prefer, on low heat.
Add the stock or water and increase the heat to medium high.
Add the potatoes and simmer until just soft.
Add the thyme, dill, salt and pepper, and the corn, and cook ten minutes more.
Take off heat ( or the cream will curdle) and add the cream and more dill.
Taste carefully before serving - it often needs more salt.
Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti at this terrible time. Please consider making a donation to Doctors without Borders or your favorite charity in their name.
Many thanks.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

salted peanut butter & milk chocolate chip cookies

Our hearts go out to Haiti at this terrible, terrible time. Please consider making a donation to Doctors without Borders or Boston-based Partners in Health. Thank you.

This is one of my favorite cookies - and how can you miss? Crunchy peanut butter, milk chocolate, and flaked sea salt are a wonderful combination! They're a very sturdy cookie, and not as moist as my oatmeal cookies, but they hold up well in lunchboxes - and the car, so I'm not complaining at all.
If you want to make them even more peanutty - add a half cut finely chopped "party peanuts".
Adapted from a 1992 Martha Stewart Living recipe:
To make about 20 cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 extra-large egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. finely chopped party peanuts (optional)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
flaked sea salt
In mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar well.
Add the egg and mix until creamy, then add the vanilla.
Add the chunky peanut butter, the peanuts, and the chocolate chips.
Add the flour and baking soda and mix until combined.
On two baking sheets fitted with parchment or foil, pinch off pingpong ball sized pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place balls on cookie sheets, 2 " apart.
Place cookie sheets in the fridge for an hour.
After the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350F.
Remove cookies from fridge and sprinkle a few flakes of salt on each one.
Baking one sheet of cookies at a time in upper third of oven, bake for around 15 minutes.
Repeat with second sheet of cookies.
Cool on cooling rack.
What I'm reading: The Points of My Compass by E.B. White and oceany blueish-greenish paint chips from the paint store for the walls, and Farm Red for the front door.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

a winter breakfast: Finnish fruit soup

Ah - a lovely brisk walk on snowshoes this morning - which ended when I dropped the camera in the snow. The sun was up, the temperature was perfect (15 degrees), and making the Finnish fruit soup reminded me to dust off my snowshoes and get out into winter.

This recipe was given to me by an amazing Finnish woman in West Barnstable who ran a summer bakery/cafe. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw their website and her name! Mama Ojala, I'm sending you a big hug many years later from your former kitchen helper and dishwasher.

Although fruit soup is a delightful winter dessert, usually served room temperature or slightly chilled, I do like it for breakfast, warmed and topped with a spoonful of yogurt. Because you usually have dried fruits in your pantry(you do, don't you?), it's quick to make, and definitely healthier than chocolate cake! The light syrup that results from simmering apricots, prunes, and currants is infused with a spicy flavor from the cardomom, lemon, and cinnamon sticks.

How to make about 4-6 servings:

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup dried, pitted whole prunes

3 T. dried currants

3 T. golden or dark raisins

3 cups water

2 cardomom pods, crushed with the side of a knife

2 T. red currant jelly (optional)

1 T. finely diced crystallized ginger (optional)

1 slice of fresh orange

2 cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1/2 apple, peeled , cored, and thinly sliced

1 T. cornstarch

1/4 cup water

In a saucepan, combine the apricots, currants, prunes, raisins, 3 cups water, cinnamon sticks and cardomom pods, and the lemon juice, currant jelly, and orange slice.

Bring to a boil, then turn off heat, cover and let sit 1/2 hour.

Add the apple, bring to a simmer, and cook about 10 minutes, making sure you have enough liquid so the fruit doesn't scorch.

Strain the juices into another saucepan, then mix the cornstarch with the water.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the strained juices, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 to ten minutes.

Gently add the cooked fruits , heat a little longer, then remove from heat.

Store in a covered bowl in the fridge .

Sunday, January 10, 2010

winter means Harpoon chili time!

It's time for the chili. The snow is deep, the thermometer low, and I'm craving a pot of Harpoon Chili. Heady clouds of cumin, garlic, and chili powder waft along with an undertone of nutmeg-scented Harpoon Winter Warmer ale. Since it's a seasonal ale, I grab a 6-pack in November, when it's on the shelves, and hide it until the chili day announces itself.

The only two ales I know that make this chili zing are Harpoon Winter Warmer, and Sam Adams regular ale. I tried a Harpoon IPA once, and it was bitter, so be forewarned. If you use the Sam Adams, add 1/4 t. nutmeg. You can also use leftover steak instead of poached chicken, and whatever your favorite choice of beans is. I like black beans with a few kidney beans.

The original recipe came from a book called Recipes from the Night Kitchen, but, as usual, I've tinkered around with it over the years , as I hope you will, to make a mouth-watering winter chili you crave. And of course, it tastes even better the next day! After one night in the fridge, the chili darkens as the chili powder seeps deeply into it ( see top photo). Top with cheddar and sour cream for an even tastier bowl - but it's heavenly just on its own.

To Make:

You'll need a large, heavy bottomed stock pot for this, with a lid

2 large onions, chopped

2 T. olive or canola oil

1 stalk celery, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 t. chili powder

1/2 t or more red pepper flakes

1 1/2 T. cumin

1 red pepper, washed, trimmed, roughly chopped

1 green pepper, washed, trimmed, roughly chopped

1 zucchini, washed, quartered lengthwise, and sliced into 1" pieces

3 15.5 oz. cans black beans, drained

1 15.5 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained

2 bottles Harpoon Winter Warmer ale

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 20 oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, with juice,cut up

1 T. oregano

1 t. thyme

The poached chicken:

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, poached for 7 minutes in water, then set aside with a lid on for ten minutes. Remove when needed and dice.

The finish:

salt and pepper as needed

2 T. unsalted butter

1 t. chili powder

1 T. cumin

3 T. minced parsley

The diced chicken or leftover beef

Heat the oil and add the garlic, onions, and spices and cook for 10 minutes on medium low, with a lid on.

Add the zucchini, celery, tomatoes, beans, Harpoon ale, chicken stock, and tomatoes and red and green peppers.

Add the oregano and thyme and stir.

Cook on medium for at least an hour, checking to make sure it's not scorching, and stirring every now and then. (you can poach the chicken while waiting, then dice once cooled)

At this point, you'll be ravenous - but hold off! The final touch:

Taste before seasoning, then add the finish seasonings - the butter, chili powder, cumin, parsley, and cubes of chicken or beef, and the salt and pepper.

Serve as is, or with crusty bread, or on top of rice. Enjoy!


What I'm reading:

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

tender cinnamon scones and a stained glass window

Just before Christmas, fellow foodblogger Michelle sent me a surprise - a bag of cinnamon chips. I'd searched all the stores around here, and came up empty - so I was delighted to see she'd gotten them from one state over in Vermont, from the King Arthur flour people. Now that I know where to get them, I'll be making these oh so tender crumbed cinnamon chip scones a lot more! As you see, Mr. B's beagle, Snooper, was hoping I'd drop a half a scone on the floor (sorry, Snoop).
While I was delivering scones, I noticed this beautiful new stained glass window in the kitchen - and had to snap a quick detail. Isn't it gorgeous? The perfect solution to wanting a little privacy, it sits on the windowsill, rather than being fixed into the frame.
On to the scones!
This makes 8 large scones - as big as your hand (well, my hand, anyway).
To make:
4 cups King Arthur flour
2 sticks unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces (8 oz)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
3 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups cinnamon baking chips
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
4 T. cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top
Fit a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
Preheat oven to 375F.
In mixer bowl, add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and cut up butter pieces.
Mix well until the butter is in pea sized pieces and incorporated well.
Add the cinnamon chips and briefly mix, then add the buttermilk and mix until it JUST comes together.
Remove to the counter and pat into a disc. Roll gently with a rolling pin to a smooth, 10" size circle.
Cut into 8 triangles and brush with water, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the scones are light when you pick them up. This is the best way to test whether they're done. Your kitchen, by the way, will smell heavenly!
Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
What I'm reading - nothing! I've been taking photos for my 365 project (a picture a day for a year) instead. Hope to drop into the library on the way back from the dump this afternoon.

Monday, January 4, 2010

my favorite soup and a fun photo challenge

Over the weekend, I heard about the 365 project - a photo a day from enthusiastic photographers wanting to hone their skills, as well as have a record of their year 2010. I found a group on Flickr, but I'm also publishing them as a set under "shesinthekitchen" there. Check it out and join the fun! The seeded eucalyptus above is today's photo - #4.
And I just added a beautifully textured log I was about to throw into the woodstove.......

And between shoveling the new snow, and getting excited about pictures, I made the always delicious Tuscan Tomato soup for lunch - my favorite! I think most soups are more interesting if you cut some of the ingredients in different sizes - in this soup, the onions are fairly chunky, and I grate the carrots fairly fine. The mix of basil, tarragon, and thyme make for a tangy broth, along with the hearty veggies. So good, especially with some crusty , thick bread with butter.

To make:

1 T. unsalted butter

1 T. olive oil

2 stalks of celery, washed , trimmed, and sliced

1 large onion, roughly chopped

5 carrots, grated fairly fine

1 28 oz can of Italian plum tomatoes, whole, then cut up

1 can or so of water and/or chicken or vegetable broth (use the tomato can to measure)

1 t. basil

1/2 t. thyme

1/2 t. oregano

2 t. tarragon (I always use dried)

salt and pepper to taste

Place olive oil and butter in a pot on low heat.

Add the onions , carrots, and celery and braise, covered, for 15 minutes or so.

Add the tomatoes, the herbs, the juice from the tomatoes, and chick or vegetable stock to cover the vegetables with about an inch and a half to spare above the vegetables.

Simmer for 25 minutes on medium-low, checking the level of liquid once or twice to make sure the vegetables have enough room.

Taste carefully and add salt and pepper.

Serve with curls of parmesan and crusty bread and you've got a terrific winter meal.
What I'm reading: True Compass:Ted Kennedy

Friday, January 1, 2010

raising a cup of spicy chai to the New Year

A Happy New Year to all! Is anything better than the first day of a brand new year? The year stretches before us, pristine and optimistic; another day to get it right, I often think to myself. Or, another YEAR to get it right. I wish the very best good fortune and health to all.
This morning, I decided to skip the usual two cups of French Roast and stir up a pan of spicy chai instead . I'm delighted I did - the spiciness of cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger slices, cloves, black and red peppers, and the subtle scent of cardamom pods warmed me right down to my toes. I think I could get used to this calming wake up, rather than the high octane coffee I usually drink far too much of.
I think this could easily be made dairy free by using rice or soybean milk , for those who are lactose intolerant.
Adapted from The Herb Companion
3 cups cold water
4 teaspoons loose black tea
8 cardamom pods, crushed with a knife blade
5 thin slices fresh unpeeled ginger root
8 whole cloves
3 black peppercorns, whole
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 two inch pieces of cinnamon sticks, split with a knife blade or broken up
1 cup milk
3 T. sugar
a 4 inch piece of fresh orange peel

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the cinnamon sticks, cover the pan, and remove from heat. Let steep for several minutes.
Return pan to heat, uncover, and bring to a boil.
Add the tea, the cardamom pods, ginger slices, cloves, peppercorns and pepper flakes, and orange peel, the milk, and the sugar . Cover the pot and remove from heat. Steep for 5 minutes.
Using a fine strainer or sieve, strain the tea into cups. Discard the spice solids, and garnish with long cinnamon sticks.
Featured on TasteSpotting! Yay!
* What I'm reading:
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder