Sunday, July 14, 2019

Middle Eastern Leek & Veggie Soup with Dilled Yogurt & Sumac for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I was going to make the Middle Eastern Leeks with Yogurt, Dill & Sumac recipe from Diana Henry this week for our Cuisine Spotlight at I Heart Cooking Clubs and ran out of time. Since I had the leeks, yogurt, dill and my big bottle of sumac to use up, I decided to turn the leeks into a soup and use the yogurt sauce as a topping.


Diana's original recipe for the leeks and sauce is here. Below is my adapted soup recipe.

 
Middle Eastern Leek Soup with Dilled Yogurt & Sumac
Inspired & Adapted from Diana Henry
(Serves 4 to 6)

2 Tbsp olive oil
6 to 8 medium leeks
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 tsp sumac + extra for garnish
2 cloves garlic, sliced
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill 
1 medium zucchini, chopped 
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste
lemon slices for garnish
Dilled Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)

Remove the tough outer leaves from the leeks and discard. Slice off the base of each one, and the dark green leaves at the top, leaving the lighter green and white parts. Cut the leeks into 1 1/2 inch lengths or leave them whole. Wash them really well, making sure that you get rid of any grit or soil and pat dry.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and salt and cook until leeks are softened, about 8 minutes, stirring so they don't brown. Add the smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, sumac, and garlic and cook another minute or two until the spices are fragrant. Add the veggie broth and dill and bring to a boil, then add zucchini and Yukon Gold potatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until veggies are softened but not mushy. 

Take about 2 cups of the soup and blend until smooth, then stir back into the pot. Add lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with a scoop of the yogurt sauce, a sprinkling of sumac and a slice of lemon. Enjoy!

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Dilled Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Diana Henry via TheTelegraph.com
(Makes 2  cups)

2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon

Mix the yogurt with the garlic, dill, mustard, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. You can thin it further if you like by adding water or milk (buttermilk is good if you have any). Serve with the soup. Keep leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week. 


Notes/Results: A tasty savory soup that is not too heavy with just enough spice. The yogurt sauce with its dill and lemon keep it cool and is really good when stirred into the broth. Whenever I use sumac, I am always reminded of how much I like its almost tart, lemon-ish flavor. I think the dilled yogurt sauce would be delicious on any steamed or grilled vegetable or for pita bread. I will happily make it again.


Linking up to IHCC for the July Cuisine Spotlight: Middle Eastern theme.  


Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here this week.


Lovely Simona of briciole is back with a fresh Tomato, Cucumber and Radish Salad and says, "I am currently fascinated by the pale green, deeply ribbed, long Armenian cucumbers (cetrioli armeni), whose flesh is mild- and sweet-tasting. Genetically they are a musk melon (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus), rather than a cucumber (Cucumis sativus). The addition of peppery radishes creates a pleasant contrast of flavors, accented by fresh basil (basilico), indispensable companion."

 
Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shares a cooling Chilled Summer Borsht and says,"Borsht is a tangy soup that is popular in Eastern European countries like Russia, Poland, and the Ukraine. It is usually made with beetroot as the base, but every region has its own variation of additional vegetables and ingredients that go into this rich looking "good for you" soup."

 
Mahalo to Judee and Simona for joining me this week!

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at 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 your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Never Look Back" by Alison Gaylin, Served with Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Cream Cheese & Strawberry (Chia Seed) Jam

Happy Aloha Friday! I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC book Tour for a new mystery/thriller, Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin. I am pairing my review with Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Cream Cheese and Strawberry Jam, a dish inspired by the book. The jam is a simple homemade chia seed jam and there's a recipe included. So pull up a chair and a napkin and join me.


 Publisher's Blurb:

From the Edgar Award-winning author of If I Die Tonight
Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben—with a Serial-esque podcast twist—an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series.
 
For thirteen days in 1976, teenage murderers April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy terrorized Southern California’s Inland Empire, killing a dozen victims before perishing themselves in a fire… or did they? More than 40 years later, twentysomething podcast producer Quentin 
Garrison blames his troubled upbringing on the murders. And after a shocking message from a source, he has reason to believe April Cooper may still be alive. Meanwhile, New York City film columnist Robin Diamond is coping with rising doubts about her husband and terrifying threats from internet trolls. But that’s nothing compared to the outrageous phone call she gets from Quentin… and a brutal home invasion that makes her question everything she ever believed in. Is Robin’s beloved mother a mass murderer? 

Is there anyone she can trust?
 
Told through the eyes of those destroyed by the Inland Empire Killings—including Robin, Quentin, and a fifteen-year-old April Cooper—Never Look Back asks the question:

How well do we really know our parents, our partners—and ourselves?

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 2, 2019)


My Review:

I love a good mystery/thriller, one that keeps me guessing and has lots of twists, turns, and misdirections that make me not want to put it down and Never Look Back delivers. Podcasts and especially true crime podcasts are popular now and the book plays well on that theme, exploring an old crime from the seventies that is resurfacing even though the perpetrators died in a fire at a desert commune. The crime is even more salacious because teenage lovers Gabriel LeRoy and April Cooper murdered twelve people, staring with her stepfather and including a police officer and a young child. Podcaster Quentin Garrison’s late mother was the older-sister of the little girl who was killed, and he blames her subsequent troubled and drug-filled life and his terrible childhood on the murder that tore his mother’s family apart and looks to his upcoming podcast aptly titled Closure, to bring some relief his anger and pain. When a seemingly credible source comes forward and states that April Cooper is still alive, Quentin begins searching for answers, disrupting the life of a film reviewer.

This is my first book by Alison Gaylin, and I am impressed with her writing. She developed interesting and multifaceted characters and skillfully moved back and forth in time, sharing their points of view, including using the pages of April’s journal written as letters to the daughter she hoped to someday have. The mystery slowly unfolds, and the tension rises with each page. Although I had parts of the mystery figured out, there were several surprises that I didn’t see coming. Although I couldn’t binge-read and finish the book in one or two reading sessions due to my schedule, I wanted to keep reading and was disappointed when I had to stop and adult. If you like podcasts, true crime and crime fiction, psychological suspense and thrillers, get Never Look Back on your #TBR list. I’m going to be seeking out Gaylin’s other books.


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Author Notes: Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York.

Find out more about Alison at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Food Inspiration: 
There were some food mentions in the book, both from present day and the seventies time frames. mentions included lasagna, iced tea, IPA beer, wine, pizza, frozen yogurt, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and McDonald's, French press coffee, pies, grilled cheese with tomato soup and "an ice cube dropped in so you don't get hurt," chocolate ice cream, a gruyere and spinach omelet for one, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, lemonade, lemon meringue pie and a strawberry milkshake, blueberry pancakes, turkey bacon and coffee, steak and eggs, apple pie, glazed donuts, grilled tarragon chicken, mashed sweet potato, fresh asparagus, scrambled eggs and toast, salmon tarragon, pizza, Chinese food and bacon and eggs.

 

For my book inspired dish I had to go with the very simple cinnamon raisin toast, cream cheese  and strawberry jam as it appeared several times in the book as the comfort food for at least one of the characters and as a bit of a clue, or missing piece of the puzzle. I bought my favorite soft cinnamon-raisin loaf from my local grocery store and whipped cream cheese but decided to make up a batch of chia seed strawberry jam with some on-sale strawberries and manuka honey for a touch of sweetness. 

Most of my jams posted on this blog are made from chia seeds because I like the ease and the fact that the chia seeds do the gelling, so you don't have to add a lot of sugar like you do with pectin.


Strawberry Chia Seed Jam
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Pints) 

3-4 cups fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
1 cinnamon stick, optional
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 Tbsp honey or maple syrup (I used Manuka honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chia seeds (I used white chia seeds)

Place the strawberries and cinnamon stick (if using) in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries break down and get syrupy—about 10 minutes.  Mash the softened fruit using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Leave larger chunks if you like chunky jam. 

Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice, honey and vanilla. Taste and add more honey and/or lemon juice if needed. Add the chia seeds and stir well to combine. Let the jam stand about 15  minutes, until cooled and thickened. If you want the jam thicker, stir in more chia seeds 1 teaspoon at a time.

Transfer jam to a jar or other storage container. Once the jam has cooled to room temperature, place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. The jam will thicken further and become more set once completely chilled. The jam can be stored for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge or also be frozen for up to 6 months; just thaw in the fridge before using. Enjoy!


Notes/Results:This is definitely a comfort food snack (or dinner if you are me) ;-) The crispy-soft toast with a little butter and a layer of the whipped cream cheese, then slathering it with the jam is very tasty and goes down well with a cup of tea. I'd happily make this combination again.


I'm sharing this post with 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 "Never Look Back" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Yellow Bell Pepper Gazpacho: Cool and Refreshing for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Another humidity-combating cold soup this week. I was tempted by the bright yellow color of this Yellow Bell Pepper Gazpacho from Cooking Light. 


I also love the fact that is a no-cook soup that is quickly made, blended and chilled. No effort.

Yellow Bell Pepper Gazpacho
By Julia Levy via CookingLight.com
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 3/4 lbs yellow bell peppers (about 4 medium)
1 1/2 lbs yellow tomatoes (about 2 large tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups peeled seeded chopped cucumber
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions (white parts only)

Dice bell peppers to equal 1/4 cup; reserve. Dice tomatoes to equal 1/4 cup; reserve. Roughly chop remaining bell peppers and tomatoes, and place in a blender. Add cucumber, garlic, vinegar, salt, 3 tablespoons oil, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to blender; process on high until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Chill 1 hour.

Stir together reserved 1/4 cup bell peppers and 1/4 cup tomatoes in a small bowl. Add onion slices and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and toss. Ladle chilled soup evenly into each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with pepper-tomato mixture, and drizzle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. 


Notes/Results: A gorgeously sunny soup that is sweet, tangy from the sherry vinegar and savory and very cooling and refreshing. Very easy and fast to make--just chop, blend and season. I liked the crunch and texture of the bell pepper and tomato topping and the brightness of the lemon. I would happily make it again.


Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is there.


Simona of briciole shared this Green Bean and Torpedo Onion Salad inspired by our Cook the Book selection and said,"The family of Hamilton's husband lives in Rome most of the year then moves to Puglia for the summer, so she experiences the difference between the city and the countryside of another region also in terms of food. As I was reading Hamilton's adventures, I remembered my first vacation away from my family, a fortnight spent with a friend in her hometown of Rossano, in Calabria4. A lot of the foods I ate were either new or prepared differently from the way my mother prepared them. ... "The latter group included green beans (a.k.a., snap beans and a few other names5), which my friend's mother boiled and dressed like a salad, but with the addition of red onion from Tropea6 (cipolla rossa di Tropea). I had never eaten a raw onion before and did not think you could. I quickly fell in love with the mild, sweet onion, elongated in shape...  As green bean season has just started, I know I will make this salad a lot in the near future."



Kim of Stirring the Pot shared her Top 5 Favorite Pasta Salads saying, "As far as I'm concerned, pasta makes the world go round.  I've posted more than my fair share of pasta recipes here at Stirring The Pot and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. ...  For now, since it's a thousand degrees outside, let's focus on refreshing, light, and healthy pasta salads. I think my all-time favorite may surprise you (and give you a new recipe to add to your "to-do" list). ... Those are my favorite pasta salad recipes. What are some of yours?"



Here at Kahakai Kitchen Giada's Caprese Pasta Salad was on the menu and will definitely become one of my pasta salad favorites. Easy and full of flavor and the perfect lunch or dinner on a hot and humid summer day.


Mahalo to Kim and Simona for joining me this week!

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at 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 your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Giada's Caprese Pasta Salad

July 4th might be over but it is still the holiday weekend and a summer full of potlucks and parties. Nothing says summer like good pasta salad, especially when it is a pasta salad version of a classic like Giada's Caprese Pasta Salad.


I made a few small changes to the recipe--adding capers, using marinated mozzarella balls and stirring in about 1/2 cup of artichoke pesto I had on hand for extra oomph. Easy and delicious!


Caprese Pasta Salad
Slightly Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via TheCookingChanel.com
(Yields 6 Servings)

1 lb fusilli pasta (I used rotini)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4 cloves)
(I added 1 1/2 Tbsp capers, drained)
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pints) (I used local Heirloom minis)
I added 1/2 cup jarred artichoke pesto (this one)
1 tsp salt, or to taste (use less if capers are undrained)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/4 cups) (I used marinated mini mozzarella balls)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic (and capers) and and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add (the pesto if using), basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. (Note: I also added some of my marinade from my mozzarella balls to moisten the pasta, adding extra flavor.) Serve.
 

Notes/Results: If you love pasta and you love caprese salad, you will enjoy this recipe. The mix of flavors--sweet, savory, garlicky, briny and the texture of the pasta, cheese and chunky tomato sauce make it a winner. I think the capers and pesto are the perfect touch but you could omit them or add a drizzle of your favorite balsamic for another flavor punch. Fresh and good mozzarella, tomatoes and basil make this salad sing and taste like summer in a pasta bowl. I liked this salad at room temp best, but chilled is nice too. Easy to put together and really good, I would happily make it again.


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is I'll Bring the Pasta Salad. Any pasta salad from any of our nineteen featured chefs.
 

I'm also sharing this post with 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.


Finally I am linking up this pasta salad to Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays, right here at Kahakai Kitchen and where any of the above dishes are welcome. ;-) Here's the link to this week's link up.