All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

roasted chicken with rosemary: transition

You would think by now I would be settling in here after two months, but my head stubbornly refuses to re-set my compass :  I wake up not quite sure where I am in my long life of places:  for a few seconds I am 10, sharing a bedroom with my little sister in Pascagoula, Mississippi - and next I'm looking down at one of my babies, who are now parents themselves. I hear my father's voice halloooing as he meets my car on the island:  this morning I heard a ship's bell clanging in the fog on a tiny harbor in Maine we stayed at for a few days long ago - it was the light rail just outside my window, here in Minnesota.  I know where I am physically, but the years and places tumble gently in my waking up bubble.  I think to pick some mint and thyme from the herb border beside the front door, then remember I'm on the fifth floor in a midwestern city, with no garden (yet), with a houseful of family.  

For someone who's been solitary for a long, long time, it's a transition that is taking a little too long for my patience.  But yesterday, I finally made the famous roasted -chicken- with- rosemary and thyme with 9 year old Izzie by my side, watching - and tomorrow, a birthday cake for my dearest firstborn - and let's hope it kickstarts the creative (and culinary) juices flowing.  And guess what I found just down the street yesterday morning?  A little garden center crowded with plants and herbs:  a two foot rosemary plant that now sits on the window sill, minus a few branches for this chicken.

Roasted Chicken with rosemary and thyme

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 good sized chicken to serve 6 people
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided into 2 portions
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 of a lemon
1 teaspoon whole thyme leaves
several springs of fresh rosemary
freshly cracked pepper

Wipe out the inside of the chicken with a paper towel.  Squeeze the lemon over the outside of the chicken, then place the lemon inside the cavity of the chicken.   Add 1 tablespoon of the butter inside the cavity as well.  Add several sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken, then rub the outside of the chicken with the remaining butter.  Sprinkle the chicken with the thyme and kosher salt and fresh pepper.

Place chicken in preheated oven and roast for 1 and a half hours, or until chicken is golden and the chicken legs move easily when wiggled.  Remove the chicken to cool for 15 minutes, then tip the chicken and collect some of those wonderful juices to drizzle over the chicken before slicing.( P.S.:  Save the bones and trimmings and juices for an over-the-moon roasted chicken stock!)

I served this with wilted spinach and kale, and boiled quartered new potatoes with lots of butter and pepper - what a wonderful supper!  And dessert was those wonderful tiny clementines found at Trader Joe's (from Chile) - juicy, easy to peel, and the perfect size for 2 year old Noah, though I go through three at a sitting, they are so good!

Happy almost September!

Monday, August 17, 2015

fresh rosemary and red onion focaccia

Where has the summer gone?  I'm sure that's being echoed by every parent and grandparent at this moment, as they realize school starts next week.  I am still deep in boxes, rummaging through eight boxes to find one small ice cream scoop (never found) or the portrait of my Grandmother Helen (still not found), or my mandoline (found half of it), my tray of silver knives, forks, and spoons are found, at last, though!

So, that has been my summer: packing, unpacking, playing with the children, walks, swims, museum going, and a fine visit to the Irish Fair here, mainly so Izzie could finally see the young step dancers performing - which she loved!  

Too busy and hectic to bake much, though I did finish this focaccia my daughter started.  She made the dough the night before, and I finished it the next afternoon.  She found it on Bon Appetit, and I must say it was delicious.  The dough is rolled very, very, thin, proofed, assembled, and baked.  It comes out crunchy and toasty and was a hit with all three children - and me.  I was very sad to see the platter empty, but will make again:  the CSA share box always has fresh red onions to remind me.

rosemary and red onion focaccia

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided , plus more
1 3/4ths cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup water plus more if needed
1/2-3/4ths cup very thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
2-3 tablespoons chopped oregano and basil leaves
fresh pepper 

Lightly oil a bowl, set aside.  Combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and 3/4th a cup of water in mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook.  Mix on low for 5 minutes.  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, increase speed to medium and mix for 6 minutes.  Form dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by hand, adding a tablespoon of flour at a time as necessary to prevent sticking.  Place in bowl, let stand for an hour at room temperature, then place dough in plastic bag and chill in the fridge overnight.

The next day, oil a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.  Stretch and pull dough on sheet into a rectangle slightly smaller than the sheet.  Brush or drizzle 2 tablespoons oil on dough.  
Cover with plastic wrap loosely and let rest for an hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 500F.
Remove plastic wrap and dimple dough with fingertips.
Scatter the onions and herbs evenly over the dough, then sprinkle on salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Bake until golden - about 20 minutes in my oven.  Let cool before slicing and serving.
Recipe slightly modified from the original Bon Appetit recipe.

Let me know if you come up with some other toppings - I would love to know !  Thinking artichokes, sardines, feta, tomatoes - oh, the possibilities!

The wonderful David Leibovitz visited my hometown on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts - you can see it here.  It is beautiful!

Have a wonderful week, dear friends.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

indian spiced green beans with buttermilk raita

Oh, those green beans!  Every Thursday, the CSA box arrives loaded with them .   The first time we found them, we were thrilled, and my daughter made this delicious supper, remembering the scents and tastes of her visit to India and Nepal.  The second time, not as much enthusiasm, and the third found me trimming the beans and parboiling them to freeze for the winter.  I do wish I liked green beans a little more, but for me, a little goes a long way.  I'd much rather have a rainbow of tomatoes - but this recipe won me over.

Here, the beans are shredded in a Cuisinart using one of the slicing discs, or you can slice by hand, which is tedious, but pleasing in a way.  Two pounds of green beans were dispatched in a matter of minutes, for which we were grateful - that spicy aroma of curry was making us HUNGRY.

First, make a batch of jasmine-basmati rice (with a little chicken stock added to the water), enough to feed your friends/family - in this case, I would say it was enough for 8 servings.  Set aside when done, covered, until it's time to serve.

the green beans:

3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
one large onion, diced
2 pounds of fresh green beans, sliced or shredded in the Cuisinart food processor.
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons good curry powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
kosher salt to taste

Shred the beans, or french them by hand.
Place a baking sheet over two burners on medium heat.  
Drizzle the oil on the sheet and spread with a spoon.
Add the diced onion and cook until golden.
Add the shredded green beans and cook 15 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and the spices and stir well.  Continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn.
Serve over the rice with a side dish of the buttermilk raita.

the buttermilk raita:

1 finely diced peeled cucumber
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
kosher salt to tast
1 cup buttermilk

Combine the cucumber, dill, parsley, buttermilk, and salt and stir well.  I used a remarkable new tan cucumber a friend had given us - but looking at the picture, it looks like a potato:)

To serve:  mound the rice on plates, add the green bean mixture on top, then spoon a few tablespoons of the raita on top of the rice and beans.  Heavenly!

Isadora showed me this lovely fountain, planted with wildflowers , one day in a large park nearby - isn't it lovely?  And isn't she lovely?

Friday, July 31, 2015

pickling day: red onions and cucumbers

In spite of my taking a sick day and sleeping for 12 hours - twelve hours! - the CSA box arrived again last night with more cucumbers and lovely red onions, BUT.  We still have some from last week - what to do, what to do.

Then I remembered those wonderful pickled red onions I made last year, and the Finnish cucumber salad my daughter likes so much, so spent a few hours this morning stuffing the already full fridge with those zesty condiments.  Easy to make, and delicious with everything from cold chicken or fish, to French potato salad, they're a perfect way to use up your summer abundance.  AND I used the last of the dill, mostly stems by then, to start a new bottle of dill vinegar.  So pleasing to have all three of these condiments stashed in the fridge and pantry.

Enjoying the blue, blue sky with wispy clouds overhead , the chattering of the children just back from the beach - and eyeing my bed for a little siesta:)  Enjoy your summer days!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Anni's kale salad with breadcrumbs and garlic

Thursdays are CSA pickup days around here, and after struggling to empty the fridge before the next box,  we're finally getting the hang of it.  As soon as we got home, my daughter-in-law Anni whipped together this wildly popular minced kale salad.  I've seen recipes for it, but thought I wouldn't like it.   Boy, was I wrong!  

The last cup of this went out the door this morning in my daughter's lunch box, but I had scribbled down the off-the-cuff recipe last night, thankfully.  Looking in the fridge, there was just enough tuscan (aka dino ) kale left for half a recipe, so here it is:

Anni's Kale Salad

2 slices wholegrain bread, toasted, cooled, and whizzed into breadcrumbs
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste
3-4 cups of kale, stripped from stems, then minced.  It should measure between 1 and a half to  2 cups minced kale.  There was a stray stem of yellow rainbow chard in there:)
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)
about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a pan on low, then add the minced garlic.  Cook a few minutes, then add the breadcrumbs and stir until crumbs are lightly browned.  Remove from heat.

Place the minced kale in a bowl, then add the breadcrumbs and massage the kale for a few minutes.  Add the parmesan, if using (I skipped it).  Sprinkle the lemon juice over, toss, and serve.

It's been hot in Minneapolis, so I haven't been exploring as much, but I do notice these beautiful orange flowers everywhere - if you know what they are, I'd love to know!  We did go to The Mall of America.  I'm not much of a shopper, but loved the Lego world display, where this enormous dragon peered down at us from the second story.  Hope your summer is going swimmingly!

Friday, July 10, 2015

exploring Minneapolis

We had the most wonderful field trip the other day, visiting one of the hottest pizza places in Minneapolis - and after one bite, I understood why - Punch makes the best pizza I've ever had.  Their wood-fired pizza oven maintains a temperature of 800 degrees , so your order is done in minutes.  Unlike my homemade pizza, their pies are very light and thin, with a few delicious charred bubbles of cheese and dough.  

After lunch, we meandered to Nicollet Island - a tiny island in the middle of the Mississippi river, with a charming Inn and lots of parkland to wander through .  We met up with a family friend, who was fishing there (below) - he didn't catch anything, but the fish were leaping and splashing just a few feet away from us.  What an amazing place!

And here is Frankie at one of the farmers' markets - wearing his butterfly wings:

                                                 Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2015

jamie's red pepper pasta sauce with lemon, parsley, and ham and Saturday sightseeing

I love exploring this new place!  Saturday we visited the St. Paul Farmers Market, just over the Mississippi River, which was packed with shoppers and visitors, like me.  Lots of herb and flower plants, which made me feel a little wistful, as we have no garden space here - yet.    Flowers were everywhere, making for a very colorful market, and we picked up some gorgeous Italian parsley and fresh basil for our dinner recipe (and two small baskets of red and yellow shallots, for $3!)

On the way home we happened to pass this stunningly gorgeous French villa, and I made my daughter stop so I could take pictures.  Putting down my camera for a minute, I saw a poem inscribed in the sidewalk beside the house, such a surprise and a joy.  

And that night we made Jamie's wonderful red pepper pasta with Parma ham and lemon, tossing in a handful of bright, fresh broccoli we had picked up at the market.  I opted for a chunkier sauce than Jamie's - I'm sure it's just as delicious either way.  Amazingly, all three children (2,4 and 9) loved it!

Happy rainy Monday to you all....