All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Morning, 8 am

I had a beautiful day and night with my daughter and a quick visit from my son and his fiancee (who had to manage four family visits) - a quiet but peaceful day.  Hope your day was wonderful as well!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

the best fresh orange and cranberry scones

A second batch of those orange and cranberry scones this morning,  as I wanted to make some fresh ones up for my neighbors, and for a chef friend who wanted the recipe, as well as a taste.  As I pulled the new batch out of the oven, I realized I had overbaked yesterday's scones.  These were gorgeous!  They were both tender and full of that fresh orange and cranberry burst of tangy, but this mornings batch were much prettier.  

I also remembered a trick I had seen somewhere - grating the cold butter on a cheese grater to make it thinner and easier to incorporate with the flour mixture.  I liked that method a lot, so will use it in the future.

The recipe:

Preheat oven to 380F.
Line a baking sheet with clean foil or parchment.

2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
good pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons orange zest, freshly grated
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, grated on a cheese grater
1 small egg, slightly beaten with a fork
1/4 cup sour cream (I used Hood's full-fat)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 large orange)
Optional:  1/4 cup water if mixture is too dry
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
sparkling sugar for the tops of the scones

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixer bowl.
Toss in the shaved butter and orange zest and mix briefly with a spoon.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and whisk in the sour cream and orange juice.  Add to the flour mixture and briefly turn on the mixer paddle.  Stop the mixture and add the dried and fresh cranberries and mix briefly until dough forms a ball.  Do not over mix.  If the dough seems dry, or there is still flour at the bottom of the bowl, add the 1/4 cup water and mix until cranberries are blended into the dough.

Turn out dough onto a floured board or counter.  Roll into a 7 inch circle, then slice into 8 triangles, and place on baking sheet.  

Sprinkle scones with sugar and bake for 19 minutes.

These are wonderful for your pre-Thanksgiving dinner company, and would be very pretty wrapped in cello and nestled in a basket or bowl for Christmas giving.  Very Martha:)

We've had brief flurries of snow, oddly mostly at night or very early in the morning, when it's barely light.  My hummingbird bird bath is frozen, and I imagine my little winter birds with tiny skates, taking a twirl....  have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

tender cranberry-orange scones

I've been a little disappointed in my favorite scone recipes lately, so when I saw this recipe in  The Boston Globe on Wednesday, I leaped at the chance to try it.  One unusual ingredient was a little sour cream, but the rest was fairly close to my usual scone recipes.  I did mull over what might be the cause of less-fluffy scones the last few batches, and wondered if it was my very old KitchenAid mixer.

So I rummaged through my kitchen oddment basket and came up with the lovely pastry blender I bought as a flea market a long time ago.  This is a hand tool that insures the butter and flour or sugar don't get too warm if you're mixing with your hands;  or too over-beaten when using a stand mixer.  Whether it was the new recipe or the pastry blender, the scones came out light and fluffy and full of the tang of fresh orange juice, orange zest, and fresh and dried cranberries.  This is a keeper, and perfect for the holidays coming up, when hungry company arrives before the table is set  - or wrapped in cello and nestled in a basket for giving.  Just make sure the scones completely cool before packaging.

Tender Cranberry-Orange Scones:

Preheat oven to 380F.
Line a baking sheet with clean foil or parchment.

  • 2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • good pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
  • 1 small egg, beaten slightly with a fork
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I used Hood's full fat)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Optional:  1/4 cup water if mixture is too dry
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • sparkling sugar for sprinkling on top
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixer bowl.
Add the butter pieces and mix with the pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.  Add the orange zest and mix in with a spoon.

In another bowl, beat the egg and whisk in the sour cream and orange juice.
Add to the flour mixture and use the mixer paddle to briefly mix.  Stop the mixer and add the fresh and dried cranberries, and stir with a spoon.  If the mixer is too dry, add 1/4 cup water.  Mix with the paddle very briefly, then turn dough onto a floured board.

Gently pat the dough into a 7 inch circle, then slice into 8 triangles.

Place the triangles on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sparkling sugar before baking.

Bake for approximately 19 minutes, or until scones are gently toasted on top.

Using a spatula, remove scones to a cooling rack for five or ten minutes before eating.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Frankie's turkey meatballs with herbs

We had a wonderful family and friends lunch yesterday, with a 7 month old baby (Noah) and a 3 year old (Frankie) in attendance as well.  Baby Noah is a hefty armload, but everyone loves a baby, so he got passed around in between spoonfuls of applesauce and soup.  And Frankie?  Knowing he was coming I made him his favorite meatball recipe, but streamlined it  after I looked at a clock and realized I was running late. 

A simple homemade lunch, but perfect for this chilly November day - homemade bread, butternut soup, gingerbread cookies, and these turkey meatballs, and , best of all, some time to catch up with my sister and our friend Dee (who washed ALL the dishes - thank you, Dee!)

Turkey Meatballs

I think this made about 24 smallish meatballs, but I forgot to count them before we started eating them.

  • 1 package ground turkey (mine was 1.3 lbs)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large piece soft bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1 t. thyme
  • half a red onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper
  • 3 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced
  • about 2 T. Italian parsley and fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cups packaged organic greens, loosely packed and briefly whizzed in a food processor until finely chopped.  I used an organic spinach and beet green mixture.

Wash your hands.
Place turkey and egg in a large bowl and mix with a spoon, then add the bread, the minced greens and herbs, the sliced scallions, the onion if using, the thyme, salt and pepper.  Use your hands to toss the mixture well.  

Form into small meatballs and cook in a skillet coated with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook the meatballs, covered, for about 10 minutes , then shake the pan or turn meatballs with a spoon and cook another 10 minutes on medium heat, half covered.  Cut into a meatball to make sure the inside isn't pink before serving, serve with a side of salsa.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

plump little pumpkin buns

I woke up this morning thinking of pumpkin something.  Something soft and spicy - not my pumpkin scones, which I adore, studded with crystallized ginger, not my apricot scones, but something....different.  I found a recipe by a familiar and loved food blogger, Joy the Baker and went ahead, changing the recipe ( we all change recipes at the drop of a hat), discarding pecans in the batter, because I don't like nuts unless in-hand, but adding in plump raisins instead., Dropping the allspice, because I couldn't find it.  Mulling over adding crystallized ginger, and dropping that as well, because I wanted something plain.  As if.  It was brilliant.

A soft, palm sized little bun that sat in your hand - delicious and tantalizing.  A bun for breakfast, or brunch, or the 3 o'clock hunger pangs.  And loveliest of all, it came from a bakery called The Hummingbird Bakery.  Who could resist that history?  When I dropped some off at the library this afternoon, they flew off the platter.  I dropped off a second platter, results unknown, but I'm sure the platter was empty in no time.  Everyone's hungry at 3 pm:)

I'm sure these freeze well - pumpkin adds a wonderful density and moisture to any recipe, so you won't have to deal with dryness.  As I mentioned, there are no leftovers, so you'll have to take my word on it.

I think this made 14 buns, more or less, but they are gone, so I hope I'm right.

Pumpkin Buns

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix your dry ingredients into mixer bowl.

3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/8 t. cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cut up:
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter.  I learned ages ago to slice lengthwise, then cut into 3rds, then dice across with a chef's knife.  Toss into mixer bowl and mix until the butter is in small flakes and well incorporated.

The wet ingredients:

In a bowl, mix:

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin, One Pie preferred ( this is not a pumpkin pie mixture)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup raisins

Add the wet mixture, plus the raisins, to the dry mixture, and mix until blended.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop pumpkin mixture onto baking sheets that have been fitted with clean foil, 6 scoops to a sheet.

Bake for 22 minutes and remove to cooling rack.  As it cools, add the second sheet and bake as above.  I did have a third sheet with two buns, the last of the batter, which I promptly ate.

For a little icing, if you wish, you can make a brown butter frosting:

4 T. melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 T. milk

Mix well and drizzle over buns with a fork or whisk.

Hope you enjoy as much as I have!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

roasted vegetable tian with thyme and olive oil

If you google images for tian, you most likely will see a ceramic tart dish, with a colorful pattern of , say, zucchini rounds and tomatoes, maybe a little cheese melted on top.

A tian to me means two or three layers of sliced or diced vegetables, carefully arranged with the thought of long roasting in the oven:  a marvelous patchwork quilt of leeks and onions, mushrooms and thyme sprigs, a handful of small halved tomatoes, a generous two cupfuls of halved radishes,  the brightness of butternut , scent of garlic and sea salt, melting into a delicious hot vegetarian dinner, which can be served alone, or with warm hunks of fresh baguettes, to sop up the amazing juices.  I dice the vegetables, rather than slice, so the vegetables remain intact, rather than break apart as they tend to do, when sliced.

Consider this the emptying out of the vegetable drawer ( those thrifty Frenchwomen!), but oh, so elegant and fragrant.

My shallow ceramic dish has gone missing, but I had a lovely brown earthenware oval dish that worked just fine.  I made three layers of vegetables, sprinkling each layer with thyme and  a sprig of rosemary, sea salt, and olive oil.  Cover and roast at 350 degrees for an hour, and there's dinner.

While there is no real recipe, here are my guidelines for vegetables you might chose to use.  I would probably include 3/4ths of the vegetables, depending on what's in the vegetable drawer - but the onions, leeks, garlic, mushrooms, and radishes are always included.

Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef's knife
sea salt to sprinkle on each layer
1 large onion, peeled and sliced or diced
3 leeks, sliced across or lengthwise, in 5 inch pieces
2 heaping cups of mushrooms, stems intact, sliced in half
4 stalks celery, washed and sliced in 4 inch lengths, include leaves if you wish
1 package radishes ( or about 2 handfuls), washed and trimmed, cut in half
Thyme sprigs and rosemary sprigs 
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice
2 cups sliced fresh kale
2 cups peeled and sliced carrots, about 2 inch chunks
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed of stems, left whole
1-2 cups parsnips, if you have them, peeled and cut into rounds or spears
2 red skinned potatoes, sliced or cut into large dice
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, left whole
2 sweet red peppers, trimmed, seeded, cut into strips
brussels sprouts, a handful, trimmed and halved
zucchini chunks if wished
a drizzle of wine, if desired

Drizzle the olive oil, add the butter and garlic on the bottom of the dish.  The first layer should include the radishes, garlic, onions, half the leeks, thyme sprigs or whole thyme,  and mushrooms, which add such wonderful flavor. As the dish cooks, it will make a lovely juice.
For the second and third layers, add the vegetables as you wish, sprinkling each layer with thyme and salt and a little pepper.  I used two cups of kale for the top layer, and it disappeared during the cooking, leaving only a few little green bits in the casserole.
For the top, drizzle a little more olive oil, salt and pepper, and more thyme and a sprig of rosemary.
Cover with foil and roast at 350 degrees for one to one and a half hours.    I've found it depends on the temperature and size of the vegetables you use.

Serve with warm slices of french bread and butter.

Did you know before the hurricane of 1938 you could take a train from this little town in New Hampshire to Boston - every day?  I walk the old railroad bed almost daily, thinking of the fresh milk and apples and eggs that were picked up every day, heading to Boston.  And now?  We have no way to get to Boston, except by private car.  

Hope you have a glorious day!

Friday, November 1, 2013

martha's sugar cookies

I will never forget the first time I saw Martha Stewart's first book, Entertaining.  It was published in 1982, but I cannot remember the year my older sister showed it to me, could it have been that long ago?  I don't even remember if she bought it for me, or if I got it for myself, but it was like a bolt of lightning.  Beautiful photographs, perfect recipes - that worked!    I was blindsided and in love.  

I've made these cookies over and over - I make pale pink ruffled hearts for Valentine's Day.  Christmas reindeer and stars .  Teddy bears and one year, a group of cactus.  It is an easy dough to work with, and very forgiving - you can roll out the dough two more times using the scraps, without much difference in a splendid butter cookie, as long as you chill the dough in between.

I find her icing also easy - here I used one drop of blue to make this pretty Tiffany blue, then rolled the edges in sparkling sugar, which I found at Your Kitchen Store in Keene, NH.

Today I made these classic rounds for a friend who called at the last minute, in need of a few little treats for a book talk.

Martha's Iced Sugar Cookies

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

For the icing:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg white
few drops of lemon juice
1 drop blue liquid food coloring

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg, brandy and vanilla and mix well.
Add dry ingredients a bit at a time and mix well.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. ( PS:  She specifies 400F, but I use 350F)

Slice the dough in half, and roll out each half to about 1/8 inch thick.
Use cookie cutters of your choosing and place on a baking sheet lined with clean foil.
Bake for 10 minutes - do not allow to brown!  Remove cookies to cooling rack until completely cool. If you are making several batches, turn down the heat by 5 degrees after the first two batches.

Mix icing ingredients well in a mixer bowl,  brush cookies once or twice (letting the cookies dry in between), then roll edges in sparkling sugar.

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on how thinly you roll the dough.

What I'm doing:

Lots of lazy walks under a bower of still-brilliant yellow leaves,  bouncing on spongy beds of bright green mosses, watching the water in the pond, which will be all-too-soon frozen, and loving those little children in my life.