All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

le pound cake for the 4th of July

I'm not sure what it is about summer berry season that made me think about pound cake. Maybe it's the rich and eggy but plain buttery cake that goes so well with a spoonful of ginger ice cream and fresh blueberries. Or raspberries, strawberries. My father used to eat pound cake lightly toasted, spread with marmalade with blueberries or bananas on the side, for a summer breakfast, something I also indulge in. Whatever it is, I merrily whipped up a pound cake two days ago, only to cut it open to a river of uncooked batter running through it. A second cake collapsed as it sat on the cooling rack. Third time lucky, I tried Martha Stewart's recipe from her first cookbook, Entertaining, and finally was presented with golden-crumbed, moist but tender slices of perfect pound cake. Martha insists it is called "le cake" in France, but that could mean anything from chocolate to meringue , so "le pound cake" it is. Enjoy!

To make one loaf:
Preheat oven to 340F
Butter a 6-cup loaf pan. Line it with waxed paper, pressing the paper firmly to the loaf pan, then butter the waxed paper. Set aside.
2 extra-large eggs
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon, lime, or orange zest
1 T. vanilla
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cake flour
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Beat the eggs, zest, and sugar until light and creamy - about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix well. Using a sieve or sifter, sift the flours into the egg mixture, along with the baking powder. Mix well again.

Add the soft butter and gently mix into the batter , beating only briefly to incorporate the butter completely.

Scrape into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for an hour, or until the top is golden and feels firm when gently pressed with a finger.

Remove to cooling rack for 20 minutes, then unmold, carefully pulling off the waxed paper.

Slice and serve with berries and whipped cream, plain, or with ice cream.

~What I'm reading:

Anthill, by E.O. Wilson
The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

roasted eggplant salad with peppers and cucumbers

Oh, is it swampy today! At eight in the morning, the sun is peeking out after a rain, the temperature is 75 - and the humidity is 99%. It's been this way off and on for the past week, which explains why I've been making a lot of cold salads - including this wonderful roasted eggplant salad.
When I first tasted this salad, I loved it - but couldn't identify what was in it. I discovered it was an Armenian recipe that included lots of fresh lemon juice - and roasted eggplant. A simple, clean, and fresh tasting salad that's perfect for lunch or supper on a sweltering day.
To make:
a large , firm eggplant
the juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
1 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup halved grape tomatoes or diced tomato
1 cup peeled, diced cucumber
3 T. ( or more to taste) olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and prick it all over with a fork.
Place the eggplant, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.
Remove from oven and let eggplant cool.
Using a large spoon, scrape the eggplant meat from the skin and place in a large bowl.
Cut eggplant meat using a fork and knife, so there are no large clumps.
Add the rest of the ingredients and toss very well.
Adjust seasonings as you wish.
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

my kale marathon and kale chips

I pass these lovely sheep every day, and finally stopped to visit with them. They're in their summer quarters, showing up sometime around Memorial Day, and leaving just after Halloween. They were very curious and gentle, although this fellow was clearly the boss man, and kept his distance. It is a wonderful blessing to run into all manner of creatures in a small rural town, ranging from chickens in the middle of the road on Main Street, to merry little bell ringing horses and carts.
A few days ago I bought one of those huge bundles of fresh kale at the market and promised myself I'd use it up before it got old and yellow, so this morning I went to work. Kale and white bean soup, blanched kale for freezing, and finally, a bowlful of kale chips. I must be the last blogger to make them, and I am grateful to Kalyn's Kitchen for general directions. Now you're going to ask: are they good? Well, yes and no. No, they will not taste like potato chips, but yes, they are crunchy and yet, melt in your mouth. Kids love them, and they couldn't be easier to make.
Most of the photos I've seen online show kale chips as somewhat flat and browned, but mine stayed frilly and green, which I liked. The top photo are the finished chips, the middle photo was just as they went into the oven.
To make kale chips:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Inspect your kale - if it needs washing, wash and roll in paper towels or dish towels, or spin until dry.
Pull the kale leaves off the stem, tearing the large pieces into smaller pieces about 3-4 inches , until you have about 4 handfuls of leaves. Place the leaves in a dry bowl and sprinkle on:
2 T. sesame oil
1 T. herb vinegar (I used my homemade hot chili pepper vinegar)
Toss the leaves well. It's surprising how such a small amount of oil manages to coat the kale leaves. Spread the leaves out on a baking sheet. Place in hot oven for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 300F and pull out the kale chips. Move them around a little and place back in oven for another 10 minutes. By then they should be completely crunchy.
ps/ I noticed with the high humidity here today, the chips lost their crunchiness in an hour or so. So - once the chips are cooled, pack'em in a zip bag to make sure they keep their crunch.
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A year ago on she's in the kitchen:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

dark chocolate and cherry scones

It's a beautiful day here today - the rain has finally stopped, the sun is out, and I just got back from a visit to my favorite beach: the lake behind MacDowell Dam. Turtles were sunning themselves on stones, and a solitary Mrs. Duck was posing on a large granite rock. The water lapped on the sandy shore, and the red winged blackbirds were whirling above. Lovely day, and I was starving when I got home.

You know how I love scones, don't you? Well, today, I had an image of a not-too-sweet chocolate and dried cherry scone so here is the result, which was very tender and tasty. The 60% bittersweet chocolate I chopped up for the scones reminded me of the chocolate you often find in chocolate croissants - not too sweet, not too bitter.

To make 8 scones:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Line a jellyroll pan cookie sheet with foil or parchment.


2 cups King Arthur flour

1 stick (8 T) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 cup chopped 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips of your choice

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 + cup buttermilk ( start with 1 cup, the dough should come together easily. If too dry, add a few more tablespoons buttermilk)


In mixer bowl, mix the flour, sugar, spices, salt, baking powder, and cold butter.

Mix until the butter is thoroughly incorporated in the flour mixture.

Add the chocolate and cherries and mix, then add the buttermilk.

Mix gently until the dough forms a ball, then remove to the counter.

Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll or pat into a 9" or so circle.

Cut circle into 8 pieces, place pieces on baking sheet, and bake for 22 minutes.

The scones should be golden brown on top and light when gently picked up.

Cool and enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

brown sugar blueberry muffins

It was another rainy day and I was finally, finally cleaning out the freezer. Way in the back I pulled out a zip bag filled with plump blueberries and a scattering of blackberries. My eyes lit up and I remembered a recipe a foodie friend had told me about with a slight twist to my usual low fat blueberry muffins: brown sugar blueberry muffins.
She had gotten the recipe from a friend, who told her it came from an old edition of The Joy of Cooking. It sounded intriguing, so I gave it a try. The muffins were moist, but fluffy and very tender. The next time I make them, I might switch out the melted butter for canola oil, but the brown sugar definitely stays.
To make:
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1 T. flour
1 t. sugar
Toss the blueberries with the flour and sugar and set aside.
2 cups King Arthur flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 extra large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 c. packed brown sugar ( I used dark)
1 stick ( 8 T.) melted, unsalted butter
1 t. vanilla
extra sugar or sparkling sugar for sprinkling on top
Grease a Texas size muffin pan ( this makes 6 muffins)
Preheat oven to 375F.

In mixer bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, and salt well.
Add the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla and mix again.
Fold in the floured blueberries with a spoon until well blended.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop two scoops of batter into each muffin cup.
Sprinkle with sugar and place in hot oven.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until muffin centers are firm when gently pressed in the center. If you use fresh berries, they will bake a little faster, so check them around 25 minutes.
Cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes , then pop out of muffin tin.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

barefoot contessa's french apple tart

I just love the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks! The pictures are stunning, the recipes are simple, and Ina Garten always sounds so cheerful and friendly I wish she lived next door to me. I found this recipe for a french apple tart in her book Back to Basics, and , of course, had to make it immediately. It's very similar to the tarts I made when I was working in a French restaurant, although I used mostly lard for the dough back then, which is impossible to find around here in the country. And I discovered, thanks to Ina, a new way of preparing apple slices that looks so much better than the usual peel/quarter/slice. You peel, cut through stem end to stem end, and use a melon baller to scoop out the seedy part! Brilliant, and the apples look gorgeous.
Traditionally, I use fresh lemon juice and warmed red currant jelly for brushing on tarts - she uses Calvados and apricot jelly, so it's really up to you. I also use a little more unsalted butter in the tart dough, which, by the way, is delightfully flaky.
Tart Dough:
2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 T. sugar
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water
Place the flour, salt and sugar in food processor bowl (use the steel blade) and pulse a few times. Add the butter and process until the butter is well incorporated. With the motor running, drizzle the ice water into the dough until it forms a soft ball.
Remove, briefly knead, then pat into a rectangle and wrap in plastic. Place in fridge for at least an hour.
For the apples:
a baking sheet fitted with foil or parchment
3 peeled and sliced apples ( see above) I used Macs, she used Granny Smiths.
1/3 cup sugar
3 T. diced cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm apricot or red currant jelly to which you have added 2 T. apple brandy or fresh lemon juice.
Preheat oven to 400F
When dough is chilled, place on floured surface and roll out to fit the baking sheet. Trim edges using a sharp knife.
Brush the dough with a little warmed jelly.
Arrange the apple slices in a pretty pattern.
Brush with the rest of the warmed jelly, then sprinkle with sugar and the diced pieces of butter.
Bake for approximately an 45 minutes to an hour, checking the tart to make sure it's not burning. The tart I made had two burned corners, so I just threw them away when I cut the tart into individual pieces.
Cool and cut into squares or rectangles, and enjoy!
What I'm reading:
Recipes from a year ago:
and two years ago:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

recipe fail: goat cheese tart

It happens once in a while : you try out what sounds like a great recipe that just doesn't work. In this case, it was a recipe from The Modern Baker, which has blessed me with many, many great recipes. I should have listened to the bell clanging in my head when the tart crust dough called for baking powder. I should have, but didn't. And the result was an olive oil dough that was just too thick and fluffy for the delicate goat cheese and fresh basil. I ended up eating only the filling.
So, I will try again, this time seeding the tiny tomatoes, and sauteeing them to sweeten them a bit, as well as tossing them with both basil and oregano - just the basil made for a very underwhelming custard.
And next time I'll use either the olive oil crust I've used before, or Julia or Martha's recipes for tart crusts. Live and learn!
You may also enjoy Tomato Pie with sweet potatoes on the side or
Spinach Quiche with onion jam