All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Sunday, July 31, 2011

fresh corncob and codfish chowder with dill and sriracha

I hope you're having a beautiful day, wherever you are! Today was sunny and hot, but mornings are still lovely and cool - a perfect blend of weather.

I had been hoping to add some tiny yellow zucchini to this chowder, but my midnight thief struck again, neatly removing the 3 little zukes - and four raspberries I'd been hoping to have on my French toast this morning. I'm guessing a chipmunk, as I see them popping in and out of several holes in both the back and front yards.

The chowder I ended up making has the most delicious rounds of corn-on-the-cob that are wonderful to nibble on - and a special favorite of children. The fish is very fresh, and very mild, and I've skipped the cream you often see in chowders in New England. If you find very fresh fish but don't plan to use it right away, you can double wrap it in plastic and freeze it, and proceed as usual with the poaching even while it's still frozen another day. I had wanted to use fennel seeds in this, but they were nowhere to be found, so I opted for dill, oregano, and thyme - and a spark of hot sauce!

This makes four servings.

1 lb. fresh or frozen cod
3 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut into rounds
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
3 medium white potatoes ( or you can use tiny whole ones) halved, then sliced
(I used California Longs)
1 T. fresh dill, de-stemmed
1 T. fresh oregano, rosemary, or thyme or tarragon
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup diced red pepper
kosher salt
dash of hot sauce ( I used Sriracha)
1 T. olive oil or unsalted butter

Place the fish in a non-aluminum skillet, then add water to about halfway up the fish . Bring to a simmer, add a little salt, and cover. Keep checking the fish until it separates into large flakes, then remove from heat and uncover. Set aside.

Place the sliced potatoes and onion, and the dill or rosemary or oregano in a saucepan, and add water until it just covers the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook til just tender.
Add the cup of chicken or vegetable stock to the potato mixture, then strain the fish stock into the soup pot as well.
Add the rounds of corn, the olive oil or butter, more salt and the hot sauce, and the red pepper and cook for just a few minutes. Turn the heat off and gently lower the fish into the pot, breaking it up gently with a fork. Taste for seasoning, and add more fresh dill before serving.
Ladle into bowls and serve.

Enjoy !

Saturday, July 23, 2011

dillyicious: home drying fresh dill in the microwave in 4 minutes

All too often, I reach into the vegetable drawer for that lovely bunch of fresh dill, pull out the plastic bag, and find a mushy, blackened slime fit for only the compost heap. Finally, finally, my timing was right, and I was able to stash several tablespoons full of freshly dried dill in my herb tin. And it took perhaps a half an hour, start to finish.

Here's how:

Remove your bunch of dill, and pinch off only the brightly colored, clean stems.
From the stems, pinch off only the wavy, delicate fronds, leaving the stems behind.
Place a paper towel on a large plate, and arrange the dill on top of the paper towel. Place another paper towel on top of the dill fronds.
As I have a ten year old microwave, you'll have to experiment with timing. The dill fronds took four minutes to dry in my ancient microwave.
Remove the top paper towel, and let sit for a few minutes.
Crumble the dill between your fingers - if it isn't totally dry, try another minute or two.
Let the dill completely dry, and crumble until fine, discarding the little twigs.
Place in an air-tight tin or bottle. As you see above, the dill I got from the health food store is quite faded, while the home dried is bright green.

Use for any number of recipes, from french potato salad, to leek and potato soup, to one pot chicken and vegetables, or simply stirred into creme fraiche with salt and pepper for a dip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

fresh blueberry muffins with lemon zest and buttermilk

For the next month, I will be revelling in blueberry season - freshly picked blueberries with milk for breakfast, blueberry muffins for tea, blueberries and Greek yogurt and honey for dessert after dinner. Some I pick myself, wild beside the ponds and lakes around here, but mostly bought fresh from the farmers markets and farmstands. Only after a month or so, will I start freezing some for winter - I love the seedy freshness of just picked berries so much I can hold off a while before stuffing freezer bags into the freezer.
My favorite recipe? Probably this one, with the perkiness of lemon zest and buttermilk. I lately have been using paper nutcups for wee little muffins - no need to grease, and a perfect little few bites of warm, oozy fresh blueberries spilling down the sides . I found them at Michael's crafts store, in the wedding department.

Enjoy the season!

To make about 10 little muffins, or 6 Texas size muffins:

Grease a Texas size muffin tin, or place paper nutcups in a regular sized muffin tin - no greasing needed.
Preheat oven to 350F.

2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour, plus 1 T. for toss the blueberries in
3/4 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
grated rind of one fresh lemon
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup buttermilk, low fat or no fat
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla

Toss the blueberries in a bowl with the one T. flour and set aside.
Mix the dry ingredients ( the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and salt) in mixer bowl.
Mix in the wet ingredients: the egg, lemon zest, canola oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Toss in the blueberries and mix briefly.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop 1 scoop into nutcups, or two scoops into Texas size muffin tin.
Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes, remove to a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove to another cooling rack.
Eat as soon as possible, savoring blueberry season, or freeze for a sweet surprise in January!

Enjoy the season!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

crispy sugar snap peas with an herby boursin dip

What a beautiful day! The sun is out, the air isn't too humid, and the daylilies are blooming. I'm packing up my camera for a visit to Davis Brook Farm, an amazing local daylily farm: the scope of color, size, and shapes of their plants are truly stunning. After that, a walk on the beach at MacDowell Lake. My sugar snap peas are still putting out masses of fat peapods, so I'm packing my new favorite snack: crisp peapods with a creamy boursin dip. Oh, heaven!

The boursin I make is garlicky, with smooth undertones of parsley and tarragon, chives and a little dijon. It's delicious on sandwiches, or a little cold chicken or fish, too. Fat slices of warm tomatoes topped with boursin sounds like heaven to me, but I'll have to wait, as my tomatoes are still small and green. I've even made a dairy-free version, by substituting a little olive oil and tofu, instead of cream cheese and sweet butter. It needs to be kept in the fridge, so if you're serving it as a dip, let it soften a little, and add a dollop of olive oil or buttermilk to make it a little thinner.

I serve the dip in shotglasses, or small glass cups, with a few peapods ( and more in a bowl on the side for hungry guests) so people can carry it around - and everyone can double-dip as much as they want.

To make the boursin:

Adapted from Picnic

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 stick ( 8 T. ) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. kosher salt

freshly cracked pepper

1 t. dijon mustard

1 T. minced fresh Italian parsley

1 T. minced fresh chives

1 t. dried tarragon

1/2 t. worcestershire sauce

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and pressed

1 T. olive oil

Place all your ingredients in a mixer bowl and mix until creamy and incorporated.

Serve with assorted raw vegetables, as a sandwich spread, stirred into hot pasta, atop cold meats, fish, or chicken, or - straight from a spoon:)

If you're making the dairy-free version, using olive oil and tofu, use the food processor.

Store in fridge until needed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

strawberry scone dud & the pleasure of ferns

My humble greetings to all! It has been an exasperating day, when once again I wasted those beautiful local strawberries on a scone recipe that refused to work. After thinking it over, I believe the moisture of those local berries skewed the recipes - leaving me with strawberry cookies that were quite stuck to the cookie sheet. Ah, well, so it goes sometimes. And with that thought, I took a lovely cool walk on a very hot day among the trees and ferns. I hope your day has been cheerful and comfortable!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

chilled parsley and romaine soup

It's a true summer day - sweltering heat and humid, and the urge to spend most of your time in the closest available body of water. Happily for me, after dipping my toes in the pond in between errands and appointments, I had this soup ready and chilled in the fridge for a late lunch. Perfectly light, but full of flavor, it was all I needed on this very hot day.

The recipe came to be because I was determined to use all that beautiful produce from the farmers market and the farmstand before it wilted, and the dark, leafy greens of the Italian parsley were especially gorgeous. In the vegetable drawer next to the parsley, sat the head of romaine, so, voila! - a soup was born. Parsley is so often used as a garnish, while it is a very tasty and healthy herb that should be used more as a vegetable. For more flavor in any of your summer salads ( pasta and potato come to mind) just add in a cup of chopped parsley to perk up the taste.

The recipe: ( makes 3 servings)

1 T. olive oil
half of a large white onion, peeled and sliced
2 large cloves peeled garlic
pinch of thyme
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups roughly chopped parsley
2 cups romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 t. dried dill, or 1 T. fresh, finely minced
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic, thyme, and stock and bring to a low boil, then add the parsley and romaine. Cook for 5 minutes and remove to cool for a few minutes.
In two batches, puree the soup in a blender ( it's HOT - be careful!). The immersion blender didn't work well, because the parsley and lettuce were undercooked, and too rough for the immersion stick.
Stir in the dill, a little salt ( you can add more just before serving, if needed), and pepper, and chill for at least an hour.
Garnish with violas, mint, or, if your sugar snaps are blooming - a little pea blossom.
Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

strawberry saturday

Warm fresh strawberries, crackly meringue cups, and softly whipped cream for before the fireworks tonight!