All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

snowstorm breakfast: red potatoes with melted cheese, rosemary, and olive oil

Yes, it's snowing again.  It's supposed to snow all day, or turn to ice pellets, or perhaps sleet and heavy snow, bringing down the power lines.  

I'm fortifying myself with this winter breakfast - a warm and comforting plate of sliced baby potatoes, lots of olive oil, melted cheese, and rosemary.  I use the microwave (while I still have power), but I suppose you could do it in a toaster oven - I'm too impatient to wait.  I used the end of a block of mozzarella and some Monterey Jack, though if I had my choice I would probably use gruyere and mozzarella.

Drizzle olive oil on a heatproof platter or plate.
Add a few thin slices of cheese and microwave very briefly.
Layer with cooked, sliced baby potatoes.
Add more thin slices of cheese and drizzle with more olive oil.
Sprinkle with rosemary leaves, salt, and freshly ground pepper and microwave until melted and bubbling.  If you have a few cherry tomatoes, those are also wonderful but halve them or they will explode.

Just think - only two more days til March!  Stay warm and dry, wherever you are.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

make your own power bars ( and a birthday)

I came across this recipe of sorts last week somewhere, and for the life of me cannot find the link.  To the person who posted it, please let me know, because you deserve a basketful of credit. ( I just found the link!  It's from The Kitchn, here. )

What a revelation!  The recipe is this:

1 cup dried fruit in small pieces
1 cup toasted nuts ( I use a toaster oven for a few minutes)
1 cup date pieces

Toss in food processor until it forms a ball.  You can add a teaspoon of water to help it along.  You can change the fruits and nuts, but always add the dates.

Pat into a rectangle, cut into logs or form into balls, and let air dry, then store in container or plastic bag.

That's it!  I made them first with dried cranberries, toasted walnut pieces, and dates, and when that was gone in a flash, made dried cranberry, toasted cashew, and dates.  Isadora ate most of them today at my birthday brunch.  She made Julia's crepe batter, I made the crepes, and we all sat down to the most delicious meal!

And below, there are the cards the kids made me, which tickled me to no end, and made yet another snowy day delightful.

Isadora is just learning how to spell in first grade.  I think this says "Surprise!  Happy Birthday I love you so much"  ( awwwww)
And Frankie (aged two) calls me Mimi:)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

tuscan vegetable soup with cannellini beans and rosemary

The snow is still here.  Heaps of cement-hard snow, topped with fanciful icing, after the snow turned to sleet and then everything froze.  What do I expect?  It's February.  This is normal, and so is the cabin fever-want-to-go-to-Florida gloom.  It's been a very cold winter, and waking up to 5 degrees most mornings is a little disheartening.  

But, I have one of my baby geraniums beside the bed, and it is budding, so that will do.

I have been longing for my Tuscan Tomato soup, but very suddenly have to gear down eating anything too spicy or acid - a side effect after the pneumonia I got in the fall.  The winter has addled my brain, because only today did I think of adding more vegetables, less tomatoes, and no hot sauce.  But lots of rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and basil!  A little butter and a spoonful of sour cream topped the second bowlful, and now I'm happy:)

To make about 3 big bowls of soup:

1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 T. unsalted or salted butter
1 t. olive oil
1/2 cup peeled carrots, cut on a slant
3/4 c. sliced celery
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces, with some
   of the juices
1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 t. thyme
1 t. basil
1/2 t. kosher salt
4 sprigs rosemary
1/2 t. tarragon

Place the olive oil and butter in the stockpot.  Add the onion and cook five minuts, then add the celery and carrots, the stock, the tomatoes, and the herbs and salt.  Simmer for 25 minutes, then add the cannellini beans and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with sour cream or curls of parmesan, or a nice thick chunk of good bread with butter.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

dark chocolate & espresso valentine cakes

Wowser, that was some blizzard we got!  Still digging out from the 3 foot snow that arrived the night of the 7th, but thankful we never lost power.  The last two nights I've fallen asleep still in my snow pants, and I'm thankful to have finally cleared most of the snow that the plows couldn't manage to reach, and the car is finally uncovered.  Bliss.  And now I'm behind on the Valentine express!

What goes together better than chocolate and coffee ?  That's what I thought, and I actually prefer these spongy little cakes to a chocolate bar, at least most of the time.  Intense flavor for a little cake like this, and the thought did cross my mind that whipped cream or buttercream frosting would sandwich nicely between a split cake, especially because they aren't super sweet.  An exalted Devil Dog, if you will, which I have eaten exactly twice in my life, but never forgot.  These could also be made as cupcakes, with a swirl of frosting, wouldn't that be cute?

Adapted from Muffins by Marie Simmons
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. instant coffee or espresso powder
2 t. baking soda
pinch kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup double strong brewed coffee
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
2 t. vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease medium heart shaped muffin tins.

In a mixer bowl, mix in the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda,salt,  and espresso or coffee powder.
In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, milk, coffee, melted butter and vanilla briefly, then add to the flour mix, mixing well.
Add the chocolate chips and mix briefly.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups. 
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the center of the muffin is slightly firm to the touch.
Let cool, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

This makes 15 heart shaped muffins.

Below is a picture of the snow from inside the front storm door.  There was so much snow I couldn't get the door open, so I had to raise the storm door panel and climb out to shovel:)

Monday, February 4, 2013

sweet, pink Valentine cookies

Love.  I think of my stepmother and my father who cooed and sent sweet cards and letters to each other, signed ILY.  I Love You. Their late night silly dances to crackly jazz records on the old record player, laughing, my father in a fez he picked up in Turkey, my stepmother wrapped with colorful scarves as they dipped and spun. Nightly talks on the phone with my mother, always a free spirit, but powerfully connecting conversations.

I 'm reminded of the passionate and heart-thumping feeling I had when I saw my son, and my daughter, as they were born, and the everlasting nights when I leaped up and cooled a fever, or just made special pancakes for breakfast.  That is love, too.

At yesterday's birthday celebration for my granddaughter Isadora ( her seventh!), she used her new face pencils to draw two big hearts on her face, one on each cheek , and I thought of the joy our Izzie and her little brother Frankie have brought into our lives.

And then I came home and made these buttery Valentine cookies with a pale pink glaze simply to celebrate Love, recipe from Martha, always special, always delicious.

Martha's Sugar cookies:
Recipe from Martha Stewart's book, Entertaining.

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 large egg
2 T. brandy ( I used Courvoisier)
1/2 t. vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl, then add the salt, flour, baking powder, egg, brandy, and vanilla and mix until the dough forms a ball.

Pat the dough into a rough rectangle, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to roll out, preheat oven to 375F  (updating 2/11/13:  I am now preheating to 350F, because after the first batch of cookies, the rest of the cookie batches baked too quickly). Cut the rectangle in half, and proceed. You can gather the scraps up and use again - the dough is very forgiving.

Place cookies on foil covered cookie sheets fairly close together.

Bake cookies for 9 minutes, though if your cookies are small, keep your eye on them - they may bake faster, and these cookies should not be browned.

Remove cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.

The icing:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg white
2 drops lemon juice
2 drops red food color

Beat the egg white until frothy, then add the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice and food coloring. Brush on completely cooled cookies and let dry on racks. When the icing is completely dry, it should be shiny and hard - which makes these much easier to transport or package.