Showing posts with label capers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label capers. Show all posts

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.
 


 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Congee: Soupy Rice Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

A busy few weeks and a lack of sleep and good rest for a variety of reasons means I can't seem to shed the cough and cold I have been nursing. I needed something easy, satisfying and comforting this weekend, so I picked Congee. Technically it is a porridge rather than a soup, but it is soupy rice, and as host of Souper Sundays, I'll allow it. ;-)


It's been ten years since I made and posted congee on the blog (this one as part of Cook the Books, The Last Chinese Chef book club review). 


Congee is a lot about the toppings and for that one, I used topping from the book: tofu cubes, roasted peanuts, (Chinese) pickles, smoked ham (I ate meat back then!), scallions, greens, and re-hydrated wood ear mushrooms. For today's congee I kept the nuts and scallions and added capers in place of tiny pickles, sauteed oyster mushrooms, chili oil and a jammy soft-boiled egg. 


Ruth says "Nothing is easier to make than the classic Chinese breakfast . It's basically rice slowly cooked with lots of liquid. I like to use arborio rice, although it's not traditional; any kind of rice you have on hand will do. The ratio is about 1 cup of rice to 8 cups of liquid. I think it tastes best with chicken stock, although you can certainly use plain water."

Congee
Slightly Adapted from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
(Serves 4)

1 cup rice
chicken stock or liquid of choice (I used vegan non-chicken-style bouillon paste)
ginger 

To serve: 
soy sauce
scallions
roasted peanuts, jammy hard-boiled eggs, sauteed (oyster) mushrooms, capers, chili oil and/or toppings of choice

Put the rice and liquid in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and let it simmer for an hour, stirring once in a while. 

The result is a thick, creamy porridge, a canvas for flavor. What you choose for garnish is completely up to you, but to me a julienne of ginger is essential, as is a little shot of really good soy sauce. Peanuts and scallions are nice, and shredded chicken or shiitakes are lovely too. It is the ultimate tonic: basic, fragrant, satisfying. 

Ruth notes: "A confession: in a pinch I've used leftover cooked rice, simply cooking it with lots of water and stirring until it collapses into the correct currency."


Notes/Results: Good flavor and texture make this the perfect comfort food, whether eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack. I especially like how the jammy hard-boiled egg yolk mixes into the brothy rice, and the capers add their briny notes taking the place of tiny pickles. It made my stuffy nose better and I'm looking forward to enjoying more of it this week. I will make it again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme is Gimme a R!--Ruth Reichl recipes that feature ingredients that begin with the letter R. Here we have rice and roasted peanuts. 

And for Souper Sundays...


My friend Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared this tasty Baked Potato Soup and said, "Baked potato soup with a healthy twist.  Well, except the bacon topping 😏 On a cool day a homemade bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is just the ticket. Healthy, economical and absolute comfort food. This is another recipe I tried from SkinnyTaste. You use potatoes and cauliflower for the base. now the toppings are to your preference and we used bacon, cheese and scallions."


Thanks to Tina 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 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 (completely optional).



 
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Eric Ripert's Seared Ahi Tuna with Sauce Vierge

This is a Friday night dinner that is quick and simple to make and full of flavor. The fact that it includes many of my favorite things like fresh ahi tuna, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and fennel makes it even better. Normally I am leery about taking away too much of the deliciousness of seared ahi by adding a lot of other ingredients, but fish is usually in good hands with Eric Ripert, so I was excited to try his recipe for Seared Ahi Tuna with Sauce Vierge from Food & Wine Magazine.


I used local fennel and local ahi tuna--the pieces are a bit flatter than some tuna steaks but they sear quickly and taste delicious.


Food & Wine says, "This light, easy tuna recipe evokes the flavors of southern France. The fish is crusted with herbes de Provence, then drizzled with Ripert’s take on sauce vierge, an oil that he flavors with sun-dried tomatoes, basil and capers."

Seared Ahi Tuna with Sauce Vierge
Slightly Adapted from Eric Ripert via Food & Wine Magazine
(Serves 4)

Sauce:
8 drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp drained capers
2 Tbsp finely chopped basil
2 Tbsp finely chopped scallion greens
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Tuna:
Four 4-oz sushi-grade tuna steaks
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp herbes de Provence
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 fennel bulb—trimmed, cored & thinly sliced
1 lemon, quartered
lemon

Make the sauce vierge:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Prepare the tuna:
Season the tuna steaks all over with salt, pepper and the herbes de Provence. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the tuna and sear over high heat until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the tuna steaks to a cutting board and slice them 1/4-inch thick.

To Serve: 
Arrange the fennel on plates, top with the tuna and drizzle with the sauce vierge. Squeeze the lemon over the tuna and serve.

 
Notes/Results:  OK, this sauce vierge may be my new favorite sauce--it's so good and simple--just olive oil with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, basil, green onion and capers. I made a full batch of it and just half the fish recipe. I would use it on any fish and I don't eat chicken, but I think it would be excellent with it, and even just on the fennel, or other veggies, it would be great. I thought the herbs de Provence might be too much for the tuna and the sauce but it all went together really well--the cool, crisp bite of the fennel was perfect as a base. This will end up being one of my favorite Eric Ripert dishes and I will happily make it again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is From the Sea
 
And 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.

 
Happy Weekend!
 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Story of Our Lives" by Helen Warner, Served with a Recipe for Bagels and Lox with Homemade Veggie Cream Cheese

Happy Tuesday. I'm excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Story of Our Lives, a novel by Helen Warner. Accompanying my review are Bagels and Lox with a recipe for homemade Veggie Cream Cheese, inspired by my reading. 


Publisher's Blurb:
 
They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.
 
Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. 

Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.
 
Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiraling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Graydon House (February 6, 2018)

My Review:

I am a bit of a sucker for good women's friendship stories, especially when they span years or even decades and give you a front-row seat to see how different characters and their relationships grow and evolve. The Story of Our Lives covers the years between 1997 and 2007 in the lives of Sophie, Melissa, Amy and Emily, who became friends during their first year of university. The women gather annually for a 'girls' weekend away, where they reconnect and share (or don't share--there are some big secrets being hidden) what is happening in their lives. Each character faces different personal and professional challenges that run the gamut from relationship and marital challenges, infidelity, pregnancies, miscarriages, and postpartum depression, addiction, domestic abuse, and career issues. Although some of the subject matter is heavier in tone, the author keeps it from bogging down too much and happy moments occur frequently. For the most part, the four main characters are likable and relatable, although some grew on me more quickly than others. 

With a few chapters devoted to a year (each year has a 'news bite' with a major story from that year which is interesting to think back on) and often featuring an emphasis on one of the characters and their perspectives, the 400+ pages moved quickly and the story flowed well. There are no big surprises and a few things that were easily predictable, but the writing and characters are engaging and I found myself sorry to have the book end. The Story of Our Lives is a great 'escape' novel--the weekends away are often set in beachy locations in Britain and it makes for a relatively quick and enjoyable read. If you are a fan of women's fiction, contemporary fiction, and stories about the highs and lows of friendships and relationships, you'll enjoy this one.

-----

Author Notes:  

Helen Warner is head of daytime for Channel 4, where she is responsible for shows such as Come Dine With Me and Deal Or No Deal. Previously she worked for ITV where she launched the daytime talk show Loose Women and was editor of This Morning. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and their two children.



-----

Food Inspiration:

At first I feared there wasn't going to be much food inspiration in The Story of Our Lives as food mentions seemed few and far between, but some finally appeared including bacon, pizza, salmon, pancakes, green olives, asparagus, home-made canapés, crisps, croissants with homemade strawberry jam, gin and tonics, champagne, cava, and all manner of other alcohol.

It was the mention of a beach breakfast Amy made that gave me my book-inspired dish:

"Amy had prepared a feast of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, beautiful, exotic fruit salads, plus bread and croissants she had freshly baked herself." 


I love bagels with lox and it gave me a great excuse to make a batch of Veggie Cream Cheese from a recipe I had recently pinned from TheKitchn.com. Veggie cream cheese or schmear is one of my favorite things to get at a good bagel place and I liked the idea of making my own and pairing it with the smoked salmon--along with capers and a sprinkling of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Mix.


I made a couple of small changes to the recipe--using fresh thyme because I had a bunch left over from this week's soup, replacing the salt with celery salt, and adding a lone stalk of celery I had sitting in the produce drawer. 

Veggie Cream Cheese
Slightly Adpated from Meghan Splawn via TheKitchn.com
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)


1/2 medium carrot, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
(I added 1 small stock celery, peeled & Cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 medium scallion, cut into 4 pieces
1 small clove garlic, smashed
1 small sprig dill (I used thyme)
1/4 medium red bell pepper, seeded & quartered
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I used celery salt)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tbsp olive oil

Place carrots (and celery) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (about 5 pulses). Add the scallion, garlic, leaves from thyme sprig, bell pepper, salt and pepper and pulse until finely chopped (about 5-7 pulses). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. 

Add cream cheese and olive oil and pulse until the cheese and vegetables are completely incorporated (about 7-10 pulses). 

Serve immediately or store tightly-covered in the fridge for up to a week. 


Notes/Results: I have made lots of different flavored cream cheeses and don't know why I never tried a veggie cream cheese before. It is really good and tasted much fresher than the store-bought version. I like the way the flavors of the different veggies come through and the pop of flavor from the garlic, celery seed and thyme (I am sure the dill in the original would be fabulous too.) I think it tastes even better after sitting overnight in the fridge as the flavors meld. It paired well with the salmon and capers--the flavors are all strong--so they didn't overpower one another. I used a regular cream cheese but you could easily use a lower-fat substitute or even sub in a vegan cream cheese if you are avoiding dairy. In addition to using it on bagels, the recipe author recommends it as a sandwich spread, on crackers or stirred into hot pasta and I think it would be delicious in any of those applications. I will definitely make it 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 "The Story of Our Lives" 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, February 4, 2018

Simple Potato-Leek Soup with Crispy Fried Capers for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Potato soup and especially potato-leek soup is something I want often. It does the job of easing both my potato cravings and my soup cravings, it is something you can dress up or down, eat warm or cold, and it always seems to taste great. Since I am easing back into cooking and blogging after my absence last month as my lungs and I recover at home, I kept the soup simple but topped it with crispy fried capers for a bit of flavor punch.


Instead of using milk, cream, or coconut milk to add a creamy touch to the soup, I had a half-package of silken tofu left from making a sauce for grain bowls. I put two cups of the soup and the 8 ounces of silken tofu in the blender, pureed it, and added it back to the soup pot. It made the soup thick and creamy and there were still plenty of potato and leeks in the soup.


Potato-Leek Soup with Crispy Fried Capers
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 to 5 generous servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 medium leeks, white & light green parts, halved, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp roasted garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp celery salt
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes
6 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium "Not Chicken bouillon)
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
8 oz silken tofu, optional
Crispy Fried Capers to serve--recipe below + olive oil and black pepper 

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and onion and saute about 5-6 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add minced garlic, roasted garlic powder, thyme,and celery salt and cook another minute or two. Add chopped potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20-minutes--or until potatoes are cooked through. Taste and add sea salt and black pepper to season to your liking.

Take two cups of the soup and place it in a blender jar along with the silken tofu and puree until smooth. Stir the soup-tofu mixture back into the soup pot. Taste again and season with additional salt and black pepper as needed/desired. 

Serve soup in warmed bowls, topping with a drizzle of olive oil, a shake of black pepper and a 1/2 tablespoon or so of the fried capers. Enjoy!


Crispy Fried Capers 
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

Drain a 3.5 ounce (or so) jar of large capers in a sieve and pat dry (thoroughly) with paper towels. Heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When you drop a caper in and the oil around it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Add the capers (making sure they are in a single layer with a little room around them--you can fry them in batches if you prefer) and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and moving them around gently with a slotted spoon. Capers will blossom and should have a light brown tone. Remove them from the pan with the slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. 


Notes/Results: The soup is simple but really tasty with the garlic, thyme and celery salt adding to the flavor. I also liked the creamy texture from the pureed Yukon Gold potatoes and the silken tofu. The tofu keeps the potatoes from having too gummy a texture and the 2 oz of tofu in each serving adds about 5 grams of protein, which is nice in a vegan soup. The crispy fried capers are a salty/briny burst of flavor. You could rinse the capers but I seldom do--I like that taste to much to rinse it off. If you aren't a caper fan, the soup is great on its own, or add some crispy fried onions to the top. I would happily make this soup again.


My friend Tina is in the Souper Sundays kitchen with me this week. :

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared tasty Farm Stand Noodle Soup and says, "This farm stand pasta was meant to be the main course.  I used the food processor to shred zucchini and I used a sharp knife for the corn, tomatoes and onions.  When combined with these tiny tubular pasta it was meant to be a bowl meal.  Well, it actually was  a bowl meal but alas, it was too much of a lightweight dinner so....the obvious solution is - turn it into soup. ... That's a winner for us as we bring lunch to work 98% of the time. Healthier and more economical. This is also a nice way to welcome Deb back to the blogging world by sharing a new recipe."


Thanks for joining me Tina and for being such a great friend and supporter!


About Souper Sundays:

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

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

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

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

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

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



  
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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

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


Publisher's Blurb:

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

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

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


My Review:

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

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

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

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

-----

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

You can connect with Lynda on her website or Facebook.

-----

Food Inspiration:

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


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

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


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


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


Smoked Trout Shmear
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

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

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

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

-----

Harissa and Mint Smear
Inspired by The Kitchn

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

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


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


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


And I am linking these bagel sandwiches up to Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen--where every Sunday, we feature soups, salads, and sandwiches from across the blogosphere. You can find the details for joining in here-on this week's post.  


Note: A review copy of "Dirty Wars and Polished Silver" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

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


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

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


There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or Publisher Melville House (@melvillehouse)
and/or follow Lynda Schuster on Facebook. (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow these accounts.)

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


a Rafflecopter giveaway  
Good Luck!