Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hummus Soup with Toasted Chickpeas and Feta for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I didn't get around to making fresh hummus this week so I think it was on my mind when I saw this recipe for Hummus Soup pop up in an email from Cooking Light. I have made hummus soups before (here and here for example), but it's been a while and the toasted chickpea and feta topping are what pulled me to this one.

Cooking Light says, "That’s right—we turned the dip of the decade into a soup that’s savory, silky, and garlicky good. A portion of the chickpeas are reserved and toasted in a skillet to offer some chew—a nice textural contrast to the creaminess of the pureed soup. If the soup feels a little too thick, adjust by blending in more water, 1⁄/4 cup at a time. You can make the soup a day or two ahead, but you’ll definitely need to adjust the texture, as it will overthicken upon standing. Make the toasted chickpea topping up to a day ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature."

I made a few small changes--namely adding a few ingredients I like in my hummus and pumping up the cumin a bit. I know what I like! ;-) I also added an extra can of chickpeas so that I could toast them for extra topping. My changes are noted in red below.

Hummus Soup with Toasted Chickpeas and Feta
Slightly Adapted from Ann Taylor Pittman via 
(Serves 4-6)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
5 cloves garlic, minced
(I added 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp each of smoked paprika and cayenne to the soup and a sprinkle of each in the chickpea topping)
2 cups low-sodium veggie stock
1 3/4 cups water (I used 2 cups)
1 1/8 tsp sea salt, divided
2 (15 oz) cans unsalted or low-salt chickpeas, rinsed, drained, & divided (I added a can and put 2 in the soup and toasted one can's worth)
1/8 tsp ground cumin (see cumin note above)
1/4 cup tahini--sesame seed paste
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (I added extra to taste--about 1 lemon's worth)
6 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
(I added chopped fresh cilantro for color & flavor)

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add vegetable stock, 1 3/4 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a simmer. Set aside 1 cup chickpeas; add remaining chickpeas to stock mixture. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high. Add reserved 1 cup chickpeas; cook, stirring occa­sionally, until toasted and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in cumin and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Pour stock mixture into a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender, and place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process until smooth. Add tahini and lemon juice; process until smooth. Ladle soup into 6 bowls; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and sprinkle with cheese and toasted chickpeas

Notes/Results:  Oh yeah, this soup made me happy today. Almost as happy as the toasted chickpeas on top. It's a good thing I made extra because I kept tasting them to make sure they were done enough (or at least that's the excuse I gave myself). They are a great texture with the creamy, really silky texture of the soup and the salty bursts of feta cheese, but I'd be happy to eat a can of them on their own. As you can see from the recipe--I added some extra spices to this soup--my thought being that I love the way my go-to hummus tastes, so why not go for the same favor profile in the soup. You could leave them out or use your own favorite hummus spices as you see fit. The cilantro was more for color so if you don't like the flavor, omit or sub in some parsley and you can omit the feta cheese if you want a vegan soup. A note on texture--it is much silkier than a pureed veggie soup so I enjoyed it, but it does thicken upon standing--so make sure to have extra broth or water ready when you reheat it. I would happily make it again.

We have two yummy dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared this tasty Corn, Cilantro, and Cucumber Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing and said, "Although autumn is right around the corner, summer isn't over yet. The farmer's markets are overflowing with fresh corn, and there is still time to make my delicious triple C salad. Of all the ways to eat fresh corn from the cob, I like to cut mine off the cob ( uncooked). The tender milky kernels are sweet, crunchy and delicious making them a welcome addition salads. ... I found that crisp kirby cucumbers, spicy cilantro, and seasonal corn taste delightful tossed in a creamy citrus dressing. This salad takes only minutes to make and goes well with most entrees."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I tried Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Hot New Potato and Parsley Salad. We could spend time arguing whether it's salad or side dish but since a salad is defined as small pieces of vegetables in some type of sauce or dressing, I'm going with salad. ;-) It's basically potatoes, butter, and a whole ton of finely-chopped parsley and it is delicious. I served it with some fresh local fish and loved every bite.

Mahalo to Judee for joining me at Souper Sundays this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "A Mother Like Mine" by Kate Hewitt, Served with a Recipe for Hot New Potato & Parsley Salad

It's Friday and this was a crazy week, so I am thankful it is finally here. To kick off the weekend, I'm happy to be on the TLC Book Tour for a good end-of-summer read, A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a simple Hot Parsley Potato Salad (simple but coated in delectable butter from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) that I paired with some local fish and that was inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Welcome to England’s beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother….

Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiancé’s unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town’s beach café. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future—and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother’s life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Berkley (August 8, 2017)

My Review:

At first I found myself a bit angry at the book--or really rather at myself for not realizing that this book was a part of a series (the author's Hartley-by-the-Sea three-book series) when I signed up for the book tour. It's my own fault for not looking closer and responding to "Lake District" and "cafe" when signing up. I admit to having some issues about reading books out of order, and although most/many would probably tell you that although characters repeat through the books and you don't really need to read them in order, it still bugs me. I didn't have time to go back and get/read the previous two books, so I had a bit of disgruntlement when I started A Mother Like Mine. Once I re-reminded myself it wasn't the book's fault and started reading, I basically got over it. ;-) 

I am a big sucker for second-chance books where characters, particularly female, move back home or somewhere quaint and start their lives over and so A Mother Like Mine was right up my alley with an estranged mother and daughter combination doing just that. Both daughter (Abby) and mother (Laura) have their issues and it took me some time to understand their characters and appreciate them. As the two began to build their relationship, I began to build mine with them and really began rooting for them to succeed--with themselves, with each other, and with their business. The book alternates between their two perspectives, so there's a chance to know how each character is feeling and both are well-drawn. The supporting characters are interesting and overall engaging--although there are a lot of them to get know well (where the other books come into play I am sure).

There is definitely a lot of family and small-town drama that abound in this book and Hartly-by-the-Sea, so if you like books with strong (or growing stronger) female characters, second-starts, family and especially mother-daughter relationships, and settings of small U.K. coastal villages, you will likely enjoy this one. I did--enough so to put the other two books onto my TBR list. A Mother Like Mine walks the balance well of being not-too-heavy, but containing some darker, heaver moments--making it a great book to pour a cup of tea, settle into a comfortable spot, and escape with for a bit.


Author Notes: Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children. She also writes as Katharine Swartz.

Connect with Kate on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


Food Inspiration: 

Since it's set in a cafe--granted it's more a coffee shop/ice cream store/quick sandwich place--there are food mentions that include tea and scones, coffees and lattes, ice cream, the smell of peanut butter, fryers, Denny's & Applebee's, a can of Coke, cold sandwiches and toasties, microwaved jacket potatoes, a dinner of pork roast, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, and chocolate cake, curry, child-friendly--chicken nuggets, chips, fish fingers and the occasional sliced vegetable, Scotch pancakes, sausages and mash, gin and tonics, cucumber sandwiches, lemonade, boiled sweets, breakfast fry-ups, ham, roast beef, prawn salad, casseroles, vodka, Coq au vin, chocolate mousse pie, cereal, champagne, cake and pizza, a ham and cheese baguette, cosmopolitans. spinach-mango-carrot juice, mimosas, fancy salads, orange and currant 'squash' (syrup-based drink) fish and chips, a chocolate cupcake, and bacon sarnies.

For my book-inspired dish, potatoes--especially mashed and jacket potatoes, were mentioned most often besides the scones and ice cream. Since I didn't really feel like baking or making ice cream this week, I decided to go with a potato dish. I was originally going to make a potato mash with thyme and caramelized onions but I've been busy and it's been so humid, that something quicker and less fussy was more tempting. Since I needed to make a potato dish this week for another blogging event, I went to River Cottage Every Day and found a Hot New Potato and Sorrel Salad recipe there. Plus, one of the goals for the Beach Cafe in the book was to upgrade the food and serve some light and simple dinners, so I decided that a warm potato salad and a piece of fish would be a quick and easy addition to the menu. 

Of course the nearby grocery store that sells bags of Maui-grown sorrel has it whenever I am not looking for it and doesn't have it in when I specifically want or need it. The book offered a variation on the recipe with parsley that also sounded really good and so that's what I ended up with. Although not quite what I was going for, it turned out to not be at all a disappointment.

Hugh says, "Garnishing just-boiled new potatoes with a little chopped parsley and some butter is always nice, but here I’m talking about loads of parsley – and quite a lot of butter too."

Hot New Potato and Parsley Salad
Slightly Adapted from River Cottage Every Day
(Serves 4

1 lb small new potatoes--mainly whole, the largest ones cut in half
2 small bunches flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Scrub or scrape the new potatoes. Put them in a pan, cover with cold water and salt well. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender. Small, freshly dug new potatoes cook much faster than you think, so be vigilant and taste a small one after just 5 minutes or so.

While the potatoes are cooking, strip off coarse stalks of parsley and wash well 
and chop the leaves fairly fine (but not to dust).

As soon as the potatoes are ready, drain and put them into a bowl with the butter and oil. Throw the chopped parsley into the bowl and toss well. Leave for a minute, so the heat of the potatoes wilts the parsley, then toss again. Rest for another minute, then season with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Hugh notes that if you do happen to slightly overcook the spuds, don’t despair, just stir them vigorously with the parsley and butter so they break up a little and get a bit ‘mashy’. Pretend it was quite deliberate – your ‘bashed’ new potatoes will still be delicious.

Notes/Results: Although I did really want to try the sorrel version of this hot salad recipe, I have no complaints over the flavor of these parsley potatoes. If you love potatoes, butter, and parsley, you can't help but love these little potatoes. They are simple but decadent and make a great warm salad/side dish--in this case paired with lightly seasoned local fish. I used kajiki (marlin) and seasoned it with a little celery salt, pepper and a touch of Old Bay Seasoning and lightly pan-fried it in a little coconut oil. For the potatoes, use good butter and season them liberally with salt and pepper and they are quite yummy and potentially addicting (judging by the number I ate out of the pan before they made it onto the serving bowl and onto the plate). I was tempted to slightly overcook them and make a more smashed potato, but since I bought the creamy little baby Yukon & red mix, I wanted to keep to the warm salad texture of the recipe. I will happily make these again and will try the sorrel version when I find it again.

I'm linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is our September Monthly Ingredient/Dish Challenge: Potatoes. We can make potato recipes from our current or any previous IHCC Featured Chef.

And I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

And it's called a salad in the book (maybe due to all the green from the parsley) ;-) so, I am linking it up to Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen--where every Sunday, we feature soups, salads, and sandwiches from across the blogosphere. You can find the details for joining in here-on this week's post.  

Note: A review copy of "A Mother like Mine" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Simple Red Lentil Soup with Caraway and Minted Yogurt for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I almost didn't make soup today. I am a bit under the weather and between that and when not trying to sleep, being glued to CNN watching Hurricane Irma, I finally made my way to the kitchen and tossed together my planned soup. Luckily it was this very simple Lentil Soup with Caraway and Mint from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It's quick to toss together and makes a nice transition into fall (it's still humid here so I am more than ready to think about fall), and it hit the spot taste-wise when not a lot of things sounded good.

I did skip the step of pureeing the soup. I prefer a soupy-dal-ish kind of texture with the bits of soft lentils and pieces of carrot and onion. I did make the minted yogurt which adds it own creaminess when stirred into the soup. Forgive the photos too--I just wasn't feeling it today. ;-)

Lentil Soup with Caraway and Minted Yogurt
From River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
(Serves 6)

2 Tbsp canola or olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
1 tsp caraway seeds, toasted and finely ground
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 Tbsp Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add coriander, caraway, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add stock and lentils and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft, 15–20 minutes.

Transfer soup to a food processor or blender and, working in batches, purée until smooth. Return soup to the pot and keep warm over low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

To garnish, stir together yogurt and some of the mint in a bowl; set aside for 10 minutes to marry flavors. Divide soup between 6 bowls, top with a dollop of the yogurt, and sprinkle with the remaining mint. Serve soup with flat bread.

Notes/Results: Simple but great flavor from the caraway seeds and ground (mine was not freshly ground--sorry Hugh) coriander. I used an extra clove of garlic and as mentioned, left my soup as-is, rather than pureeing it. If you want to make it vegan, just omit the yogurt or use non-dairy yogurt of cashew creme for a similar effect. Just a simple, nourishing and yummy soup that goes together easily, I will happily make it again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme this week is Sliding Into September. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes that transition from summer into fall.

We have some fabulous dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z blog shared a family favorite Stone Soup and said, "Although I didn't use any stones, this recipe reminds me of the stone soup story. I did not go shopping for any ingredients, and I did not have a recipe to follow. I simply used what vegetables I could find lurking in my fridge. ... Since I only used whatever I had, I was surprised that the soup was very tasty. It turned out be an pleasing vegetable soup that was quick and easy."
Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shares Purple Green French Beans, Carrot & Potato Tacos and says, "I made this French Bean, Carrot and Potato filling in order to make some Taco's.  I used Wahaca Yellow Corn Tortilla, and finished it off with a generous dollop of soured cream.  Folded it over  and the smothered it further with some Tomatilla Salsa. This Purple Green French Bean, Carrot and Potato Tacos were very good to eat."

Send positive thoughts to Tina of Squirrel Head Manor who is waiting out Hurricane Irma in the Tallahassee, Florida area. She made 15-Bean Soup and said, "Also I soaked beans and made a 15 bean soup. This was something I have done for past storms, check out the recipe and post HERE. Only thing different this time is I didn't add any meat, it's strictly vegetarian. We have a good quantity of rice as well. Yellow rice, Basmati, Jasmine and plain old long grain. If need be, a few ladles of soup over a bowl of rice will sustain us for a while." 
Finally here at Kahakai Kitchen I tried a Bon Appetit recipe for a unique PB&J using homemade pecan-miso butter. This Pecan-Miso Butter and Strawberry Jam Sandwich was a tasty blend of salty and sweet and mat just become my new favorite go-to sandwich.  

Mahalo to everyone who joined me at Souper Sundays this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Keep positive thoughts and prayers for Florida and everywhere else that has been effected by the Hurricane Irma. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Good Daughter" by Karin Slaughter, Served with a Different Kind of P B & J: A Pecan-Miso Butter & Jelly Sandwich

It's Friday and there is a lot going on in the world. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Florida and anywhere in the path of Hurricane Irma, those still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and those in the Mexico earthquake. I'm taking a break from watching the news and worrying to bring you a book tour review and recipe. I'm a huge fan of Karin Slaughter and her dark and twisty thrillers, so I'm excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Good Daughter--her latest standalone book. For comfort, I've paired it with a PB&J sandwich with a twist--the "P" is for pecan-miso butter--which sounds unusual and tastes delicious. 

Publisher's Blurb:

The stunning new novel from the international #1 bestselling author  a searing, spellbinding blend of cold-case thriller and psychological suspense.

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

Hardcover: 528 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow (August 8, 2017)

My Review: 

If you don't "do" dark and twisty, this book and Karin Slaughter's writing are definitely not for you--so you can probably skip the review and go down and check out the sandwich recipe. If you do enjoy a mystery/thriller that gets very dark and makes your pulse-pound, this book is definitely it. As I have said before, Karin Slaughter is the master of books like this. (And while she writes the darkest-of-the dark for her characters, she also posts "Caturdays" and other cute cat and dogs pics on Facebook--I like that juxtaposition of her personality.) ;-) I started with her standalone novel Pretty Girls and accidentally started into the middle of her Will Grant series with The Kept Woman, so I'm going back and slowly reading through her series in order (as I must do it)--starting with the Grant County one. So yes, The Good Daughter is pretty dark (trigger warnings for some graphic violence among other things--I don't want to get too specific here so as not to cause spoilers, so if you have specific triggers you can contact me--on the sidebar--and ask) but it's also a well-written, deftly-paced, page-turner of a thriller that made the 500+ pages speed by and made it very hard to put down.

The story takes place in Pikeville, Georgia--a small town a couple of hours outside of Atlanta. The prologue hits the ground running with a horrific crime that takes place 28-years-ago and where two sisters--Charlotte (Charlie) and Samantha (Sam) Quinn--lose their mother and their life as they know it as fallout from their father's career as a criminal defense attorney. Then the story jumps to the present, where almost three decades later Charlie, now a defense attorney like her father, witnesses another shocking and disturbing crime and Sam, estranged from her family and living in New York, finds herself back in Pikeville and working on the case. Although most of the book is set in present day, the book dips back into the original crime and its aftermath and effect on the two sisters. 

Charlie and Sam are great characters--they are complex--having built huge defenses from the tragedy they suffered--and Slaughter wrote the loving but very contentious sister relationship realistically and created a interesting cast of characters to support them. The crimes are terrible and compelling at the same time and Slaughter throws in plenty of twists and turns. I had parts of the mystery figured out but she managed to sneak some big surprises in, especially at the end--which I love. There is a prequel story to The Good Daughter called Last Breath on Kindle (for .99 cents) that you don't need to read before the book, but it is good and introduces you to Charlie, so I recommend it.  The Good Daughter is an excellent mystery/thriller with elements of a police/legal thriller that also reads as a family drama. It isn't for the fainthearted and will likely keep you up at night while reading it and after--but if you like thrills and chills, put it on the top of your TBR stack.

Author Notes: Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 36 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her sixteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.
Find out more about Karin at her website and connect with her on Facebook.


Food Inspiration: 

I struggle with finding food inspiration within Karin Slaughter's dark and twisty novels. I'm usually at least a bit disturbed and more interested in chewing on my nails than thinking about food. Still, there were some food mentions in the book such as a box of spaghetti, air with "a tinge of fried chicken," scallops, a field of sorghum, cabbage and watermelons, several mentions of sandwiches--mostly peanut butter and jelly--and cokes, Bourbon, IPA, artisanal cheeses, cereal, beer, milk, ice cream, Thanksgiving, a breakfast of tea, yogurt and granola, wine, fruits, berries and legumes, food trucks serving fish tacos, Korean barbecue, Peri Peri Chicken, and "something called Fusion Obtrusion," a Biergarten, orange crackers, champagne, and a Kind Bar.

Since some of the food mentions had more negative connotations in the story, I opted to go with the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which seemed to be both substance and comfort for Charlie, made by her father's secretary Lenora. It was happenstance that a daily email from Bon Appetit featured an interesting take on a PB&J, one made with pecan-miso butter. I occasionally buy fresh pecan butter from the natural foods co-op I belong to and the though of making my own with the addition of miso was intriguing. I like the salt and umami miso adds and thought the pairing with the sweet jelly would be tasty. The recipe call for homemade grape jelly and I opted out of making it because truth be told, I was both short on time and I vastly prefer strawberry jam to grape jelly. When I don't have any of my chia seed jam on hand, I like Bon Maman brand strawberry preserves. 

Pecan-Miso Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Slightly Adapted from Chris Morocco via Bon
(Serves 4)

2 cups pecans
2 tsp red or white miso
For the jelly:
1 lb seedless black grapes, stems removed
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
small pinch of kosher salt
8 slices whole wheat or multi grain bread

Preheat oven to 300°. Toast pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet, tossing once halfway through, until fragrant and slightly darker, 18–25 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a food processor and pulse, scraping down as needed, until the texture of peanut butter. Add miso and pulse just to combine.

If Making Jelly: Bring grapes, cinnamon, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until grapes have burst and liquid is jammy, 25–35 minutes. Let cool, discard cinnamon stick, then mash with a potato masher.

Assemble sandwiches with bread, miso-pecan butter, and grape jam.

Do Ahead: Pecan butter and grape jam can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Notes/Results:  First off, why I haven't been making my own pecan butter before now is beyond me. I think it is one of those nuts that lend itself to nut butter with the toasty sweet flavor and the abundance of oil that make it work so well to easily turn it into a spread. The miso adds a unique flavor to the nut butter--more than a pinch of salt would--but you wouldn't necessarily be able to identify it without knowing it is in there. It just makes the nut butter really tasty, especially with the sweetness of the strawberry jam. (Although I kept sticking a spoon into the nut butter and enjoying it on its own too.) ;-) You could use any flavor of jam in this--I like the intensity of sweetness of the strawberries. I will be making more sandwiches from the pecan-miso butter and making more of it as well since I think it would be great to dip raw carrots, celery and other veggies in it.

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

And since these are like open-faced sandwiches, I am linking them up to Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen--where every Sunday, we feature soups, salads, and sandwiches from across the blogosphere. You can find the details for joining in on this week's post. 

Note: A review copy of "The Good Daughter" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review & Recipe: "Everything We Left Behind" by Kerry Lonsdale, Paired with Ahi Poke Tacos and Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw

Even with the holiday on Monday, it takes some effort to get over hump day and a step closer to the weekend. A good book and a tasty dinner certainly help. Today I have an over-due review for Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale and I'm accompanying it with some quick and delicious Ahi Poke Tacos with Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw.

Publisher's Blurb:

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. 

She’s married and has a child of her own.
Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

Lake Union Publishing (July 4th, 2017)
350 Pages

My Review:

I reviewed Kerry Lonsdale's first novel, Everything We Keep, last August for TLC Book Tours (here's my review and book-inspired fritters recipe) and I really enjoyed the story and the mystery around what happened to James. I then read her second book, All the Breaking Waves, on my own and loved it. When I heard she was writing a follow-up to the first novel, I was excited to learn more about James's story, so when her publisher contacted me and asked if I would like to read and review Everything We Left Behind, I immediately said yes. I feel more than a bit bad that it has taken me so long to write and post my review. I did a quick reread of the first book, devoured this one and knew what dish I wanted to make, but July and August flew by before I knew it. Luckily I took plenty of notes. ;-) 

My first recommendation is to read Everything We Keep, before starting this one. It is possible to read Everything We Left Behind without it, but you won't have the complete background and the story flows better when you have been introduced to Amiee, James's fiancée, and the other characters and get their perspective on what's happened. I won't go into a lot of the details (the small spoilers if you have not read the first book are in the cover blurbs) but this book is about James coming out of his fugue state not remembering the previous six years he spent as Carlos living in Mexico, or his two sons and current love interest. This book is set in Mexico, California and Hawaii and goes back and forth both in time and in perspective between James and Carlos as the story unfolds. It's a bit mystery, romance, and family drama mixed together and Lonsdale keeps the story interesting and made me feel strongly for James's plight and for those who love him. The human mind is so fascinating and although there are novels out there that deal with memory loss, this one has a more unique take on it. Does it get a bit soapish at times? A bit, but it makes for a great beach and end of summer read, it certainly kept me turning the pages, and it has me looking forward to the third book coming out next year. 


Author Notes: Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who’s convinced she’s still a puppy.


Food Inspiration:

There is food to be found in Everything We Left Behind. Food mentioned included, egg salad sandwiches, gummy bears, Oreos, mahimahi tacos and some "famous beer-battered fish tacos," pink lemonade, tangerines, margaritas, grilled steaks and hot dogs, salad and potatoes, hot chocolate and pastries, oatmeal, coffee, an orange--peeled in one long curl, kalua pig, poi, taro smoothies, chicken on the barbecue, salad, a citrus and mango-flavored beer, pancakes, papaya, grilled zucchini, pineapple, Dragon fruit, apple-bananas, salmon, a Spam and pineapple sandwich, ice cream, and Scotch.

I knew that I wanted to go with a fish taco since it was mentioned as something that James made in Mexico and Hawaii. Although poke wasn't mentioned, I thought that it is something that Kauai-dwelling Natalya would introduce him to and I decided to make Ahi Poke Tacos. If you aren't familiar and haven't seen my various poke posts, poke is a Hawaiian salad of cubes of raw fish--often ahi and various seasonings and other ingredients. Going with the more Asian feel of these tacos, I made a Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw to put in the tacos and eat alongside them. 

These Ahi Poke Tacos are really more of a suggestion than a recipe. If you don't do raw fish, send your poke to me and you can use a non-raw poke variation like cooked shrimp or tofu, or use your favorite cooked fish--it won't be a poke taco but it will still be good. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with grocery stores that have poke at their fish counters, it is easiest to buy your favorite kind. If not and you want to make it, here are a couple of recipes (Hawaiian Poke with Black Sesame Seed, California Roll Poke) to get you started--there are plenty recipes online too as poke has become quite popular in the last couple of years.

For the tacos, I used flat-bottomed crispy taco shells--because with the poke is in chunks, plus the other goodies stuffed inside, they hold up better than regular crispy taco shells. I placed the Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw in the bottom of the taco shell, layered in the poke, sliced avocado and topped it with some of my favorite Sriracha-Garlic Mayo, sliced green onion and chopped cilantro. Easy peasy! In addition to the cabbage slaw in the taco, I served it and some simple black beans with the taco.

Miso-Ginger Slaw
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen  
4 cups cabbage--green or purple, shredded
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
2 tsp honey or agave syrup
1 Tbsp finely minced or crushed fresh ginger

Place the cabbage, pepper and almonds into a large bowl and toss together. 
Place all dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk until completely blended or place ingredients into the blender and process until smooth and well-blended. 

Toss the cabbage mix with the dressing before serving. The longer the dressing sits, the softer the cabbage and pepper become, so if you like a crisp slaw, toss just before serving, or if you like a softer, less crisp slaw, toss together and place in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. 


Sriracha-Garlic Mayo Sauce
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use vegan garlic mayo)
2 1/2 Tbsp sriracha, or to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder (I use roasted garlic powder)
1/2 Tbsp pickle or caper juice + more to taste and thin as needed to drizzle

Stir together ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add additional Sriracha or seasoning as desired. 

Cover and chill until ready to use. Will keep for about a week to ten days in fridge.

Notes/Results: If you love sushi and raw fish, you will love poke and if you love poke, there is no reason you won't love these tacos. They are so fresh-tasting and delicious, along with being a good mix of texture--the tender fish, the creamy avocado, and the crisp cabbage slaw make them a pleasure to eat. I completely forgot to put the sauce on them until after I took most of the pictures, but it adds a nice little kick to the mix, so I definitely recommend it, or you can use your favorite salsa or hot sauce. Much as I like just eating poke on its own, or with rice and veggies in a poke bowl, poke tacos may be my new favorite way to enjoy it. I have made them a handful of times now and I am sure I will continue to enjoy them--in fact I really want one right now. ;-)

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Everything We Left Behind" was provided to me by the author and the publisher. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.