All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

juicy melon balls with fresh berries - and blooming lilacs

Oh, how the moving continues!  The house is full of boxes - one corner is books, lots and lots of books, that no longer seem important.  But another corner holds boxes of books so dear to my heart - and the photo albums of family through the years.  Much harder than I realized, all those memories.


The air is balmy, the grass is green, and it was once again time for my favorite warm weather snackaroo - juicy melon (watermelon and cantaloupe, but honeydew is great as well, if you can find a ripe one), mixed with fresh raspberries and mint.  Blackberries and tiny wild strawberries work as well - or currants, if you have them, and blueberries, which, of course, come later in the season.

Our local farmer's markets here in New Hampshire now have the most amazing fruits - I bought some fresh organic peaches last year that were the best I'd tasted in years:  and grown right here in Hancock, which is zone 3-4.  Amazing.

The lilacs are blooming, and we have both the dark purple ones, that last a very long time and spread throughout our town via cuttings from one avenue of them - and the powdery light lilacs that quickly rust, but are heavenly, very briefly.  We have had no rain at all for weeks and weeks, but some finally is supposed to come tomorrow.

You will need to buy a melon baller from your local kitchen store or supermarket - a handy, low tech tool that makes this so pretty.  Mine has a large ball at one end, and a smaller one at the other.  I find the smaller baller to work best if you're making a tray of these melon balls for a party - with a few large balls mixed in . 

You can assemble them in clear, squat glasses, or plastic ones for a large group.  How perfect is this for parties and early summer celebrations?  Just make sure you make them at the most a few hours before, so they are juicy and moist, and keep them briefly in the fridge if the weather is hot.  The mint is best snipped just before serving - and check for bugs before serving!

Happy Spring, feels like Summer!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mystery Monday: what am I making?

Answer:  If you said Vichyssoise, you were partly right - but given the temperature is close to 60 - a little chilly, it would be Potage Parmentier, basically, which is warm vichyssoise with a little extra butter.  The only recipe I found was this, but I was horrified it called for garlic.

My recipe goes back to Le Bocage, I think - it's possible I changed it over the years.  Actually, it's VERY possible:)

You will need:
2 cups clean leek whites, sliced and washed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup water
2 cups light chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon tarragon (my favorite) or dill (dried)
1 teaspoon thyme (dried)
2 cups washed small potatoes, sliced or quartered
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 last tablespoon unsalted butter, after pureeing
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced, from the garden for garnish

Saute the leeks in the butter for 15 minutes in a large saucepan, then add the water, chicken stock, potatoes, thyme and tarragon or dill and cook until the potatoes are soft.  Make sure the mixture has enough liquid, not enough liquid and it will scorch.

Remove from heat and puree with a stick processor, or a food processor, then add the cream and butter and puree one more time.

Pour or ladle into bowls and top with your lovely fresh chives, serve warm with warm bread and butter and a nice little salad.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

ground turkey and spring greens meatballs

When my son and his wife (and most important:  Baby Max!) visited last week they brought a wonderful salad mix I'd never had - it's organic, from Earthbound Farm, and is a delicious mix of baby spinach, greens, radicchio, and arugula. After they left, I realized we'd barely eaten half the box, so I made up these meatballs.  Not little ones, big, ice-cream scoop size, all this packing is making me hungry!  They were so good I stood at the counter eating them warm from the skillet - so much for good manners:)

While sorting through the freezer I discovered I had five bags of frozen cranberries - 5 bags!  Ever since the year there was a shortage of cranberries, I tend to panic in the Fall and stash extras in the freezer for my cranberry muffins, but five is a little excessive.  So I added a cup of berries to a saucepan and cooked them just until they started popping, then served them as a side. I loved the tang of the berries with the fairly mild turkey mixture, but that leaves me with 4 1/2 bags to go!

Once the meatballs are made, cooking time is short - I cooked them for 18 minutes, covered, until there was no pink when I cut them with the fork.

Ground Turkey and Spring Greens meatballs

1 package of ground turkey , mine was 20 oz.
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grindings of pepper
1/2 cup finely minced greens (about two handfuls)
2 T. finely minced onion (one small onion)
1/2 teaspoon whole thyme
1 heaping tablespoon Panko crumbs (optional)
dash hot pepper sauce or Worcestershire sauce (or both)

1 cup frozen cranberries

Mince the greens in a food processor, scrape out into a dish, then mince a small onion - no need to wash the container after the greens, since they are dry.

Place turkey into a bowl and break up with a spoon, then add the greens and onion, the thyme, salt, pepper, Panko, and sauce, if wished.  Form into large meatballs with your very clean hands, or use an ice cream scoop.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil in a skillet, add the meatballs, and cook five minutes.  Turn the meatballs then turn the heat to medium-low and cover.   Cook another 13 minutes, then remove from heat and uncover pan. 

In a small saucepan, cover the cranberries with water and bring to a boil, uncovered.  When the cranberries begin to pop, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Serve unsweetened cranberry sauce on the side with the meatballs - and dig in!


A tiny sprinkle of rain a few minutes ago - we haven't had rain in weeks!  As you see, the front garden is doing well.  And I have 21 boxes packed for the Big Minneapolis Move, now about a month and a half away.

Monday, May 4, 2015

pickled leek and red onion relish and some astounding news

Good beautiful afternoon from hot and sunny New Hampshire!  If I disappeared suddenly two weeks ago, it was because I was running around flapping my arms and squeaking - in between sorting all my worldly goods while packing for a move to........Minnesota!

Yup, Minneapolis, to be exact.  My daughter and her family are out there and have been dropping hints for a year for me to move there, and one day I just said "yes".  Maybe it  was something in these pickled onions I was making , heaping them onto a huge turkey sandwich.  I've been sorting and packing ever since, and finalized a late June Moving Day.  Yes, I'm excited, and yes, I will miss New England, but it's time for a change.

I don't know that relish is the right word for these, but I use them like that hot pepper relish I have - on sandwiches.  Tossed on top of roasted chicken.  Stirred into cottage cheese.  Since this makes two cups of pickled relish, it goes in a flash, and I don't have to worry much about leftovers.  I used a fresh bay leaf that was very flavorful and aromatic, and that immediately went on my To Buy list in the new place - a small bay tree.

Makes 2 cups pickled onions:

1 16 0z Wide Mouth Mason jar

1 cup very thinly sliced leek white
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
two pinches of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or light herb vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon bottled caper berries
1 large fresh bay leaf

Wash the jar very well, then dip it in a saucepan of boiling water, along with the lid.
Remove jar with tongs to a clean cloth, as well as the lid.   Let cool. 

Pour out about half the hot water, and add the leeks and onion slices, keeping at a slow boil for about a minute.  Drain and set aside.

Use the same pot to heat the vinegars, adding the salt, red pepper flakes, capers, and bay leaf until warm, then pour into the heatproof jar. Add the onions and leeks.  Let cool and store, covered, in the fridge.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

asparagus & eggs redux

Yesterday I had this breakfast on the terrace with oozy eggs, this morning I let them cook for 10 minutes, instead of 8 , and I much prefer the firmer eggs.  Luckily, there was just enough leftover asparagus (also cooked for 10 minutes in a separate pan with salted simmering water)), and a nice firm roll for dipping in the puddle of melted butter and lemon juice.  Even more delicious!

The sun is out and off to town to pick up the Sunday paper - have a glorious Sunday!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

brunch on the terrace: asparagus & eggs

Finally most of the snow has melted away on the terrace  - until this week the gigantic snow drifts from the roof shoveling sat in the shade and refused to melt.  At last, at last! Happy Spring at last!

To celebrate, I had a late breakfast outside - a little wind and in-and-out clouds, but fresh air and the roar of the brook.  

Although I love fat asparagus, all I could find at the market were these skinny spears - so both the eggs and asparagus cooked 8 minutes (separately)  before taking off heat.  Drizzled with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon was all it needed.

And around the front of the house, the daffodils are growing inches everyday and about to pop. Best of all, the bugs have not woken up yet.  Happy Spring!

What I'm watching:  The movie "Chef".  Terrific!
What I'm reading:  Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young - yes, I have a rock and roll past:)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

egg salad sandwiches with celery, parsley and horseradish

Easter is one of my favorite holidays - and not because of chocolate rabbits.  Oh, no, it's all about eggs, which I love more than any food group you could imagine.  Eggs.  Egg salad.  Omelets, frittatas, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, fried, poached, quiches, you name it, I love it.  So you can imagine how I felt when I saw this post from Smitten Kitchen about the lowly simple hard-boiled egg sandwich.  

I read the post, but forgot to write down the recipe - instead soaring off to my own dreamland of egg.  Later I checked it and was surprised that Deb didn't use mayo, and I had also switched out horseradish for her dijon, but no matter - it was delicious.  Lots of parsley, and her pickled celery and red onion topping was inspired.

You will need:

2 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons of minced celery
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon bottled horseradish
2 pinches of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon Hellmann's mayonaise 

Hard boil two eggs for 10 minutes, pour off the water, then cover the eggs with cold water.  Set aside.

In a bowl, add the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt and whisk.  Add the minced celery and red onion and let sit for 20 minutes or more.

Peel the eggs and then mash the hard boiled eggs and scoop into a bowl.

Add the vinegar mixture, then add the horseradish, the parsley, the mayo, and the egg mixture.

Mound onto a slice of good bread, or a nice ciabatta roll, and top with arugula, if you have ( I did not).  Is that heaven or what?