All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, January 30, 2012

meringues for izzie

My granddaughter, Izzie, is about to turn 6. Can you believe it? How can it already be 6 years since I first held her, not even a day old?

The first few years of her life, I indulged. I baked cookies and muffins, made pasta soups, and pasta salads, cakes with fresh flowers and creamy frosting, which she adored. We spent hours cooking together, and it was such a delight. But she wasn't feeling well at all, and it was only when my daughter took her to a specialist, did we find out she was gluten-intolerant, as well as (sometimes) , allergic to dairy.

As a baker, I should have embraced this new challenge, but instead I stopped baking. I arrived at her house with lots of fresh fruits, and little else. Slowly, oh, so slowly, I'm feeling my way to cooking and baking in a new way, and one that will be something she can share in, with her usual delight and passion for good food. Today, I experimented with meringues, sprinkling a pinch of (gluten-free) sparkles on the tiny swirls of airy egg whites.

Happy Birthday, Miss Isadora!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

morning glory muffins and the January thaw

What an odd few weeks. We have almost no snow on the ground - a surprise for this time of year, but, no, I'm not complaining! Standing on the bridge (photo just above) showed the brook running well, with snow barely covering the rocks. Unfortunately, there is plenty of ice on the driveway, and I see an awful lot of folks walking around with neon-green casts on their arms; walking can be difficult without cleats.

More freezing rain is expected tonight, and I thought I'd lay in a store of Morning Glory muffins to tide me through the hours of sanding tomorrow. Do you know about morning glories? Coconut shreds, grated fresh carrots and apple, applesauce and raisins tossed with canola oil and eggs and cinnamon, mix, bake, enjoy. I didn't realize I had run out of raisins, so this batch is sadly raisin free, but don't forget them!

Makes 10 Texas size muffins, or 20 regular size muffins.

To make:

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease two Texas size muffin tins, or regular size muffin tins (enough for 20)

In your mixer bowl place:
2 cups grated fresh carrots
1 1/2 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 apple, peeled and grated
1/2 cup applesauce
zest of one lemon
2 t. vanilla
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 t. cinnamon

Mix well, and then add:
1 t. baking powder
3 t. baking soda
3 1/2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar

Mix well. Using an ice cream scoop, place two scoops of batter for each muffin into the muffin tins, or one scoop per muffin if you're making regular sized muffins.
Pop into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins have risen and are firm to a gentle touch. Remove tins and cool for 5 minutes or so, then remove muffins carefully and set on a cooling rack.

Extras freeze beautifully - enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

warm fish chowder on an icy day

It has snowed and rained, then snowed again briefly, then the temperature dropped to frigid, leaving driveways shiny, slick and terrifying. Yesterday I passed three driveways with cars slid sideways, plunged into rock hard drifts. I am grateful my driveway is level, but getting up the hill into town can be a little hair-raising if you meet another car.

I did try to take my usual walk in the morning, but after punching my boots hard into the crackling ice, I gave up after thirty feet. And went home and made chowder.

This is such a comforting soup: tender flakes of cod ( or pollock, if you can find it), chunks of celery and half moons of potato, a few scallions, lots of home dried dill, fresh parsley, a tablespoon of melting sweet butter, and just before serving, a spoonful of cream is stirred into each bowl, making for one gentle, homestyle chowder. Add a slice of warm sourdough bread, and tuck in.

This makes two generous bowls of soup.

Place in a stainless steel or enamel skillet:

1/2 pound very fresh cod or pollock
pinch of salt
1/2 t. dried dill
1 T. unsalted butter
2 potatoes, (I used russets), peeled, halved and in 1/4" slices
water to almost cover the fish and potatoes.

Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

1/2 cup sliced celery ( a few leaves are good, too)
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1/4 t. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
two drops hot sauce

Continue to cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover the pan for another 15 minutes.

Gently remove the fish, dividing between the bowls.
Add another 1/4 t. dried dill and salt and pepper to the broth and vegetables in the skillet, then divide the potatoes, broth and celery mixture between the bowls, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons heavy cream to each bowl, and stirring carefully.

Serve with warm bread.

Serve at once.


Monday, January 16, 2012

fresh cod baked with tarragon, basil, white wine and rosemary

I couldn't believe my luck today when I came across just-came-in, super fresh cod in the seafood department at Shaw's. On a Monday? At a supermarket? Yes, yes, yes, to all. While I usually poach most fishes, I had just rediscovered an old seafood cookbook called "Simply Seafood", now out of print, sadly, but some second hand copies are wandering the Internet, with an interesting recipe for cod.

The recipe called for baking a thick slab of cod with lots of herbs, a little wine, butter, and mushrooms. How could I resist? When it was done cooking, I ate it in all of five minutes, such a treat. But I was left with quite a lot of juices and melted butter, so I'm thinking I could halve the butter, and probably the mushrooms, since they didn't seem to add much to the final dish. A quick squirt of fresh lemon juice over the fish did it for me - delicious!

To make:

1 pound of super fresh cod
2 T. melted butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 T. white wine or herb vinegar
1/4 t. basil ( dried is fine)
1/2 t. fresh rosemary
1/4 t. dried tarragon
salt and pepper to your taste

4 or 5 very thinly sliced lemon slices
2 sliced mushrooms
2 T. sliced green onions (scallions)
1-2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

I made this in a toaster oven, as it was such a small amount of fish, though you can just as well bake it in an oven.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place fish on an ovenproof platter or dish. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the wine or vinegar, garlic, rosemary, tarragon, and basil, plus a little salt and pepper, and pour the sauce over the fish.

Bake uncovered for around 15 minutes, pull out, and cover with the mushrooms, scallions, and lemon slices.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and return to oven, cooking for another 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve piping hot, along with some warm sourdough bread and a nice green salad.

Such a perfect dinner when it's 5 degrees outside, and ice and snow underfoot!


You might also like my fish chowder, made with cod or pollock.

Monday, January 9, 2012

ground turkey with apricots and sage

After several weeks on antibiotics for a sinus condition, my diet consisted mostly of toast and tea, juice and yogurt. Within a day of stopping the medication, my appetite came roaring back, and this was what I made. A juicy turkeyloaf studded with soft apricots, and lots of fresh sage and thyme.

I usually throw in a few tablespoons of bread crumbs when I make a meatloaf, but I'm trying to make a few gluten-free recipes with my 5 year old granddaughter in mind, so I chopped up fresh mushrooms instead. This is definitely going in my favorites file.

I I used 93% lean turkey, and split the mixture between two 3.5x5.5 inch ceramic loaf pans. As you can see, the mixture shrunk about an inch after cooking. There are quite a bit of juices when you first take them out of the oven, but they are reabsorbed as they cool.

Ground turkey with apricots and sage:

To make:

About 10 apricots, snipped with scissors into quarters
1 pound ground, 93% lean, no antibiotics, turkey
1 T. slivered fresh sage
1/2 t. thyme
salt and pepper to your taste
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 small egg
6 medium white mushrooms, medium chop
1/2 cup medium chop parsley

Preheat oven to 350F

Oil two small ceramic loaf pans with olive oil.

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl, and mix until completely incorporated.

Divide the mixture and pat into pans, smoothing the tops.

Bake for about 35 minutes and remove to cool. (The cooking time may change depending on the loaf pan or pans you use).

Great for leftovers, and freezes well!

You might also like the fresh chicken meatloaf I made a while ago. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

sick day soup

I promise, I did eat my hoppin' john on New Year's Day, but I took it along with the antibiotics for a wicked sinus infection, so maybe it didn't count. The headache and half-my-face swelling is much better, but along with the antibiotics comes the total lack of appetite. Thus, toast, gingerale, and that warm green smoothie, now made into a 3 times a day soup that settles nicely.

Today I made it with beet greens, kale, parsley, and spinach, and it was just grand!

To make about 3 cups:

1 peeled onion, chopped

1 T. olive oil

2-3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock ( the vegetables should be just barely covered)

1/4 t. thyme

pinch of fresh nutmeg

a few drops of hot sauce

a pinch of ginger

a small sprig of de-stemmed rosemary
2 1/2 cups packed greens ( I used kale, parsley, spinach, and beet greens), chopped

salt and pepper as needed


Gently saute the onion in the olive oil in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes.

Add the broth, herbs, spices, and greens and cook until the greens wilt down and are softly cooked.

Remove from heat and let sit about fifteen minutes, then puree with an immersion blender or a regular blender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve in cups or glasses with golden, buttery toast.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

welcoming a new year with hoppin john

Joyful New Year's Day! The beans for the hoppin john are simmering, and later in the day I'll be feasting and reflecting on the year behind, and the year ahead. My usual recipe for hoppin john is here, but I've already made changes ( more pork belly and herbs, a little hot sauce), so I'll update as the day progresses.

Wishing you all a glorious, sparkling day and lots of smiles!