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