All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ground turkey meatballs with fresh herbs and salsa

Some months ago, I noticed I had completely lost my taste for beef in any form - not burgers, meatballs, steaks, even thinly sliced roast beef.  I do love turkey, probably more than chicken, and I eat a lot of fish, so I don't seem to be missing it, but it is curious.

Now that summer is really here (!), I like to tour my garden patches, picking a few chives here, some rosemary sprigs there, and snipping off some sorrel leaves and turnip greens, celery leaves, and if I have blooming nasturtiums, those will go right in my basket, too.  Sometimes they go into a salad, but often they end up in soup or something like these juicy, plump turkey meatballs.  Sometimes the meatballs are tiny, but today I wanted big beefy diner-sized meatballs, two or three make the perfect lunch or dinner, nestled in a wedge of iceberg lettuce, just to be authentic - and OH! were they good!

I don't fry them up on high heat, but simmer them on middle heat, covered.  They come out tender, juicy, and have enough herby flavor to be tasty, but not overpowering.

How's your weather?  We are having thunderstorms and rain every late afternoon or evening and the plants ( and I) love it - no need to haul out the hoses,  thanks to Mother Nature!

Ground Turkey Meatballs with chopped herbs

This made about 10 large meatballs.

1 one pound package ground turkey
About 3 loosely packed cups of various herbs and greens:  I used:

4 scallions (green onions) trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 piece bread, torn up
1 large egg
1 medium red onion, quartered and sliced into chunks
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme ( which I prefer to fresh)
sliced sorrel leaves, stems are ok to use as well
rosemary sprigs
turnip or other greens, torn (spinach, tender kale, etc can be used, too)
nasturtium leaves and flowers
garlic scapes
radish leaves
celery leaves and some of the stalk, sliced
sprigs of oregano
sea salt and pepper
about 4 T. salsa, divided ( I used Green Mountain Gringo hot salsa)

Place ground turkey in a large bowl.
In food processor add the herbs and greens, the red onion, the scallions , the bread, thyme, and 2 T. of the salsa.  Pulse or chop by hand into a coarse mixture.  

Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the turkey, and add the sea salt and the raw egg and mix well.

Pour a few tablespoons mild olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium.

Form the turkey mixture into large balls - a little smaller than a tennis ball.

Cook for 10 minutes on medium, covered, then flip the turkey patties over and cook another 5 minutes, covered.

Serve on iceberg wedges or hearty rolls, top with a little more salsa and serve.  Now I'm thinking a little goat cheese crumbled on top would be fabulous - next time!


Monday, June 24, 2013

big banana muffins on a hot day

Boy, it's hot.  I mean 97 degrees hot, and that is not something those of us who live in the mountains of New Hampshire are used to.  I have it down to a science:  Wake up at 5 am, open all the windows, then a few hours later as it starts to heat up, close all the windows, put down the shades and go soak in a cool pond.

In this kind of heat, I do my baking early, too.  With the windows open, the kitchen doesn't heat up as much.  Why I get the baking urge on days like this is a mystery - maybe it's the Super Moon, which I didn't get to see because of the cloud cover.  This morning I tackled those wonderful brownies of Maida Heatter's( using toasted pecans instead of walnuts) washed the bowls, then whipped up some big banana muffins, mild and slightly sweet;  spongy but nicely filling.  I like to add a little rolled oats and lemon zest and cinnamon , which makes them a lot more interesting than just using mashed bananas.

Stay cool, wherever you are!

Big Banana Muffins

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease one Texas size muffin tin, set aside.

2 large bananas, mashed in mixer bowl
1 t. lemon zest
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 T. canola or mild olive oil
1 cup buttermilk

Mix the wet ingredients well, then add:

2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups about 3/4ths full ( I use two scoops of batter, using a normal size ice cream scoop).

Set muffins in upper third of the hot oven, bake for 25 minutes, or until tops spring back when gently pressed.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

asparagus with lemon emulsion sauce on a rainy day

Rain, rain, rain.  Days and days of rain tend toward gloom.  The roses rust and droop, and the newly planted vegetable starts refuse to grow beyond their 2 inch plugs.  One day, the sun came out, and as I checked on my pots of herbs, a tiny slender baby snake slithered away.  Of course I screeched, I always do:)

I ended up grabbing a bundle of fresh asparagus at the last minute one day at the market - it was crispy and green and reminded me, yes - it really is Spring.  I usually cook asparagus quickly, then dip in melted butter with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  And I always end up with a stubborn stain on my shirt.  I suddenly remembered a sauce I used to make - ( aioli) - but it was rather heavily scented with raw garlic, so I experimented with a milder version, sans the garlic.  Sweet!

I sliced the asparagus on the diagonal, then quickly blanched it in boiling water, then drained it.    As it was cooling, I made the lemon emulsion, and drizzled it on the asparagus, then served, to some very appreciative and hungry guests:  my family!  Even Frankie the two year old ate it, and that's saying something!  I served vermicelli on the side, along with some parmesan, with fresh blueberries and strawberries I marinated in orange juice.

For the asparagus:

Trim the ends off the asparagus spears.
Cut on the slant in 2 inch pieces, set aside.
Bring water to boil in a pot, when boiling, toss in the asparagus until just barely tender, strain, and set aside to cool.

For the lemon emulsion sauce:

1 large egg yolk from a fresh farm egg
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of sea salt or to taste
a pea sized bit of dijon mustard (more would overpower the sauce)
1/2 cup mild olive oil ( not virgin or extra virgin)

Whisk the egg yolk, then add the lemon juice.
Add the salt and scrape into a food processor.
Drop in the dijon, and whiz.
Add the olive oil, a teaspoon at a time, with the machine going.  
As you add the oil, the sauce will come together in a glossy, creamy emulsion.  Do not be tempted to add the oil all at once, or the sauce will fail.

Drizzle on the asparagus and serve.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

baby greens soup with spinach, rosemary, and thyme

I was overjoyed to find my friends Robyn and Susan at the farmers market once again.  I have missed their baskets of beautiful greens much more than I ever realized.  Both had bountiful offerings:  one with fresh mature arugula, the other with bags of  spring greens - everything from baby chard (yellow and red), turnip greens, and baby kales.  I positively floated home to make this rich green soup, vibrating with healthiness and freshness.  I added some mature spinach I had on hand, and a tasty bowl of new chicken stock, a few sprigs of rosemary and voila!  Perfection.

Makes about 3-4 cups of the most delicious soup:

To make:

2 T. red or white onion or leek whites, chopped
2 T. raw rice (I had Uncle Ben's on hand, so I used that)
2 to 2 1/2 cups fresh chicken or vegetable stock

Simmer the stock, rice, and onion or leek for about ten minutes, covered.


2 cups of packed mature spinach
2 cups packed baby greens
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 T. rosemary leaves, stripped from stem
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the pot and simmer for about 7 minutes, turn off heat, set aside for ten minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender, taste, and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a nice crusty bread and butter, if you wish. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

the seduction of fresh apricot tarts

I am not sure what happened to me in the supermarket, but when I saw the rosy blush of fresh apricots, I was lost.  Small, plump apricots, smooth and enticing, totally out of season - apricots, as far as I know, are not local to New Hampshire, at least not in June.   I know, I know.  I was seduced.

And so, I bought three, and made a delicious pair of tarts, puckery and overlaid with the sweetness of our beautiful local honey, sprinkled with toasted pecans and a pinch of nutmeg.  Perfection.

I used Orangette's tart dough recipe, and was very pleased with it, and tossed the apricots with a bit of orange juice, honey, nutmeg and salt, and a tablespoon of sugar, then drizzled them with our wonderful local honey, all good, all pleasing, and the end result?  A lovely dessert, missing only a tablespoon of whipped cream, because I had none, but it would have been the perfect ending.  

For the dough:

For crust:
4 Tbsp. ice water, plus more as needed
¾ tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
9 Tbsp. (4 ½ oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

To prepare the crust:

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine 4 Tbsp. ice water and the cider vinegar. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; there should be no pieces of butter bigger than a large pea. With the motor running, slowly add the water-vinegar mixture, processing just until it forms a ball. If the dough seems a bit dry, add more ice water by the teaspoon, pulsing to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a wooden board or clean countertop, and gather it until it just holds together. Shape it into a disk about 1 ½ inches thick.   Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for two hours. 

Butter two four or five inch tart forms ( with removable bottoms) well.  Remove the dough from the fridge,  and cut the dough in half, storing the other half in the freezer for later.  Roll out the dough and press dough into tart pans, firmly pressing down into the tart pans, trimming off the excess.  Firm again with your fingertips.  Set aside, and preheat oven to 360F, then prepare the apricots.

For the fruit:

Three or four small apricots.
Cut the apricots in half, remove the stone, and cut each half apricot into 5 or 6 pieces.
Toss with :
1/4 cup white sugar
big pinch of nutmeg or mace
big pinch of kosher salt
3 T. orange juice
2 tablespoons chopped pecans

2 tablespoons local honey to drizzle

Toss the sugar, nutmeg, salt, and orange juice with the apricot slices.  Arrange the apricots in a circular fashion around the tart form.  Top with pecans.   Drizzle with a tablespoon of honey on each tart, and set in the oven for 40 minutes or so.  Remove to cool for 30 minutes, remove from tart pans,  then cut into halves and serve as is, or with whipped cream.  Serves four.

Total bliss.  Enjoy!

Chive blossom vinegar on a sneezy Thursday

Pollen season is here.  I am sneezing my way through the days and nights, but also admiring the slow growth of my chive plant.  Once upon a time, I had a very small chive plant.  I have babied it like you wouldn't believe, but it never grew those stupendous blossoms other people had.  This year, a little better, but only enough for a fat handful or two of those pretty little purple blossoms.  I was eating my lunch on the terrace, looking at the blossoms, when I suddenly realized this was the day!  The blossoms were full, the sun was out, so I grabbed my scissors and snipped away.  And I made, as I always do, Chive Blossom vinegar.

I used to steep the blossoms in the sun in a jarful of white and apple cider vinegar, but too many times we had stormy weather - rain and clouds, gloom and fog.  I hit on a method that is quick and pleasing, and guarantees at least one bottle of that rosy, onion-flavored condiment that is fresh and ever so slightly onion-y from your little garden.  It works wonderfully in salad dressing, or marinades for the grill, but make sure you keep it in a corked bottle in the fridge, since it is basically a puree from a juicy, fresh plant.

To make:

1 or 2 cups chive blossoms, pulled off  or snipped from a blooming chive plant

Place the chive blossoms in a blender, then cover with half apple cider vinegar, and half white vinegar.  Blend on Liquify.

Pour the liquid, blossoms and all, into a glass jar and screw on the lid, making sure the vinegar does not touch the metal of the lid.

Place the jar in the sun for a day or two, or until it turns a lovely, gentle pinky-purple.

Using a plastic funnel lined with a coffee filter,  strain the vinegar into a bottle or jar and store in fridge.

That's it!  You are now a proud owner of a coveted Spring tradition - fresh chive blossom vinegar.  Enjoy!