All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

wordless wednesday: mushroom season

Monday, September 26, 2011

spinach and mushroom soup and a mushroom walk

Yesterday I took a long walk in the woods , on the hunt for mushrooms, not for eating, but the wonder of those astounding fungi. I still buy those plump white mushrooms at the store, saute them a bit in butter or olive oil, and eat on toast: heavenly. The sea sponge-like mushroom above is known as a "coral" mushroom, and I'm told they're not good eating 'shrooms, but I find Mother Nature amazing - who would have thought this was a mushroom?

When I came home, I made up a spinach and mushroom soup that was light, but filling, along with an open face sandwich with sauteed mushrooms. What a perfect September lunch!

Spinach and mushroom soup


1/2 cup diced potato

about 2 1/2 cups water , or half stock, half water

1 small onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, sliced

hefty pinch of thyme

a pinch of nutmeg

a pinch of hot pepper flakes

1 t. butter or olive oil

4 medium white mushrooms, quartered

4 cups loosely packed spinach, destemmed if needed

kosher salt to taste


Place potatoes, garlic, and onion in the water/stock and simmer until the potato is soft.

Add the nutmeg, thyme, hot pepper flakes, butter or oil, and mushrooms. Cook briefly.

Add more water if needed, then add the spinach. With the back of a spoon, pack down the spinach as it cooks down. After the spinach has wilted and cooked, turn off the heat and cover. Wait ten minutes, then uncover and stir.

Puree with an immersion blender or regular blender and taste for seasonings.


What I'm reading:

Cold Mountain ( also watching the movie again)

Hope you're enjoying September!

Monday, September 19, 2011

eggplant stackers with basil and mozzarella

I came across this recipe in the Boston Globe a week or so ago and, being an eggplant lover, had to try it almost ASAP. The original recipe had panko bread crumbs, but since I almost always think bread crumbs add nothing to a recipe, I skipped them. I made a fresh tomato sauce by pureeing three huge tomatoes and simmering it for a bit; nicely perky and tasting of summer. A few fresh basil leaves, a little olive oil and salt and pepper, and, of course, that oozing mozzarella cheese make this a keeper for my files.

For four "stacks"

one large eggplant, at least 8 good slices for the stacks

1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt and fresh pepper

3 large tomatoes, cut into quarters, seeds squeezed out, pureed

1/2 cup parmesan, grated

several basil leaves, sliced

8 thin slices mozzarella cheese

Turn on the broiler.
Brush 8 eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil.
Broil eggplant until browned, then flip and do the other sides.
Remove eggplant to cool.
Place the pureed tomatoes in a small saucepan and simmer until it's
a little less watery. Add a little olive oil and salt and pepper, set aside.
Spread a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.
Using the largest slices of eggplant first, place on top of the tomato sauce.
Using a spoon, smear a little tomato sauce on each eggplant slice, then sprinkle on a tablespoon of parmesan, enough mozzarella to cover the slice, and some sliced basil leaf.
Top the eggplant stacks with the second slices of eggplant, again placing a good spoonful of tomato sauce on top. Add more basil leaf, and a little salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Slide the baking dish of stackers into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the mozzarella is melting.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

old fashioned peach cake

The glorious peach season continues, I'm happy to say. And, while I'd thought of making some peach and ginger jam for winter, I just couldn't put the idea of a fluffy cake topped with juicy peach slices and sprinkled with sugar out of my mind. And, because I knew I'd have to "taste" it, I put the diet aside - maybe until turnip season. There would be no chance at all I would be tempted to make a turnip cake, or turnip anything.

I adapted this from a southern cookbook and The Silver Palate cookbook. I baked it in an 8" x 2" cake pan; part of a wedding cake set I have that I love because of that two inch lip. And it's heavy , so cakes don't burn.

To make:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease an 8"x2" round cake pan.

For the cake:

4 T. softened unsalted butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup King Arthur all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 t. baking powder

large pinch of salt

2 T. topping mix( see below) plus more for the top

four or five peeled and sliced peaches

Cream the butter and sugar in mixer bowl. Beat in the egg and 2 tablespoons of the topping mixture, then add the flour, salt, and baking powder and milk.
Scrape into the cake pan.
Arrange the peach slices in a circular pattern, then sprinkle with sugar and the topping mix.
Bake for 35 minutes, until the cake is firm in the center when gently touched.
Let cool very well before cutting into slices.

The topping mixture:
4 T. soft unsalted butter
1/4 t. nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/3 t. grated lemon peel
1/3 cup sugar
Mix until combined.
I use this both in the batter, and on top of the cake.

Enjoy the season!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

overnight pizza dough and a peachy breakfast pizza

A glorious, quiet , and rainy Labor Day here, ending with a late night splurge watching several Cooking Channel shows I'd never seen, including one called Pizza Outside the Box. Oh my goodness, was that heaven - except by 10:30 pm I wanted pizza, badly. I had everything from peaches to three kinds of tomatoes, a few cheeses, veggies, onion jam, but no pizza dough. So inbetween watching the next show, Unique Sweets, I tossed together my traditional pizza dough , let it rise for an hour, punched it down, and stuck it in the fridge. I figured if I still wanted pizza in the morning, it would be quick to make.


An amazing thing happened overnight. When I rolled out a little of the dough in the morning and made an impromptu breakfast pizza of peaches, thyme, olive oil, tomatoes, cheese and onion jam, then briefly baked it , the dough was light as a feather, beautifully thin - and delicious. Now I have 10 little balls of dough in the freezer, just waiting for another pizza attack.


Overnight Pizza Dough

1 packet dry yeast ( about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water
4 cups all purpose King Arthur flour
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then add the flour, salt and oil in mixer bowl and mix until dough comes together. Remove and knead, place back in the mixer bowl, and drizzle with a tablespoon of oil, turning the dough so oil glazes the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour at room temperature, then punch the dough down , cover with plastic wrap again, and place in fridge.
The next morning, knead dough again and cut into 10 pieces. Use one piece for the morning pizza, then freeze the rest for later in a freezer zip bag.

Peach, Tomato, and Onion Jam Pizza with fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 450F or higher ( my stove smokes if I go higher, and sets the smoke detecters off).
Roll out pizza dough very, very thinly.
Brush both sides with olive oil and place pizza circle on a cooling rack or upside down cookie sheet and dot with peaches, onion jam, fresh baby tomatoes, fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, and shredded parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
Bake for about ten minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil carefully until cheeses melt and parts of the pizza are golden. Remove and let cool.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

perfect tomato salad

Ripe, juicy, perfect tomatoes for breakfast, and then again for lunch. I usually add a handful or two of arugula, but it was looking awfully wilted after our three day power outage. Simplicity itself.

Simple Fresh Tomato salad:

2 large, perfectly ripe red tomatoes, cut into chunks
a handful of yellow pear tomatoes, halved
1 T.olive oil
1 wine vinegar
lots of freshly ground pepper
kosher salt
chopped parsley and basil

Rub a clove of peeled garlic around the serving bowl several times. Add the vinegar and olive oil , salt and pepper, and whisk briefly. Toss in the tomatoes and the parsley and basil, and arugula if you have it. Serve at room temperature .

I wait all year for this - enjoy!