All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, January 31, 2011

pumpkin seed biscotti with orange peel and cranberries

I've been on a biscotti kick recently, making first my Christmas biscotti for a friend, then testing the fat-free dunking biscotti ( that was so hard and crunchy, it really IS only good for dunking), then, coming across a bag of pumpkin seeds in the freezer, I thought hmmmmmm.
I'm a little tired of almonds - I wonder how these would taste instead?
Well, they were incredible. Better than almonds. So tasty that I skipped adding any chocolate at all, though I toyed with the idea of white chocolate.
I vaguely remembered dry-toasting pumpkin seeds in a hot skillet, and that was loads of fun. Hiss, pop, hiss, pop - the seeds were bouncing around in the hot skillet and getting a nice little sear to them. Straight from the skillet, they were oh-so delicious.

So I do hope you'll give them a try. Stick a few in your bag to stave off sudden hunger pangs, or simply serve with a nice cup of herb tea or a Grande coffee. Oh - you're wondering about the lily? We in New Hampshire are about to get another three days of snowstorms. As soon as I heard that this morning, I drove straight to Woodman's flower shop to buy some pale pink tulips and inhale the scents of lilies. Best antidote to cabin fever I know.

To make at least 2 dozen biscotti, depending how thickly you cut them:

Preheat oven to 325F.
Fit a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds ( from the health food store)
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar , divided into 2 half-cup portions
3 large eggs, separated
about 2 T. diced fresh orange peel
1 1/2 t. vanilla
3 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 cup dried cranberries

Heat a skillet on medium heat, then toss in the pumpkin seeds. After about 2 minutes, they'll start to hop around - just keep stirring until you see some toasting on the seeds. Remove from heat and turn onto a plate to cool.

In mixer bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sugar and continue whipping until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Scrape out into a bowl and set aside.

In the same mixer bowl ( no need to wash), cream the butter and the rest of the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla, and orange peel, then add the flour, baking powder, salt, and dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Fold the egg whites into the dough mixture and mix until the dough comes together. Press the dough into a ball , then cut into two equal pieces.

On the baking sheet, form the dough into long , equally sized logs, patting with your hands. Square off the ends and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven.

Remove to a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes, cut down the center of the foil between the two logs, and slowly remove one log (holding the ends of the foil) to a cutting board. Rotate log carefully, and peel off the foil, then gently turn it rightside up again.

Using a serrated bread knife, hold the biscotti log gently with one hand while you slice off biscotti pieces - the thickness is really up to you. Stand the pieces up on another baking sheet, and continue cutting the second log. This should fill the whole baking sheet. Pop into the still warm oven and let dry for about 20 minutes, then remove to cool.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

dark and chewy brownies

We are expecting another three days of snow, and most everyone I know is at the "enough already" point. During our recent 12 below zero weather, I did what any sensible person would do - putter around in a warm kitchen. First I made a batch of marmalade from my now enormous orange tree, then I made two batches of brownies - one with toasted walnuts, and one without nuts for my mother. Dark, chewy, solid - these are marvelous brownies to have around when cabin fever hits.
I used a recipe from Maida Heatter's American Desserts, and the only thing I changed was to add a little more vanilla and a few less walnuts. Tempted to add a pinch of chile powder, though!
To make one 8"x 8" pan of brownies
Preheat oven to 325F.
Turn your brownies pan over, and fit a piece of foil (shiny side down) over the pan, pressing to form the foil to the pan. Remove the molded foil gently, flip the pan over, and fit into the pan, smoothing well against the corners. Butter the foil and set aside the pan.
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate ( I used 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips)
1 stick ( 8 oz) unsalted butter
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 t. good vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts ( the recipe called for 1 cup)
Place the chocolates and the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt, stirring well until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Scrape the melted chocolate and butter mixture into a mixer bowl, then add the salt, vanilla and sugar and mix. Add the eggs one at a time and mix, then add the flour and nuts. This makes the most delectable batter - you'll be tempted to skip the baking part!
Scrape the mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for an hour.
Remove the plastic, lift out the now-frozen brownies by the foil, and turn over onto a counter or board. Peel off the foil, trim off the edges, and using a ruler, cut the brownies to the size you wish.

Friday, January 21, 2011

winter panna cotta with blueberry sauce, maple syrup, and vanilla

I know, I know, when you think of panna cotta for dessert, you're reminded of humid, tropical evenings - chilled panna cotta topped with just-picked raspberries still warm from the summer sun. But as I cleaned out the freezer this January morning, panna cotta with a juicy blueberry topping from my small stash of frozen blueberries I picked in the summer is just what flashed into my mind. So I made it, and it was delightful. The slight scent and taste of maple syrup and vanilla were absolutely dreamy.
The snow fell again today, so the Christmas tree I heaved out the door just days ago, is buried in snow. The icicles are gleaming in the cold sunlight, and four layers of : sweaters, down jacket, a long sleeved tee, and, underneath it all, a silk undershirt, are standard fashion. This dessert was my treat for hours of slinging snow, and I hope you'll try it!
To make about 6 servings, more if you use plastic cups and layer with blueberry sauce. I used some squat glasses, using about 3/4 cup of liquid for each.
The Panna Cotta:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 T. sugar
1 drop of vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
pinch of kosher salt
3 T. cold water
1 packet powdered gelatin
Place the cream, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until warm. While the cream mixture is warming, place the gelatin and cold water in a cup and let sit for 5 minutes.
Stir the gelatin mixture into the warm cream until the gelatin is melted. Add the buttermilk, and stir until blended. Ladle into plastic glasses, small glasses, or ramekins. Place in fridge, covered with plastic wrap, until firm.
For the blueberry sauce:
1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 T. orange juice
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 T. sugar
1/8 t. cinnamon
Warm the frozen blueberries gently in the orange juice and lemon juice. Add the sugar and cinnamon and warm another few minutes on low heat, so the berries stay whole. Remove from heat and let cool.
To serve:
Either unmold the panna cotta ( which I usually don't do) by running the tip of your knife around the edge and plopping onto the dessert plate. If you're serving in glasses, simply spoon a tablespoon or two of the berry sauce on top of the panna cotta and serve.
Enjoy your winter!

Monday, January 17, 2011

split pea soup with ham, vegetables and herbs

I adore split pea soup, but for years it simply did not agree with me. Finally, I came up with a recipe that included a hefty amount of fresh and dried herbs, vegetables, flash-cooked frozen peas, and a cup or so of ham that soothed the tummy and made for one lovely soup on a winter's day. So, as you squeak through the below-zero temps and snow, you have this gorgeous soup waiting in the kitchen - not a bad thing at all.

In this recipe, frozen peas are simply tossed into the hot soup just before pureeing - it just takes a minute or two for them to cook. But, if you need peas for an entree or side, just pour boiling water over a bowl of frozen peas, wait two minutes, then drain and serve. They'll be very close to the taste ( and color) of fresh peas.

To make a large pot for 6 or more:
1 cup dried green split peas
2 bay leaves
water to cover plus 3 inches or so

1 cup sliced carrots ( I used baby carrots)
1 cup washed sliced celery
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup peeled, diced potato
1 cup or so of ham, diced
1 T. butter
1/2 cup chopped parsley, Italian or curly
1 T. thyme, dried
freshly ground pepper
1 T. fresh or dried rosemary, minced or crushed
1/4 t. hot pepper flakes
1 t. cumin
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 t. thyme ( again)
salt to taste

To the cup of dried peas, add two bay leaves and water to cover plus 3 inches or so. Bring to a boil, then take off heat for an hour. After an hour, remove bay leaves, then add the carrots, celery, onion, potato, ham, butter, parsley, thyme, pepper, cumin, hot pepper flakes, and rosemary. Add 1 cup water, or more to just cover and simmer 45 minutes, making sure the soup is not scorching. If it looks thick, add a little more water. Add the fresh or frozen peas, stir, and take off heat. Using an immersion blender stick, ( or a regular blender or food processor), puree, taste, and add the teaspoon of thyme, and more salt or pepper to taste. Voila! One beautiful hearty winter soup!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

cornmeal pancakes ( after the snow)

We recently had quite a snowstorm - over 20 inches of beautiful snow! The stone walls are blanketed, and the boulders deep in the woods are looking like hibernating elephants. The last few days have also been chilly - yesterday was -2 when I got up, and it never got above 20 degrees, although the day was partly sunny. All that shovelling meant I was ravenous - and not for my usual poached eggs, either!

While I adore my apple pancakes, I was out of apples, so I cobbled together these cornmeal pancakes from an old recipe in Joy of Cooking. I wanted to try a fruit sauce, and, having just cleaned out the freezer and found some strawberries tucked away in the back, stirred up a quick strawberry sauce with a little lemon juice and sugar. It was delicious, but the last of the maple syrup was even better! I made "silver dollar" pancakes - bigger than a silver dollar at 4 inches, but smaller than my usual 8 inch pancakes. There's something about a stack of pancakes that is immensely satisfying - and these stacked easily.

To make about 20 four inch pancakes:

1 cup cornmeal

1 t. salt

3 T. sugar or honey or maple syrup

1 cup boiling water

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

3 T. melted butter

1/2 cup plus 2 T. King Arthur all purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

Place the cornmeal, salt, and sugar in a bowl, then pour in the boiling water and stir. let sit for ten minutes.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk and melted butter together, then add to the cornmeal mixture.

Stir in the flour, beat quickly ( a few lumps are ok), then add the baking powder.

Heat a skillet or griddle, and, using a paper towel, rub with canola oil.
Measure out about 2 T. batter for each pancake. Serve with soft butter and warm maple syrup and enjoy!
You might also like these fresh apple pancakes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

simple onion soup with thyme, black pepper, and smoked gouda

When I noticed the sprouting onion in the onion basket this morning, I happily stirred up a batch of Craig Claibourne-inspired quick onion soup ( and no, I didn't use the sprouting onion, which can often be bitter). When Craig had been placed on a low-fat diet toward the end of his life, he published a recipe for a quick, lemony onion soup that instantly became a favorite of mine. I lost the recipe, but managed to make a similar soup that is perfect for these snowy, cold days. While I do use a little butter, it's in moderation, as is the melty cheese&crouton topping. Please note that the onions are cooked in two batches - one is sauteed until very soft, the other batch is added toward the end of the soup making, which is more al dente; a nice combination.

Makes about 3 servings
4 medium-large onions, peeled and sliced
2 T. unsalted butter
4 cups beef stock
1/4 t. coarsely ground pepper
1 t. dried thyme
pinch or two of kosher salt
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
Melt the butter in a skillet, then add HALF the onions to the butter, and stir well. Saute for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.
Heat the four cups of beef stock in a saucepan and add the sauteed onions to the hot stock. Deglaze the onion skillet with a tablespoon or two of the stock, then add to the saucepan as well.
Add the pepper, thyme and salt to the stock and onions and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and the rest of the onions to the stock. Simmer another 20 minutes, then ladle into heat-proof bowls. Top each bowl with toasted croutons and a tablespoon or two of the cheeses. Place under a broiler until the cheese melts and serve immediately.
for the croutons:
1 T. olive oil
about a cup of bread cubes, cut in 1/2 " squares
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and toss in the bread cubes. Saute and stir until bread cubes are crunchy and browned.
For the cheese topping:
4 T. grated mozzarella
2 T. grated smoked gouda
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

tender chicken meatloaf with rosemary and thyme

Yesterday, I was musing over the two chicken breasts in the fridge. Stir fry? One-pot chicken? Then a longing for tender, moist meatloaf suddenly poked me, and this is the result.
This is the kind of recipe you make in your pyjamas - either late at night, or early in the morning. Mix it up, press into a loaf pan, and place in the fridge until you're ready to bake it, leaving plenty of time for a long hike on snowshoes. Knowing you have dinner premade certainly makes for a hassle-free end of the day.
Serves 4, give or take.
2 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, pressed
2 T. tomato paste
1/3 cup white wine
1 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 extra large egg
1/2 t. kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs ( I used a chunk of rosemary bread and grated it)
1 large chicken breast, cut into chunks, then put in a food processor for 4 pulses
(it will be thick and pasty and should be about 1 cup almost-puree)
1 t. dried thyme
1 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes ( save 1/2 cup of the juices to pour on top of the meatloaf)
1 t. dried basil
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 10 minutes on medium heat. Remove to a medium bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. unsalted butter in the same skillet, then stir in the tomato paste and white wine. Cook for a few minutes, remove from heat, and pour over the onion mixture.
Add to the onion/tomato paste/wine mixture the breadcrumbs, chicken, egg, parsley, salt and pepper, cheese, thyme, tomatoes and basil.
Press the mixture into an oiled loaf pan, then drizzle the half cup of tomato juices over the top. At this point you can either cover it and place in the fridge, or place in a preheated 350F oven. Bake for one hour.
Remove from oven and let sit for 20 minutes, then cut into slices and serve. Instead of ketchup, a few tablespoons of warm tomato juices drizzled on the slices is even better.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

brown sugar banana cupcakes for the New Year!

Happy New Year to all! Above you see the grand and splashy sunset last night, with the sun going down between two mountains. I wasn't the only one that had the sudden thought to stand in a high place to wave goodbye to 2010 - there were four other people and two lively dogs, snuffling around in the snow, looking for - well, dogs always seem to find something exciting wherever they go.
This morning, I decided to make what is now becoming a tradition - New Year's cupcakes, but this time I chose to make a fluffy, moist banana and brown sugar cupcake (divine), and lots of that pale, shell pink cream cheese icing everyone loves so much. So even if the day is a little gray and gloomy, these cupcakes are waving their sprinkles and tooting their horns.
To make cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place cupcake papers in a traditional 12 cup muffin tin,
although this recipe makes only 7 cupcakes.
Adapted from Cupcakes, by S. Kaldunski
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
1 large or two small ripe bananas
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. lemon zest
2 T. sour cream
1 T. milk
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 extra large egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Using a sieve, sift together the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
Mash the bananas, sour cream, milk, lemon zest, and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
In a mixer bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix on low.
Fold in the mashed banana mixture gently.
Using a regular size ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners about 3/4ths full.
Bake approximately 25-30 minutes, or until cupcakes are firm to the touch when gently pressed in the middle of their tops.
Let cool five minutes, then remove cupcakes from cupcake tin to a cooling rack. Let cool for at least an hour before frosting.
The Cream Cheese frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened ( the smaller size)
1 stick ( 8 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 t. fresh lemon juice
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 drop red food coloring

Beat all the ingredients together until very creamy. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and , beginning at the edges of the cupcakes, squeeze the frosting round and round, pulling up at the end. Sprinkle with pretty edible doodads.

So, what's up with your brand new life? Musings, meditations, job searches? I suspect in addition to all of those, this may be the Year of the New Dog, having accidently picked up now THREE books about women and their dogs; the universe must be trying to tell me something.
Blessings and love to all, and hopes this will be a wonderful year for you, full of love, joy, and walking the dog.

The dog books:
let's take the long way home by gail caldwell
scent of the missing ( search and rescue dogs) by susannah charleson
and abigail thomas' a three dog life