All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Great Northern bean soup with kale, tomatoes, oregano and cumin

While Sunday was what we call "that holy moment" - that day when the temperature is still warm, but the leaves are turning bright orange in the sunshine - Monday was chilly and damp, and that brilliant light was gone.  No matter, it was a perfect day for this hearty soup.  

In the past, I've made this with lentils, but that bag of Great Northern beans (similar to cannellini beans, but larger) was too enticing to ignore.  Instead of soaking the beans overnight, I put them in a pot covered with water, bring just to a simmer, then take off the heat to soak several hours.  Then I drain the beans, rinse cold water over them, and put them back in the pot to proceed with the recipe.  They do seem to keep their shape well using this method, instead of turning mushy too quickly.  I also avoid adding salt to the beans until they're cooked, which can toughen the beans.

Prepare 2 cups dry Great Northern beans as above.  Place the plumped beans in a stockpot and cover with half water, half chicken or vegetable stock.

Add to the plumped beans:

1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch hot pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1 1/2 cups canned plum tomatoes, cut up, with the juices
1 clove garlic, minced

5-6 cups torn kale greens, no stems.  The kale is added just before serving, so set aside.

Simmer the herbs, onion, olive oil/butter, garlic, beans and tomatoes until the beans are soft, adding more water or stock if needed to keep the beans covered.

Taste the soup for seasonings and add kosher salt to taste.

Just before serving, turn off the heat and stir in the torn kale. Cover the pot for a few minutes, then serve the soup in big bowls, with a nice crusty bread and some sweet butter.

Enjoy these beautiful days!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

last of the green beans with dijon vinaigrette

Yesterday I cleaned up my sad little plot of a garden  - it was a cool, damp summer, and the only vegetable to thrive was the little row of green beans.  Of course.  I had 8 different kinds of tomato plants and got perhaps two handfuls of cherry tomatoes  - the rest withered away.  

To be honest, I'm not that crazy about green beans, so I ignored the bushy corner of the garden until it came time yesterday to pull out the plants.  I dutifully picked the big beans, which were still firm, and brought them in to the kitchen counter, where they sat for several hours, until I suddenly remembered the dijon vinaigrette I used to make years ago, often on top of sliced potatoes or cooked greens.  I found the recipe in the first Silver Palate cookbook,, exactly the same recipe I used.

What I discovered this morning when I made this dish, is that I don't like those slender, spidery green beans we served in the restaurant - you know, the French ones.  I love the hefty mature green beans, though, and the vinaigrette was perfect .  Just make sure the beans are very firm.

Green Beans with dijon vinaigrette:

Make the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar ( I used a little less)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grindings of fresh pepper
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley (or chives, if you have them)
1/2 cup good olive oil

Place the mustard in a bowl and whisk.  Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and parsley and whisk.
Continue to whisk while slowly dribbling in the olive oil until it thickens.  Taste for seasonings and set aside.

Rinse the green beans and drain - I had about three big handfuls of beans.  Trim off the tops of the beans, but you can leave the tails.  I had two piles of beans:  one whole and the other pile sliced in half.

Bring a pot of water to a slow boil, throw in half the beans and cook 4 minutes, scoop up and quickly run cold water over them, then set aside.  Repeat with the rest of the beans, making sure you're not crowding the pan.  Again, rinse with cold water and drain.

You can put all the beans in a serving dish, but I did individual platings.  Drizzle a tablespoon of the vinaigrette on the plate or bowl, add a handful of cooked beans, then add a tiny bit more vinaigrette on top of the beans.   Delicious!

How did YOUR garden grow this summer?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

little appetizers with crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, and homemade boursin

The other day I made a few trays of appetizers for a meeting, nothing complicated.  Thinly sliced fresh and crunchy radishes and mild yellow peppers, just- ripe tomatoes, fresh snippings of Italian parsley and dill, oregano, and basil from the garden, gently placed on top of homemade bread and a layer of homemade boursin herb cheese.  Sometimes simple is best!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

buttery cabbage slices

When I made supper one night for the grandchildren last winter, I was telling them about some bloggers calling these "cabbage steaks" and how ridiculous it sounded - to me a steak is a steak, right?  Wrong.  The kids and Anni were thrilled with that name, and kept asking for another "cabbage steak".  

I was just happy they loved these gently simmered cabbage slices, topped with a simple olive oil and melted butter sauce.  Quickly cooked green cabbage is sweet and fresh, but overcook it and it either dissolves or scents the air with a somewhat pungent aroma.


Choose a very firm, fresh green cabbage, not too big.
If the outside leaves are ragged or yellowing, just remove them.
Using a large knife, cut the cabbage across into 3/4 inch circles.

In a large stainless steel skillet, heat an inch, inch and a half of water, just until it simmers.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter to the water, then use a spatula to move the slices into the skillet.

Sprinkle the cabbage slices with a little thyme and salt, cover, and cook until the cabbage is just tender when pierced with a fork - about 10 to 12 minutes.

Gently remove the cabbage to plates or a platter.  There are usually stray ribbons of cabbage that come apart from the slices - just put them into a serving dish and top with a little more butter/olive oil and thyme and toss.  Continue with the rest of the cabbage slices, adding more water if necessary.

Serve with a little extra melted butter/olive oil if desired (the kids actually were fine without any extra - but I love mine buttery:)

Chilly and damp here in New Hampshire - and everyone I talk to admits to turning on the heat for at least a half hour:)    Hope you all have a lovely week!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

pumpkin-raisin cookies !

It is creeping officially toward Fall here - after a few sweltering days, it was time to close the windows at night, and switch from bare feet to socks and sandals.  All I can say is YES!  Time for my favorite pumpkin cookies!

These are fat, plump, soft - and a big handful of spicy delicious cookie.  I like to throw in soft raisins or currants, but you can skip that if you want.  I have made them with chocolate chips, but honestly prefer the raisins - it's really up to you.  And so easy to make!

pumpkin-raisin cookies

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment or foil and set aside.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned One Pie pumpkin puree, NOT sweetened. 
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup soft raisins (or you can try chocolate chips)

Measure out the flour and set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugars well, then add the egg, raisins, spices, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin, vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Add the flour slowly and mix just until blended.  Over mixing makes a tough cookie.

Use a regular sized ice cream scoop to scoop out cookies - I do 6 to a sheet, leaving 3 inches between cookies.

Bake one sheet at a time in the upper third of your oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are softly firm when you gently press them.  I made some smaller cookies- the scoop doesn't have a number, but when I measured it was either 2 inches or 1 3/4ths inches - it's hard to measure a round scoop! Anyway, they only took 16 minutes.

Remove cookie sheet to cool a few minutes, then use a spatula to remove cookies to a cooling rack.  Repeat with the second sheet.  This usually makes 13 or 14 big cookies for me.

Another sign of Autumn?  Finding a huge thicket of wild grapes bordering the local dump area!  Sweet, juicy, delicious - and destined for a soft jelly to serve with roasted chicken.  What a treat!

Happy September!

Want more pumpkin recipes?  
Pumpkin muffins with crystalized ginger
Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting
Pumpkin-ginger cake

Monday, September 1, 2014

craving simple carrot soup ( with ginger)

Oh my word, life has been changing in a snap - one day I wake up and remember my dearest daughter, daughter-in-law and grands have moved to Minnesota, after being two miles away for a few years, when I am suddenly presented with a beautiful new grandson, a fair distance away, but, still, here in New Hampshire.  I haven't seen him in person yet, but he looks so much like my son, I am flabbergasted, and I cannot wait to hold that little boy in my arms.

There it is, the essence of family.  You say goodbye to a sister, a father, mother, stepmother, and miss them every day, and then?  All these little new ones come along, and you love them with all your heart.

Seeing the autumn berries ( and some chilly mornings) reminds me of this earthy soup I love:   sweet with fresh carrots and ginger root, a little thyme, brightly colored, easy to whip up after your farmer's market visit, or a visit to your own garden.  Add a greeny salad on the side, a slice of cheddar and good bread, and lie lazing on the lounge chair on the terrace, looking up at the sky, and accepting the sad and the joy all together.

Fresh Carrot Soup

4 cups light chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups peeled and sliced medium sized carrots (do not use baby carrots, which are dry)
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 - 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
kosher salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a simmer and cook until the carrots are just fork tender.  Remove from heat briefly, then puree a few cups at a time in a blender.  It will be a beautiful bright orange color.  Taste and adjust seasonings before serving, and if it's too thick, just stir in a few tablespoons of water.  You can serve this hot or cold.

Makes four to five servings.

Happy Labor Day!