All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

rich chicken-vegetable soup with parsley dumplings

As the temperature tumbled the last few nights (24 degrees this morning), my appetite zeroed in on a deeply-flavored, herby, non-vegetarian dinner.  In this case, it was a double-rich chicken-vegetable soup, deep colors of butternut squash, the last green and red tomatoes, a few brussels sprouts, the dark meat of chicken thighs and legs, the sweetness of carrots, the flavor of my favorite herb, thyme - and a pinch or two of oregano and basil, along with a leaf of bay. I love the fall vegetables, and would have included parsnips if I'd had them.  But not turnips:)  Not a fan.

First I simmered a few bone-in chicken thighs or legs with an onion and herbs, then strained and gently simmered again with vegetables and pasta, and finally, poached parsley-flecked dumplings in the rich broth to make a delightfully satisfying meal.  Heaven.

What a way to welcome Fall!

You'll be pleasantly surprised to find that skin on, bone-in chicken, especially the dark meat thighs and legs, are more economical than skinless and boneless chicken breasts, which always puzzles me, as they have so much more flavor.  

First, make the stock:

3 chicken thighs or legs, bone-in, skin on
2 large carrots, trimmed and sliced into rounds
1 teaspoon thyme leaf
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, sliced

Place all into pot, cover with water, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Strain the stock into a large pot and let the chicken cool, then discard the skin, bones, and odds and ends of of rubbery bits, cutting up the meat into a dice.

In the stockpot place:

4-5 cups stock ( add water if needed)
1 cup sliced celery
the diced chicken meat
1 cup sliced, peeled carrots
1 cup kale or brussels sprouts, sliced
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden, sliced in half
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup bow tie pasta
1 T. butter 
pinch of thyme, basil, and oregano
salt and pepper

Simmer the soup on medium low- it will smell heavenly!

While the soup is simmering, make the parsley dumplings:

In mixer bowl, place:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
scant teaspoon of cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons minced parsley
3 tablespoons butter, diced
kosher salt and pepper
1 cup of milk

Mix well until the mixture forms a somewhat sticky ball.  Either use your hands or use a small ice cream scoop to make balls.

Just as the vegetables seem tender in the soup, place the balls of dough on top of the soup.  If the soup needs more liquid, add a cup or so so there is liquid just covering the soup.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes - fish out a dumpling to make sure it is completely cooked and tender.  If not, cover and cook five minutes more.

Makes a generous 4 servings.

Two days ago, I was out hiking and saw this beautiful little plant flowering.  I thought it was odd that a plant would flower so late in the season - and today, with below freezing temps, I went back to check on it.  The plant was still green, but the flower was gone.  Nature is a wonder!

Friday, October 25, 2013

creamy black bean soup with cumin and oregano

The first frosty morning.  The thermometer shows 24 degrees - can that be?  We have been very lucky to have such a long and beautiful autumn so far, but I'm never quite ready for that first below freezing day.

Also lucky to have made a wonderful black bean soup (which I found on Fine Cooking) in the fridge and ready for a toasty lunch today.  It's more creamy than chunky, but thick enough to qualify as a hearty soup.  I streamlined the original recipe by using my stick processor after a 20 minute simmer to meld the herbs and spices , a couple of dashes of hot sauce, then a quick puree.  Looking at the bowl of the last garden harvest, a quick chopping of green and red tomatoes and that beautiful Italian parsley for a last minute salsa sprinkled on top, with a little dish of sour cream on the side.  So perfect for this day.

Creamy Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed

In a small, heavy bottomed stockpot, saute the onions and garlic in the butter and oil on low until soft, about ten minutes.


2 cans drained black beans (the 15 oz size)
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste or good salsa
2 t. cumin
1 t. thyme
1 1/2 t. oregano
dash of hot sauce

Cook on low for 20 minutes, watching to make sure the soup isn't scorching.  If it seems too thick, add a cup of water.

Take off heat , cool a few minutes, then use a stick processor to puree.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, or some chunks of goat cheese.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

rapini and rigatoni pasta with lemon juice, olive oil, and hot pepper flakes

Another stunningly beautiful Autumn day here .  Sun shining, filtering through the high branches of mostly yellow leaves (not many sugar maples in these woods anymore), clear air, perfect temperatures for walking and hiking.  But then I remembered that fresh bunch of rapini (also known as broccoli rabe and my favorite green next to spinach) in the fridge. With my first cup of coffee I checked my bookmarks menu, remembering two recipes I'd filed there.  One was from Smitten Kitchen, the other from The Kitchn .

One a soup, one a very garlicky dinner dish. Both used red pepper flakes, one used fresh lemon juice, as I always do with any pasta dish.

The soup is a must-try for later, when the real cold weather arrives, but the rapini and pasta dish I made got slightly tweaked from the original recipe :  a tiny sliver of garlic because I can no longer tolerate a lot of garlic, a little less olive oil, more rapini, lemon juice, and those pepper flakes, and I took her advice to match the size of the pasta to the size of the greens, something I'd never really thought about before.   Best of all, you only need one pot to make this - though I did warm the olive oil in a small saucepan.

Rapini and rigatoni pasta with lemon juice, olive oil, and hot pepper flakes

Set a large pot of water on the burner, bring to a boil.

Set out your ingredients:

2 cups rigatoni pasta
4 packed cups of washed rapini, cut into 2 inch lengths ( I used most of the stems)

Juice of half a large lemon
1 clove of garlic, sliced ( more if you want)
generous pinch red pepper flakes
kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

When the water comes to a boil, toss in the pasta and set your timer for 6 minutes on high boil.
Add the rapini when the timer dings, and set timer for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, take pot off the heat and drain, then place back in the pot, and stir the lemon juice into the rapini and rigatoni.

In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil briefly, along with the garlic, and hot pepper flakes.
Drizzle over the rapini/pasta, add salt to taste, and spoon into a serving dish.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of more olive oil.

This serves 2 or 3 very happy people.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

poached apricots with cardamom and cinnamon cream

What a gentle Fall it's been - the leaves are lingering on the trees, the tomato plants are still green (no frost!) and the light is a glowing yellow , especially at twilight.

All those autumn colors made me think of apricots, or specifically, the Finnish compote I make in the winter from dried fruits.  But today I thought of only apricots.  I'm not sure why, but the stone fruits I bought at markets this summer weren't quite as juicy and fragrant as past years.  The weather, no doubt - we can always sigh and blame the weather.

This couldn't be easier - just simmer spices, lemons, and dried apricots in a little water and honey until plump and soft, cool, and whip up a little sweetened whipped cream or greek yogurt, dust with cinnamon, and voila.  Breakfast, lunch, or dessert.

And that window above?  My kitchen window right over the table.

Poached Apricots with cardamom, lemon verbena, cinnamon sticks, and lemon with whipped cinnamon cream

Makes 3 servings

1 1/2 cups of dried apricots
3 slices of fresh lemons, sliced into quarters
2 lemon verbena leaves or lemon balm leaves
2 sticks cinnamon
3 cardamom pods, left whole
2 T. good honey

Place all into a heavy saucepan and cover with water.  Simmer until the apricots are plumped, then take off heat and cool.  Taste the poaching liquid, and if it's too thin tasting, remove apricots and then simmer a bit more until a little syrupy.  Discard leaves and pods and cinnamon sticks before serving, if you prefer .

Serve with gently sweetened whipped cream and dust with cinnamon.

Happy continuing Autumn!

Friday, October 4, 2013

apple bread pudding

October.  Beautifully warm during the day, a nice little coolness at night.  Still picking apples at our local orchard, and the apples are so juicy and sweet, the fruit bowl empties within days.  

I was thinking about a dessert to make - not pie, not sauce, but something to put me in mind of puddings, which I love above all other desserts.  Mousse and puddings , custard and creme brulee, I do love them all.  As my sister once said to me, she adores nursery food.  As do I.

And so, looking at my latest batch of apples, I decided I wanted an inbetween dessert - custardy but with soft nuggets of those oh-so-fresh Macintosh apples.  Eggy, but not too rich. Something that could be whipped up quickly, but scented with cinnamon and good for breakfast or a slightly sweet ending.

I recently tried that wildly popular recipe for Bread in Five - a quick yeasted bread dough that could be kept in the fridge, and whipped up as you needed for rolls or loaves, and I fell in love.  I followed the recipe and now have a spectacular dough that is almost instantly available as I need it.  For this recipe, I simply grabbed a handful of dough, let it rise, and made a quick ...well, not a loaf, but a small rectangle of freshly baked bread, enhanced with a tablespoon of rosemary.  Baked, then cooled, then torn into small pieces, enveloped in an eggy mixture of cinnamon, butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk, added thin slices of fresh apple, into the oven, and voila!  A perfect Fall celebration.  You can use torn pieces of any good bread, of course, if you don't have time for the bread making.  I halved this recipe I found on Allrecipes, which filled three good sized ramekins. Two days later, I made it again, cutting the bread into cubes, and hiding more of the apple slices under the bread (see top picture) - definite improvement!  Using medium ramekins, this made five servings, perfect for the kids.

To make:

Preheat oven to 350F.

2 cups torn bread (mostly around 1 inch squarish)
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
a few scrapings of nutmeg, or a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup very thinly sliced peeled and cored apples

Beat the eggs, butter, and milk in a medium sized bowl.  Add the cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg, then the sugar and stir well.  Stir in the apples and bread chunks and toss carefully until all the bread cubes are coated.

Use a large spoon to divide the apple mixture into several ramekins - fill almost to the top.  Divide the liquid left in bowl among the ramekins.  

Bake for 40 minutes, then allow to cool a little before serving.  The custard will deflate a little bit as it cools.

This is delicious!  Have a great weekend!