All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Italian salad greens with ham, apple, and roasted cranberries

Post Christmas I was suddenly ravenous for ham and raw greens, salad - anything but cookies, which seemed to have been my diet for two or three weeks.  I haunted the supermarket and came home with a fat slice of ham and Italian salad greens - baby kale, baby mizuna, baby arugula, and radicchio ( which I left out because I didn't feel it fit in)

I made a very nice little oregano salad dressing, and tested an idea for roasted cranberries.  You can use raw cranberries easily, simply sliced in half.  Nice, sour, crunchy, but I liked the idea of a sweet/sour, barely roasted berry.  I think it's a nice perky addition, but go with the raw if you prefer.

Such a nice lunch!  But..... then I discovered I had left my camera at my daughter's house on Christmas Day.  I scrambled and searched and found a 2008 Powershot and took these remarkably retro photos of that very delicious salad.  Oh, how cameras have changed!

For the greens:  
Arrange in a large salad bowl or platter

For the ham :
Slice strips of ham about 4-5 inches long, maybe 1/2 inch thick
Arrange on top of greens.

Sliced apple chunks:
Slice a Granny Smith apple into thick slices, removing the core.
Cut each slice in half and arrange on greens.

The oregano salad dressing:

3 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. California olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Drizzle on top of the greens as desired.

For the roasted cranberries:
Marinate whole raw cranberries in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 tablespoons sugar for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.  
Spoon the raw cranberries onto a baking sheet covered with foil or parchment.
As soon as the oven is at 350F, turn off the oven.
Slide the cranberries into the turned off oven and let sit in oven for 25 minutes.
Remove, cool, and sprinkle on salad.

A very Happy New Year to you all - hug people (and pets) you love, and believe in the goodness.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

a merry little Christmas

Wow - it's been a long time between posts, but here I am today to wish you the most wonderful Christmas and holiday!  I've been baking for friends and family, attended a delightful cookie baking and decorating party with my grandchildren, delighted in a true snowfall here in the city, made more cookies, and my Christmas biscotti, and , as always, missed my sister, especially this time of year.

Looking forward to Christmas with family, and making resolutions , which includes being a little better with posting:), taking the time to make a real meal for one or two, rather than just heating up leftovers - I tend heavily toward huge pots of soup which somehow have to be eaten.  More walks, more city exploring (though I am not a city person), some meaningful volunteering as the next year ticks closer, and political activism.  Be well, dear friends, and enjoy the day.

Ginger stars recipe here!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fresh Apple Bread puddings

It's been a while since I went food shopping, I realized last night as I searched the fridge and pantry - and the cold snap is here, further reason not to bundle up for the twenty block walk.  But - AH!  One lovely apple, some leftover rosemary bread, and eggs. I always have eggs and spices - and that meant I could make those lovely Fresh Apple Bread puddings!

You can , of course make it in a large oven-proof dish, but I usually make individual servings, using souffle cups or my little ovenproof plates. Tantalizing smells and the scent of apples and cinnamon made it really hard to wait, but wait I did, and it was well worth it.  It always makes me think of my mother, who was not a great cook, but her goulash and bread puddings were always filling and delicious.

For two servings:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a bowl mix:

2 cups cubed bread (I used rosemary bread)  I have never used gluten-free, but I'm sure it will work just fine.
1 heaping cup peeled Granny Smith apple, cut in large dice
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted unsalted or salted butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a dusting of grated nutmeg
Optional:  raisins

Distribute the pudding mixture evenly between two ovenproof dishes and bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool before serving. Top with ice cream, cream, or honey or maple syrup.

Guess who is hiding in my pantry?  Stuart the mouse, sitting in a teacup!  And a mound of gold ornaments , sitting in my casserole dish, reminding me of my stepmother's beautiful bowls of silvery and gold balls everywhere at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

turkey meatballs dijonnaise

How was your Thanksgiving?  I was invited to my daughter and family celebration on Friday - oh my, what a groaning table!

I came early to make the pumpkin roll (which I forgot to take a picture of), while Izzie (above) made a giant apple pie and my daughter tended Mr. Turkey - oh, the aromas in the kitchen were making our stomachs rumble.  And when we sat down, it was all just perfect.  What a great dinner - but I forgot to bring home leftovers!  I picked up some ground turkey yesterday and was mulling over what kind of meatball I would make, and wanted a creamy sauce.  Well, how about a dijonnaise sauce?  I found a recipe in one of the Silver Palate books and it was all that I wanted on this cold, rainy day - creamy, mustardy, not too spicy - just right.

It would be nice with some buttered noodles, if you're making it for a family dinner, and a green salad or roasted brussels sprouts, but a small plate of meatballs was just perfect for me.

Turkey meatballs dijonnaise

1 one pound package ground turkey (I always get Jennie-O)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup prepared dijon mustard (or you can use coarse-ground)
several grindings of black pepper
a few tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
pinch of thyme
1/2 cup (or more) heavy cream
tiny pinch of salt after tasting the cooked meatballs (the mustard has a lot of salt in it)

Roll the ground turkey into medium meatballs.
Melt the butter in a skillet set on medium heat.
Add the mustard, pepper,thyme, and vermouth and heavy cream and whisk, then add the meatballs.  
Cook on medium-low heat, watching the meatballs carefully, and turning them with a spoon as they cook.
Remove meatballs to a serving dish, scraping the sauce over them, or, if the sauce has soaked into the meatballs, just add another 1/3 cup heavy cream to the skillet and heat.
Drizzle the hot sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with minced parsley.

I pass this enormous tree on the sidewalk everyday - now that the snow has melted, this little bouquet of green leaves nestled in the roots of the tree is a happy sight -   

Monday, November 21, 2016

white bean and vegetable soup (with lots of herbs)

It's been frigid weather in Minnesota !  I met a dear friend in Minneapolis on Sunday from my home town in New Hampshire  - which was a delightful homecoming.  Nothing like hugs and conversation with an old friend, right?

When I came home, I was frozen and in need of something delicious, something herby and chock full of vegetables and herbs - and came up with this comfortable and delicious chowder, of sorts, which didn't need grated cheese, or sour cream, or anything extra, besides the fresh vegetables and a generous hand with herbs.  Heaven!    Though I do think some homemade bread would've been a real treat.

To make enough for 2 people:

1 large white potato, cubed (about a cup +)
1 carrot,peeled and cut into half moons (about 1/2 cup)
1 diced white onion (about 1/2 cup)
3 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
a bay leaf
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1 cup packed torn kale
1 can, drained, cannellini beans , 15.5 oz can
1/2 cup diced canned tomatoes

1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t. dried basil
2 tablespoons olive oil (I like California olive oil)
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the stock, water, bay leaf, garlic, and butter to a simmer.  Add the potato, carrot and white onion and simmer until they are tender.

Add the kale, beans and tomatoes to the vegetables and simmer, then add the herbs and olive oil, salt, and pepper. Take off heat and let the soup sit for about 15 minutes.

Serve with cheese, fresh bread, and a green salad, if you wish.

I got festive the other night and decorated one of my windows - sparkly!

Hope your day is wonderful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

election caramel and applesauce cake

Deep apologies for my blog silence - you could call it election freeze .  I grew up in a very committed Democratic family, and as the election drew closer, and the voting results came in slowly, I headed to the kitchen.  I became obsessed with making caramel.  I made The Pioneer Woman's brown sugar caramel over and over, and it seemed to come out different every time. It would be creamy in the saucepan, and then slowly turn grainy.  That happened a LOT.  As long as I warmed it again, it was creamy and delicious, but as soon as it cooled, it turned grainy again.

So I tried this recipe, which can't be easier, and it stayed creamy and glossy, though I did add a little butter for a deeper caramel flavor.  Then I realized you can't just post an icing recipe - you something to put it on, right?   So when I found Sarah Leah Chase's applesauce cake I thought I was home free.  Nope, didn't have dates, Calvados, or walnuts, which I'm sure would've been delicious - but I plowed ahead and crossed my fingers.  The cake was good, a nice texture, but rather plain without the Calvados/date additions, and because I was riveted to the election returns and the stores were now closed, I just skipped it.  I didn't use her caramel glaze, because it was almost the same as the Pioneer Woman's, and I had two saucepans full of caramel sitting on my counter.  Apologies again, and hope you will try Sarah's recipe in full  - I used half a recipe.

Here is half the recipe of hers that I used for 2 little 6" layer cakes:

6 T. unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup homemade applesauce
1 1/2 cups (one and a half) flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
(optional:  1/2 cup pitted dates, cut up, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts - I did not use)
1/4 cup Calvados or rum

I baked two small cake layers, baking at 375F for 35 minutes - but check cakes at around 20 minutes to be sure.

Monday, October 31, 2016

mad for rosemary-cumin hummus

The days have been dark and damp lately - a little colder, but not enough to cause a freeze, unlike New Hampshire.  It's harder to force myself out the door to walk on dreary days.  Which, of course, led to tighter and tighter pants.  I blamed the clothes dryer at first, until I faced the sad fact I was putting on a few pounds.  Probably all those cookies I keep making for my grandchildren:)

this is how I eat it:)

I've upped my excercise, swore off potato chips or Tostito's crispy rounds, but could never give up hummus, ever.  

I'd tried a few recipes, one of which was heavy on the tahini - nice, but it could taste a little strong sometimes.  Then I made Lovely Little Kitchen's recipe, which was easy and delicious, but I wanted a little more zip - herbs, hot sauce?  I tinkered and measured everything carefully, and to my surprise my measurements were almost the same as the one from Lovely Little Kitchen - just more lemon juice, lots of cumin, and some hot sauce.   Since I eat it straight from a small bowl, I wanted it to be fairly light, and that's what I got.  

The recipe:

Combine in your food processor:

1 can (15 or 16 oz) cooked garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas, drained (reserve 2 T. of juice)
2 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of the canned chickpea liquid
3 teaspoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, chopped (do not include stems)
1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
4 drops of hot sauce - I use Frank's hot sauce, which is fairly mild

Mix in food processor until smooth.  Taste and serve with chips, or raw vegetables, or straight, as is while waiting for trick or treaters tonight!  Happy Halloween!

What I've been reading:

Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery (my NH friend)
The Book of Joy with The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu - wonderful book!

Monday, October 24, 2016

carrot and sweet pepper soup with cumin (for a cold)

I woke up with a cold yesterday, just like that.  Sneezles and wheezles and a stuffy nose, and a cough that interrupts my phone conversations constantly.  Food isn't very appetizing right now, so I've been making lots of soups.  This is my current favorite, which besides being soothing and delicious, is so pretty!  It's colorful, and I've convinced myself all the vitamin c in the carrots and sweet peppers will be good for what ails me.  I had no curry powder, so I used cumin, which blended nicely with the thyme and garlic, and the shots of hot pepper sauce.

I couldn't resist playing around with a little squeeze bottle of sour cream mixed with a little water to make a little squiggle on top of the soup - cute!

Carrot and sweet pepper soup with cumin:

2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped scallions (the white part) or onions
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sweet orange mini-peppers, de-seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cumin (or curry, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon ginger, or a slice of fresh ginger root
sea salt to taste

Add all the ingredients in a saucepan and place on medium heat.
Simmer the soup for approximately 30 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft.
Puree in a blender or food processor (I used my Kitchen Aid stick blender).
Serve with a bottle of hot sauce.

Enjoy these last-of-October days!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

roasted parsnip fries with parmesan

I've always loved parsnips , a root vegetable similar to carrots, but with an earthy, slightly sweet flavor that tastes like autumn to me.  They're a pretty cream color, and should be used when they are not too big or fat, as the larger ones often have a woody core when harvested, that has to be trimmed off.

I often peel and slice them, like carrots, and simmer in water until soft, then drained, mashed, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and butter.  But when I saw this recipe from BBC Good Food, I was intrigued and decided to try the high-heat roasting method they used.  The recipe called for rolling them in a cornmeal and grated parmesan cheese mixture, and roasting at high heat, which I did, but they needed another ten minutes or so to brown up and soften - a perfect excuse to sprinkle more parmesan over them:) .  A delightful lunch for me, but also a perfect side dish at dinnertime.

Roasted Parsnip Fries

1 bag parsnips (mine was 20 ounces - about 8 parsnips), peeled and cut into fries
6 tablespoons olive oil

The cheese and cornmeal coating:
6 tablespoons fine cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese - plus a little more for sprinkling
   after you turn the fries
a few scrapings of nutmeg
a pinch of thyme
a few leaves of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 450F.
Spread the olive oil evenly over a cookie sheet.

Peel the parsnips, cutting each parsnip in half, then cutting each half into sticks.  When my grandchildren tried them tonight, they liked the fatter, wider ones, so next time I'll probably stick with that size. 

In a bowl, mix the parmesan and cornmeal, thyme, rosemary and nutmeg.

Bring a pot of salted water to a bowl, then place parsnip sticks into the boiling water and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the parsnips are just tender.  Drain well.

Roll each parsnip fry in the cheese and cornmeal mixture and place on the oiled cookie sheet until all the fries are coated .  Sprinkle salt over the fries and slide into preheated oven.

Roast the fries for 15 minutes, then turn the fries over, sprinkle with a little more parmesan, and cook another 15 minutes.  Serve nice and hot - enjoy!

2014:  egg timbales with chopped herbs  
2015:   rainbow beet salad with oregano and lemon
2012: butternut squash muffins on a glowing day
2013:  rapini and rigatoni pasta with olive oil and hot pepper flakes  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fried Green Tomatoes

First really chilly morning here - Autumn is definitely here.  My neighbor was inspecting her tomato plants, which have stayed stubbornly green.  She sighed and said she might as well pull them up later, since it was clear they were never going to turn red.  I suggested harvesting them and putting them on the windowsill, but she wasn't interested - "too small" she said.  I told her I'd take them, and she waved a hand and said to go ahead, as she walked off grumbling to attend to her flowers.

I picked a bowlful of those hard, pretty little tomatoes and set them on the table.  "Fried green tomatoes" started whispering in my head, but I refused to listen - for a while.  I never had much luck with fried green tomatoes, but my inner cook kept on and on, so I said "Okay, ONE more try".  I googled and came up with a new to me recipe from Southern Living.  The grumbling turned into curiosity, and wouldn't you know it?  This one was a keeper.  I added a few extra things:  basil, hot sauce, a little dipping mixture, olive oil for frying since I had no other oil, but kept pretty much to the recipe, as I usually do if it's the first time I've tried it.

Fried Green Tomatoes recipe

I made a very small batch - maybe 10 sliced small green tomatoes, but only fried half of them.

About 2 cups sliced green tomatoes

Set out three shallow bowls.

Drizzle a few tablespoons olive oil into frying pan.

First bowl:
1/4 cup flour

Second bowl:
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
a few shakes of hot sauce 
Beat together until well blended.

Third bowl:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch or two of dried basil

Dipping sauce:

1/2 cup Hellmann's mayonaise 
2 tablespoons hot pepper relish (I used Mezzetta gourmet deli, tamed)
Stir well until blended.

Heat the oil in the frying pan.
Dip each tomato slice first in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the cornmeal, coating both sides of each tomato slice.  Messy work, so you may have to wash your hands a few times.
Add to skillet until you can't fit anymore.  Keep a sharp eye out, turning them with a fork so they don't burn, until they are all nicely toasted .  Remove to a platter, make up the dipping sauce, and serve with a smile!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

chunky feta and buttermilk salad dressing

Another little piece of paper discovered in my messy "letter box" - which should be called The Compost Heap at this point.  I rarely remember to go through it a piece of paper at a time, but when I do, I find little treasures like this hastily scribbled note for a creamy, chunky salad dressing.  

While I prefer it on crunchy romaine, if it's in the fridge I'll drizzle it on a baked potato, or snuck into an omelet (just a little), along with the grated cheddar - or use it on sandwiches and cold chicken slices.  I haven't compared it to ranch dressing ( which I like when I eat out ) because I never buy it, but it's similar in creaminess and flavor.  I'm always so pleased when I see the little container of this already made when I open the fridge door:)  I'm guessing it makes about a cup of dressing, since I've already eaten half of it at this point.

Chunky, creamy Buttermilk and Feta salad dressing:

1 small peeled garlic, pressed into bowl
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground pepper
4 tablespoons mayonaise 
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill, or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup buttermilk (more if mixture is too thick)
3 tablespoons mashed or crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Assemble all your ingredients in a bowl, and mash with fork or potato masher to your desired consistency. If you don't have fresh buttermilk, you can make this homemade from Emeril.  Store in the fridge in a covered container.

Lots of walks around the St. Paul neighborhood - as a New Englander the autumn colors seem more muted here - but on the other hand, it doesn't seem as chilly as it might be in New Hampshire at this time of year - which in my mind is a good thing!  Happy October and apple picking time to you all!  And take a look at these fabulous Halloween costumes inspired by books!

A year ago:  Beet salad with oregano and lemon
Two years ago:  Dorie's custardy Apple cake
Three years ago:poached apricots with cardamom cream
Four years ago: The bison burger
Five years ago:  Green garden sauce - and roasted chicken,the end of summer.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cannellini bean soup with golden chard and brussels sprouts

Wonderful produce from Mississippi Market in St. Paul inspired this soup yesterday: cannellini beans, golden chard, a few brussels sprouts, fresh rosemary, thyme, onion, olive oil, sweet butter, chicken broth. Oh, and a slug of hot sauce:)  It was so good I made it again today.

The recipe

Cannellini Bean Soup with golden chard and brussels sprouts:

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup good chicken broth
1 cup water 
one 15 oz. can cannellini beans, partly drained of the canned bean liquid
1 1/2 or 2 cups roughly chopped golden chard, both leaves and stems
3/4 cup sliced brussels sprouts (the ones I got were huge)
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to your taste
hot sauce to your taste

Saute the onion in the oil and butter in a large pot.  When golden, add the chicken stock and water, then the canned beans with their liquid.  Stir gently on low heat, then add the chard, brussels sprouts, scallions, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper.

Cook uncovered on low heat until the chard and brussels sprouts are tender, stirring slowly.  If it seems to be too thick, add a little more stock or water .

Taste test before serving, adding more salt if needed. Serve with rolls or French bread.

SO good!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

leek and potato soup (vichyssoise)

A chill in the air the last few days:  the inevitable march toward autumn and winter.  My friend Joe and I took what might be our last walk halfway around Como Lake .  A beautiful sunny day, and a parade of almost every dog you can imagine.  The food vendors were gone and the windows shuttered, but the fall wildflowers were blooming everywhere , and just enough briskness to the air to be thankful for that pot of vichyssoise in the fridge.  Served not cold, but carefully warmed up (never bring to a boil once the cream is added!) and served with some very good cheese and steamed kale.  

Leek and potato soup (vichyssoise)

2 cups yellow or red potatoes, cut in large dice
2 cups sliced white of leek (you can include a little of the pale green)
2 tablespoons sliced white of scallions
Half chicken stock, half water to cover the potatoes and leeks
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh dill
3/4 cup medium cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes, scallions and leeks in large pot or saucepan.
Cover with half water/half chicken stock.
Add the thyme and dill.
Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat.  
Scoop out a cup of the broth and reserve.
Puree the soup, then add the cream.  Add reserved broth if needed.
Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

                                           Happy Autumn!


Friday, September 16, 2016

freezing basil and a little vacation

I am back from a splendid "vacation" visiting my daughter and three grandchildren (and the cats and doggie) in their lovely house in Minneapolis. It was truly a wonderful visit, in spite of the alarming moment when the puppy Maisie ran away (found a few blocks away hanging out with a little brewfest party:), and the sigh when I realized, yes.  The three year old still bellows his rising and shining at 4 or 5 am.  I was thrilled to find the lavender turtleheads flowering in the side yard, right on schedule as it is in New Hampshire.

Now back at my place, and checking on my basil in my little garden, I saw the first golden leaf beside the bush.   First an inhaling of that wonderful scent, and then snipping away to fill a bowlful of those gorgeous, fragrant leaves.  It rained last night, but by afternoon the leaves were dry - perfect for freezing.

This is a trick I learned some time ago - that if you clip basil when it's perfectly dry and place in a clean, dry, freezer container and stick in your freezer, the basil will stay green and fragrant - and that is such a treat in February!  As I'm not familiar with the frost date in St. Paul, I decided to stash that beautiful basil while it was on my mind. Just remember, it has to be completely dry before clipping.  Simply snip off the very dry leaves and layer in the container, discarding the stems.

Happy September!

Two years ago:  Buttery Cabbage Slices(steaks)