All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Friday, February 26, 2016

potato-cheddar soup with fresh dill

February.  By now, everyone has the "Februaries" when you're tired of cold, ice, and snow.  Last year in New Hampshire, it was 20 below and 6 feet of snow outside.  Here in Minneapolis, there is only an icy trace of snow, lots of cold, cold, wind, and temperatures ranging from -7F to 35F lately.  This is when you start thumbing through gardening catalogues, dreaming of daffodils, sketching out a new herb garden, which will most definitely have a few feathery clumps of dill.

Which brings me to the sweet smelling bundle of dill I got at the market:  what to make?  Thumbing through The Silver Palate cookbook (an oldie but still a goodie), I landed on a creamy but hearty potato soup that called for a cup of chopped fresh dill.  How could I resist that, especially when it also listed two cups of grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese?  

While I followed the original recipe, I did halve it, and adjusted a few ingredients - a few more potatoes because I was using small red potatoes, a little more stock, omitted the carrots because I didn't have any, and added a little more cheese, because, well, you know how much I love sharp cheddar.  Delicious, creamy soup for the Februaries.

potato-cheddar soup with fresh dill

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped white onions
6 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups small halved baby red potatoes, or diced red potatoes
1 cup chopped fresh dill (you can use a few inches of stems as well)
2 cups grated/shredded extra sharp cheddar- I used Cabot's Seriously Sharp
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot, then add the onions and cook over low heat, covered, until the onions are golden.
Add the parsley, stock, and potatoes to the onions and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are very soft, then add the dill.   Let the soup sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
Pour the soup through a strainer and transfer the solids to a food processor, add a cup of the cooking liquid, then process into a smooth paste.
Return the puree to the pot and add the rest of the liquid and stir on low heat, slowly adding the cheese.  If you need more liquid, add a little at a time - it should be thick and creamy.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Delicious!

And speaking of delicious, look what my daughter got me for my birthday breakfast!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mini Pavlovas with raspberries & strawberries

We made these mini-pavlovas on Valentine's Day, in part because they are gluten-free, so Izzie can be part of the dessert festivities, but also because they are so pretty - and really, not hard to make.  

I did some research about the name, being unsure whether they were officially a small pavlova or a mini-meringue and think these days it doesn't really matter.  There is a large meringue cake, especially popular in New Zealand and Australia that is moister in the middle, but these meringues are small and bake up crispy and crunchy and light as a feather.  

The recipe is from Allrecipes, used primarily for guidance on the amount of sugar, which is critical, in both the amount and remembering to add the sugar teaspoon by teaspoon, waiting each time for the sugar to melt into the egg white batter.  I had forgotten to buy heavy cream, so each pavlova got a tiny squirt of whipped cream from a can, which was leftover from a birthday party:)  

Mini-Pavlovas with fresh berries & cream

4 extra-large egg whites
1 1/4 cups white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

The topping:
1 pint heavy cream, gently whipped
fresh raspberries and sliced strawberries or blueberries
confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 250F.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In mixer bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, letting the sugar be absorbed into the whites before adding more sugar.  I know it's tedious, but it's a critical step to follow.

Once all the sugar has been added, fold in the vanilla, lemon juice, and cornstarch and whip gently.

You can either use a large spoon to form small rounds of meringue, or a pastry bag, which is what I used.  I could only find my rose tip nozzle, so it came out more fluted than usual.

Bake for one hour, making sure the meringues are firm, then cool on a cooling rack.

To assemble:  smooth a spoonful of whipped cream in the center of the meringue, then add the berries in a pleasing arrangement , then sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar - not too much, just enough to look fancy.

This made 12 small Pavlovas.