All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

moving troubles, and happy December!



Boy, it's been a while!  Apologies, and just as frustrating for me as it is for you.  

The 3rd move in two and a half years has been wonderful in some ways (I have a full size electric stove!) but huge troubles with Photo and iphone pictures which refuse to transfer from Photos to Blogger with my new Internet provider, and I think something called pix may have complicated things even more.  The neighbor I had hoped would fix it is away, so I wait and wait and this post will probably naked of pictures.  (Amazing - Stuart Little showed up on a old, random photo file!)

But I've been happily baking again - a birthday cake for my neighbor today, and one a week ago for my daughter in law, both lemon cakes with the cream cheese frosting from the carrot cake everyone likes so much - those were hard to give away!  

A few rounds of Spice cookies, especially nice when the weather turns chilly.  Today and yesterday was sweater weather, can you believe it?  Lots of soups - leek and potato, Tuscan tomato, and my favorite Spinach soup. Omelets oozing with brie, melons with a splash of lemon or lime, all good.

And now unpacking the Christmas ornaments - Stuart Little in his canoe was the first out of the box!  I thought I'd lost him in the last move, but there he was -  Happy December!  
































Thursday, November 16, 2017

golden beet salad with zucchini and cider dressing



Oh, how I love golden beets !  I like them much more than red beets - the flavor is sweet (but not too sweet), and has an earthy mineral flavor, at least to my tastebuds.  

Since I also had bought a slim medium sized zucchini at the market, the two came together in my thinking as a nice little individual salad or side, with an apple cider and olive oil dressing, then sprinkled with fresh sage and Italian parsley - perfect autumn pairings!





As it was coming together in my mind, I also remembered that both vegetables should be very briefly cooked, which really brings out the flavor, so I set a saucepan of water simmering on the stove, while I grated the beets and sliced the zucchini almost paper thin.  A very quick dip into the simmering water, then quickly into a sieve to drain.  The dressing was equally quick and true to the season:  apple cider (or apple cider vinegar), olive oil, and fresh sage from the garden.

The recipe :

a saucepan of simmering water

1 medium golden beet per person, peeled and grated
1 small, slim zucchini per person, sliced thinly on a mandoline (watch your fingers!)

Very briefly place sliced zucchini in boiling water - I counted to ten and then removed the zucchini with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

Quickly place the shredded beets in the simmering water, count to ten, and scoop out to cool and drain.

Arrange zucchini slices and beets on individual plates, drizzle a teaspoon or two of dressing over, sprinkle with the sage and parsley and serve.

The dressing:

Equal parts apple cider and olive oil
kosher salt to taste
ground pepper
slivered fresh sage
chopped Italian parsley, optional

You can serve this warm or at room temperature.



The geese have been honking and flying overhead for the last few weeks, I always wave to them and wish them a good journey:)  The wild turkeys are back, walking up and down the city sidewalks, which never fails to make me laugh - quite a change from the wild country turkeys in New Hampshire!  








Thursday, October 26, 2017

pastry cream pudding





Well, THAT was exhausting!  Between using both my iphone and my camera (and figuring out how to edit the pictures) and puzzling over the change to edit and insert the photos, many, many days have flown by.  I'm not complaining over having to make (and eat) these delicious, creamy puddings, no indeed!  As I'm not really a chocolate lover, I usually prefer lemon or vanilla flavors - and puddings are right at the top when I want a sweet dessert.  My sister always called them "nursery food" - and I wonder which of my parents and stepparents made them for us.

The recipe comes from The Silver Palate cookbook, which must be their first one, and it's intended to be used in a flaky puff pastry tart.  Who needs puff pastry when you can just dive into this creamy, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon "pudding"?


Sweet Pastry Cream pudding

You will need one large heavy saucepan, and one medium saucepan for this - and one large stainless steel mixing bowl.

Add water about halfway up the medium saucepan and heat til almost boiling, then set aside.

2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons King Arthur unbleached flour
2 extra large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  I grated a tiny bit of whole nutmeg right into the bowl.

Scald the milk in a heavy saucepan (do not boil).
While milk is heating, whisk the sugar and flour in the large mixing bowl.
Add the hot milk slowly, whisking constantly.

Put the hot water back on a burner and set to a simmer.  Place stainless steel bowl on top of the simmering water, and stir or whisk for about ten minutes, or until the back of a spoon is lightly coated.  Then add the egg yolks and , using a whisk, stir until the mixture thickens even more - about ten minutes - until a spoon is thickly coated when dipped into the mixture.

Remove from heat, and add butter, vanilla, and spices and stir well.  Pour into small dessert dishes or pots and chill - though I admit, I eat it while it's still warm , often straight from the bowl.






Monday, October 16, 2017

Goodbye, summer!


Ah, summer was grand, and no sooner was I back from visiting my son and family near the ocean in New Hampshire,  it was off to visit some of the lakes in the Minneapolis area.

After days of rain in August, Lake Nokomis overflowed onto the broad swaths of brilliantly green grass - which attracted at least a hundred wild ducks, all shoveling up mud and weeds, worms and grass.

And a visit to the beautiful Lake Harriet on Frankie's birthday was simply stunning.  The water sparkled and rippled on a very mild September afternoon , and a charming regatta silently circled the center of the lake .  The grandkids leaped gleefully into the water .  

October has been wonderful walking weather, and my light fleece jacket has only finally come out of the closet in the last week - bliss!  Finally unpacked, I'm itching to get back to baking and cooking.  Moving always leaves me discombobulated for at least a month !






             I moved back to Minneapolis at the end of July - and I have a real kitchen!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

smashed avocado & fresh pea sandwiches


Eureka!  We have a post!  Not quite up to normal after iphoto disappeared suddenly, but I'll take it.  

There is a very good food writer  (Beth Dooley) in one of the Twin Cities newspapers ( the Star Tribune), and I've been delighted to find such delightful, fresh, recipes. This open faced sandwich was inspired by her post on Thursday, though her recipe involves vinaigrette, chevre, radishes, and olive oil, which mine does not.  I thought mashed avocado would be a perfect addition ( I'm on an avocado kick these days, so my fruit bowl still had three avocados, just ripe).

Bursting with fresh flavors, this made a wonderful lunch - the peas, though frozen, were quickly dipped in simmering water, until they were just about to pop, and the mashed avocado was silky and mild.  The fresh sugar snaps a crunchy delight, and I loved the breeze of slivered mint.  I think this is the first sandwich I ever made with peas, and it was wonderful.





To make:

2 slices rye bread
two tablespoons homemade boursin
1/2 an avocado, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup frozen peas, quickly cooked for a minute in simmering water and drained 
3/4 cup fresh sugar snap peas, washed and sliced in 1 inch pieces
several mint leaves, washed and sliced into slivers
1 tablespoon or so of fresh lemon juice over all
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
hot sauce if you wish

Spread the bread with the boursin.  Add the peas and sugar snaps gently, sprinkle with mint leaves, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and the optional hot sauce.  A few flakes of good parmesan would also be a treat.

Serves two.



I hope your summer is blossoming and full of joy !



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Vacation

I've been on vacation visiting family on the New Hampshire seacoast .  First meeting with my 10 month old granddaughter and my grandson is almost two years older than when I last saw him.  Bliss, bliss, bliss.

A friend came to visit on a rainy day and whisked me off to a beautiful garden center that specializes in roses, (among many other varieties) - I took this video, if you want a breath of sea air!  

And sad to say, many things changed on my computer while I was away - no more iphoto means getting pictures onto the blog is very complicated, so I doubt I will be posting in the future.  Such a shame - I really enjoyed it.





Wishing you a happy summer!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

parmesan flans with tomatoes and basil

Last night I was looking through my old recipe notebooks - large black sketching books where I pasted recipes from Gourmet and other food magazines.  I put this in my notebook in July 2008 from Cooking Light, and always wanted to make it, and somehow never got to it until this morning.

The first batch was a flop - I oiled the ramekins, made the egg and parmesan mixture, poached gently, cooled - and tried to unmold them. Disaster, as the bottom stuck and the tops broke into pieces.  I wasn't giving up, so I whipped up a quick batch of quiche batter, oiled the ramekins again, and cooked in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.  This time it worked.  The flans are prone to breaking up, so use a small spatula to move them after you unmold them.





 Oil 3 or 4 ramekins with mild olive oil.  Set oven temperature to 340F.  Fill a pan halfway with hot water - it should be big enough for your ramekins to fit easily.

The egg-cheese mixture:

2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup medium cream
1/2 cup milk
a scraping of nutmeg
black pepper 
1 or 2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
3/4 cup good grated Parmesan cheese

Mix well and divide between your four ramekins.  Place in hot oven and bake for 35 minutes (they should be soft but firm).
Using a potholder or kitchen towel, remove ramekins from hot water to cool.

Make the tomato mixture:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, then quartered (more if you need)
3/4 cup peeled, diced cucumbers
two small yellow mini peppers, seeded and diced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil leaves

Run a knife around the flans and carefully unmold about an inch from your platter.
Space the flans a few inches apart, then sprinkle the tomato and cucumber mixture over each one, then top with the slivered basil.

These are pretty mild tasting, so feel free to jazz them up, if you want.

My thyme plant has been attacked by birds, with a tiny few inches left.  I was puzzled, until I found this article.

Enjoy this beautiful day!







Friday, May 19, 2017

the herb garden and a product review (hummus)






Oh, holy allergies!  I had hoped to be taking some long walks, but it's a wicked allergy season for me, not sure who the culprit is.  The best I can do is check on the new herb plants and keep them watered when we had those hot, dry days.  And Mr. Rabbit is very interested in the new calendula plants - I read up on rabbit problems, and apparently rabbits hate strong-smelling plants, which is why he hasn't eaten any of my new herbs - most of them are mints, rosemary and basils.  I'll be using a peppermint spray on the plants on dry days, and hope it keeps him away.

As I was rummaging through the pantry, making up a shopping list, I came across this hummus add-garbanzo-beans-and-blend packet I bought several months ago, and, being out of tahini, decided to try it. (this is not a sponsored post, by the way).  I guessed it would probably need more lemon, but it was surprisingly tangy.  A little too much salt for me, and I added half a clove of garlic, though it already had garlic in the ingredients.  It was a perfect texture , not soupy, and not too thick.  So, though I usually make my own, this was very good.  I would buy this again.  I really hate messing with a large container of tahini.  It always separates into an oily glop.

Hope you have a grand weekend!  


Saturday, May 13, 2017

on turnip greens



You know how I love any kind of greens - I found the most beautiful bunch of turnip greens yesterday, then realized I wasn't quite sure how to cook them.  I cook collards for at least an hour, but turnip greens are more like kale - a modest cooking time keeps the peppery flavor intact.

It was a good try, but definitely needed more fat (I only had lean ham and a few tablespoons of bacon grease) while cooking, and a cup or so of chicken stock, instead of 3 cups of water.  Live and learn.  Next time I'm going to try fatback and maybe chicken sausages, and follow this recipe, or this one.  I ended up dressing the greens with lemon, olive oil, and hot sauce .

The most important prep is to slice the greens, then wash throughly in a big bowl of water.  Mine looked clean, but after two rinses, there was a lot of sand and dirt in the bottom of the bowl.  Second is not to overcook the turnip greens - no more than 20 minutes for the entire bowl of chopped greens. (Collards are a different story - at least an hour with fatback).






Thursday, May 11, 2017

interlude





Dear friends -  it has become clear in the last several months that a thoughtful break is in order for me and the blog.

Just as I was thinking about it two months ago, my camera agreed with a slight meltdown, and a month after that, a computer malfunction. Even though I get 10,000 views a month, I wasn't making money, so not enough to consider it a successful situation. I stubbornly plodded on, but the thought of a break after 10 years of blogging felt more and more comfortable.  I wanted to write more, though what , I wasn't sure.

True, the tiny oven didn't help, or the heat detector going off when I was baking.  But really, I missed cooking for people, feeding people, messing about in the kitchen.

So I'll call it a recharging of creative energy and hope to be back.  In the meantime, I'm starting another book of poetry, at least, I think that's what's been prodding my thoughts:)
and finding my food muse again.  If I feel inspired, I'll certainly post.

Thank you for reading, you wonderful people! - and look forward to coming back refreshed.

lots of love -

Katrina

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

fresh banana muffins with oats & lemon zest

You know how New Englanders always say "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute"?  It's been like that here in Minnesota.  Rain, gloom, sun - and heavy snowflakes late afternoon yesterday.  This morning is windy and overcast and a perfect morning to make muffins and stay inside.






I settled on my old recipe for banana muffins with oats and buttermilk, cinnamon and  - wait!  Why do I have both white and brown sugar?  Forget that!  So I erased the 1/3 cup white sugar (keeping the 1/2 cup brown sugar) and really, there really wasn't a big difference.  Recipe corrected.  

These are moist (especially hot from the oven), and have lots of fiber from the oats, not too much sugar (now, anyway:), and canola oil instead of butter.  The muffins are slightly sweet, spongy and I'm sure they must be healthy - right?  I think you'll like them.



Fresh Banana muffins with oats and lemon zest

This makes 6 Texas size muffins.

Grease the muffin tins and set aside. (I used a Texas size muffin tin) 
Preheat oven to 350F.

In mixing bowl place:

2 medium ripe bananas, peeled, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup buttermilk

Using your mixing paddle on your mixer, stir on low until the mixture is fairly blended.  It will be a little lumpy.

Add:

2 cups King Arthur flour (unbleached)
1/2 cup rolled oats -I use Quaker oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ( or more, if you wish)

Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups to 3/4ths full.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until muffin tops are springy when gently touched.
Remove to a cooling rack , let cool, then dig in!



The first of the spring baskets on the railings!

Friday, April 28, 2017

eat your veggies soup ( and using up your veggies)

Spring is here, but a little too cold to put out new herb plants - though I found my fresh parsley and dill in a very overcrowded vegetable drawer, eureka!  My New England background scolded me to "use it up",  - and so this soup was born.  I had kale, parsley, baby potatoes, broccoli, celery, and onions, which always seem to get soft too fast in the dark cupboard.  All of the veggies were nice and fresh.

To my great surprise, it was really delicious, so this off-the-cuff recipe stays in my files - it's definitely a keeper!





This is a beautiful rhubarb plant - but did you know the leaves are poisonous? Trim the leaves off from the red stems and throw the leaves in the trash - I never even put them in the compost bin.  I caught Izzie about to pick some because she thought it was kale!



Eat your veggies soup

2-3 baby potatoes. halved
1 cup firmly packed kale, leaves only, torn
1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup chopped broccoli, no stems
1/2 cup sliced celery
a few sprigs of dill
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon roasted chicken base or bouillon cube.  

Place the vegetables, thyme, dill, and bouillon paste in a large saucepan.  Add water halfway up the pot.  Bring water to a boil, turn down, and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium.

Remove from heat and blend in blender, adding small amounts of water if needed.
Taste and add salt and pepper before serving.  

Let me know about your veggie drawer clean out recipes!





Tuesday, April 25, 2017

orange avocado breakfast salad






Isn't this the prettiest breakfast?  Avocado, fresh oranges, a few sprinkles of dill and scallions - and a few sugar snap peas for the delightful crunch.  

I was sorting through the newspapers for recycle, and it caught my eye, even though the picture was black and white.  I've been thinking much more about what I eat, and it should include far more fruits and vegetables.  I also think I crave chicken, bacon, and ham when I'm feeling any stress or when I'm worried, so back to my normal eating pattern I go.  The original recipe credited to Deborah Madison had a lime-cumin sauce, quite a bit of shredded radicchio, or napa cabbage, garlic, a chile, cilantro (you know how I feel about cilantro!) paprika, mustard.  I went with a very simple lemon-olive oil, sea salt flake and pepper dressing, a little sprinkle of fresh dill and sliced scallions.

Orange Avocado Breakfast salad

For two servings:

2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 ripe avocado, cut in half lengthwise and peeled, sliced thickly and cut in two
1 or 2 sliced scallions
a few springs of fresh dill
a small handful of sugar snap peas, raw

Dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (next time I'm trying orange juice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
a few pinches of sea salt
freshly ground pepper
a pinch of dried dill

I'm digging a little garden for my soon to be bought herbs !  I use a lot of herbs, and they often seem to wilt in the fridge, even in packaging, so it's been frustrating. Much better to have them close by (and I hope the wild rabbits leave them alone!).





Wednesday, April 19, 2017

the last of the brussels sprouts




I'm always a little sad when the brussels sprout season is over - I do love them!  But on that sunny, warm day, I blanched them for barely 10 minutes (they were very small), drained them, and made a summery marinade:

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
oregano - a pinch or two
a pinch of so of caraway seed
a generous sprinkling of crisp bacon

Makes two servings.

Happy Spring!





Thursday, April 13, 2017

lemon shortbread cookies

Inspired by the first wildflowers of spring, I headed to the kitchen to make these intensely lemony , flaky shortbread cookies.  I know most people crave chocolate, but lemon is my very favorite flavor of all .  I never use lemon extract, because it doesn't have the same tang that freshly squeezed lemon juice has, though I do add vanilla to balance these cookies.  A little sweet, a little puckery.





You make the dough ahead of time and stick in the fridge or freezer.  It thaws fairly quickly if you freeze it, thanks to the unsalted butter, then just roll it out fairly thickly, cut out the cookies and bake.  I tend to use my round fluted cookie cutters  - perfect for a sturdy cookie that shows just the tiniest amount of toasty edges.  Yummers!


This made about 40 cookies for me today - I forgot to count!


Lemon Shortbread cookies

2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top, if you'd like)
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 and 3/4's cups King Arthur flour
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt

Cream the butter in the mixer bowl, add the sugar and mix.
Add the lemon zest and juice and mix.
Add the flour and mix.
Add the vanilla and pinch of salt and mix.
Gather the dough into a ball, pat it down into an oval, and wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer.  I left it in the freezer for two days before I was ready to make the cookies.

Later:  take the dough out of the freezer to thaw a bit.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
As soon as the dough is pliable, mold into an oval with your hands, roll, and proceed to cut out your cookies.  If you'd like, sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top of the cookies.
Bake one cookie sheet at a time for 20 minutes .  I like a little toasty browning on the edge, but that's up to you.  Remove cookies to a cooling rack and continue rolling and cutting out cookies - but make sure the cookie sheet has cooled in between batches.

That's it!

Happy Easter to you all!







Saturday, April 8, 2017

spring is spronging!




A long delay in posts, my apologies.  My ankle is slowly getting better, making it a little easier to get to the supermarket - but often I get there and realize I forgot my shopping list.  I do make a list and email it to myself on the cellphone, but just as often "forget" my cellphone, which I have a love/don't love relationship with - I had a landline in NH all those years because of the mountains, and definitely prefer it.   My camera is acting up (I love, love those Canon PowerShot cameras, lightweight and small enough to stick in my pocket) but a trip to Target turned up empty - the only Canon on the shelf was the the Rebel, much too big to cart around, and much more expensive.

Spring comes earlier here in Minnesota, and I discovered these pretty wildflowers suddenly blooming all along the back yards in my neighborhood - it gives a lift to the soul!

I think cookies are in my future, a request from the almost 4-year old, so stay tuned!

Happy Spring!






Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pantry cannellini bean and tomato salad with artichokes

Once again, I've been sidelined by that ankle injury several months ago.  Which meant no long walks to the supermarket, but on the happy side, reading and re-reading books from my library, everything from Buddhist philosophy to cookbooks to mysteries.  It's been lovely, but I'm impatient for the ankle to heal a little faster.










I've also browsed more on Pinterest, which is where I found this salad-from-the-pantry, made very simply with cans of diced tomatoes, beans, and artichoke hearts from my pantry shelves. I had green olives, but no black olives - I think I would prefer the black olives next time. And I did drain the diced tomatoes, but they were still juicy, next time I'll drain them a little longer. I also cut the artichoke hearts in half, instead of quarters.  But still, it was a wonderful filling salad for lunch.

Do check out the link for full directions  - her salad is lovely!

What I used:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 fat garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons bottled capers
a handful of olives
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
My parmesan cheese was very dry and hard, so I skipped the 1/4 cup parmesan shavings.








Friday, March 24, 2017

ginger and strawberry jam







A chilly, damp day today.  When I opened the fridge, I could smell those Florida strawberries, fragrant and sweet.  So, of course , I made a fresh little pot of jam.  And just for fun, I added a spicy slice of fresh ginger root -  mmmmm, smells wonderful!



The directions are here:  http://shesinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2015/01/winter-strawberry-jam.html


Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, March 20, 2017

stove top chicken thighs in spicy tomato sauce



What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been - mostly political, which often sends me instantly to my bed for a nap.  I tinkered with the Paleo diet after noticing the poundage was creeping up, but I missed too many foods .  Sensible eating seems to be the best way for me to go. I was delighted , however, with the thumbs up for chicken thighs , which I have always preferred over the chicken breasts.

This is one of the Paleo-friendly recipes I came up with and have now made 3 times in the last month:


Stove top chicken thighs :

3 or 4 good sized chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 sliced onion
1 sliced red or yellow sweet pepper
1 cup diced canned tomatoes (I used the one with basil and oregano)
1 cup pitted black kalamata olives
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon thyme
kosher salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet on medium.
Add the chicken thighs.
Add the sliced onion, peppers, tomatoes, olives, water, and thyme and salt and pepper.

Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook another 20 minutes, covered.  Cut into the chicken to make sure there is no pink - if it is, cook another 15 minutes, covered.  I served with very fresh skinny asparagus topped with lemon juice and olive oil.

Yummers!




This is a Paleo treat I nibbled on whenever I wanted something sweet - homemade Paleo peanut butter cups.  I found it on Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/260927372142296396/



Be well - and carry on:)