All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

roasted delicata squash with quinoa and cranberries

Our last farm share was a bonanza, with three delicata squashes, one of our favorite squashes lately.  One night I simply washed two of them, sliced them into 1 1/2 inch rounds (seeds and all), brushed them with melted butter, and roasted for 45 minutes.  Leaving the seeds intact lends a slightly richer flavor, but it was tedious to scrape away all the seeds after serving, especially for the children present.  They had no problem eating the soft peel, with a certain delight, though.

For lunch today I settled on a whole squash, split and deseeded, roasted again for 45 minutes, and filled with a quinoa and dried cranberry filling, then drizzled with a light citrus sauce, topped with fresh sage leaves. Really, really lovely  and light, and a pleasure to still see green plants here in Minneapolis, which has not yet had a frost.

Delicata squash with quinoa and dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375F.

one medium Delicata squash, split lengthwise and deseeded
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter 

Arrange the squash halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with butter, then roast for 45 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, make the quinoa:

Place in a heavy bottomed sauce pan:

1/2 cup white quinoa
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch dried thyme leaves
a few grindings of black pepper

1 cup dried cranberries (stirred in after cooking)

Bring the quinoa to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then.  I kept the pot covered for a half an hour, then uncovered it.  If there is still a lot of liquid, simmer until it is absorbed.  Remove pot from heat and add the cranberries.

Orange juice and olive oil dressing:

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Slice off the ends of the squash (only if you want to, and I did), cut each squash in half, and place on 4 plates.  Drizzle with orange dressing , top with whole or slivered sage leaves, and serve. 

Wasn't that easy?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

chilled radish soup

As I was scrubbing the garden dirt off the radishes this morning, I suddenly remembered a soup in one of Lee Bailey's cookbooks (which did not move to Minnesota with me) - a light lunch or supper soup.  I made it once years ago, but thought it was very bland, I think in part because you simmered the fresh radishes until soft, along with potatoes.  This morning I thought, why not skip the cooking?  Perfect!  The peppery zing of the radishes was intact so this recipe will be a keeper during fresh radish season - and such a pretty pink!

Fresh Radish Soup

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped white onions
3/4 cup sliced white potatoes
water to just cover the potatoes for boiling
1 cup hot chicken stock
1 1/2 cups washed and sliced radishes
kosher salt to taste

Cook the onions until soft in the butter and set aside.
Simmer the potatoes until soft and drain.
Place the hot bouillon in a blender, add the potatoes and onions and blend until 
smooth, then add the radishes and blend again. It will be a very pretty pink.  Taste and add a little kosher salt if you think it needs it.  

Serve room temperature or chilled a bit, with some bread and butter sandwiches.


Sunday we went to a wonderful open house at the Holz Farm - a farm that was worked from the 1860's until 1993 - it is now protected in a sea of houses and condominiums nearby, and open to the public for special events - this was one of them.  Geared to children, there were farm animals to pet, ponies to ride.  A virtual cow (really!) to teach the kids how to milk a cow.  A country band, and an accordion group kept the children whirling and hopping.  In the kitchen they were making butter in a jar, and the old farm trucks and shucking machines were proudly displayed in a field, along with pumpkins and corn shucks.  They even had an old washboard and tub for the kids to try out, doing laundry.  I wandered around, falling in love with the old truck and the charming milk house next to the barn - and grateful that this wonderful old farm has been saved.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

little peach and nectarine galettes with thyme

My wits have not quite settled down living in this new city, so coming up with a new recipe post has been evading me lately.  Today I fell instantly in love with a photograph from My Blue and White Kitchen, walked to the store for peaches and nectarines (I still am holding tightly onto peach season) and had a very happy few hours mixing and baking - and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

As I do with any new recipe, I followed her recipe exactly, except for a tablespoon or so of stripped fresh thyme leaves and a pinch of nutmeg in the dough.  Why?  Because thyme is my favorite herb ever, and I had a glass of sprigs beside the flour tin;  and nutmeg is almost always in my desserts, again, because I love it.

I still think I didn't roll the dough thin enough, but my taste-tester disagreed with me - she and her husband loved the fat, amazingly flaky dough, and the cooked fruits, so there you are - I leave it up to you.

You can find the recipe here - and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I did - it's a keeper!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

the wonderful veggie salad!

We had several very warm days last week, not as humid as New England, but muggy enough to curl up with a book in air conditioned splendor inside.  That kind of weather keeps me far away from the oven, even with air conditioning - all I can think about are fresh fruits and salads.  So when the memory of my Veggie Salad popped up in my thoughts, I sliced, diced, and chopped willingly , ending up with a very large bowl to tuck in the fridge.

You can use up all those summer vegetables that are so fresh right now:  green cabbage, spinach, scallions, parsley, and juicy tomatoes, which is definitely a bonus.   Fill a bowl and it's lunch.  Add a heaping tablespoon to your hamburger bun and top with a hot grilled burger.  Layer over a smoked turkey sandwich, or serve as a side to fresh fish or lobster. I love the versatility of this salad for just about any meal - even breakfast.  I often add cottage cheese to the vegetable mixture, which adds a little more heft to the salad, especially if that's all you're having.

In the past, I've used the shredding cone for my KitchenAid mixer, but a part has gone missing, so I sliced everything by hand.  I wasn't able to slice it as thinly as I prefer, but it was delicious as always - I love the oregano dressing, so I made twice as much.

Veggie Salad

2 cups shredded or thinly sliced fresh green cabbage
2 cups de-stemmed thinly sliced large-leaf spinach
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
6 scallions, sliced (both tops and bottoms)
4 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1 cup cottage cheese (optional)

Place in a large bowl.

The dressing:
(you can easily double this if you like a lot of dressing)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano 
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Toss the salad well before serving.  This keeps well in the fridge in a covered container.


One of my neighbors offered me some somewhat wild pears from a tree she has tucked in the corner of her yard - so many pears some of the branches have broken.  Not a clue what to make when they're ripe - right now they are very hard.  Ideas?

Happy After-Labor-Day!  

Friday, September 4, 2015

rigatoni with crunchy breadcrumbs, garlic, and cherry tomatoes

I do love this season of ripe tomatoes of every color and shape, but realize I prefer them as accents, rather than a thick tomato-y sauce.  A few thick pieces of perfect tomatoes on bread with Hellmann's mayonnaise and fresh pepper sums up summer to me.   

Looking at the bounty on the kitchen counter and wondering what to make for dinner, I suddenly remembered that kale salad I made a while ago, especially those crunchy breadcrumbs tossed with garlic and kale.  I ate quite a few spoonfuls of those breadcrumbs each time I made the salad.  So why not go whole hog?  

I increased the recipe for breadcrumbs, tossed in more garlic, and sauteed until they were dark golden brown, then layered them with rigatoni and blistered cherry tomatoes, cooked until they were just bursting, then topped with more crunchy crumbs and a shower of dried basil, simply because it's more assertive and I was out of homemade pesto.  A quick squeeze of lemon juice and it was perfect.  I did experiment with a few slivers of parmesan, but it didn't seem to belong in this dish, perhaps because of the breadcrumbs?

Rigatoni with crunchy breadcrumbs, garlic, and cherry tomatoes
Serves two

For the crumbs:
3 slices whole grain bread, toasted, cooled, and crumbed in a food processor 
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/3 cup olive oil (I use California)
1 pinch kosher salt

Heat the oil and garlic cloves in a skillet, then add the breadcrumbs.  Stir constantly with a spoon until the crumbs are golden brown.  Sprinkle with salt, then scrape into a bowl to cool.

For the tomatoes:

1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Melt butter in skillet, then add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat until very soft. Set aside to cool.

For the pasta:

1/2 box good rigatoni pasta (8 ounces), cooked in salted water

Optional:  1 or 2 tablespoons pesto (for the bottom of the bowls)
                 2 tablespoons sliced scallions (for garnish)
                 2 wedges fresh lemon 

Set out two or medium pasta bowls.
Drizzle bottoms of bowls with a little pesto or basil oil (optional) .
Place half the pasta in the two bowls, and sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs.
Divide the tomatoes between the bowls and add the scallions.
Top with the rest of the breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle with dried basil and freshly cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve at room temperature.  Fabulous!

I walk by my neighbor's house at the end of the lane, inspecting the tiny pears and rosy crabapples, every morning , and admiring the huge showy flowers, white, and bright pink , next to the sidewalk. Do you know what they are?  I keep forgetting to ask her.  

Happy beautiful September!

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.