All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, July 29, 2013

bow-tie pasta with arugula-avocado pesto and goat cheese

What can I say?  Still hot and muggy here in New Hampshire, and my appetite has been just as spotty as a cool breeze.  Mornings are cooler, if you leave the windows open at night, so this morning I woke up hungry, first time in ages.

I was planning to make cookies ( which, in this humidity, instantly fall apart), but somehow segued to this tasty green pasta dish, which ended up being my breakfast. Brunch. Whatever.  It was 11 am:)   This also makes for a nice light supper, perhaps with raspberries and cream for dessert.

I had a little basil, but not enough for basil pesto.  But I had lots of peppery arugula, so mais oui, that could work.  No tahini, no pine nuts, so I stuck with garlic and a little parmesan and a nice new tube of goat cheese.  

What a gorgeous brunch/supper , hope you enjoy!

Makes 2-3 servings.

First, boil up about 1 1/2 cups bow-tie pasta.  Boiling salted water, about 8 minutes, then drain.

In your food processor add:

1/4 cup packed basil leaves
2 fat cloves of peeled garlic
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
2 packed cups arugula
1/4 cup olive oil (mild is fine)
salt and pepper

Process the above and taste.  Adjust salt and pepper, and if the arugula is just too strong, add:

1/2 avocado
quick squeeze of lemon juice


About 3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Place a heaping spoonful of green sauce on each plate, add the pasta, and a spoonful of goat cheese, top with a basil leaf and serve.

OR:  you can twirl it all together and serve that way.  Both are lovely.

Drier air tomorrow, I hear, and it can't come soon enough!  Hope you have a sweet day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

homemade boursin

Back in the 90's, I came across this wonderful paperback cookbook, called Picnic.  In this marvelous little book, I found a recipe for boursin - a rich, sparkling herb cheese, loaded with flavor - garlic, tarragon, chives or scallions, sweet butter, cream cheese.  At the time, I had a huge herb garden, and anything herb snagged my attention.  So I tried it.

Wooooo.  That was some recipe!  I have made it over and over, mostly in the summer and why I do not know, because it's amazing anytime of the year.  In the winter, I might stir it into a sauce, mash it into baked potatoes, or add just a wee bit to a nice spinach soup or melting on top of a nice poached fish or broiled steak.

In the summer - it's a dip with fresh summer vegetables from the garden - especially sugar snap peas or extravagant sandwiches.  Winner.

When you keep it in the fridge and then quickly pile it into a ramekin for dips, it tends to be a bit cold and flaky, but if you let it sit, it becomes creamy and very spreadable.

I once actually bought boursin at a supermarket, and was shocked that it was so ...well, fluffy and bland.  This boursin is nothing like that, but smooth and loaded with flavor.

To make 1 1/2 cups of boursin:

8 ounces soft cream cheese
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 - to 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dry mustard (I use 1 t. Dijon prepared mustard)
2 T. minced fresh parsley ( I use flat leaf)
1 T. minced fresh chives or scallion greens
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, which has a stronger taste
1 minced or smashed garlic clove
salt to taste - I use kosher salt

She suggests putting it in a food processor, but I use a mixer.  it comes out quite green if you use a food processor.

Place ingredients in a food processor or mixer and whiz or mix.  Taste and add salt as needed.

Keep in fridge until ready to use.  Let it warm to room temperature if you so desire.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Squire Tarbox blueberry muffins

A long, long time ago - probably at least 20 years, I tore out a blueberry muffin recipe in the Boston Globe from a little B&B in Maine called the Squire Tarbox Inn.  I was so happy with the recipe, whether I used wild blueberries, cultivated blueberries, or even frozen blueberries in the midst of winter, I kept using it.  I think the only change I made was to add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a little lemon zest to the batter.  Since this is prime blueberry season, I thought I'd share it with you.

I make these Texas size - two scoops of batter to a muffin.  They're tender and loaded with berries, soft, but not too crumbly and tough.

Makes 8 large muffins.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease two Texas size muffin tins very well, set aside.

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
3 cups King Arthur flour, all purpose
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a few scrapings of lemon zest
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, tossed in a tablespoon of flour
(if you use the tiny wild blueberries, you can use 1/2 cup less berries)

Beat eggs and sugar in mixer bowl briefly.  Add the milk and melted butter , and stir.
Add the cinnamon and lemon zest, the flour and baking powder, and mix very briefly.
Fold in the blueberries by hand, and fill the muffin tins, two scoops per muffin, using a regular sized ice cream scoop.

Bake for 30 minutes if using room temperature berries - frozen berries take a little longer.  They should be done when they are puffed and slightly firm to the touch if you touch the center of the muffin with a fingertip.

Remove the tins to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Use a dull knife to gently pry out the muffins - they usually pop right out.  Let cool another few minutes before serving.


It is still hot here, but not as bad as it was two days ago, thankfully.  Rain clouds skitter across the sky, but no rain has fallen in days.  If you leave the windows open at night, the house is lovely and cool in the morning - a big improvement!  Wishing you happy swimming and blueberry picking!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

the joy of watermelon juice (and watermelon floats)

Hot and humid, hot and humid with showers, hot and humid with thunderstorms - day after day, week after week, but when I remember January and February which were unusually cold for weeks and weeks, I'm not complaining.

I don't know about you, but hot and humid weather takes away my usual fierce appetite, good in some ways, but sometimes hard to find something really good to eat or drink.  And I found it two weeks ago.  Fresh chunks of watermelon whizzed in a blender.  Pour, serve.  Children like it with a ball of vanilla ice cream bobbing in that cold and pretty rosy juice, which then makes it a watermelon float.  Freshly made, it's very thick, but it thins out a little when stored in the fridge for a few days.  So far I've gone through two and a half  "baby"  seedless watermelons with no dampening of enthusiasm.

It's been a wonderful season for watermelons , and I hope it goes on for another month or so, because I've gotten used to this juice for breakfast , super chilled.  Sweet and lacking the acidity of orange juice, I was happy to find out it really is healthy.  Now I'm wondering if I can freeze some, though it won't last long in the freezer:)  For now, I have two jars stashed in the fridge to help me get through pruning the hedges, which have grown at least 18 inches in the last few weeks - they love this weather, clearly.

Hope your summer is going swimmingly!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

sizzling days: cucumber pickles with fresh dill

It has been sizzling here .  My outside thermometer registers between 90 and 110 degrees with the sun beating down.   I try my usual trick -  opening windows at night, closing first thing in the morning.  For two days, the house stays cool that way, but no longer.  We are down to cold showers and tepid pond water - the windows stay open all the time.

So, of course, one doesn't think of baking, but instead I reach for chilled French potato salad, stuffed HB eggs, and lots of lemonade.  One day I made Finnish cucumber salad and then wondered why I didn't just stash a jar of them as pickles in the fridge - they are cold, herby, and delicious on turkey wraps with fresh arugula.  I simply sliced the cucumbers, increased the amount of dressing, and stuffed them in a jar for instant gratification and quick, chilly, snacking.

To Make:

1 large cucumber or two medium, scrubbed but not peeled, very finely sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup de-stemmed, roughly chopped fresh dill

One large clean jar

Place the sugar, kosher salt, and white vinegar in a medium-sized ceramic bowl.

Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt have melted into the vinegar.

Add the dill, then add the cucumbers and toss well.

Spoon into the clean jar , cap, and store in fridge .

Stay cool, wherever you are!