All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Green Zebra tomatoes - and a new baby boy

Finally, I found my favorite tomato - the Green Zebra, nestled in a basket at our local market on a Friday afternoon, when all the gardeners and farmers bring in their greens and flowers, their vegetables and herbs, fresh breads, and bouquets.

Green Zebras, with beautiful stripes of grass green and yellow, are hard to find -a little tart, very pretty, and heavenly with a little balsamic and olive oil , a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of fresh basil and pepper, a soft crust of bread and butter for sopping up.  My thanks to Hand Drawn Farm for growing these lovely tomatoes  - and here, tossed with a few Sun Gold's , and a few of my own somewhat uninspiring cherry tomatoes - it has been a cool and wet summer here in New Hampshire - not the best weather for these sun lovers.

And now the best news - I have a beautiful new grandson, Max.  Dear Max, welcome to the world, little boy!

Happy August, and welcome to my new grandson, Max, born on the 20th of August!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

braised kale and broccoli with feta and olives

I'm embarrassed to say I have forgotten where I found this recipe, but the second I saw it, I was sure it was something I would love.  I am a huge fan of kale, but not raw kale, and lately there are so many recipes for that.  Not me - I love kale in my favorite kale recipe ever, Portuguese Kale Soup ,with potatoes, linguica ( a Portuguese sausage common on the Outer Cape), and tomatoes.  And I often make whipped potatoes with cooked kale, just for the greenery and the knowledge I am, hopefully, making a healthy meal.

But this combination knocked me out.  I also love broccoli, and feta, and olives, for heaven's sake, so how could it go wrong?

I have now made this three times - I have had it for brunch, breakfast AND supper, and it was so pleasing every single time.  You really need to make this, my friends.  It will be on your menu for years, and will never disappoint.

Braised kale and broccoli with feta and olives

Lightly braised in olive oil, the kale and broccoli are cooked until just tender, then tossed with salty feta and pitted Kalamata olives.  A wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving, or a chilly autumn supper or brunch, the recipe is easily halved.

To make about 6- 8 servings:

4-5 cups broccoli florets
10 cups torn kale leaves, slightly packed, stems discarded
4 tablespoons mild olive oil
about 1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 ounces cubed or crumbled feta cheese

Place the olive oil and the water in a large heavy skillet, adjust heat to medium, then add the broccoli florets and stir.  Cook for 6 minutes or so, stirring a few times, until just tender.

Add the kale and stir gently, then cover the skillet for 5 minutes.  Uncover, stir, and  remove from heat.
Add the olives and feta while the greens are still warm, tossing gently before serving.

I promise you, you will love it.

And that beautiful sunflower?  In memory of a wonderful woman, Pat Fairchild, who died recently.  Her  fellow gardeners planted a beautiful garden for her outside the post office, with towering , sunny sunflowers even taller than she was.  We all miss her marvelous spirit, and her feisty, loving personality.  What a woman.

Enjoy the last days of summer!  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

roasted and fresh veggie salad-in-a-jar

I must be the last person to jump on the In A Jar bandwagon, but I'm sold on these salads in a jar.  After my daughter and her family moved away, my mealtime (what mealtime?) habits slid into opening the door of the fridge and grabbing some smoked turkey.  Sugar snaps straight off the vine in the garden.  A banana in the morning, waiting for my coffee to brew.  Pathetic.  So when I saw this, and this, and this on Pinterest, I thought I'd try them:  open the fridge and there's lunch (or dinner).

First you need wide mouth Mason jars, which can be found at any supermarket or grain store.  Make sure they're very clean and very dry.

When I was cleaning out the freezer, I came across a huge bag of colored peppers I'd prepped and frozen after finding them on sale.  I spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzled a little olive oil over them, and roasted at 400F for half an hour.  I went out to the garden and picked sugar snaps and green beans, trimmed and sliced into bite size pieces, then did a quick blanching in simmering water, then a cold water bath.

Fresh cherry tomatoes on hand were a little big, so I quartered them.  I also grabbed a can of light tuna fish in water:   if you can find the Italian tuna in oil, even better!  I also rinsed a can of cannelini white beans and added a layer of those - next time I would double it - they are delicious.

After carefully layering everything, I drizzled a few tablespoons of vinaigrette over, then screwed on the top and stuck in the fridge.  Bliss!  That night I had it for supper (on a platter), and the next day for a very late lunch.  Sooo much better than giving in to a box of Cheez-its and another cup of coffee.  

The vinaigrette:
1 garlic clove, peeled and gently smashed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
a few pinches kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
a little dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
Minced fresh herbs or dried herbs:  tarragon, basil, oregano, parsley

If you're brown-bagging it, this is such a great idea - and for picky kids or children on special diets, this is brilliant, though a non-breakable container is probably a good idea for school lunches - don't forget the fork.

Hope you're having a wonderful August!  

Monday, August 4, 2014

leek and potato soup: potage parmentier

Oh my word, it is swampy today - humid, still air, damp, damp, damp.  The weathervane is pointing toward my Southern kin in the South - thanks, guys:)

On days like this, I always cook early in the morning, when the coolness of night is still retained in the kitchen floor tiles - I am barefoot, of course, as I pull the leeks out of the fridge for this soup - vichyssoise, really, but I don't like chilled soup, so it's more a potage parmentier, not hot, not cold, just right to taste the velvety blend of herbs, leeks, potatoes, and butter.

The leeks were very sandy, so I sliced them up and swished them in several pots of water, until I could no longer feel the grains of sand at the bottom of the pot.  Don't neglect this step, or your soup will be ruined.  I learned my lesson long ago not to rush, after one batch I made for company was so agonizingly sandy it was inedible.

I used my lion bowls, which hold one and a half cups, so this made just enough for two:  3 cups.


1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups well-washed and sliced leek whites
1 1/2 cups peeled red potatoes, cut in large dice
2 cups light chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh dill, pulled off stems
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, pulled off the stems
3/4 cup whipping cream
kosher salt to taste
fresh pepper to taste

Wash the leeks very very well!  

Place the leeks and butter in a heavy bottomed pot and braise on medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times and making sure they do not burn.

Add the potatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, and the thyme and dill to the leek whites and simmer on medium until the potatoes are soft.

Remove from heat and add the cream and stir.  

Using a stick blender or a food processor, puree soup.  If it's very, very thick, add a little more cream or water.  Taste and add salt, pepper, or more dill as you wish.

You can serve cold, hot, or somewhere in the middle - I like it warm because it brings out the flavor beautifully.

Hope you're all enjoying summer!