All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

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!