Showing posts with label Nigella Lawson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nigella Lawson. Show all posts

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Library of Lost and Found" by Phaedra Patrick, Served with Recipes for Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas & Dill Mayo

Happy Friday! I love books and I especially love books about books, so i am very excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick. Accompanying my review is a very Friday appropriate (and classic British-leaning) dish of Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas and Dill Mayo.


Publisher's Blurb:

A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the international bestselling author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.

Hardcover: 352 Pages

Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (March 26, 2019)

My Review: 

I have had the author's first book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, on my TBR list for age,s so it was more the premise of this story about a mysterious little book of fairy tales coming into an isolated librarian's life that caused me to jump on this tour.

Martha Storm hasn't had an easy life and now in her forties, rightly feels like much of it has passed her by, caring for her aging parents until their passings and being quite a doormat, almost compulsively helping her neighbors, townspeople and library patrons with their tasks and lives. but not getting anything other than more requests in return. Martha was an outsider in her family from a young age, with a controlling father who markedly preferred her younger sister, and a mother who acquiesced to her father's rules and demands. Her eccentric and vibrant 'nana' and the sharing of books and writing stories are the bright spots in Martha's life until she disappears and her parents tell her Zelda has passed away. It's a tiny battered book of the fairy tales she and Zelda told each other and it was published after Zelda's death. The book sets Martha on a journey to learn Zelda's secrets and discover what happened all the those years ago and it's a journey that teaches her about herself. 

Watching Martha change and grow and begin to find her spark and stop living for others was my favorite part of the book. The fairy tales mixed into the story are wonderful too, although bordering on the melancholy at times, they illustrate what Martha, her mother, and her nana were going through. The Library of Lost and Found is an endearing novel with engaging characters that has its harder, sadder moments, but doesn't dwell long in them. It is a an easy, pleasing read and a feel-good story about books and writing, family and secrets, and ultimately the power of finding yourself and your passions. 

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Author Notes: Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organizer and communications manager. She is a prize winning short story writer and now writes full time.

She lives in the UK with her husband and son. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is her debut novel.


Connect with Phaedra on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Food Inspiration:

There was food and drink to be found The Library of Lost and Found, and plenty of traditional British food. Mentions included heart-shaped cookies, rosé wine, bacon,Cheese and onion pie, tea and biscuits, chocolate fudge cake, ice cream sundaes, cordial, ham sandwiches, beef and potatoes, steak and kidney pie, coffee and cake, beans on toast, hot dogs, candy floss, ice cream with chocolate flakes and multicolored sugar sprinkles, a toffee apple, muesli, milkshakes, Americanos, macchiatos, date and walnut cake, sticky toffee pudding, carrot cake, chips and cheese, pickled onions, pie and peas and pickled red cabbage, a dinner party that included blush prosecco, baby new potatoes in minted butter, steamy carrots and green beans, a juicy nut roast, and slices of beef, bread with salt and peppercorn butter, coleslaw, Chardonnay, fruit loaf with juicy cherries and sultanas, tiramisu and merlot, cheese sandwich and a cup of tea, cottage pie, salmon carrot sticks and hummus, sausage rolls and crisp, anniversary cake, a salad of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber in a bowl with cress sprinkled on top, sausages and pineapple on sticks, apple pie, rhubarb crumble, chocolates, tomato soup with bred and butter and golden tea, milk and hot buttered toast, mince pies, and turkey with vegetables and gravy. 


For my book-inspired dish, I went with a British classic--fish and chips with mushy peas enjoyed on a cold day along the seaside. Martha's enjoyment of this meal with her family was palpable--trying to keep themselves and their takeout food warm and the mention of the pools of brown vinegar she loved. I love fish and chips although I am more a tarter sauce fan than vinegar. I found a Nigella Lawson recipe for mushy peas (Called Pea Puree on Food Network) and her recipe for Dill Mayonnaise and I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Perfect Fish and Chips from RiverCottage.com. I will confess that my French Fries were grabbed through a drive-thru on my way home and crisped up in my toaster oven.
 

Nigella's Posh Mushy Peas aka Pea Puree
Slightly Adapted from Nigella Lawson via Food Network.com
(Yield 1 Serving)

1 clove garlic
5 oz frozen pies
1 to 2 Tbsp crème fraîche (I used sour cream)
1 to 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Pecorino
1/2 tsp dried mint
(I added about 1 Tbsp lemon juice)

Fill a pan with cold water and throw in the clove of garlic. Bring to the boil and then add salt and the peas. Cook until tender, drain, and put into a food processor, or blender, and add the crème fraîche, cheese, and dried mint. Puree the peas until knobbly and check the seasoning, adding salt if you need to. Tip the pureed peas into a bowl (or back in the pan is probably a better idea) and cover to keep them warm. 

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Dill Mayonnaise
Slightly Adapted from Nigella Lawson via Food Network.com 
(Makes 1 Cup)

1 cup good mayonnaise 
small bunch dill (about 1/3 cup
lemon or lime juice to taste
(I added 1 Tbsp capers, drained)

Put the mayonnaise into a bowl, and finely chop the dill, adding it to the mayonnaise. Stir in capers and some lime juice and taste for seasoning. Serve with the prepared fish.

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Perfect Fish and Chips
Slightly Adapted from RiverCottage.com
(Serves 3)


300ml (about 10 oz) beer
200g (about 1 cup) flour

salt (I added black pepper)
2 fresh fillets of pollock (I used cod)
500ml (about 2 cups) sunflower oil


Salt the fish fillets. Add 200g of plain flour with seasoning of salt to a large bowl. Add beer slowly and whisk flour with enough beer to turn into double cream consistency with no lumps.

Dip fish in and then into the oil at 160°C (320 F.) for 2-3 minutes until crispy and golden, drain and put on kitchen towel briefly before serving.


Notes/Results: Although I like peas, I wasn't sure I got the whole mushy peas appeal with fish and chips, but these peas are tasty and especially if you use vinegar with your fish and chips, the slight sweetness of the peas is a nice contrast. I liked the prominent dill flavor in the mayo sauce, but I of course needed to add my beloved capers too. The fish (I used frozen cod) was perfectly cooked--moist and tender and the beer batter appropriately crisp. Had i had more time to get dinner made, homemade fries would have been the best, but these take-outdid fine in a pinch. Although not a very healthy meal, it was well worth the indulgence and I would happily make it all again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where it this week we have a Cuisine Spotlight on Classic British Food.

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 "The Library of Lost and Found" 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.


 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nigella Lawson's Tomato & Rice Soup (With Artichoke Hearts & Fresh Basil): Almost a Complete Cheat for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Back to a warm soup this week but one that takes so little effort, it is just about cheating. I was looking for tomato soups both to fill a craving and to cook with tomatoes for our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week and realized that between a combination of hot and humid weather, a busy week and some not-so-great breathing, I just didn't feel like chopping and cooking. This variation of Rice and Tomato Soup from Nigella Lawson is the perfect solution.  


Basically you dilute a good jarred pasta or tomato sauce with water and toss in some rice and that's it. Of course I felt slightly guilt about it being so easy, so I used homemade garlic broth from the freezer in place of most of the water and tossed in a can of quartered artichoke hearts from the pantry. I also had some brown basmati rice cooked in the rice cooker and some fresh basil, but that was it--and in about 10 minutes of cooking and flavor-blending time, a warm bowl of hearty tomato soup was ready to eat. It doesn't get much easier than that. 


Rice and Tomato Soup
By Nigella Lawson via Food Network
(Serves 4)

1 jar good tomato sauce
3 cups water, plus more if needed (I used 3 cups homemade garlic broth + 1 cup water)
1 cup basmati rice (I used 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice)
(I added 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained)
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional) (I used fresh basil)

Nigella says, "I like to make an unfussy rice and tomato soup (for myself, too, sometimes, especially when I'm trying to balance out my characteristic gluttony) by diluting a good, bought tomato sauce with water, adding a handful or so of basmati rice, and cooking until the rice is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. With children it makes more sense to leave the soup fairly solid, but you can add water from a boiled kettle toward the end of cooking time if you want a thinner soup rather than liquid tomato-rice stew. Grate Parmesan on top and eat - with bibs."


Notes/Results: I'm not going to tell you that this compares to my best homemade tomato soup but for opening a jar, a can and tossing in cooked rice, it is a tasty substitute when you just can bring yourself to make an effort--and it tastes much better than the tomato soup in the can. Of course your soup flavor is dependent on the quality and flavor of the jarred sauce that you use, so pick one you like. I used a roasted garlic tomato sauce, and with it and the added garlic broth, my soup had plenty of flavor. Even better if you make and freeze or jar your own tomato sauce but I wasn't that planful. You could substitute the rice with pasta and toss in beans for a minestrone version, or put whatever add-ins you like. Fast and simple, I will happily make it again.


I'm linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs this week where our Monthly Featured Ingredient/Dish Challenge is Tomatoes--any recipes using tomatoes from our current featured chef or any of our past IHCC featured chefs.
 


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

Janet of The Taste Space is back at Souper Sundays this week with No Mayo Coleslaw. She says, "I wanted a simple coleslaw and this one delivered. The dressing reminded me of the first bean salad I ever made. I recall hunting down celery seeds when I moved away for university because I made mixed bean salads often. This salad makes a lot, but it also keeps really well. It travels well for a picnic but also packs up nicely for lunches throughout the week. Classic."


Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared Zucchini-Courgette Orzo Pasta Salad and said, "There is nothing fancy about this Orzo Pasta Salad, though I must admit it is quite colourful.It was made last week for the working week, again making the most of my Zucchini aka courgettes growing in my garden, this time the stripy kind called Courgette Squash Striato di Napoli." 


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad and said, "Loved this quick little meal and it's so pretty.  Lots of colorful vegetables. Also, it was fairly quick to put together and this makes it a good weekday/workday meal. A side dish was a cucumber, tomato and feta salad.  Another quick fix.  This recipe I borrowed from Beth Fish Reads, check it out HERE.  My version isn't as pretty but the salad was very good."

 
Debra of Eliot's Eats shared Veggie Salad with Berbere and said, "There’s an Ethiopian restaruant in Denver that we go to every summer when we’re there visiting the nieces. It’s kind of in a sketchy part of town. It’s in a seen-better-days strip mall. The sign out front has faded to oblivion. It takes almost an hour to get your food (definitely made from scratch). They’re kind of grumpy. We go every year. It’s that good. On our last trip, we had a delicious cold salad on our platter that reminded me almost of a tabouli. After some research, I found it it was probably a Timatim Salad. An authentic timatim has shredded injera which is probably what I mistook for a type of grain. ... I used a fresh cucumber, tomatoes, and jalapenos from our garden for this one."


 Mahalo to everyone who joined in 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!
 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp and Mushrooms for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Last week when I was looking for spicy soup recipes I saw this Thai-inspired hot and sour soup from Nigella Lawson on Food Network and decided to make it. It's nicely spicy and not too heavy, making it perfect for summer eating.


Since I didn't have the Tom Yam hot and sour paste, I used a mixture of red curry and tamarind paste to get the sour notes. I also added some coconut milk because I love it in a Thai-flavored broth. 


Shrimp and Mushroom Hot and Sour Soup 
Adapted from Nigella Lawson via FoodNetwork.com
(Serves 4)

6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaping Tbsp Tom Yam hot and sour paste (I used 1 Tbsp red curry paste + 1/2 Tbsp tamarind paste)
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass, bottom inner part only, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 to 3 small jalapenos, finely chopped (I used two)
1 tsp sugar
(I added 1 cup coconut milk)
1 1/2 cups straw or button mushrooms, sliced
1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
5 1-inch pieces scallions, sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped 

In a medium saucepan, heat stock, tom yam paste, lime leaves, lemon grass, lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, and sugar. Once it has come to a boil, add mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and scallions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes allowing the shrimp to cook but still be tender. Taste and check for seasoning.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately. Place extra cilantro on the table for people to add more. 

 
Notes/Results: This soup has a nice blend of spicy, sweet, sour, and savory and with the shrimp and mushrooms, it satisfies without being heavy. I think adding coconut milk is a big plus--it makes the broth rich and creamy. You can of course adjust the spice level--I used two peppers--one seeded and one not and with my red curry/tamarind paste mix, I  found it medium in spice--which is what I like. You can also add additional lime juice, which I did. This soup would also be good as all mushroom and veggie, with some tofu, or chicken if you eat meat or poultry. I would happily make it again.


I am linking this up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is Potluck week--our chance to make any recipe from our current IHCC chef or any of the past IHCC featured chefs.  
 
We have some delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made Pasta Salad with Olives and Veggies and said, "Sometimes you need an easy go-to recipe to serve on those hot hot hot summer nights when you just don't feel like doing any real cooking. Pasta (gluten free of course) salad seems to be that recipe for me. This Mediterranean style salad is flavorful, fragrant and can be made in advance. We enjoy it paired with  cold soup  or cheese and ( GF) crackers."

 
Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen shared a summer soup and said, "Zucchini, Broad Beans, Peas and Mint Soup - all the fresh green ingredients have been grown in my garden plot and were picked at the weekend. I know its warm, so why on earth would I make soup? I just fancied something light and its been a while since I made a zucchini soup. I have to admit, I did not enjoy it as much on the day it was made, preferring it a day or two later when the flavours improved, still it made for a lovely summer soup, one to eat with a spoon from a bowl or from an mug if you want to sit in the garden and slurp, watching the bees sneaking in and out of nasturtium flowers."

 
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared two salads she enjoyed, Taziki's Signature Pasta Salad and a Cobb Salad and said, "This salad was packed with chicken, tomatoes, feta and a ton of pasta.  Honestly, it was so much pasta I couldn't finish it.  I probably wouldn't get it again but that doesn't mean I don't like it. Next we have a Cobb Salad.  Ok, I know (as does everyone who can read the ingredients list) that a Cobb salad is not usually healthy.  Too much blue cheese and definitely too much bacon!  But it was a late lunch again and this appealed.  See how large?  This is the lunch portion, the smaller portion.  No way could I eat a larger salad, I didn't quite finish this one."

 
Mahalo to everyone who joined me 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!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Thai Yellow Curry Squash, Veggie, & Seafood Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammie) Sundays

I love curries and although it is hard to play favorites with all of the different colors, styles, ingredients and countries--if pressed, I would pick Thai yellow curries as my very favorite. I adore the brighter flavors and the level of spice, which generally is enough to notice, but to not get blown away with heat. Usually a shrimp or tofu Thai yellow curry is my order of choice at Thai restaurants and I try to keep a container of yellow curry paste in my fridge to recreate the flavors at home.


I was craving yellow curry again this weekend and decided to take an easy Nigella Lawson recipe for Thai Yellow Pumpkin & Seafood Curry from Nigella Bites that starts with a store-bought base and make it into more of a brothy soup. I also wanted to use a quicker to chop and more seasonal summer squash in place of the pumpkin and add a few more veggies to the mix. The result was this fast and tasty Thai Yellow Curry Squash, Veggie, & Seafood Soup.


Nigella says, "Don't let the length of the list of ingredients put you off. You really could go to the supermarket at lunchtime and buy everything you need. What's more, most of it keeps: salmon, raw prawns, lime leaves and lemongrass in the deep-freeze (and all but the salmon can be used from frozen); curry paste in the fridge; the coconut milk, fish sauce, fish-stock concentrate and turmeric in the cupboard. In other words, one shopping expedition, many curries.

I've said 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste. This is because pastes vary enormously in their strengths and people vary enormously in their tastes. Some like it hot: I like it very hot - and use 2 tablespoonfuls. But it might be wiser to add 1 tablespoonful first and then taste later, once all the liquid's in, to see if you want to add more. One last bossy note: if you can't get raw prawns, don't use cooked ones; just double the amount of salmon."


My changes to incorporate a few different and more veggies and make it a thinner soup rather than curry are in red below.

Thai Yellow Curry Squash, Veggie, & Seafood Soup 
Adapted from Thai Yellow Pumpkin & Seafood Curry from Nigella Bites & Nigella.com
(Serves 4-6)

1 (14 oz) tin coconut milk (I used 2 15oz cans, separated)
1 to 2 Tbsp yellow Thai curry paste, or to taste (I used 4 Tbsp) 

12 oz fish stock (I used 24 oz light veggie stock)
3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
2 Tbsp caster (fine grain) sugar
3 stalks lemongrass (cut into 3 and bruised with flat of knife)
3 kaffir lime leaves (destalked and cut into strips)
1/2 tsp turmeric (I used 1 tsp) 

2 1/4 lbs pumpkin (peeled and cut into bite sized chunks) (I used 2 lbs zucchini)
(I added 1 large sweet potato, cubed)
(I added 1 red bell pepper, chopped)  
1 1/4-lbs wild salmon fillets skinned and cut into large bite sized chunks
1 1/4-lbs peeled & deveined raw prawns
pak choi (or any other green veg of your choice) (I used baby bok choy)
juice of 1 lime (to taste)
1 bunch fresh coriander (to serve)
(I added Thai basil to serve)
basmati or brown rice to serve

Skim the thick creamy top off the tin of coconut milk and put it, over medium heat, into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat milk and paste together until combined.

Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric. Bring to a boil and then add the pumpkin. Cook on a fast simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes, although different sorts of pumpkins can vary enormously in the time they take to cook; some squash take as little as 5 minutes. (Note: I cooked the sweet potato and red pepper for 10 minutes, then added the sliced zucchini for another 7 to 8 minutes so it retained a slightly firmer texture.)

You can cook the curry up till this part in advance, maybe leaving the pumpkin with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you're about 5 minutes away from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and prawns (if you're using the prawns from frozen they'll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and prawns have cooked through, which shouldn't take more than 3-4 minutes, stir in any green veg you're using - sliced, chopped or shredded as suits - and tamp down with a wooden spoon.

When the pak choi's wilted, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat or decant the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the coriander; the point is that the coriander goes in just before serving.

Serve with more chopped coriander for people to add to their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice.
 

Notes/Results:  Although I took some liberties in adapting some of the ingredients in this recipe and making it into more of a soup, I kept to the spirit and flavor profile Nigella suggested and it was delicious. Enough spice to give it a pleasant heat, good lemongrass and lime essence and a nice balance of salty and sweet. I liked the combination of the shrimp and salmon with zucchini (in place of the butternut squash) and the added red pepper and sweet potato, and the baby bok choy that I used for the greens. It completely hit the spot. It is a satisfying curry soup, especially when served with the basmati rice but not too heavy for a warm day. Quick, easy, and delicious--I will happily make it again.


I'm linking this post over at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this is week is May Potluck--the chance to cook any recipe from our current or any previous IHCC chefs--like the lovely Nigella Lawson. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 


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


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Asian Soup in 10 Minutes and said, "Are you looking for recipes that are healthy,  yet fast and easy to make? This Asian soup is one of my favorites. It takes just 10 minutes to cook and you can serve your family a hot nourishing bowl of vegetable soup that is flavorful and appealing. Low in calories and carbs, Asian soups are brothy and cook up very quickly making this a perfect soup when you are in a hurry. And since it's light, it pairs well with almost any entree."


Debra of Eliot's Eats made a gorgeous salad of Roasted Acorn Squash with Arugula and Chèvre from the foodie memoir Life From Scratch for Cook the Books. She said, "I chose this recipe because of its resemblance to a salad (you, know…our healthy eating…). I will keep this recipe in our rotation because it is delicious. It would also be good with butternut squash or small pumpkins. I think I will use basil and oregano the next time I make this and leave out the mint. Or, maybe I will use all three."


And it was a very curry-loving soupish week here at Kahakai Kitchen with a bowl of Gingery Green Curry Miso Broth with Zucchini Noodles made trying out some cool new KitchenIQ kitchen tools (BTW--there's a giveaway for a set up on the blog for U.S. mainland addresses). It was so delicious, I ate both bowls. ;-)


And then I made a delicious and unique White Dal Curry for Cook the Books April/May pick: Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin. The recipe came from the author's website and used pandan, cinnamon and curry leaves. I had to make a few adjustments based on sourcing locally, but the result was delicious and I may have found a new favorite dal.


Mahalo to Judee and Debra for joining in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

 
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "The Runaway Wife" by Elizabeth Birkelund, Served with Nigella's "Go Get 'Em" Chocolate & Coffee Smoothie

Today's hot and muggy Tuesday has me conjuring up cold places like the Swiss Alps, the setting for today's TLC Book Tour stop, "The Runaway Wife" by Elizabeth Birkelund. Along with my review, I am pairing this quirky little novel with my version of Nigella Lawson's "Go Get 'Em" Smoothie.


Publisher's Blurb:

Three beautiful French sisters entrust an American hiker with the mission of rescuing their mother high in the Alps. 
 
But what if she doesn’t want to be found?
 
Recently fired from his high-power finance job and dumped by his fiancée, Jim Olsen has come to the Swiss Alps to clear his head. At the charming Cabane des Audannes, he meets Clio, Thalia and Helene Castellane, who are on a quest of their own: their mother, Calliope, has fled to these mountains to escape her philandering politician husband’s most recent scandal. As snow threatens to descend upon the Alps, the women have come to bring their mother home.
 
But the sisters are at the point of surrender; it is time for them to return to Paris. Buoyed by wine and inspired by their beauty, Jim impetuously volunteers to assume their search, but soon realizes that he is in over his head. The Alps are filled with beauty and danger, not the least of which is Calliope’s desire to stay hidden. And all the while Jim finds himself haunted by the memory of her daughters and conflicted in his desire for them.
 
The Runaway Wife is a story of adventure, survival, and romance—and of a man’s discovery of a world outside his conventional life and a new vision of himself within it.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 12, 2016)


My Review:

On vacation with a friend in the Swiss Alps, nice-guy and slightly sad-sack Jim Olsen is taking a break before starting a new job he is not thrilled about and trying to get over a broken engagement. (His fiancee delightfully told her parents it was over a month before she told Jim--so that the cake, the reception room at the Plaza, and other wedding preparations could be canceled.) At La Cabane des Audannes, an Alpine hutte (a stopping/sleeping place), they meet three French sisters--Thalia, Clio, and Helene. The sisters are searching for their mother (Calliope) who has vanished into the Alps when her politician husband's latest affair is publicly rubbed in her face. Jim is drawn to the women--especially the alluring Thalia, and because of his thrall and his 'nice-guy-ness,' decides to help them by looking for Calliope and bringing her back. The fact that he is an American, unfamiliar with the mountains and inexperienced in hiking, doesn't seem to phase him, or the sisters who have to get back to their lives and jobs. After getting lost and some missteps along the way, Jim finds Calliope, who has no wish to return and fights to stay hidden from the men in helicopters her husband sends after her. Calliope seems to know or sense a lot about Jim and her intuitiveness causes him to reflect on his own life, while he tries to convince her to return with him before the snows come and the mountains become even more dangerous.  

The Runaway Wife is a charming and unique book. Beyond Heidi as a child and The Sound of Music, I have not read or seen many books or movies with a Swiss Alps setting. The author captures their beauty, danger and mystery well--they are almost a character in the book. Jim is a loyal and likable character and I found myself rooting for him, as well as the free-spirited Calliope-trapped in a bad and loveless marriage. There is a lyrical, almost magical feel to Calliope and the mountains which captured Jim, as well as my imagination and I hated for the story to come to an end. And the end was probably my biggest disappointment with this book--I wanted more--more details and more of a 'big finish.' I know that life is seldom wrapped up in a bow, but it felt a bit unfinished to me, especially for some of the characters. Despite my lack of love for the ending, I definitely enjoyed my time with Jim in the Alps and would recommend this book if you like quirky novels about finding yourself, as well as finding yourself in a unique place and situation. A good summer read when you need to think cooling, snowy thoughts. ;-)


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Author Notes: Elizabeth Birkelund is the author of one other French-inspired novel, The Dressmaker. As a freelance magazine journalist, Elizabeth was the personal finance columnist for Cosmopolitan and wrote for more than fifteen years for Working Woman, Self, and Glamour, among other publications. She lives in New York City.
 
Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook.

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Food Inspiration:

While there is not a lot of food mentioned in this book, there was one clear winner for a book-inspired dish; Ratatouille--which was mentioned several times as it was a meal Calliope made for Jim from her garden. Why isn't it my pairing for this book? I just made it a few weeks ago for Food 'N Flix (an awesome grilled one in fact!) and after getting through all of the rain of Tropical Storm Darby, we are left with 82 degrees F. with 74% humidity and 'feels like 90 degrees F.' weather so far this week. It is just too darn hot for me to stand over the stove or even chop and grill.

I read this book during the storm and consumed a couple of cups of hot cocoa (mentioned in the book) while reading, so I had hot cocoa in my mind, but I needed something cold. I thought about granita or an iced mocha but then I found a Nigella Lawson recipe for a Go Get 'Em Smoothie, featuring coffee and malted chocolate drink powder. I thought the title totally fit the book with Jim sent to go get Calliope, so it became my dish.


I made a couple of small changes to the recipe--using coconut milk, reducing the honey, and needing a kick this afternoon, increasing the espresso powder. My changes are noted in red below.


Nigella says, "This is truly a weekday special: a breakfast that combines food and drink for people who don't feel they've even got time to sit down in the morning. If the person-in-a-hurry is miniature in stature, and not progressed to caffeine intake, then replace the camp coffee with a tablespoonful of peanut butter. Extra protein and ultra delicious. I keep overripe bananas, peeled and cut into four, in bags in the freezer, which helps give ice-creamy bulk to the smoothie and dispense with the need for ice."

"Go Get 'Em" Smoothie
Slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson, Nigella Expres via The Food Network
(Makes 1 Serving)

1 peeled banana, cut into 4, from the freezer
2/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
1 Tbsp honey (I used 1 Tsp honey)
4 tsp malted chocolate drink powder (recommended: Ovaltine)
1 tsp strong coffee or 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (I used 2 tsp espresso powder)


Put all ingredients into a blender and whiz to mix.

Pour into a tall glass and drink before dashing out of the door
 


Notes/Results: This smoothie was quick and simple to make and completely hit the spot on a humid afternoon. I liked the flavor (and the buzz) I got by increasing the espresso powder and found that since I used coconut milk, which is naturally sweet, that the reduced 1 tsp honey was plenty for me. This was rich, thick and delightfully iced mocha-ish without being cloyingly sweet. I will happily make it again. 


I'm linking this post up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week is Potluck--our chance to make any recipe by our current featured chef Curtis Stone, or any previous chef like Nigella Lawson. 

I'm also linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "The Runaway Wife" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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 Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.