Sunday, September 24, 2017

Potato & Collard Greens Soup with Maple-Cornmeal Dumplings for Food 'n Flix September: To Kill a Mockingbird and for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's Food 'n Flix time again and for September the pick is the classic film To Kill A Mockingbird, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (See her announcement post here.)

Although I read Harper Lee's amazing book in junior high and have watched the movie a couple of times before, it has been many years since I had seen it. I wanted to go back and reread the book this month too, but that just didn't happen so I had to content myself with watching the movie, grabbing the DVD from the library. I actually watched the film and decided what to make at the beginning of the month but it has taken me until the end of the month to make and post my movie inspired dish.

If you are not familiar with the story, it takes place in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s where Jean Louise Finch (she goes by Scout) lives with her brother Jem and widowed father Atticus--an attorney. Atticus is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman and as ensuing racism and bigotry in their small southern town are intensified by the trial, Scout and Jem are exposed to it. That's just the short version, but I assume most people at least know the story--even if they haven't read the book or seen the film. It's a wonderful classic film and it won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and a Best Actor Oscar for Gregory Peck.

Food-wise, there is not a ton of food shown, but there was certainly enough for inspiration, including a mention of a soft teacake with frosting, collard greens, hickory nuts, biscuits, cornbread, breakfasts with coffee & milk, a roast dinner with potatoes and gravy, peas, and molasses 'syrup' poured over everything by a schoolmate of Jem and Scout's, and a glorious ham Halloween costume.

For my movie-inspired dish, I wanted to turn the collard greens that popped up in mentions and on the table into a homey soup--along with some good partners for greens, potatoes and black-eyed peas. I though about making biscuits to go with it, but I am not much of a baker. I happened to see a few collard greens recipes that were topped with cornmeal dumplings--which I though would be fun to add to a soup and easier to make than the biscuits--or even the cornbread shown in the film. One recipe had maple syrup in the cornmeal dumplings and I thought that would be a fun nod to the sweetness of the 'syrup' (although it was actually molasses) that Scout's schoolmate poured over his entire dinner. The dumplings turned out not to be a win in terms of texture (see my notes below) but the soup was really delicious. ;-)

Potato & Collard Greens Soup with Maple-Cornmeal Dumplings
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 8 Servings)

2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chipped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp smoked chili pepper (I used Aleppo pepper)
2 cups black-eyed peas--frozen (defrosted) or canned (I used frozen)
8 cups good veggie stock (homemade or low-sodium)
4 to 5 small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
1 large bunch of collard greens, washed, large center stems removed & chopped into bite-sized pieces
Maple-Cornmeal Dumplings (recipe below)
sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Dumplings:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour* see note below
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup of broth from the soup  (I ended up using about 1/2 cup to moisten batter enough)
Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook until the veggies begin to soften and onions start to turn translucent--about 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, dried parsley, smoked paprika, celery salt, and smoked chili pepper and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. 

Add the black eyed peas and stir well, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and collard greens and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and season with sea salt and pepper. 

Meanwhile, make the dumplings by combining the cornmeal, flour, spices and maple syrup in a bowl. Stir in the 1/4 cup of the soup liquid into the dry ingredients until just combined--forming a thick batter. (I needed double the amount of the soup broth.)

Carefully drop the dumplings into the simmering soup. Cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes until dumplings are cooked through. Do not stir soup as it will break up the dumplings. Instead, gently shake the pot occasionally as dumplings cook.

Once dumplings are cooked, gently ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve. Enjoy!

Dumpling Note: My dumplings look pretty good and although the flavor was good, they were not great texture-wise, ending up way too dense and hard. I used this recipe from Paula Deen as a base but I omitted the onion and added in spices and maple syrup. I think the biggest challenge was the flour I used as I didn't realize I was out of all-purpose flour (I don't use much flour) and rather than go to the store, I used the rice flour I had on hand. I probably should have altered the amount or done more reading on substitutions. Anyway, I looked at the reviews online after and it seems people were pretty mixed on the dumpling texture and whether they worked or not--so try at your own risk. I am fully willing to say it was operator error in my case. ;-)

Notes/Results: I already mentioned my dumpling issues above but the soup was really fantastic--full of delicious flavor and texture and it's a healthy vegan soup to boot. I used smoky paprika and Aleppo pepper to get a smoky profile--although you could certainly toss in some ham or smoked ham hocks, sausage, or smoked turkey if you eat meat. I bought the frozen black-eyed peas and liked the texture better than canned and I loved the fact that I didn't have to pre-soak them and cook them for age. I'd use them again because it seems like when I buy the bags of dried black-eyed peas from the grocery store, they are usually stale and take forever to cook. Hearty, satisfying, and good, I would happily make the soup again--just maybe not the dumplings. ;-)

The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is Saturday, September 30th and Debra will be rounding up the dishes on her blog soon after. If you can't make it this month and you like food, movies, and foodie movies, join us for Food 'n Flix in October when we will be watching (the 2016) Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, hosted by Coffee and Casseroles.  

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

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is here with Tostados with Cashew Crema and Avocado Coleslaw. She says, "I found a neglected avocado hidden in the corner of the fridge.  It had been there so long I was grateful to rescue any flesh but it wasn't enough enough for a guacamole.  I had seen a recipe for coleslaw with avocado mayo recently (while browsing magazines in the newsagents) so I turned it into a simple small coleslaw.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor celebrated her husband's birthday with a delicious meal of crab cakes, cheese grits, and a salad and says, "As always, the birthday person plans the dinner the menu.  We are both a fan of crab cakes so this was the indulgence. They are rich and you shouldn't have them too often. The cheese grits are a specialty of Doug's and he has them on the table in 5 minutes. Lots of cheddar, ooey gooey melty cheese grits. For an accompaniment I made a Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Waldorf Kale Salad with an Apple and Honey Citrus Dressing. She said, "This beautiful kale Waldorf super salad brings together apples and honey just in time for Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year! On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which begins Wednesday evening through Friday evening, it is traditional to dip apples in honey to welcome in a sweet new year. In addition, we keep our menus on the sweet side serving sweet kugels, sweet potato tzimmis, apple cakes, etc. This year I decided to serve a salad recipe for our celebration dinner that incorporates our holiday theme. I've added chopped apples, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries,  grated carrots, and celery to curly fall kale and dressed it with my slightly sweet apple and honey citrus dressing."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I also made sandwiches of Bagels with Two Shmears for a recent book review. I knew I would love the Smoked Trout Shmear as it has all my favorite ingredients but the Harissa-Mint Shmear was a happy surprise. Full of great flavor--with a hit of heat paired with the cooling labne and mint, I am also using it on veggie sandwiches.

I also tried Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fried Halloumi Salad for a virtual Potluck in honor of my friend Kim. It's a Greek-style salad that is made even better with the chewy "squeaky cheese" fried halloumi on top.  So good!

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).

 Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Fried Halloumi Salad for My Friend

Some weeks are tougher than others. This week has been one of those weeks. Lots of issues and work deadlines and some 'life stuff,' combined with everything that is going on in the world. My heart goes out to the people of Mexico, Puerto Rico and everywhere else so horrifically impacted by earthquake and hurricanes. Years ago I spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico for work and still have former coworkers and friends there and seeing the devastation is heart-wrenching. Then there is all the recent health care news and the stupid Twitter battle being waged with Korea that may result in an H-Bomb being 'tested' in the Pacific Ocean--not great news when you live on an island there. 

It's also hard when a good friend is grieving and it hits close to home. The wonderful Kim of Stirring the Pot, my friend of many years and co-host at I Heart Cooking Clubs lost her mom last week and that makes me sad for her. My mom passed away two years ago and so I know at least some of what she is feeling and I wish I could give her a big hug and offer some better form of comfort than were words. Since I can't do that in person, like many of her other blogging friends, we are dedicating this week's IHCC Potluck to Kim and sending her our love, along with some virtual food for comfort, in honor of her mom who was a big supporter of Kim's cooking and blogging.

You may not think a salad is the right food for solace, but this one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has fried cheese (halloumi) on top of a Greek-style salad and I know Kim is a fan of those flavors and ingredients. Her mom was quite the green thumb and herb gardener so I think she'd approve. Cheese, especially fried cheese, is always welcome and I hope the capers I tossed in are too. Most especially it was made with plenty of love.

Fried Halloumi Salad 
Slightly Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
(Serves 4)

For the dressing:
1 tsp honey

juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of sea salt
3 Tbsp canola or olive oil

For the salad:
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup kalamata or other black olives, pitted
large handful of mint leaves, coarsely shredded
large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

(I added 1 heaping Tbsp of capers)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
large pinch of smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
2 Tbsp canola or olive oil

First, make the dressing. Stir together the honey, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt until well combined, then whisk in the oil. 

In a large bowl, toss together the onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, mint, and parsley. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, and some salt and pepper. Moisten the halloumi slices slightly with water, if necessary, then press them into the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the halloumi slices over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden and slightly soft inside.

Toss the salad vegetables with the dressing, turning them over with your hands to make sure everything is lightly coated. 

Divide the salad among 4 plates, put 2 pieces of the hot halloumi on each one, and serve immediately.

Notes/Results: This is a simple salad but full of fresh flavor from the fresh herbs and the from dressing--which is slightly sweet with a little kick from the crushed red pepper flakes. The halloumi is the perfect touch with it's chewy, melty goodness and I especially liked the hint of smoked paprika in the coating. I would happily make it again.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Club and this one is in honor of Kim. Sending her much healing love as she goes through this difficult time.  

And I am linking this salad 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.  


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Dirty Wars and Polished Silver" by Lynda Schuster, Served with Bagels with Two Shmears (Smoked Trout & Harissa Mint) & a Book Giveaway!

Are you a memoir fan? I am and I have a great one to share on today's TLC Book Tour stop for Dirty Wars and Polished Silver: The Life and Times of a War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix by Lynda Schuster. I'm pairing my review with Bagels with Two Smears (with recipes for Smoked Trout Shmear and Harissa-Mint Shmear), inspired by my reading. There's also a giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

From a former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent, an exuberant memoir of life, love, and transformation on the frontlines of conflicts around the world
Growing up in 1970s Detroit, Lynda Schuster felt certain life was happening elsewhere. And as soon as she graduated from high school, she set out to find it.

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver is Schuster’s story of her life abroad as a foreign correspondent in war-torn countries, and, later, as the wife of a U.S. Ambassador. It chronicles her time working on a kibbutz in Israel, reporting on uprisings in Central America and a financial crisis in Mexico, dodging rocket fire in Lebanon, and grieving the loss of her first husband, a fellow reporter, who was killed only ten months after their wedding.
But even after her second marriage, to a U.S. diplomat, all the black-tie parties and personal staff and genteel “Ambassatrix School” grooming in the world could not protect her from the violence of war.
Equal parts gripping and charming, Dirty Wars and Polished Silver is a story about one woman’s quest for self-discovery—only to find herself, unexpectedly, more or less back where she started: wiser, saner, more resolved. And with all her limbs intact.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Melville House (July 18, 2017)

My Review:

I do love a good memoir, especially one where the author has a fascinating job and life. For me, that's often a chef or someone in the food industry, but give me a strong female, a journalist--in this case a war correspondent who has covered interesting political and historical events--and I am equally happy, especially when the writing is as engaging and often humorous as Lynda Schuster's storytelling is In Dirty Wars and Polished Silver

Watching foreign corespondents on the television news, or reading their articles in newspapers and magazines, I am often impressed with their courage and in awe of their drive to witness and deliver stories that people need to see and hear. Lynda Schuster covered stories for the Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor from Central America in the early 1980s to The Middle East and Southern Africa in the mid- to late 1980s, before marrying a diplomat and future U.S. Ambassador stationed to Mozambique and then Peru. She writes about all of her experiences with both heart and humor--from the death of her first husband (a fellow correspondent) in Honduras, to learning the duties of being an ambassador's spouse at "Ambassatrix School." I ate up the historical bits (I admit to being more familiar with some of the history and events than others) just as much as the personal and family drama she shares, and the book's 350-ish pages flew by, leaving me satisfied but still wanting more. Schuster had me laughing at her snark, tearing up with horrific stories of the people and countries ravaged by war--along with her personal grief, and then had me holding my breath at some of the dangerous incidents and moments that she was a part of. 

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver is entertaining, illuminating, and interesting. If you are fascinated by travel, history, politics, and world events, but you don't fancy leaving the comfort of your home for a life of dive-bombing cockroaches (oh wait, we get those here sometimes--especially after hard rains), crawling tarantulas, and malarial mosquitoes, or the challenges of stockpiling rations for rebellions and impending wars, or even making cocktail party conversations with bigoted political leaders, you can still learn something while living vicariously through Schuster in the pages of this well-written book.

(Don't forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post for your chance to win a copy.)


Author Notes: Lynda Schuster is a former foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor, who has reported from Central and South America, Mexico, the Middle East, and Africa. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Utne Reader, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times Magazine, among other. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughter.

You can connect with Lynda on her website or Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

There is a fair amount of food and food inspiration from across the globe in Dirty Wars and Polished Silver.  There were mentions of apple orchards on the Israeli kibbutz that Schuster worked on in high school, along with chicken, potatoes and cabbages, hard boiled eggs, sorbets and slushies, mashed tuna salad, knishes, scrambled eggs, eclairs, coffee and tea. There was mention of beer, iced coffees, papayas, steaks, snapper and Chilean wine, Chinese food, latkas, fried plantain chips, coconuts, hamburgers and fries, lasagna, brandy and whiskey, carob and chocolate, beer and margaritas. There was a garden full of spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, herbs, limes, lemons and other produce, boiled sweet potato, nsima (maize mush), peanut butter and cheese sandwiches, gefilte fish, popcorn, chocolate ice cream, tilapia, carrot cake with pineapple, coconut, and cream cheese frosting, dried fish and peppers, yogurt, long-life milk, pasta, canned tuna, flour, rice, cantaloupes, frozen bagels and cream cheese, bananas, pawpaws, pineapples, cassava root, skewered meats, canapes, fish stew, quiches, casseroles, brownies and cookies.

For my book-inspired dish, I took my inspiration from a line Schuster wrote about her editors taking her out of the craziness of war-torn Beruit, "When you're in the midst of war, it's hard to remember there are places in the world where people are buying bagels with two shmears and looking at lingerie catalogs." Even in the midst of personal tragedy or a country's or region's strife, the world is moving on normally for someone else.

Bagels came up a few times in the book and the two shmears caught in my head. Although the bagels in Hawaii are nothing to write home about when compared to New York or even Portland or Seattle, I get bagel cravings sometimes and will grab a passable few from Safeway if I can't get to the most decent bagel place on Oahu. My favorite bagel is pumpernickel, but they never have them at Safeway. Still, with a good shmear or cream cheese spread, I can be happy with sesame, poppy seed, or an "Everything" bagel. 

I knew I wanted a smoked salmon or smoked fish shmear and I had some canned smoked trout from Trader Joe's that I usually use in salads or pastas. I kept it simple--a bit of fresh dill and green onion for color and flavor, capers of course, and a touch of lemon juice/zest, and a little smoked paprika and cayenne. For this one I used a plain, whipped cream cheese. 

For my second shmear, I looked online for inspiration and saw a Harissa-Mint shmear in an article on 11 easy ways to liven up cream cheese for a shmear.  Since I had an open tube of Harissa paste in the fridge and it sounded good, I thought it would be a good nod to Africa (although harissa is a North African spice paste and Schuster spent time in South and East and West Africa). I changed the recipe up a bit--making it with labne--thickened yogurt cheese and adding lemon and garlic to round out the flavor. 

Smoked Trout Shmear
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

8 oz whipped cream cheese, room temperature or thickened yogurt or labne 
about 4 oz smoked trout or other smoked fish (I used Trader Joe's canned)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp chopped green onions
1 Tbsp capers, drained
lemon zest from 1 lemon and 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne, or to taste
sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, gently stir smoked trout (plus about 2 tsp of any liquid if using canned smoked fish), dill, green onions, capers, lemon zest and juice, smoked paprika, and cayenne into the softened cream cheese until it is thoroughly mixed. Taste and add sea salt, pepper, and more cayenne to taste.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving to allow flavors to meld.


Harissa and Mint Smear
Inspired by The Kitchn

8 oz labne, thickened yogurt cheese or cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp Harissa paste, or to taste
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp roasted garlic powder (optional
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

In a small bowl, stir harissa paste, lemon juice, garlic powder (if using) and mint into softened labne. Taste and season with sea salt to taste. Allow to chill and flavors to set for an hour or so in fridge before serving.  

Notes/Results: Both smears were really good. I knew I would like the simple smoked trout one because there is little I like more on a bagel than smoked fish and capers. You could use smoked salmon or any smoked fish for this one of course and omit the dill if you aren't a fan, but I thought it was pretty perfect as is--a nice blend of smoky, briny, salty, bright and savory. The Harissa-Mint shmear was a surprise--I really enjoyed the slow heat and slight burn in the back of the throat of the harissa, that's cooled by the mint and the yogurt cheese. I used 2 scant tablespoons of the Harissa paste which worked well for my palate--slightly spicy but not too much. I think this one will be good on veggie wraps and maybe even as a salad dressing--thinned down. I also could see topping a baked or roasted potatoes with it too. I liked the saltier taste of the labne/yogurt cheese fin it. Of course you can use whatever you like--dairy or non-dairy plain yogurt or cream cheese and it will be good. I will happily make either of these again.

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 I am linking these bagel sandwiches 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 "Dirty Wars and Polished Silver" 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.

***Book Giveaway***
The publisher is generously providing a copy of Dirty Wars and Polished Silver to give away (U.S. & Canada addresses only, sorry) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me what your dream job or career is or telling me why you'd like to win a copy of "Dirty Wars and Polished Silver."

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 Publisher Melville House (@melvillehouse)
and/or follow Lynda Schuster on Facebook. (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow these accounts.)

Deadline for entry is midnight (EST) on Friday, Sept. 29th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
Good Luck!

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.
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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.