Friday, December 30, 2016

Edamame Mint Spread with Smoked Almonds (As a Spread, Or on Soba Noodles)

I have been wanting to make this Edamame Mint Spread from Heidi Swanson's Near & Far cookbook for ages now, liking the simplicity, the unusual combination of ingredients (edamame, smoked almonds, mint and lemon juice) and the option to eat it like a dip or use it as a kind of pesto with noodles or rice. I did both!

Heidi says, “This is one of those hand-me-down recipes—a friend gives it to a friend and somehow it makes it to you because it is that good—everyone making his or her tweaks along the way. I encountered a version of this salad when my friend Sarah Lonsdale brought it to a beautiful al fresco vineyard lunch on a sunny afternoon in Napa. It was her take on an Eric Gower recipe. This is my version.

Edamame Mint Spread
From Near & Far by Heidi Swanson
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 1/2 cups (9 oz) shelled edamame
1/2 cup (2 oz) whole smoked almonds* (I used smokehouse almonds)
1 cup lightly packed mint leaves
1 large garlic clove
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fine-grain sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cook the edamame in a pot of boiling, salted water for 30 seconds and drain well.

Pulse the edamame, almonds, mint, garlic, olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a food processor six or seven times, aiming for chunks the size of pencil shavings. Transfer half of the mixture to a serving bowl and pulse the remaining mixture a few more times before adding it to the serving bowl.

Season with generous amounts of black pepper and lemon juice to taste. (Heidi recommends that “you really go for it”—stirring to combine along the way.  

*Heidi's Tips: Heidi says that smoked nuts can be tricky to find so she often uses un-smoked almonds and smoked salt in place of the sea salt to develop the desired flavor. She also says to be sure not to skimp on the black pepper as the key is getting the balance of flavors right. She suggests serving it over sesame-oiled noodles or brown rice to make a meal.

Notes/Results: I really like the flavor of this spread--a little smoky, crisp cool mint, the acidity of the lemon juice. It has a texture like a tapenade, or a very chunky pesto. It went well on the soba noodles and tasted great on cracked pepper water crackers too. It is very quick and easy to put together and the color is pretty in the bowl. I will definitely make it again. 

I'm linking this recipe up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week--our week to make any recipe from our current featured chef, Heidi Swanson, or any of our previous IHCC featured chefs.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ultimate Chickpea Noodle Soup for a Holiday Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I hope whether you are celebrating today or not, that you have a happy and peaceful day. Of course one thing that makes me feel at peace is making and eating a big bowl of warm and tasty soup--like this Ultimate Chickpea Noodle Soup by Heidi Swanson. It only has a handful of simple ingredients but they work together well and the combination of soft and crunchy noodles make it fun and unique

This recipe comes from the 101 Cookbooks blog and Heidi Swanson who encountered variations of it on a trip to Italy. Heidi says, "There was one that really stuck out. Imagine garbanzo beans bobbing about in a rich chicken broth with thick ribbons of pasta noodles weaving in between them, droplets of olive oil suspended on the surface of the broth, and the whole thing punctuated with crisped fresh pasta that had been fried in olive oil. Someone said to me, "this is like an Italian version of tortilla soup.

Ultimate Chickpea Soup
Very slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson via 101 Cookbooks
(Serves 4)

4 cups water or a good, mild vegetable stock 
2 cups pre-soaked chickpeas
6 ounces fresh or dried pappardelle (I used Tagliatelle)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the stock and chickpeas to a simmer and cook until the beans are cooked through. (Mine took about an hour and fifteen minutes.)Taste and season with salt - you will need more or less depending on how salty your stock (or bouillon) is. To give broth a bit of body puree a small handful of cooked beans (20 or so) with a hand blender, and add them back into the pot. (Heidi says this is an optional step and not necessary if you opt for a homemade chicken stock which tends to have more body (from the gelatin in the bones)...this is her vegetarian work-around.)

While the beans cook, boil the pappardelle in well-salted water then drain and set aside 1/3 of the cooked noodles, you are going to fry these. Also, hang on to a cup (or two) of the pasta water in case you need a bit more liquid for your soup.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the reserved noodles and fry them up until they are nice and crispy. Don't let the oil get overly hot, it should be nicely fragrant and able to do its crisping job. Just remember, you are going to use it later in the recipe, so you don't want it to get to its smoking point.

Add the boiled-not-fried noodles into the bean pot and taste for seasoning, salt if needed (add in the reserved pasta water here if you want a bit more broth, but Heidi likes this soup light on the liquid). Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil from the skillet into the soup and serve with a generous sprinkling of the fried noodles mixed in at the last minute. Heidi says that a drizzle of your favorite table olive oil is a great way to finish the soup.

Notes/Results: This is such a great soup! I love the flavor and the texture both. Having over 400 soups posted on the blog, it gets more and more challenging to find unique ones to make and this one is both different and delicious. There are a few steps and pans involved but it goes together easily and the results are with it. In Heidi's recipe she used petite dried chickpeas (ceci) and pappardelle pasta. I used regular-sized chickpeas and because a small package of dried imported pappardelle was $10.99 at my local grocery store and a bag of imported, dried tagliatelle was $4.00 a bag, I went with the narrower and much less expensive pasta. I don't think it made a huge difference, my noodles were still thick enough to hold up to the chickpeas. I loved the crunch of the toasted noodles on top of the soup. This soup definitely made me happy and I would make it again.

I am linking up this delicious soup to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme this week is Simply Entertaining-Heidi Swanson recipes that are easy and perfect to serve to guests. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 
We have some good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look!

Melynda of Our Sunday Cafe shared a soup and a salad this week. Her soup is a classic Broccoli and Cheddar Soup and she said, "This is easy and delicious! I have made it twice in about 10 days. The first time per the recipe, the second time with what I had on hand and each pot of soup were simply wonderful....."

Melynda's salad is this pretty Winter Pea Salad Plate with Tomatoes and Cashews. She said, "Today we are offering another delicious recipe from our kitchen. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did…"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made a Very Simple Salad of Spinach, Warm Tomatoes & Mushrooms with Egg. She said, "This is a salad that feels like a cheat as far as recipes goes.  The superstar ingredient is a warm egg. These eggs come from  free ranging yard birds who are pampered, having their treats of sweet potato, tomatoes, grapes and such cut in small pieces so they can feast.  These chicken don't know what stress is and thus, they provide wonderful large eggs with deep orangey yolks."

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared a sandwich, this Vegan Cream Cheese and Kimchi  Sausage Bagel she calls a Kimcheese Bagel and said, "If you don't want to use cream cheese, you can substitute it with a more melty cheese like Cheddar, then I would definitely recommending grilling it. This Kimcheese Bagel made for a satisfying snack in between housework and other things."

Mahalo to everyone who joined in 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 wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

 Happy Holidays and have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reisbrei (Rice Pudding) with Cinnamon-Apple Compote for Food 'n Flix December Pick: Krampus {#FoodnFlix}

Christmas is certainly the time for heartwarming holiday classic movies--heck, the Hallmark Channel devotes weeks and weeks to them. But, if you were hoping for a sweet, classic holiday movie for this month's Food 'n Flix pick, you will be disappointed as December's pick Krampus is more campy horror than cozy Christmas. Our Food 'n Flix founder, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen is the host for this month's holiday fright fest and you can see her announcement post here.

I first became familiar with the Krampus legend after hearing Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (I find him a bit intense and scary anyway, even before he starts talking about Krampus) explain it to Jimmy Fallon a couple of years ago. Krampus is a traveling companion for Father Christmas in Central European folklore, a horned, half-goat/half demon who takes care of the bad children by punishing them. Watch the video clip below for Waltz's description of Krampus.

Krampus, the 2015 movie is what happens when the legend comes to life. In short, the Engel family (mom, dad, two kids & grandma) are already having Christmas spirit issues when their relatives (sister, brother-in-law, four kids + tag-along grumpy aunt) arrive to celebrate the holidays. Because of their bad behavior and lack of the holiday spirit, Krampus arrives to terrorize them. (You can read a full summary here.)

Although there are a few parts that I would call mildly scary (or more than mildly scary if you have a fear of clowns, dolls and/or giant toys come to life), Krampus is more dark, campy humor than truly frightening. I am a fan of both Adam Scott and Toni Collette who play the Engel parents, so although I doubt I will make it an annual Christmas tradition, Krampus made for an entertaining evening with some popcorn and hot cocoa.

There is not a ton of food to be found in Krampus but there is some--like the Christmas Eve (or is it Christmas Eve, Eve?) dinner which includes salmon gravlax, crême brulée, and some sort of mac-n-cheese and hot dog casserole. There are candy canes, a variety of cookies--including gingerbread men made by Omi (grandma), and hot chocolate (which Omi says "makes everything better" (although I don't think she was talking about a visit from Krampus), eggnog, bread, and more hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (that might make everything at least a little better!).  

For my movie-inspired dish I decided to veer from the food shown in the film and make a German comfort food dish in honor of Omi and the Krampus legend, because if Krampus decides to visit on Christmas Eve you are going to want comfort food. To me, rice pudding, called Reisbrei (Rice Porridge) in some parts of Germany, is the epitome of comfort food. 

Creamy, sweet and homey, it is often eaten with fresh or canned fruit, fruit compote or apple sauce. I decided to make a Cinnamon-Apple Compote for my reisbrei and to include dried cherries in the pudding and compote for color and toasted sliced almonds for texture. 

Reisbrei (Rice Pudding) with Cinnamon-Apple Compote
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(6 Generous Servings)

1 cup medium grain rice
1 quart coconut milk + about 1 cup extra coconut milk or creamer
1/4 cup honey 
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
dried cherries (optional)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon-Apple Compote (recipe below)

In a medium-large saucepan, place rice, 1 quart coconut milk, honey, and salt. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until rice grains are tender but have not lost their shape (about 45 minutes), stirring occasionally and adding more coconut milk or creamer as needed if mixture gets too dry/solid. Mixture should be thick and very creamy. If using raisins, stir them in for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time. Add almond and vanilla extract and taste for sweetness--adding more honey if needed.

To serve, place in individual dessert glasses or a bowl. Place the Cinnamon-Apple Compote in the center of the bowl to top the pudding


Cinnamon-Apple Compote
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Cups)

1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and chopped 
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt

Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, apples, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. Reduce heat and simmer medium until the apples are tender and the juices thicken to a thin syrup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt

Notes/Results: I will admit to having a lot of rice pudding recipes on the blog (this one makes 10) which is kind of strange because I always thought rice pudding was pretty icky until just a few years ago when I discovered how much I actually like it. This one, with the flavorful cinnamon-apple topping in the sweet and cinnamony pudding, is particularly good. Lots of flavor with the tart dried cherries and the tart/sweet Honeycrisp apples, along with the almonds that add a nice toasty crunch. Enjoyed warm, it's definitely a comforting and satisfying dessert or breakfast.

The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is today, December 23rd and Heather will be rounding up all the dishes on her blog for Christmas. If you missed this round and like food, films and foodie films, join us for January when the film pick is the rom-com French Kiss starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Secrets of Worry Dolls" by Amy Impellizzeri, Served with Guatemalan Rice & Beans with Coconut Milk (and a Giveaway!)

It's my last TLC Book Tour Stop for 2016 and it's an especially good one. Today I am reviewing the novel Secrets of Worry Dolls by Amy Impellizzeri, a story about secrets, loss, and love. I am pairing my review with a creamy and delicious bowl of Guatemalan Rice and Beans with Coconut Milk, inspired by my reading. Finally, just in case you don't get a good book for the holidays, you can enter to win a copy of the book a through the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Publisher's Blurb:

According to Mayan tradition, if you whisper your troubles to the Worry Dolls, they will do the worrying instead of you–therefore, it follows that Worry Dolls are the keepers of a great many secrets . . .

On the eve of the end of the world–according to the Mayan calendar–Mari Guarez Roselli’s secrets are being unraveled by her daughter, Lu.

Lu’s worry dolls are at-capacity as she tries to outrun the ghosts from her past–including loved ones stolen on 9/11–by traveling through her mother’s homeland of Guatemala, to discover the painful reasons behind her own dysfunctional childhood, and why she must trust in the magic of the legend.

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (December 1, 2016)

My Review:

Amy Impellizzeri wrote Secrets of Worry Dolls based on her fascination for them as a child, as well as two incidents that impacted her and the Bell Harbor, New York neighborhood she lived in; the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (where the small community lost over 70 residents) and the crash of American Airlines Flight 578 into the neighborhood, just two months later (all of the passengers and crew aboard and 5 of her neighbors perished). Impellizzeri was at home on the day of the crash and her house was used by the emergency response team (many leaving shifts at Ground Zero) as the command center for the recovery efforts. That mix of gratefulness for being alive with a still-standing home, mixed with the guilt for those who did not make it, give Secrets of Worry Dolls and its characters heartfelt and personal tone that permeates the book. 

In the novel, Lu is about to take off for Guatemala on the urging of her distant mother Mari, to meet the nun that essentially raised her and to hear Mari's story and the secrets that she has kept in her life. Lu does not get on the plane, which turns out to be a fortuitous decision as it crashes after take-off in her Rock Harbor neighborhood, leaving Mari who was home at the time in a coma. Having lost her father and twin sister Rae, ten years prior in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Lu is once again left with survivor's guilt and a feeling of abandonment. The story goes back and forth between Lu's thoughts about what is happening and her memories of her childhood and Mari's viewpoint, told while in her coma. Both Lu and Mari have worries, secrets, and guilt about their pasts and there may be far too many for both the worry dolls that Mari keeps and the ones she gave to Lu.

This is my first book by this author (her second novel) and I was impressed with how well she told both Mari and Lu's story and wove them back and forth in short chapters that kept the story flowing along to the end. Along with the worry dolls, the meaning of the purported end of the world on 2012 according to the Mayan calendar and the violence and heartbreak of the country's violent political history gave me insight into Guatemalan folklore and history. I liked that the folklore and magical realism has a deft balance in the book, it makes sense in the story and comes off as believable rather than fantastical. I found Secrets of Worry Dolls to be a multi-layered and wonderful book that captured both my imagination and my heart. Although there is tragedy, pain and heartache--and certainly much of it--in its pages, it manages to convey a feeling of hope and the future.  

(Side Note: I had a tiny set of my own worry dolls growing up and I think they are still in an old jewelry box in a closet. I thought about looking for them, although I think they may be too small for all of the worries this past year has brought. Thankfully I received a couple of slightly larger worry dolls with the ARC of the book, so I'll give them a try.)
Author Notes: Amy is a reformed corporate litigator, founder of SHORTCUTS Magazine, and award-winning author. Her first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) , was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. A favorite with bloggers and book clubs, Lemongrass Hope was named the #1 reviewed book in 2014 by blogger, The Literary Connoisseur, and topped several bloggers’ “Best of” Lists in 2015. Amy’s second novel, Secrets of Worry Dolls is releasing December 1, 2016 by Wyatt-MacKenzie.
Amy is also the author of the non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015). She is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers and President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Amy currently lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and one energetic weimaraner, where she keeps up on all of the latest research confirming that caffeine is, in fact, good for you.


Food Inspiration:

There was some food inspiration to be found in Secrets of Worry Dolls like steaks, scrambled eggs, coffee, gazpacho, pork dinners, ice cream, and Frozen Hot Chocolate and Humble Pie from Serendipity in New York City

I thought about making a traditional Guatemalan Day of the Dead salad of vegetables, cheeses, olives, deli meat and flowers. "There was "a funny looking salad we made every November called fiambre, that looked a heck of a lot like antipasti." Being a non-meat eater though, it seemed like it wouldn't be the same without the cold cuts. 

I decided to make a simple rice and beans dish as Lu is fed "a heaping dish of rice and beans each night" while in Guatemala. I found a few different recipes online and decided on Gallo Pinto con Leche de Coco or Rice and Beans with Coconut Milk. 

Note: I doubled some of the spices in the recipe--noted in red below. 

Guatemalan Rice & Beans with Coconut Milk (Gallo Pinto con Leche de Coco)
Adapted slightly from
(Serves 4-6)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small red sweet pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup long grain white rice, soaked 20 minutes and drained until dry
1/8 (1/4) tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
pinch chipotle pepper or cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 (1/2) tsp dried oregano
1/4 (1/2) tsp turmeric
1/2-3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 cup water
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1 (15 oz) can small red beans, drained (I used pinto beans)

(I added chopped fresh cilantro to garnish)

In a medium‐large heavy‐bottomed pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring. Add peppers and cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spices (thyme through salt) and stir. Add water and coconut milk and stir well.

Bring to a boil and stir in beans and return to a boil. Lower heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, covered. Stir every 5 minutes to avoid sticking and add more water if needed to prevent it from drying out. (This is more like risotto than a fluffy rice.) When rice is finished cooking, stir one more time, scraping the bottom if necessary, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Notes/Results: I loved how creamy and delicious this rice and beans turned out--very much like a risotto in texture, only less fuss. I did increase the amount of the spices I added as I like lots of flavor and between the coconut milk, spices, bell pepper and jalapeno, it had plenty. To be more authentic, it should probably have small red beans but I didn't have any in the pantry so I used pinto beans--although black beans would be another good substitution. It made for a satisfying dinner and I popped a fried egg on top for breakfast this morning. Yum! I will happily make this again.  

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 "Secrets of Worry Dolls" was provided to me by the publisher, Wyatt-MacKenzie and 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.

***Book Giveaway!***

The publisher is generously providing a copy of Secrets of Worry Dolls to giveaway (U.S. and Canada addresses, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me about a favorite family or cultural tradition or why you would like to win a copy of the book. 

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or Author Amy Impellizzeri (@AmyImpellizzeri), and/or Publisher Wyatt-MacKenzie (@wymac)
on Twitter. (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow me, the author or publisher on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is Wednesday, December 28. 

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway