All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, April 26, 2010

broccoli rabe and cannelini bean soup with basil

Even though the temperature reads around 60 degrees, the air is chilly and raw, and it's a perfect day for a steaming bowl of soup. As I walk around the garden, looking for new buds and leaves popping up, I notice an odd thing: all the flowers today are purple. This is just as the wave of yellow (daffodils of various shades, and the forsythia) is fading. In the above picture, from the left, you see violets, catmint, vinca, and lungwort, whose blue flowers fade to magenta pink as they age. One reason my passion for gardening never flags is the constant surprises that appear every day - every day without snow cover, that is.
Ah, yes, the soup. Having just bought a very fresh bunch of broccoli rabe ( also known as rapini) I wanted a soup that included a lot of that wonderful green. While broccoli rabe can have a slight edge of bitterness, that can be smoothed out by using it with beans or pasta - another way I like to use it. It came out beautifully, with the tasty broccoli rabe melding perfectly with the white beans and herbs, and a perfect chilly day soup.
To make:
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 T. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 cups roughly cut broccoli rabe (rapini)
a 15.5 ounce can of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
2 t. fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar
a bay leaf
2 t. minced fresh rosemary
1 t. dried basil, or 1 T. fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper to taste
curls of parmesan cheese to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, then toss in the onions and garlic and stir, with the heat on medium.
When the onions have softened, add the chicken stock or water, the broccoli rabe, the beans, and the lemon juice and herbs.
Cook on medium for approximately 20 minutes, stirring gently every so often.
Check for salt and pepper, and serve piping hot with the curls of parmesan.
Enjoy !

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

olive oil and garlic "mayonnaise" and a revelation

First, I'll tell you about my revelation. I was dithering around wondering what to make for a brunch, and suddenly remembered several blog posts that, taken together, composed a perfect meal for the day. I thought bread, and remembered Nick's focaccia, I thought dessert, and knew the coconut chocolate pudding was perfect - and once again, I made the California chicken salad, since the day was sunny and warm. Isn't it amazing how helpful a food blog can be? You might have noticed I've tried to be a little more organized re: recipes. I'd love feedback if it's helpful ( or not).
Speaking of blogs, I saved a post from food52 several months ago because it sounded so intriguing - they called it "milk mayonnaise", via Portugal and Brazil. Since there is very little milk, but quite a bit more canola and olive oil, I changed the name. It's a wonderful condiment that can be spread for sandwiches, or used as a dip for appetizers. As a sauce for steak and asparagus, half a spoonful in a veggie omelet - well, you get the picture. And the best part is you make it in a 2 cup glass measuring cup using only an immersion blender. And did I mention there's no eggs at all in it? Is that win-win or what?
You will need:
1/3 cup very cold whole milk
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, pressed
white or black pepper and a little kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plain olive oil ( NOT extra virgin - it makes it bitter)
Measure the olive and canola oil into a small bowl.
Place the milk, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in a 2 cup glass measuring cup.
Using the handheld blender, blend on high until frothy. With the blender going full speed, spoon the oil, teaspoon by teaspoon, into the milk mixture. Continue until the mixture emulsifies into a thick , soft mayonnaise-looking mixture. All three times I made this , it firmed up at the very end of the recipe.
I also tried adding chopped fresh herbs in the beginning, and while it tasted good, and was a cheerful pale green color, it was somewhat thinner. I used it on cold chicken and arugula salad and it was terrific, though.
If you notice a little separation, just twirl a spoon into the "mayonnaise" and stir.
Keep chilled in fridge for up to a week.
Voila! the perfect condiment, just in time for summer!
What I'm reading:
The Places that Scare You by the Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron
You might also check out the zesty citrus marinade for grilled chicken!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

california chicken salad with cranberries and lemon-poppyseed dressing

I found this beautiful nest on a walk after a very windy day, amazed as ever by "bird architecture". Spring has us all walking around with a goofy smile, discovering buds and leaves and greenery anew every day.
And we know what Spring means - salad! This recipe started with a salad bought from an instore cafe counter at, of all places, Target. I came right home and fiddled with this and that until I had a fair imitation, which I then made over and over - it's addictive and tasty, and it hits all the taste buds in a scrumptious way: smooth, rough, crunchy, tangy. The store bought salad had the most unctuous dressing, and I'm happy to say my version is much more acceptable. I also used cherry-infused dried cranberries, after finding a lone packet of dried cherries - for $8!
You can arrange slices of chicken on a platter rather than tossing everything together if you prefer.
To make :
romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces
arugula or mesclun
dried cherries or dried cherry-infused cranberries
chopped walnuts, toasted
sliced or large dice poached or roasted chicken
fresh goat cheese
For the lemon-poppyseed dressing:
2 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. sugar
1 T. buttermilk
salt and pepper
1/2-1 t. poppyseeds
Place the lettuces and chicken in a bowl and toss. Add a handful of cherries or cranberries, and a handful of the chopped walnuts, then add the dressing. Toss gently and top with pieces of goat cheese.
You might also enjoy the wildly popular Tuscan Bean salad -
What I'm reading: The problem with reading Elizabeth George's mysteries? Staying up til 1 in the morning to finish the 718 pages:)
Featured on TasteSpotting!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

fritta di asparagi: asparagus frittata with parmesan

Are you one of those people who tends to try a new recipe, and then eat it for weeks? I'm on week two of celebrating asparagus season with this quick and tasty frittata. No, it's not really a quiche, since there's no milk or cream - and it's quite flat, compared to quiche, but I've gotten hooked on it. It's a wonderful brunch or breakfast dish, and you can brown bag it ( with an ice pack) for lunch or a picnic. Add a nice salad and some sweetsies or fruit, and you're all set!


To make:


3 extra large eggs

1 T. water

2 T. olive oil

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

4-5 spears of asparagus, tough ends removed, sliced diagonally in 1" pieces

1/2 t. basil, mint, oregano, or dill


Heat the olive oil in a heatproof skillet or omelet pan, swirling the oil around the sides of the pan.

Mix the eggs in a bowl with a fork, along with the water, herbs, salt and pepper, and parmesan.

Mix in the cut asparagus and pour into the hot skillet. Reduce heat to medium.

Turn on your broiler.

As the eggs cook, use a fork to gently pull the edges toward the center, and tip the pan so the inner egg mixture flows to the edges.

When the frittata looks firm and mostly cooked, take it off the burner and slide into the hot broiler. Keep your eye on it, and as soon as you see a tiny bit of browning, pull the pan out to cool.

Let sit for a minute, then run a dull knife around the edge of the frittata. Cut into 6 portions and serve. Serves 2 .



What I'm reading: How to Cook a Tart, ( which Tony Bourdain calls "gastro-porn")

Enjoy Spring!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

dairy-free Italian Olive Oil cake with orange zest

I hope you had a wonderful Easter! I spent much of it making a birthday cake for my son, whose birthday is the first of April ( yes, he's an April Fool), who came to visit late in the day with his very lovely (and serious) girlfriend. I'm glad I had something to do - I was feeling a little nervous about meeting someone who may very well become part of the family.
My son developed a milk allergy last year, so, even though he asked for the traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting , I couldn't do it. I remembered his days of pain last year after partaking of several helpings of cake and frosting. So I made this wonderful Italian Olive Oil cake, and jazzed it up with a dairy-free frosting from Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Baker's handbook. For a little more tang, I also made a lemon glaze that I brushed on while it was still warm. The frosting was just fine, but I missed the butter and cream cheese taste . The recipe called for vegetable shortening, and all I had was Crisco, but adding lemon juice and a little soymilk made it pretty tasty. Finding a good vegetable shortening is on my grocery list. You can also just dust the cake with confectioner's sugar, using a small sieve and shaking all over the cake. Strawberries or orange slices are a pretty garnish, too.
The cake:
from Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease an 8" cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment , otherwise it sticks.
1 large orange
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup light olive oil or half virgin olive oil , half canola oil
3/4 cup plain or vanilla soymilk
1 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
Grate or microplane the orange and squeeze out tablespoon of the fresh juice .
In mixer bowl, add the zest, orange juice, and eggs and mix.
Add the sugar and mix very well, then add the olive oil or olive/canola, mixing til creamy.
Add the soymilk, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix very well.
If the mixture is very soupy, add another tablespoon or so of flour.
Scrape into prepared cake pan and bake for 50 minutes.
Let sit on cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Run a dull knife around the pan. If the cake doesn't come out easily, gently pry around the cake with the dull knife. Remove parchment circle, and turn cake rightside up.
Lemon glaze:
4 T. fresh lemon juice
4 T. sugar
Warm in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then brush on the cake.
Dairy-free vanilla frosting:
In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment mix:
1 cup dairy free vegetable shortening
pinch of salt
1 T. fresh lemon or orange juice
3 cups confectioner's sugar
2 T. soymilk
1/2 t. vanilla
Whip until the frosting is fluffy .

You might also enjoy: New York Lemon Cake

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter , everyone!

Above is a favorite picture of my granddaughter when she was just one, all dressed up for Easter dinner. This year's Easter is topsy-turvy, with my mother in a nursing home, a friend in the hospital, and no Easter dinner here at the house - everyone's plans are hectic and unsettled. I'm in the kitchen making an Easter cake/birthday cake for my boy , and trying to figure out how to make a festive lactose-free cake for him without the inches of our favorite cream-cheese frosting. I'll add some pictures as the day goes on, but I just wanted to wish you all a joyful Easter Day right now - before anything else changes:) Hope your day is a lovely one!

love to you -

Update: it was a funny day, with me puttering around in the kitchen, making an asparagus frittata for breakfast/brunch, then on to an Italian Olive Oil orange cake for my lactose-intolerant son ( with a frosting made from a new cookbook for those allergy sufferers) - then finished with that lovely coconut-chocolate pudding, all were a big hit! On a whim, I made a poached chicken salad with cherry infused dried cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts, with a lemon poppyseed dressing, inspired by, of all places, a salad I'd bought from Target when I was starving! My son and his lovely new ( and serious ) girlfriend arrived at 6 ish, and we had a lovely few hours browsing through family photo albums . While I missed the usual Easter Day with friends and granddaughter and daughter, my thoughts were with my Mum, now in a nursing home, and a dear friend doing poorly in the hospital. I meant to take some pictures of the glorious pansies, and lilies, and dear family who did come by to visit, but I forgot - you know how it is. Spending time "in the moment" has a way of being distracting.
I hope your day was wonderful, and wish you a blessed Easter night and Easter Monday....
with love,