All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, April 23, 2012

wedding day brunch and cozy fresh corn and leek chowder

What a wonderful few days!  I went to my daughter's pre-wedding brunch at that most divine eatery,  Burdick's Cafe, in Walpole, NH, lots of good food, good company, and lovely  platefuls of deliciously pretty salmon with green olives and chickpeas, little Cornish hens ( amazing!),a beautiful vegetarian platter, gorgeous salad, and their signature chocolates , in this case, chocolate penguins - as Anni said, "they mate for life":).   Mostly, I just got a little sentimental and weepy.  It's a wonderful feeling when your children are happy ~

Back home to a chilly, but blessedly rainy day, FINALLY!  The brook is full and running fast, and I needed something soothing and warm.  

I settled on a leek and fresh corn soup with red-skinned potatoes and bits of butter, fresh cream, and thyme, dill, and chives straight from the garden.

Makes about 3 bowls of wonderful chowder.

1 1/2 cups washed, sliced leeks
1 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups washed, sliced, baby red potatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
pinch of thyme
1 T. minced fresh dill
1 T. minced fresh chives
2 cups fresh corn-from-the-cob, sliced off the cob
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot, then add the leeks and cook on medium low until the leeks are meltingly soft.  Add the stock, potatoes, and thyme, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are almost soft.

Add the off-the-cob corn ( or you can use frozen kernels, but it won't be quite as good), the dill, and the chives and cook for another 15 minutes on medium low, adding the cream at the very end.  It's important to not boil the cream, so keep an eye on it.

Taste and add more seasonings as wished.

It's really a nice light supper that doesn't need anything else, but feel free to serve with salad or bread with sweet butter.

Hope you're enjoying every minute of your day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

buttermilk pear cake

My goodness!  When I went to write a blog post, I discovered Blogger completely changed the format overnight and I am lost.  Forgive any visual glitches - I have no time to figure this out this morning.

I brought home the most wonderful bag of small pears the other day, and was suddenly reminded of an old recipe, given to me , oh - probably 30 years ago.
You make a soft dough and press into a tart or cake pan, arrange sliced pears on top, and add streusel and voila!  I often make these as little tarts, but I thought I'd try a little cake with my new 6 inch cake tins.  It's a terrific size for 2 or 3 people and it came out beautifully.

Makes one 6 inch cake

To make:

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter a small 6 inch cake pan, or two or three tartlette pans.

The topping:
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. soft, unsalted butter 
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. grated lemon zest
pinch of kosher salt

Mix the ingredients well and set aside.

The pears:
2 medium pears, unpeeled but cored, sliced

The dough:

1 c. King Arthur all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
1 T. of the topping
3 T. soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk

Mix in mixer bowl or food processor just until combined into a soft dough.

Press the dough into the cake pan or tart tins.
Sprinkle a little topping on top of the dough.
Arrange the pear slices in a circle .
Sprinkle with the rest of the topping.
Bake for 36 minutes or until top is golden.

Let cool briefly, and run a dull knife around the cake.
Tip onto a plate, then top with another plate and flip back.
Serve beautifully.

Exciting weekend for me - my daughter is getting married!  What are you up to?  Hope it's wonderful!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: SPRING!

A little bit of Spring Fever has hit me today, as I walked around the Depot Square area of Peterborough, NH, where the shops are embracing this glorious early Spring with masses of potted flowers. A dandelion tickles my foot as I sit on a granite bench, and as I pass the library, the beauty of their flowering trees makes me stand in wonder and delight. The delicate blossoms of a flowering crabapple tree comes into focus as I open the car door.
This season makes everyone wander somewhat crookedly, intoxicated with the explosion of greens and shoots, buds and tissue-thin petals. SPRING!

Hope you're enjoying the season, wherever you are!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

sauteed brussels sprouts with lemon juice and olive oil with a bonus

Whenever I make brussels sprouts this way, the word that comes to mind is "bright". Bright in color, bright in taste, with the zing of fresh lemon juice and a glaze of olive oil. I made this Easter Day, and it was inhaled, and leftovers snatched up to take home. I had a packet of brussels sprouts leftover, so I made them again, but this time, faced with solitary leftovers, I made a bonus soup; a handful of spinach, a sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles, and it was perfect for this chilly evening.

To make the brussels sprouts:

4 cups trimmed, sliced brussels sprouts
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
kosher salt and fresh pepper
2 T. (approximate) fresh lemon juice

Pour olive oil into a large skillet set on medium heat.

Add the sliced brussels sprouts and water and saute for approximately 7 minutes, stirring several times to make sure nothing scorches.
Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and stir, then take off heat and cover.
Taste, add more salt and lemon juice if desired, and a hefty drizzle of olive oil, then serve.

For that glorious soup?

2 cups leftover cooked brussels sprouts
1 cups packed raw spinach, sliced
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cups water
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. thyme
About 5 tablespoons fresh goat cheese, crumbled with a fork
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

In a stockpot, on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion and stir often until the onion is soft. Add the cooked leftover brussels sprouts, the spinach, and the water, then add the thyme and nutmeg and stir. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for around 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes, then puree in food processor. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh, crumbled goat cheese and serve.

Hope you had a grand Easter!

Monday, April 9, 2012

behold the humble egg

It is Easter Monday, and I'm gazing happily on my trove of colorful HB eggs. What to have first? The HB egg and tomato sandwich? The wasabi egg? Or maybe I should go check out Kalyn's post today on a plethora of HB egg recipes?

So while I'm trying to decide, I'll have a cup of coffee and go back to Alice Walker's
wonderous book " The Chicken Chronicles".

"...The other change is that you are molting. Which means you are throwing off all of your old feathers and new ones are coming through. You are not tidy, not neatly into your ordinarily compact and perfect chicken shape. You look a bit mussed. But you don't seen to notice, which is a lovely trait. Did humans ever have this? Did we ever go through our life changes without making a big deal about them? Did we ever, anywhere, have our hair fall out, new hair grow in, and not once try to find a mirror?
I like your lack of vanity. It is refreshing......You seem so clear about who you are. So certain you are just right as you are, that for all your intelligence and maybe in spite of it, you never seem to need a second opinion."

She writes to her beloved flock from India, after a visit with the Dalai Lama, signing off with "Mommy". How endearing is that?

Need more egg recipes? You can find everything from asparagus frittata to spinach quiche, and how to test your eggs for freshness in my index, here.

Hope your day is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Icebox cookies - and an ice cream sandwich

What? Ice cream sandwiches on the 4th of April? Yes, indeed! As you see above, the pond has no ice - and no snow to be seen and it's 62 degrees and sunny. Isn't that perfect weather for a spicy, chili pepper-infused ice cream sandwich? Raise your hand if you agree:)

I can't take credit for the recipe, which comes from Saveur. Found in my stash of recipes to try, there was no photo of the cookie, so I had no idea how they were going to look. They turned out to be a lacy and very spicy cookie, that just begged to be paired with vanilla bean ice cream.

The cookie dough rests in the freezer for at least 8 hours, so factor that into your timing.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

1/2 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
3/4 cup good quality unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cayenne
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 large egg
12 T. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Whisk flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Place sugar, vanilla, and egg in mixer bowl and beat until thick and pale. Add butter and beat until smooth. Slowly add the flour and cocoa mixture and beat until all the flakes of butter are incorporated into the dough.

Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a fat log about 8" or 9" long. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 8 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Fit cookie sheet with foil, shiny side up. Unwrap one of the logs and cut with a sharp knife into discs about 1/2 inch thick. Place discs on cookie sheet, not too close together as they spread.

4. Bake for about 12 minutes, then remove to cool. When completely cool, use a spatula to remove from cookie sheet and set on cooling rack.

Continue to bake the rest of the cookies as above, or leave one log in the freezer for another day.

Serve alone with tea or coffee, or use a mini ice cream scoop to arrange three scoops of vanilla bean ice cream in between two cookies.

Have a beautiful day!