Showing posts with label Foodies Read. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Foodies Read. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pickled Sweet Peppers & Pickle Juice Gravy with Biscuits for Cook the Books April/May Selection: Buttermilk Graffiti

May is wrapping up this week and so is the deadline for Cook the Books April/May book pick, Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee, a foodie memoir and journey through America's food scene hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (See her announcement post here.)

I was already a bit of an Edward Lee fan from his season of the PBS series, The Mind of a Chef and his stint on Season 9 of Top Chef, and his battle on Iron Chef, but I had not ever read any of his writing, something I was happy to rectify with this book. Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef's Journey to Discover America's New Melting Pot Cuisine is Lee's second book, following Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories From a New Southern Kitchen and his unique perspectives and passion for food and the people who cook it made it a win for me. I like his appreciation for the people he meets in his cross-country explorations and how descriptive his writing and storytelling is--it isn't surprising to read that he graduated magna cum laude from NYU with a degree in English literature before turning his skills to cooking. I really enjoy his approach to food too--with his unique combinations of cuisines and ingredients. He made me want to hang out with him in the car and in the kitchen.

As usual, I struggled with my time management these past two months and had to return my library print copy of the book. I ended up using an Audible credit and listening to half of it before finishing up with print again when a library e-book came available. I liked both reading and listening to Lee's prose, although I would have enjoyed him narrating the book (even though the narrator David Shih did a nice job). I felt like I could pick up and put down the book and appreciate each chapter as I meandered through it. The recipes included are an added treat. Buttermilk Graffiti was an enjoyable road trip and I put a library hold on Smoke and Pickles because I want to hear more from Lee.

I marked several recipes from the book to try like Amok Trey (a fish curry wrapped in banana leaf), Russian Pickled Watermelon, Mango Fries with Jalapeño-Mint Aioli, Miso Creamed Corn, and Chanterelle Hummus to name a few. It ended up being the unusual Pickle Juice Gravy that wouldn't leave my head and so I made his Pickled Sweet Peppers mainly to use the brine in the gravy. Lee partners his gravy with pork chops and the Miso Creamed Corn, but I opted to eat my gravy over biscuits (Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix from a box). ;-) I was not disappointed and have a new addiction. Who knew?!

Edward lee says, "The briny pickle juice livens up the traditional gravy with a surprising but delicate acidity." and If you make Pickled Sweet peppers, you will have some delicious brine. Most people discard the brine when they finish the pickles, but I never do. It is a great way to add flavor to vinaigrettes, braises, and this simple but addictive gravy."

Pickle Juice Gravy
Slightly Adapted from Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee
(Makes About 2 Cups
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus 1 Tbsp cold butter to finish the gravy
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used non-chicken bullion paste) 
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (I upped this)
1/4 cup pickle juice from Pickled Sweet Peppers (recipe below), or to taste (I ended up using about 1/3 cup)

Melt the 5 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the top and whisk to combine, then cook the roux, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until a rough paste forms. While whisking, gradually add the chicken stock.

Bring the gravy to a low boil, then reduce the heat and season with the salt and pepper. Gently simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Stir the pickle juice into the gravy. Finish it by adding the remaining 1 tablespoon cold butter and swirling it into the pan until it just melts. Serve hot.

Pickled Sweet Peppers
Slightly Adapted from Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee
(Makes 1/2 Quart)

10 small sweet peppers, seeded and thinly sliced, any mix of bell, cherry or Italian sweets
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 whole star anise pod
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 large strip lemon peel

Thinly slice the sweet peppers and pack them into a jar. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, star anise, and peppercorns and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon peel, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature.

Pour the pickling liquid into the jar, close the lid tightly, and refrigerate overnight. Discard any excess liquid. The peppers will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

Notes/Results: I love pickles and pickled vegetables and I love gravy, so I supposed it only stands to reason that I would love Pickle Juice Gravy and I DO! I would eat it on a stick, or really just from the ladle as it really doesn't need anything else. The acidity it adds is perfect--it keeps the gravy from being heavy and one note, and the simple pickles with their black pepper and star anise notes are tasty too. (You'll see them on shrimp tacos later this week.) I used a mock chicken broth for my gravy and it worked fine--although I needed no extra salt, but extra black pepper was a definite must and I upped the amount of brine to 1/3 cup. A runny-yolked fried egg or poached eggs would be welcome on top, but I was perfectly content with my box-mix biscuits, slices of pickled sweet peppers, and plenty of the gravy. I will definitely be making this 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.

Linking up Buttermilk Graffiti to May's Foodies Read. You can check out the May Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

The deadline for this round of CTB is this Friday, May 31st and Debra be rounding up the entries on the Cook the Books site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for June/July when we'll be reading Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton, hosted by Simona of briciole.  


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tropical Pineapple Pie for Cook the Books December/January Pick: "Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers" by Sara Ackerman

Yes, I hosted this round of Cook the Books (the best virtual foodie book club going ten years strong!) and yes, I am posting (as per usual), right before the deadline. ;-) Having been on the TLC Book Tours Instagram Tour for Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman last year, I was more than excited to make it our December/January selection. Historical fiction set during World War II is my jam, and the fact that this novel is set on the Big Island of Hawaii made it an obvious pick as I have been long wanting to host a Hawaii-based book for our group. My book-inspired dish, Tropical Pineapple Pie, gave me a chance to crack open a cookbook that was given to me when I started my new job in August.

But first, let's talk about the book. Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers is a touching and engaging story about Violet, a teacher in the small community of Honoka'a, Hawaii (north of Hilodealing with the effects of the war on her community and the disappearance of her husband the year prior. Violet is especially worried about her daughter, Ella, who is withdrawn and suffering and seems to know something about what happened to her father. Violet and her friends (roommate and fellow teacher Jean and Japanese Setsuko, whose husband has been taken away to a internment holding area on the island) band together to make and sell pies to the soldiers who are stationed on the island as they prepare to be shipped out to battle.

Author Sara Ackerman was born and raised in Hawaii and she paints a vivid picture of wartime life and the impact on the islands. The story is told from both Violet's and Ella's points of view and mother and daughter are likable characters that are easy to root for, as are their friends and the supporting characters of soldiers and townspeople. The book has secrets, drama, romance and friendship, not to mention a pet lion named Roscoe and lots of pie. Since I read a lot of World War II-set novels, I loved this glimpse of Hawaii at war that isn't centered around Oahu and Pearl Harbor (although I am very much looking forward to Ackerman's second book, The Lieutenant's Nurse, due out in March that is set on Oahu and on the attack and its aftermath).

Although the pies that Violet and her friends bake and sell to the soldiers (especially the chocolate honeycomb pies and coconut sweet potato pies) are a focus of the food in the book, there was plenty of other food to be found including coconuts, vanilla ice cream, corn, pineapple, Okinawan sweet potatoes, coffee, banana pancakes, cornflakes, rice balls, mint, sweet potato soup, okolehao (Hawaiian moonshine), rice cakes, poi, chocolate pudding, kale, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, cucumber, meatloaf with sauce and sage, sushi made with canned sardines, Spam casserole, passion-orange juice, peanuts, Saloon pilot crackers with chunks of salted codfish, creamed corn, beef stew and white rice, Spanish casserole, roasted fall vegetables, hamburgers, manapua, chop suey, porridge, malasadas (Portuguese donuts), steak fry, tomatoes, musabi, ginger, guava, chicken hekka, honey, sugarcane lemonade, Coca Cola, chili and rice, ham sandwich with pickles, tomato, lettuce and onion, Spam sandwiches, red potato salad, apples, papio (fish), taro, and watercress (slightly steamed and sprinkled with sea salt), opihi (shellfish) ohelo berry pie, mashed potatoes, roast pig,cornbread stuffing casserole, pumpkin pie, frosted gingerbread men, champagne, roasting marshmallows, toast with grape jelly, lemon baked ahi, steak and eggs, and lilikoi (passion fruit).

I'm not much of a baker or a pie maker, but it was what was calling me for this book so I popped open a few of my Hawaii cookbooks and looked for easy, no-bake pies. My team had three cookbooks at my desk when I started my job in August and I found a couple of likely recipes that had the right vibe in Celebrating in Hawai'i: Favorite Recipes for Holidays and Special Occasions by Muriel Miura and the Star Advertiser. I went back and forth between a Guava Chiffon Pie and the Tropical Pineapple Pie which finally won out because of Mr. Macadangdang's trucks full of coconuts and the mentions of pineapples in the book. The pie had a bit of a retro feel to it and I liked the idea of the toasted coconut crust.

Tropical Pineapple Pie
Slightly Adapted from Celebrating in Hawaii by Muriel Miura
(Makes 8-10 Servings)

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 can (7 oz) flaked coconut (I used 7 oz packed dry coconut + 2 Tbsp coconut condensed milk)
1 can (13 1/2 oz) pineapple tidbits, undrained
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar 
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1 package (3 oz) lemon-flavored gelatin
2 egg whites
2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup water

Brown coconut in butter, stirring constantly over moderate heat. Reserve 2 tablespoons for topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom and sides of 10-inch pie pan, Set aside to cool.

Drain pineapple and pour syrup and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Set pineapple aside. Beat together sugar, eggs, and salt. Stir egg mixture into pineapple syrup until well-blended. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Stir in pineapple and chill until mixture begins to thicken.

Beat egg whites, dry milk, and water until soft peaks foam. Fold into chilled mixture and pour into coconut crust. Garnish top with reserved coconut flakes; chill until set, about 4 hours. 

Notes/Results: I was drawn to the recipe because of its old-fashioned feel and I love the way it looks, but flavor-wise, it was only okay for me. I wanted a stronger pineapple taste. The toasted coconut crust was my favorite part although I had to improvise a bit when I couldn't find canned coconut at my grocery store. Without canned, in order to get the toasted dried coconut to stick together enough to form the crust I added sweetened condensed coconut milk to it, pressed it into the pie pan and broiled it for a couple of minutes to get it to hold together. It made for a chewy, toasty crust that went well with the filling and that I would use 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.

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers is my first foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2019 event. You can check out the January 2019 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

The deadline for this round of CTB is Thursday, January 31st and I'll be rounding up the entries on the Cook the Books site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for February/March when we'll be reading Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, hosted by Claudia of Honey From Rock.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Christmas on the Island" by Jenny Colgan, Served with Shortbread Dipped in White Chocolate & Candy Cane Sprinkles

Happy Aloha Friday! We are on the downward slope to Christmas and it's the perfect time for a cozy holiday story and a visit to the Island of Mure in Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan. Accompanying my review of the third book in this charming series is an easy tea-time or cookie tray treat, Scottish shortbread, dipped in white chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of crushed candy canes. 

Publisher's Blurb:

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

It’s a time for getting cozy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram and a treacle pudding with the people you love—unless, of course, you’ve accidentally gotten pregnant by your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In the season for peace and good cheer, will Flora find the nerve to reveal the truth to her nearest and dearest? Will her erstwhile co-parent Joel think she’s the bearer of glad tidings—or is this Christmas going to be as bleak as the Highlands in midwinter?

Meanwhile Saif, a doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons on this remote island where he’s been granted asylum. His wife, however, is still missing, and her absence hangs over what should be a joyful celebration. Can the family possibly find comfort and joy without her?

Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for a Highland Christmas you’ll never forget!

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 16, 2018)

My Review:

Jenny Colgan books are good for when the world overwhelms and you need a sweet and engaging escape. As this is the third book set on the Scottish island and quirky community of Mure, it is like visiting and catching up with old friends. (That's also why you really should read the first two books before this one--so you can come into Christmas on the Island knowing and appreciating all of the characters and storylines.) In this book, winter and the holidays are ramping up which is keeping Flora and her team at the Seaside Kitchen very busy. Flora finds out she's pregnant (not a spoiler, it's in the publisher's blurb) and is nervous about Joel's reaction with good reason of course as Joel is still recovering from his challenges in the last book while traveling for Colton, and his and Flora's relationship still tenuous. The supporting cast is back with continuations of their stories (I won't go into those as I don't want to give away anything) and although this one does wrap up without any real cliffhanger, it feels open enough to come back for more stories about the community (perhaps a Saif-centered plot line?) which I like.  

Jenny Colgan creates enjoyable, often quirky characters that you can't help but root for and fills her books with both humor and poignant moments. She also fills them with food and includes a few recipes at the end. If you are looking for something not too heavy and a holiday read that will tug at your heartstrings, this is a great book to snuggle up to with a cup of tea and a piece of shortbread or two.


Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

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


Food Inspiration: 

Jenny Colgan books usually have plenty of food and with the baked goods and foods that flora creates in the bakery, Fintan's cheeses and food-filled town events in Mure, Christmas on the Island is no exception. Food mentions include cakes, pies, pastries and slices of fruitcake, roast chicken, fish, toast with butter, mincemeat tarts, cheese scones, sandwiches, turnips, sausage rolls, a Cumbrae pinwheel (stuffed pork loin)  and bacon roll with a cranberry jelly, tea, Shepherd pie, gin & tonic, hot soup and a toasted sandwich, mince pies, hot dogs, spice cookies, pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, dusted cinnamon rolls, millionaire shortbread, fish and chips ("haddock and chips with extra crispy bits and plenty of vinegar and a large bottle of Irn Bru"), haggis, a saveloy (type of sausage), mulled wine, orange juice, a plain biscuit, vol-au-vents (puff pastry), porridge, Heinz tomato soup, vegetarian stuffing, chipolatas (sausages), shortbread Drambuie, turkey, red cabbage, bread sauce, venison, fresh vegetable soup, French toast, and shortbread.

I'll be honest here, I was going to make fish cakes or pancakes for my book-inspired dish so I could also work it into I Heart Cooking Clubs monthly dish/ingredient challenge but I taught several leadership classes this week and was tired and behind on everything. The recipes for Lanark Blue Scones and Shortbread in the back of the book caught my eye but I just couldn't bring myself to try to bake. I decided to cheat and buy some Walkers shortbread instead and jazz it up for the holidays with white chocolate and crushed candy canes. 

There isn't much of a recipe here. I just line a small pan with parchment paper, crush 3-4 small candy canes, heat the about 1 cup of good white chocolate chips carefully in the microwave, stirring until melted. I then brush any excess crumbs off of the shortbread pieces, dunk one end in the melted white chocolate and sprinkle the tops with the crushed candy canes. When finished, set the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to harden and enjoy.

Notes/Results: Yes, I am a bit guilty about not actually cooking something to go with the book, but these little cookie treats are so tasty and fun and take such minimum effort that I was over that guilt pretty quickly. The shortbread is so buttery, but the cool flavor of the candy cane sprinkles keep it from being too rich or sweet. They took just minutes to make and set up quickly--ready to enjoy with a cup of tea (it's Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride by Celestial Seasonings in the pictures). I think they would be a fun gift or look cute tucked into a cookie platter. I will happily make them 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.

Christmas on the Island is my twelfth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the December 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.    

Note: A review copy of "Christmas on the Island" was provided to me by the author and the publisher Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Pan-Fried Grit Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Garlic, & Thyme and Spicy Smothered Green Cabbage for Cook the Books: "The Cooking Gene" by Michael W. Twitty

I'm doing my usual trick of coming in at the last minute for our Cook the Books October/November pick, The Cooking Gene, A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty, hosted by Simona of Briciole. Although it took me several weeks and library renewals to make my way through the book, I very much enjoyed it and the vegan take on African-American cooking that was inspired by my reading. 

The Cooking Gene is Twitty's homage to the culinary history of his ancestors originating in Africa and Europe and journeying through the Old South and the origins of Southern cooking, and it manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. At moments he made hungry, next making me squirm uncomfortably at the uglier moments of our not-so-distant history, then teaching me something new about food before getting me chuckling over his family moments--that while completely different from my own cultural upbringing, often ring with complete familiarity. I love books that give me information--especially when it is related to the history and origins of food and Twitty does it in such an engaging way that had me completely caught up in his journey, and even though I dipped into the book in bits and pieces over the past several weeks, he made the 400+ pages easy to digest (pun intended).  

From The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty:

"The real history is not in the food, it's in the people. We are working against the loss of our cultural memory; against the consequences of institutional oppression; against indiscriminate and flagrant appropriation; and against the courts of public opinion that question our authenticity, maturity, and motives in the revolutionary act of clarifying and owning our past. It is my belief that the very reason we are hear in space and time is deliberately connected to our journey with food. The only question I've ever wanted to answer for myself was, How was my destiny shaped by the history of Southern food?" 

For my book-inspired dish,  I really wanted a lighter version of African-American cuisine as with it being in the thick of the holiday season, I have been indulging far too much already. I turned to Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen, a favorite vegan cookbook of mine that I don't cook nearly enough from. I had been meaning to make the Pan-Fried Grit Cakes with Caramelized Spring Onions, Garlic & Thyme, so I picked them (although I ended up using a Maui sweet onion instead of green onions only because I left them out of my shopping basket) as my main dish. I wanted something to accompany my grit and ended up choosing cabbage over collards (cabbages looked better/fresher at my local grocery store) for Spicy Smothered Green Cabbage. My changes are noted in red below and I've included Bryant Terry's "soundtrack" suggestions for music to cook and eat by.

Bryant Terry says, "Because the grits need to set for a few hours before you can cut them, this dish should be prepared in advance. The time invested is well worth it. I enjoy these tasty cakes as a savory dinner side or as a light meal with a green salad. You can omit the spring onions, cayenne, garlic and thyme and reduce the salt then eat these with pure maple syrup as a breakfast treat. Or you can eat them as is with maple syrup like my mom does. 

For a low-fat version, they can be baked on a lightly-greased baking sheet at 325 degrees F. until crisp, about 15 minutes each side. they can also be lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled for 10 minutes on each side."

Pan-Fried Grit Cakes with Caramelized Onions, Garlic & Thyme
Slightly Adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry
(Serves 4-6 Servings)
Sound Track: "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the MGs from Green Onions

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch spring onions, trimmed & thinly sliced (I used 1 thinly sliced sweet Maui onion)
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups unflavored rice milk (I used coconut milk)
1 cup vegetable stock 
1 cup stone-ground corn grits
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh thyme (I used about 1 1/2 tsps total)

In a medium-size nonstick saute pan, combine 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, the spring onion, and the cayenne. Turn the heat to medium-low and saute gently until well caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan, combine the milk with the stock, cover, bring to a boil, and boil for about 3 minutes. Uncover and whisk the grits into the liquid until no lumps remain.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes with a wooden spoon to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the spring onion mixture, salt and thyme and stir well. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Pour the grits into a 2-quart rectangular baking dish or a comparable mold and spread them out with a rubber spatula (the grits should be about 1/2-inch thick). Refrigerate and allow the grits to rest until firm, about 3 hours or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Slice the grits into 2-inch squares. Line a couple of large plates with paper towels. In a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, panfry the cakes for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside (do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan). Transfer cooked cakes to the plates to drain and then hold them in the oven until all the cakes are cooked. Serve immediately.


Bryant Terry says, "Rather than frying this cabbage in bacon fat, I add mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and sugar to the olive oil to add flavor."

Spicy Smothered Green Cabbage
Slightly Adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry
(Serves 4 to 6)
Sound Track" "Chicken Grease" by D'Angelo from Voodo

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red paper flakes
1 tsp organic coarse cane sugar
coarse sea salt
1 small green cabbage (about 2 lbs), quartered, cored, and sliced thinly
5 Tbsp water
freshly ground white pepper

In a wide heavy saute pan over medium heat, combine the olive oil, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, sugar and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mustard seeds start to pop, about 4 minutes.

Immediately add the cabbage and saute, stirring occasionally, until it wilts, about 4 minutes. 

Add the water, stir to combine, cover and cook until most of the water has evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Season with white pepper to taste.

Notes/Results: The grit cakes were delicious--crisp on the outside, and creamy within and lots of flavor. I did find them a bit dangerous as they popped and shot bits of grit out randomly as they cooked. I tried patting them dry (after leaving them for two nights before I could cook them--I'm not sure if that was the reason they popped so much or not) but I almost got sizzling grits in my eye, so beware! ;-) I just cooked part of my pan and plan on trying baking the rest of them tomorrow to see what happens. I will declare that are worth a bit of physical pain and they were set off perfectly by the spicy, slightly sweet cabbage. It made a tasty dinner and I will happily cook both these recipes 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.

The Cooking Gene is my eleventh foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the December 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.

The deadline for this round of CTB is TODAY and Simona will be rounding up the entries on the Cook the Books site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for December/January when we'll be reading the Hawai'i set Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman, hosted by yours truly, here at Kahakai Kitchen.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Combo (Double Spicy)": Spicy Red Pepper-Tomato Soup and a Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Spicy Sauce & Burrata for Cook the Books: "Sourdough" by Robin Sloan & Souper Sundays

It's Sunday and it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I am once again scrambling at the end of the month and coming in with my Cook the Books entry at the last possible minute. Ah well, better late than never, especially when it inspires a deliciously spicy combo of soup and sandwich to pair with a fun foodie book.

I really enjoyed our August/September pick, the novel Sourdough by Robin Sloan, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (See her announcement post here.) I did meander through it, both reading (I renewed it three times from my local library) and listening to the audio book (I used an audible credit) as I have struggled lately to find time (especially time that I can stay awake) to read with my new job and transitioning from my old clients/jobs. The audio accompanied my Sunday soup making the last few weekends, as well as a couple of work commutes, and I finished up the final pages in my library book. But, as much as I lacked time to read it, I was always happy to pick it back up and again and immerse myself in the story.

Sourdough is a a fun food-focused novel with a unique premise that combines and explores bread making, finding your passion, and the San Francisco food and high-tech scenes. The author's debut novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough were both on my TBR list and Debra and Cook the Books gave me the nudge I needed to get to this one and I will be moving  his first book up up on my to-read list, based on how much I liked Sourdough

Lois Clary is a great character, as are Chaiman and Beoreg, the brothers who run the Clement Street Bakery and Sourdough out of their apartment kitchen. Lois, a software engineer becomes addicted to their simple menu of soup, sandwiches or combinations--all spicy, with their mysterious Mazg cuisine and music (an interview I read with the author states that hes was channeling the gypsy or Roma culture a bit for the Mazg). I enjoyed the quirky supporting characters in the book-- like the Lois Club members (who knew that was a thing around the country/world?), all of the different denizens and vendors of the Marrow Fair and the mysterious owner "Mr. Marrow," Charlotte Clingstone--the Alice Waters-like food icon, and even the Clement Street Starter--a character itself. I loved the emails from Beo to Lois and the unfolding stories of the Mazg and the starter. I like magical realism, so even if the ending leaned heavily to the fanciful, I was onboard. Sloan's vivid writing made me want to smell the bananas in the Clement Street Starter, taste the green Slurry nutrition drink, and hang out in the mushroom grotto at the Marrow Fair. Overall, an entertaining book that slyly looks at food--and food crafting and food automation from the perspectives of those who live to eat and those who eat to live.

I actually knew that I was going to make my version of the Combo (double spicy) from the Clement Street Soup and Sourdough menu. It was the first order Lois makes and her first taste of both the spicy soup and the sandwich and its wonderful bread on the simple menu.

"--I unwrapped my sandwich and open the soup and consumed the first combo (double spicy) of my life. If Vietnamese pho's healing powers, physical and psychic, make traditional chicken noodle soup seem like dishwater and they do--then this spicy soup, in turn, dishwatered pho. It was an elixir. The sandwich was spicier still, then sliced vegetables slathered with a fluorescent red sauce, the burn buffered by thick slabs of bread artfully toasted." 

I had a vision of the sandwich, but not the soup--although I saw red broth in my mind. Later on a particularly hard day, Lois is given the "secret spicy" by Chaiman, after Beoreg hears her rattling sigh of frustration from work when she places her order. This time she receives something different: "a more compact tub containing a fiery red broth and not one but two slabs of bread for dipping. 'Secret spicy,' he whispered. The soup was so hot it burned the frustration out of me and I went to bed feeling like a fresh plate, scalded and scraped clean." 

Somewhere in the in-between is my version of the "Combo (Double Spicy)"--a red soup full of of scarlet-hued peppers and tomatoes and warming spices, and a sandwich with slices of grilled vegetables and a bright red "secret" spicy sauce. Because I lean to the less aggressive side of spice preference, I have no doubt my version is not as spicy as the book's Combo by far. Still, both my soup and the sauce have a nice slow burn of spice. The burrata (mozzarella's sexier cousin) is in the sandwich, both to buffer the medium-spices and because it happened to be a "Friday blow-out"--something my new company does to get rid of items close to their "best buy" date. I split a case of burrata with a couple of co-workers and ended up with three 8-oz tubs of the cheese for $1 each. Can't pass up a deal like that but, you could sub in fresh mozzarella or even goat cheese instead. My sourdough is from the grocery store's in-house bakery and not as wonderful as Lois's bread, but all things considered, this soup and sandwich combination turned out to be pretty spectacular.    

Spicy Red Pepper-Tomato Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 Servings)

2 Tbsp coconut or other oil
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, sliced thinly
1 red jalapeno, diced (seeding optional)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 tsp smoky ancho pepper
5 cups veggie stock (I used porcini mushroom bouillon cubes)
2 tsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)  
2 tsp Tabasco, or to taste
1/2 cup pickled peppadew peppers
12 oz jarred roasted red peppers
1 (28 oz) can Italian tomatoes in tomato juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute, then add smoked paprika, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper, and ancho pepper and cook until fragrant. Add the veggie stock, sugar, peppers and tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Use an immersion blender in the pot or carefully blend soup (in batches) in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot, taste, add lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper and taste and adjust seasoning and spice level as needed. 

Serve hot with a sandwich or sourdough bread for dipping and enjoy! (This soup also works cold, although the sweating from the heat and hot soup is actually cooling on a humid day).


"Secret" Spicy Sauce
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes a bit over 1/2 cup)

2 Tbsp Sriracha
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and add additional lemon juice, salt, or spice as desired. 

Keep tightly-covered in fridge for a week.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Spicy Sauce & Burrata
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1 Sandwich

I shaved slices of 1 small zucchini, 1 small yellow squash, and 2 small eggplants and tossed them with coconut oil and salt. I heated a grill pan over high heat and in batches, cooked the vegetable slices until they were softened with grill marks on either side. I then drained them on paper towels, patting off the excess oil and moisture.

I cut two thick slices of sourdough bread and brushed the outer sides of each piece with oil. I spread the inner sides with a layer of "Secret" Spicy Sauce, then layered vegetables on one side and burrata cheese on the other. I then placed the sandwich halves together and grilled over medium-high heat until the bread was toasted with grill marks on each side, pressing lightly down with a spatula. I let the finished sandwich "rest" for about 5 minutes, before slicing it in half and serving with the soup. 

Notes/Results: My this was delicious (albeit messy) if I do say so myself! ;-) The soup is that wonderful combination of smooth and brothy, smoky, spicy, and sweet with a touch of acidity to round it out. I love red pepper soup and this is a great version. The cinnamon and smoked paprika, along with the cumin and mushroom broth, give it a nice depth of flavor and with the red jalapeno, Aleppo and ancho chile powders, and Tabasco, there was plenty of spice for me. The sandwich was stuffed full of grilled veggies, the spicy sauce and the creamy burrata in between the toasted bread. A little drippy, but so good when dunked into the soup. I really loved how everything turned out and would happily make it all again.

I made eyes and a nose for my grocery-store bakery sourdough face. ;-)

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.

Sourdough is my ninth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the September 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

The deadline for this round of CTB is TODAY and Debra will be rounding up the entries on the Cook the Books site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for October/November when we'll be reading My Cooking Gene, A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty, hosted by Simona of briciole. 

 Now, lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen:

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Carrot Ginger Soup with Lime and said, "Carrot ginger soup is one of my favorites, and now that I can make it in minutes in the Instant Pot it is easier than ever-( of course I included directions for the stove top as well) The bright orange color, the tangy twist of lime and the subtle hint of ginger makes this delightful soup perfect for the beginning of fall. It's definitely a fall day. It's 62 degrees, cloudy, and the leaves are starting to fall. Perfect time to make an easy soup for dinner."

Debra of Eliot's Eats brought Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup and said, "I loved the original version (Eat Drink Man Woman)  and the American comedy, Tortilla Soup, that followed in 2001. Honestly, I can’t remember which film I saw first. And most importantly, you see, Tortilla Soup (the recipe not the film) helped me win The Hubs’ heart. ... I posted a recipe for my version of Tortilla Soup recipe way back in 2011 during our soup challenge. So, I guess all the way around, this post is going to be retro to celebrate the 8th Anniversary of Food ‘n Flix!"

Mahalo to Judee and Debra for joining in 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 her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

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 to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Don't forget to enter my Giveaway to win a  copy of the fun historical mystery, The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang. Details here

Have a happy, healthy week!