All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rosemary focaccia with olives

Once the warm weather arrives, this is one of my go-to brunch, party, or dinner recipes - Nick Malgieri's soft, olive oil focaccia sprinkled with olives and everything from anchovies to tomatoes to onions or peppers sauteed in olive oil.  Goat cheese would be delicious, or some shavings of parmesan, but it's also great fairly plain.

This is from Nick's book, The Modern Baker , and I halved the recipe and baked it in a smaller baking pan/cookie sheet-with-an-edge.  Because of the olive oil, it doesn't go stale quickly, so I baked it the night before I was serving it and wrapped it in plastic wrap.

Served with chilled fruit and minty seltzer, it was perfect for an 80 degree day.

To make:

2 T. fresh rosemary, stripped from stems and minced in a food processor ( if you don't mind the stick-like quality of fresh rosemary leaves, skip this part)
2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. dry yeast ( I used Rapid-Rise)
3/4 cups plus 2 T. warm water
1 1/2 T. olive oil
assorted toppings - olives, anchovies, sauteed peppers, cherry tomatoes, etc.

Combine salt, rosemary, and flour in mixer bowl and stir.
In a small bowl,  whisk the yeast into the water and add the olive oil.  Wisk again.
With a rubber scraper/spatula, make a well in the flour mix and pour in the liquid mixture.
Stir in a circle beginning in the center of the bowl, gathering the flour into the wet ingredients until all the dry bits are completely incorporated into the dough.

With scraper or clean hand, fold the dough over itself gently, then cover bowl with plastic wrap until doubled in bulk - about an hour at a warm room temperature, more if it's cooler.

Oil a medium baking sheet/pan with olive oil.    Scrape the dough gently into the pan, and gently press the dough to the edges.  If it is too elastic, let the dough rest for a few minutes and press it to the edges.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Let dough sit for five minutes ( it's a nice soft dough), then dimple it all over using the tips of your fingers.  Add the toppings as wished, and drizzle on 1 or 2 T. olive oil.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden .  Remove and cool before cutting.

Here comes summer!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012

The cemeteries in this small town in New Hampshire are bedecked with flags and red geraniums today - the parade starts at two o'clock, and most of the town follows the parade from one graveyard to the next, pausing for a loud gun salute, and playing of Taps at each.  To those who served and continue to serve our country, thank you, -  you are never forgotten.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

chilled chive and parsnip soup

The month of May has been a little bit of everything in the weather department:  chilly enough to use the fireplace, if not reluctantly turning the furnace back on.  And then there were some glorious warm days when the thermometer hit the high 80's and 90's, when I changed my menu midstream from roasted parsnips to this delightful parsnip and thyme chilled soup.

Sweet and earthy (as parsnips are), it has little hints of the first chives and chive flowers, sprigs of thyme, and the freshness of sliced leeks.  It can be served hot or cold - I prefer the chilled version.

To make 3 servings:

1 cup sliced, washed leeks ( whites of leeks only)
1 T. unsalted butter or olive oil
1 1/4 cups peeled parsnips, cut into chunks
1 T. peeled fresh ginger, chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 t. thyme

Place in a saucepan and simmer until vegetables are soft ( about 12 minutes).
Take off heat and add :
1- 2 T. freshly snipped chives and flowers
Cover and let sit 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Puree and add:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 t. salt

If you are serving this chilled, add about 1/3 cup water as it thickens.
Garnish with thyme sprigs and fresh chives.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spring spronging

It happens every year, but it still amazes me.  One day the trees are bare, the next you wake up to an astonishing world of GREEN.  This is my view from the front step as I sip my morning coffee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

cranberry chocolate chip cookies

Spring has spronged!  One brief sunny day, the trees unfurled and there it was:  a beautiful green world.  Later that day, I found, to my delight, my favorite chocolate- not in a bar, but in fat little chocolate chips.  Which, of course, meant making one of my favorite cookies:  Plump ( though frozen) fresh cranberries, tangy dried cranberries, and 60% cacao chocolate chips in a buttery dough.  Mmmm.  Now, let's just hope I can figure out how to post on the new Blogger format:)

To make:

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line two cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.

2 sticks unsalted, room temperature butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
pinch of kosher salt 
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips)

In mixer bowl, cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and mix.  Add vanilla and mix again.  Add flour and baking soda and salt and mix , then add in the dried cranberries, fresh cranberries, and chocolate chips.  The dough will be quite stiff.

I use different sized ice cream scoops ( the spring-loaded kind) for the cookies - one small for regular size, and a bigger one for those large cookies everyone loves.  Leave about 2 inches between cookies as they do spread a bit.

For regular cookies, bake for 16 minutes;  for the monster cookies, it's 20 minutes.
Bake sheets one at a time in upper third of the oven. Your second batch of cookies should bake 2 minutes less (18 minutes) since the oven is hotter.

Set baking sheet on cooling rack until cookies cool, then remove to cool further on another rack.  This is especially important if you're wrapping them in plastic wrap.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

rainy day lentil soup with tomatoes, cumin, and kale

Rainy, rainy day - the kind of day you run around in the rain doing errands, come home to read the paper - and wake up an hour later, paper still in hand. A dozing day. And I was so happy to have one of my very favorite soups in the fridge, just waiting to be heated up, since I was still in that fuzzy after-nap dreamtime.

While I like pretty much all lentil soup recipes, this one has a little tang to it, in a perky way. You've got bits of juicy tomatoes, the spice of warm cumin, a few hot pepper flakes, lots of kale, and the pop of red wine vinegar, a little reminder of Portuguese cooking. Perfect for a day like today, when you think you just might go from couch to bed.

This makes about 6 servings - a nice potful for a few lunches and suppers.

1 cup regular brown lentils
2 bay leaves
pinch hot pepper flakes
pinch of dried oregano

Cover the lentils with water to spare by about 3 inches, add the herbs and hot pepper flakes, and simmer for 10 minutes, then drain the lentils and put back in the pot. This was a tip I got years ago to keep the lentils from causing any stomach distress some people have with beans.

1 t. oregano
2 T. olive oil
1 t. thyme
1 T. cumin
1 t. basil
1 clove peeled garlic, smushed
1 cup sliced, washed leek whites or 1 medium chopped onion
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, with juices, cut into pieces
3-4 cups torn, clean kale leaves
2 T. red wine vinegar
About 2-3 cups water or chicken or vegetable stock.
salt to taste

Cook the lentils, herbs, tomatoes, vinegar, leeks, and kale, olive oil and garlic for about 15 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Turn heat to low and simmer another ten minutes, tasting the liquid before adding salt. The liquid should cover the beans and greens just barely.

Taste, take off heat, and let sit before tasting again before serving. This is wonderful with warm, crusty bread with sweet butter or olive oil dipping sauce., along with a bottle of hot sauce on the table. This soup freezes beautifully, by the way.

Stay warm and dry !

What I'm reading:

Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

violets and fresh chive pasta

This is not a usual Spring - the violets, lilacs, and chive plants are a month ahead of schedule. No matter - I still celebrate their coming with a simple pasta dish that is perfumed with their essence. While I wonder if this is the year I finally make candied violets, I take a moment to inhale the scent of fresh chives - just before the buds blossom. Ahhhh. That's Spring for me!

To make:

Two handfulls of pasta ( I use vermicelli or thin spaghetti)
Boiling water
sea salt
olive oil
unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh chive spears
more salt, pepper, olive oil and unsalted butter to taste
fresh Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add a little salt and olive oil.
Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, then drain.
Toss in the fresh chives, more salt, pepper, olive oil, and unsalted butter to taste ( not more than a tablespoon of butter or oil) and sprinkle on the parmesan.
Serve with joy!

Happy Spring!