Friday, January 5, 2018

Ina's Asian Grilled Salmon, Served with Green Salad with Peanut Dressing & Brown Rice

Ina Garten isn't exactly known for her healthy recipes--in fact, I am often concerned for her and Jeffrey's heart health. But, she does have some healthier recipes worked into all the butter and cheese-laden ones, and even those can be tweaked a bit more to lighten them up. I have head great luck with her salmon recipes and having one nice piece of New Zealand King Salmon in my freezer, I decided to try her Asian Grilled Salmon.

I cut the marinade recipe down to a third and used low-sodium tamari (a gluten-free variation of soy sauce).  I also cooked my salmon on my grill pan on the stove. To go with it, I took the peanutty dressing from Ina's Crunchy Noodle Salad and put it on a green salad. I have nothing against noodles, in fact, I'm sure I will eat pasta this weekend but tonight I wanted a green salad so I combined it with leaf lettuce, red pepper, cucumber, green onion and cilantro. With a side of brown jasmine rice, it made a healthy but satisfying dinner. Because the salmon is so rich, I halved my fillet so I have leftovers for tomorrow.

Asian Grilled Salmon
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten via
(Serves  6)

1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp good soy sauce (I used low-sodium Tamari)
6 Tbsp good olive oil (I reduced by half)
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking. (I used my grill pan but followed the same cooking process.)

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. 

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits. 

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. 


I made a sort of a full batch of Ina's dressing (to use on salads and grain bowls this week) but I lessened the amount of oil and adjusted the other ingredients a bit. It lightens the fat and calories and I like a more tart contrast to the peanut butter. I think it keeps to the spirit of the original dressing but fits my tastes better.

Peanutty Asian Salad Dressing
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten, via
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1//3 cup macadamia nut oil)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (I used 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar)
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari)
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl until blended and smooth.

Drizzle on or toss into salad. Store remaining dressing in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Notes/Results: The salmon was delicious--moist ad full of flavor. I did have to laugh at Ina's note to use "good soy sauce" on the salmon--is there bad soy sauce?! Maybe she has soy sauce made from the tears of Buddhist monks? ;-) I keep low sodium tamari in the house--to me it tastes the same and it lowers the sodium and is gluten free. I also really liked the dressing, good peanut flavor but lessening the oil and upping the rice wine vinegar brightened up the flavor and reduced the fat. I am excited to make a rice bowl with the leftovers and drizzle it with the peanut dressing. This is my third hit with Ina's salmon recipes after the salmon tacos and the salmon Nicoise platter and I would happily make it again.

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this weeks theme is Lighten It Up!--healthier Ina Garten recipes. 

Happy Aloha Friday

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Book Review and a Recipe: "Another One Bites the Crust" by Elie Alexander, Served with a "Grown-Up Grilled Cheese" Sandwich

It's 2018 and I am happy to start the year off deliciously by reviewing Another One Bites the Crust, a new entry in the Bakeshop Mystery series by Ellie Alexander. These foodie cozy mysteries never fail to charm me and make me hungry and this seventh book is no exception. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, a delectable sandwich concoction from the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

Torte—the beloved small-town bakeshop run by Jules Capshaw—is set to hit the stage. But who would have guessed that murder would makes a surprise appearance?

It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama—and his just desserts—but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets—before the curtain drops on someone else. . .

St. Martin's Paperbacks (January 2, 2018)
316 Pages 

My Review:

The Bakeshop Mysteries have become one of my favorite cozy series--I love the characters and the Ashland, Oregon setting. It's such a great town and I love how Ellie Alexander brings it to life. Without giving spoilers if you haven't read the previous six books, I can tell you that in Another One Bites the Crust, we are starting the busy season as the Shakespeare Festival is kicking off and also at Torte--the bakeshop run by Jules and her mother, Helen. The festival's flamboyant artistic director, Lance, has become a close friend and Jules is concerned when he seems out of sorts and it only gets worse when the lead actor of Anthony and Cleopatra ends up dead and Lance is the chief suspect. Of course Jules is going to help him and she finds herself caught up in another mystery, while expanding the bakery and other 'life stuff' (no spoilers) ;-) she is involved in. 

The usual cast of characters is in play--Torte's college-age staff, Helen and the Professor, Ashland's head of police, Thomas (deputy and Jules's old boyfriend), plus there is a new doughnut-loving investigator called in on the case from the 'big city' of Medford, who we may see more of. The food descriptions don't stop--something I love in a foodie cozy and I like the cooking and baking details and tips that the author works in. The pacing and how the mystery unfolded is good--I like that Jules has a fairly level head most of the time and although it wouldn't be a cozy if she didn't take some risks in the name of mystery solving, I don't find myself 'yelling' at her in my head as much as the leads in other cozies. I also was happy that Jules's estranged husband Carlos was not a big factor in this book. I like Jules best when she is independent and not focused on romantic tangles. 

Although you could read this book without reading the first six as Alexander does a great job in layering in the backstory, I wouldn't recommend it. You get more of the details and the evolution of the characters by reading the series in order and you get to taste Torte's and Jules's creations vicariously by reading them--just don't do it on an empty stomach. (Here's my blog review of the first five books.) Although I am reading an advanced reader's copy e-book and have not officially confirmed it, there are usually some of Jules's sweet and savory recipes at the end of each book and plenty of food inspiration along the way. Another One Bites the Crust is a fun way to start 2018 and a great book to curl up with a cup of tea and a muffin and enjoy--or, if it's lunch time or late night and you have a hankering for savory comfort food, read below for my take on Jules's Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.


Author Notes: Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the popular Bakeshop Mysteries and the new Sloane Krause Mysteries.

Connect with Ellie on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram 


Food Inspiration:

There is no shortage of food inspiration in these books but here's just a small example from the sweet--lemon tarts, coconut cream pie, cowboy cookies, fig tarts, carrot cake, pastry treats  from Shakespearean days for an event like clotted cream, trifle, puddings, tarts and royal marchpans (marzipan sculptures), French macarons in all manner of flavors, chocolate-covered strawberries, cinnamon pecan muffins, apple turnovers, bread pudding, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, and fresh raspberry jelly-filled doughnuts. There are savory dishes like chicken tortilla soup and bean and cheese sandwich wraps on homemade tortillas, salsa and guacamole, paninis, roast beef and cheddar cheese sandwiches, and French Onion and Cheeseburger soups. There's also plenty of tea, coffee and coffee drinks like a vanilla rose latte and a jelly doughnut latte. That's just a small sampling and why I am always drooling reading these books.

For my book inspired dish, it was a grilled cheese sandwich of fontina cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes with the unique addition of honey on the bread that caught my eye and wouldn't leave my head. Even though in many places it isn't the season for fresh tomatoes and basil, in our mild climate I have access to local tomatoes and herbs most of the year so I grabbed the cheese, a couple of local Roma tomatoes and a big bunch of basil (pesto will occur later) along with a small wedge of fontina cheese from the gourmet section of my local grocery store. 

For the honey, I went not-so-local, wanting to try the New Zealand Manuka Honey I received in a kit from Melora. It's debuting at Costco stores here, Arizona and Orange County. I will be doing a review post on it later (I'll just tell you now that it's non-GMO, wild harvested and Fair Trade and really yummy) but I couldn't resist using it for this sandwich.

From Another One Bites the Crust, Jules says:

"I scanned the shelves in the fridge and decided on a grown-up grilled cheese with fontina, basil, tomatoes, and honey on thick-sliced Parmesan bread. I warmed butter in a skillet and spread it on both sides of the fresh bread. Then I cut thin slices of fontina and layered in basil leaves and tomatoes. Once the sandwiches had been stacked, I drizzled a touch of honey on the top and placed the first one in the sizzling skillet. 

The lemon tea soothed my nerves as I flipped the first sandwich and drizzled honey on the other side of the bread. Fontina is an Italian cheese made from cow's milk. And not just any cows. The most exquisite fontina is produced in the summer months when the cows are moved to higher elevations to dine on rich alpine grasses. It's a wonderful melting cheese with a creamy texture and woodsy aroma."

Jules  tells Thomas she's calling the sandwich a grown-up grilled cheese:

"Thomas bit into the sandwich and closed his eyes. He tilted his head to the ceiling then looked at me. 'I'm calling it the best thing I've ever tasted.'"

Notes Results: For my sandwich, I followed Jules's instructions above, only I did not have her Parmesan bread, using some fresh bakery sourdough instead. The result was still delicious--one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have eaten. The combination of the savory ingredients, set off by the sweet honey is delicious and the cheese perfectly melty. Honey might seem odd on a grilled cheese, but just the small drizzle on the bread really works. I served my sandwich with my favorite dill pickle Kettle Chips because why not work a bit of sour into the mix too? I will definitely make this sandwich again.

I have to link up this delicious sandwich to Souper Sundays--hosted right here at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday we feature delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches from friends around the blogosphere--please join in if you have any to share. Here's this week's post and linkup.

Another One Bites the Crust is my first foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the January 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.  

I'm also 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 "Another One Bites the Crust" was provided to me by the publisher. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

"Lucky" New Year Noodle Soup (Hey, It Can't Hurt!) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

A delicious soup to wish you a Happy New Year. This New Year Noodle Soup is full of Persian flavors and lucky ingredients to set you up for a great 2018. If that wasn't enough, it's also topped with caramelized onions, sour cream and toasted walnuts.

For a lot of reasons, too numerous to mention, 2017 was not the best year, so I am not too unhappy to see the end of it. Although some great things happened, for myself and for my family and friends and the world, there were a lot of trying times. I have hopes that 2018 will be better and to help it along, I wanted to cook up a "lucky" soup. I could have made up a recipe of my own but Heidi Swanson had a delicious-looking one on her website that contained thin noodles (long life), lentils (wealth and prosperity), and spinach (more wealth and prosperity) and I subbed in black-eyed peas (considered lucky in the South) for the borlotti beans for an extra luck boost--hey it can't hurt!.

This is a recipe from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks Blog, which she says is Adapted slightly from the Ash-e Reshteh / New Year Noodle Soup recipe in Saraban, by Greg & Lucy Malouf

Heidi says, "If you don't have beans that have already been cooked you can use canned ones. Or you can soak the garbanzo & borlotti overnight, and add them after the broth comes to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, then stir in the yellow split peas/lentils. This way the beans/lentils should be done cooking around the same time. The original recipe calls for fresh borlotti beans, which aren't in season. I used dried borlotti that I cooked a couple weeks back, then froze until now. And, on the noodle front, I couldn't help but add more than what the original recipe called for. You can actually use more/less noodles - even when it seemed like too much, they always manage to get slurped up in a soup like this." 

New Year Noodle Soup
Slightly Adapted from Heidi Swanson via 101 Cookbooks Blog
(Serves About 4)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 long red chili OR green serrano chili, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (I used 1 tsp)
1 tsp ground cumin (I added 1 12 tsp)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

8 1/2 cups good-tasting vegetable stock
3.5 oz yellow split peas or brown lentils
2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if using canned
2 cups cooked borlotti beans (I subbed in black-eyed peas)

fine grain sea salt to taste 
8 oz thin egg noodles, fresh or dried (I used Italian spaghetti)
3 1/2 oz fresh spinach leaves, finely shredded
1/2 cup finely shredded cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
juice of one lime

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 oz  sour cream or creme fraiche
scant 2 ounces of toasted, chopped walnuts

Heat the oil in a large, thick-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the chile and cook until they soften, a few minutes. Add the spices and cook for another thirty seconds, just long enough for them to toast a bit, then stir in the stock. Bring to a boil and add the split peas/lentils to the pot. Cook until they are just tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and borlotti beans. Once the beans have heated throughout, season with salt to taste.

In the meantime, you can prepare the toppings. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat along with a couple big pinches of salt. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, at least 8 to 10+ minutes. Set aside.

Just before you're ready to eat, add the noodles to the simmering soup and cook until al dente. Stir in the spinach, and cilantro and dill. Add a big squeeze of lime to the pot or serve wedges along with each bowl of soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Serve right away, each bowl topped with a big spoonful of caramelized onions, some sour cream or creme fraiche, and a sprinkling of walnuts.

Notes/Results: This is such a tasty soup--especially if like me you love cumin and beans and fresh cilantro and dill, oh yeah...lime... and noodles.... and don't forget the caramelized onions on top and the sour cream...there is just so much going on but in the best way. The beans and pasta keep it satisfying. I think the spaghetti noodles I bought were a bit wide but it does help it hold up to the beans. Because the longer the noodles, the luckier, a fork can be helpful for eating this soup. There are a few steps to making it, but it goes together easily and relatively quickly if you make your toppings while the soup is simmering. The mix of flavors together is wonderful--if you like Persian food and flavors, you will like this soup. Use dairy-free sour cream and vegan butter in the onion topper and it is vegan, and swap in gluten-free pasta if you want it gluten-free. For me, I'm just going to have another bowl tonight, and a couple tomorrow on New Years Day. Maybe it won't change my luck, but it's good enough that I feel lucky eating it.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs so I am linking up this Heidi Swanson adapted soup. Check out the picture links on the post to see what everyone made. 

It's another quiet holiday week in the Souper Sundays kitchen but my friends Debra and Tina are here keeping me company--let's have a look at what they brought.

Debra of Eliot's Eats shared Curried Black Bean, Butternut and Spinach Soup and said, "I whipped up this delicious soup with what was on hand for an impromptu lunch. It’s funny what comes to light when families are together over the holidays.  Skeletons in the closet can be let loose to wreak havoc.  Our revelation this holiday season is apparently that no one likes curry. ... My sister and I loved this soup and she even told me it was “restaurant worthy.” Supreme compliment!  (We were the only ones who ate this soup, but that was fine with us!)"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwiches and said, "So, today I wanted to share a nice chickpea and avocado based salad that makes a dynamite sandwich. It's that time of year when people start thinking about eating healthier. If you like vegetarian based meals you will probably like this little recipe. We've been on the mostly vegetarian meal plan for well over a year (this time) and I can say, lunches can be problematic when  there aren't any leftovers. I try and pack our lunches every work day as it's healthier as well as economically sound. This sandwich spread, this salad, makes a filling lunch and it's made in under 2 minutes!"

Mahalo to Tina and Debra 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 Souper Sunday'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. Also please see below for what to do on the post you link up to be included.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy and healthy 2018!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Hearts for Food 'N Flix December Pick: Clueless {#FoodnFlix} {#JaneAustenBites}

It's deadline day for this month's Food 'n Flix event and as usual, I am dashing in under the wire for no reason other than I procrastinated until the very last moment. Our movie, selected and hosted by Food 'N Fix's founder, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen (see her announcement post here), is the 1995 film, Clueless

Although I am a decade and a half or so from being the target audience of this movie, it is a favorite, partly due to my love of all things Jane Austen and it being a fabulously done remake of Emma and also because even if you don't know and appreciate the original work, it's a sweet, fun, and funny film on its own merits. I liked it so much I bought the book about the making of the movie (although it sadly sits in my TBR pile--one of these days I'll get to it.)

Alicia Silverstone stars as Cher Horowitz, a Beverly Hills teen, a bit spoiled and superficial and frankly, pretty clueless when it comes to most things. After successfully bringing together two of her teachers for the purpose of making them happy enough to give better grades, Cher enjoys the feeling of a match well done and starts in on the new girl, Tai, (Brittany Murphy) with her best friend Dionne's (Stacey Dash) help. Cher also falls for the new guy at school and undertakes other "do-gooding" projects as her cute stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) looks on in amusement. 

If you haven't seen it, it is well worth a watch for the funny and quotable lines, good performances, great music and fashion, and as it turns out... for the food. There is a decent amount of food in Clueless from the product placement (Diet Coke, Starbucks, Minute Maid, Special K, McDonald's, Godiva Chocolates, Snapple, Snickers...) to the lunch and dinner scenes where glimpses of different foods can be seen--iced coffee drinks, fresh squeezed orange juice, carrots, salads, fruit and yogurt, the makings of a turkey sandwich, bread sticks, school lunch with broccoli and potato, chicken, pie, milk, a slab of cookie dough burning in the oven, chips, cereal, a bunch of canned goods and red caviar. 

For my film-inspired dish, I decided to go with chocolates. In a plan to gain the attention of the new boy in school, Cher send herself flowers and a box of Godiva chocolate offering the advice; "Anything you can do to draw attention to your mouth is good." I made some dark chocolate hearts with assorted fillings last year for a book review and my favorite were the ones where I placed a fresh raspberry inside. Simple but so fresh and delicious.

The raspberries with their bright color, capture the pink that I associate with this film and I decided to add some bling by melting a white chocolate with strawberries candy bar and drizzle it on top of my hearts. It did end up a bit globby (although more Jackson Pollock splatters than Monet "She's a full-on Monet. ... It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close it's a big old mess.") ;-)

Dark Chocolate Hearts with Fresh Raspberries
By, Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 Dozen filled chocolates--depending on the size of your molds)

8 oz dark chocolate (I used a local Waialua Estate 70% cacao from Whole Foods), chopped
1 Tbsp coconut oil
fresh raspberries, washed and drained--patted as dry as you can get them
chocolate molds or silicon molds--clean and completely dry
1.25 oz white chocolate (I used half of this bar with strawberries

Place chopped chocolate and coconut oil into a microwave safe bowl or microwave safe large glass measuring cup and heat for about 45 seconds. Stir carefully and repeat heating in 20 second increments, stirring in between until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (Alternatively you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler on the stove top.)

Once chocolate is melted, carefully pour a small amount into the bottom of your molds (fill about about 1/3 to 1/2 of the mold--depending on the size). Carefully tap your mold on the counter a several times to make sure the chocolate covers the bottom part completely and there are no air bubbles.

Place your raspberries into the half-filled molds--using a toothpick to push them down towards the bottom if needed. (I used one raspberry per heart mold.)

Using a small spoon, carefully add the remaining chocolate to each mold, covering the raspberry filling. Once all chocolates are filled and covered, carefully tap the mold against the counter a few times again, allowing the chocolate to settle and completely cover the filling with no air bubbles. If chocolate settles, add additional chocolate as needed to ensure each mold is filled to the top evenly. Carefully tap the mold a few more times. The melted chocolate should spread itself out fairly smoothly with the tapping, put you can smooth it out with the back of your spoon if needed.    

Place filled molds in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes for chocolate to harden. When chocolates are almost firm, melt white chocolate bar (if using) in a small microwave-safe bowl--using the same process as for the dark chocolate.
Once chocolates are completely firm, carefully remove them from the molds. The chocolates pop out pretty easily from the silicon molds; you may have to sharply tap plastic chocolate molds on the counter to loosen the chocolates.  

Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the dark chocolate hearts in a random pattern. Place the chocolates back into the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes until white chocolate has firmed up. 

Store chocolates, tightly covered in the fridge. I lay paper towels in an airtight container to absorb any moisture. Chocolates containing fresh berries will keep best for just a couple of days--if they last that long.

Notes/Results: With the exception of my drizzling could have been better--I should have thinned the white chocolate a bit--these turned out really well. And I'm going to pretend there is a certain charm in the drizzle. ;-) The pairing of fresh, sweet but just a bit tart, raspberries with good-quality dark chocolate--it is just so good. The white chocolate drizzle with the touch of strawberry flavor and slight crunch from the strawberry crisp in the bar adds additional flavor and sweetness. I deliberately made a small batch of these (one dozen) because with the fresh fruit, they are best eaten within a couple of days--something I shall strive to do. I will happily make these again. 

As mentioned, the deadline for this month's Food 'N Flix is the end of the day, today--but if you like food, movies, and foodie movies, join us for January where our film pick is Wreck-It Ralph, hosted by Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures

Heather is also hosting this month's Fandom Foodies event where the theme is #JaneAustenBites -- food inspired by Jane Austen's books and movies or books and movies inspired by Austen--so I am linking these chocolates up there. (See Heather's post for the linkup and details!)

And I will am linking up this review and recipe 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.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Creamy Red Pepper & Tomato Soup with Fried Basil Croutons for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Since it's Christmas Eve, a cheery red soup seems festive--especially when it a Creamy Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and it gets garnished up with fried ciabatta bread croutons with fried green basil leaves peaking out. I kept the soup simple--all pantry items so the soup is pretty low-effort and makes a nice light lunch or a starter for a holiday meal.

The soup is made with coconut milk, so it's vegan. The topping is optional but it takes a good soup to great and is quick and easy to prepare. Make extra though because you will find yourself nibbling the croutons as you fry them up. They are inspired by an Ina Garten recipe for her Pappa Al Pomidoro soup, but made without pancetta and on the stove top--because sometimes I just don't want to turn on the oven.

Creamy Red Pepper & Tomato Soup with Fried Basil Croutons
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper or Aleppo pepper
1 large jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1 28 oz can or box chopped tomatoes
1 28 oz can or box crushed tomatoes
1 cup good vegetable stock
2 tsp sugar or agave syrup
2 cups full fat coconut milk
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried Basil Croutons for serving, optional (recipe below)

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium and saute onions, garlic, and herbs until tender and onions start to turn translucent. Add red peppers, tomatoes, vegetable stock, and sugar/agave and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree the soup in blender in batches then return to pot. Add coconut milk and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes--until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot in bowls with a generous helping of Fried Basil Croutons on top.  

Fried Basil Croutons
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

4 tablespoons good olive oil, separated
4 cups (1-inch or so ) diced ciabatta cubes
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves (about 28-30 leaves), larger leaves chopped

sea salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil a large frying pan over medium heat. Add croutons and basil leaves, drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and stir--so the bread is well-coated. Cook over medium heat, stirring and tossing frequently, for about 10 minutes--until basil is crispy and croutons are nicely browned. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  

Serve warm on top of soup. 

Notes/Results: The soup is excellent--creamy, sweet and full of great flavor (and it's packed with vitamin C if a cold has found you this holiday season) but let's be real--it's the topping that truly makes this soup. Put those warm and crispy cubes of bread and savory basil leaves on top and you have a party. If you can stop eating it long enough to top the soup. It's worth the splurge in olive oil--use the good stuff and good ciabatta bread too. I will happily make the soup and the topping again.

It's a quiet holiday week in the Souper Sundays kitchen but lovely Tina is here with me--let's have a look at what she brought.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared these tasty Black Bean Burgers and a Black Bean and Rice Soup she made from the leftovers when her not-so-bean-loving husband was out of town. She said, "You know what else I like?  Black bean burgers.  That's not on the list for never-again-foods but it's not his favorite so.....this last trip I had two black bean burgers.  And, because beans are an important part of a 95% vegetarian diet - I made a soup with leftover rice, black beans, tomatoes and onions."

Mahalo to Tina 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 Souper Sunday'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. Also please see below for what to do on the post you link up to be included.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have the happiest and healthiest of holidays!