Showing posts with label cauliflower rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cauliflower rice. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Secret Language of Cats" by Susanne Schotz, Served with a Recipe for Baked Salmon (with Coconut-Tomato Sauce & Without)

Getting over that middle of the week hump can be hard for both the human when it is a busy work week and the cat, left at home for long days. I don't usually have challenges interpreting the meaning of my Max's many vocalizations--the plaintive mewling when I walk in the door is both chastisement for leaving him and demand for his dinner, but if you wonder what your cat is trying to communicate, the The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz is a good primer. I'm happy to be today's TLC Book Tour stop and I am accompanying my review with a recipe for Eric Ripert's Baked Salmon with Coconut-Tomato Sauce, sharing some of the plain salmon with my feline friend as a weeknight treat.

Publisher's Blurb:

Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying?

Cats do not meow randomly, nor do they growl or hiss because they have nothing better to do. Cat sounds have a purpose, and they can carry important messages, whether for us or other cats.

Susanne Schotz is hard at work on breaking the cat code. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, where a long-standing research program is proving that cats do actually use vocal communication—with each other and with their human caretakers. 

Understanding the vocal strategies used in human-cat communication will have profound implications for how we communicate with our pets, and has the potential to improve the relationship between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Schotz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.

Hardcover: 288 Pages
Publisher: Hanover Square Press; Original edition (November 1, 2018)

My Review:

Susanne Schotz is a definite cat lover and shares her house with her husband and five cats that are her "subjects" for the book and her affection for her furry companions and passion for studying how they communicate is fully evident in The Secret Language of Cats. The book is part science, part psychology and part tribute to her pets and is an interesting and fun read for a cat lover. There are times that the science gets a little dry and I confess that the phonetic descriptions don't do much for me, however going on her website Meowsic was the perfect companion as I could listen to her cats make many of the sounds in the book and that helped me interpret the phonetic transcriptions. My cat Max found the audio to be somewhat disconcerting as he couldn't see the cats making the noises I was listening too, which brought up some questioning mews and meows from him. I also found the sound and body language descriptions in the book to be very helpful in matching Schotz's interpretations of the sounds her cats make with mine of Max's vocalizations. There are charming illustrations of the author's cats in the books as well as pictures and videos on the website which are fun to look at. A quick read with tidbits of cat knowledge that i found to be very help and engaging, I enjoyed this book and plan to share it with a few cat-loving friends.

Food Inspiration:

Not much of a food presence in this book of course so I took my inspiration from the food Max enjoys most, fish, and the need to through a quick dinner on the table. Max is first and foremost a tuna fan--particularly raw ahi and will turn up his nose at raw salmon, but if I cook that salmon so that it is tender and moist, he is very much on board. I thought I could put together this Eric Ripert recipe from frozen wild salmon and cauliflower rice  (replacing the jasmine rice called for) and canned tomato sauce and coconut milk from the pantry. I'd share a little of the plain butter-baked salmon with him, then top it with the creamy coconut-tomato sauce for my own dinner.

Max was perfectly content with his dinner-time salmon treat and although not the most attractive of dishes (due to my "I'm tired, I'll just slap-it-on-a-plate" fault--not Ripert's recipe or plating suggestions) was a tasty weeknight dinner. 

Baked Salmon with Coconut-Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Eric Ripert via the New York Times
(Serves 4)

Coconut-Tomato Sauce:
1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1 Tbsp finely diced garlic
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
Salt and ground black pepper

Jasmine Rice:
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coconut milk

Baked Salmon:
Salt and ground white pepper
2 Tbsp butter
4 (6-oz) salmon fillets
salt and ground black pepper

Make the coconut-tomato sauce: In a saucepan, heat oil and add garlic and onion. Sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Make the creamy jasmine rice: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water and the butter. Bring to a boil, add rice, and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover snugly with foil, and allow to sit for another 12 minutes.

Combine milk and coconut milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir into cooked rice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Make the salmon: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in roasting pan large enough to fit salmon fillets, and add 1/4 inch water. Place over medium heat to bring to a boil, then add salmon and cover pan snugly with foil. Place in oven and cook as desired, about 5 minutes for medium-rare. Remove fish from pan and drain on paper towels.

To serve, reheat sauce. Place an equal portion of rice in center of each of four plates. Top each with a fillet, and pour sauce around rice and salmon. Serve hot.

Notes/Results: Again, I didn't plate this the best way--making it look at bit like cat food--apropos for the book I suppose ;-) but the flavor was good with the coconut-tomato sauce rice and creamy and a compliment to the salmon.I used a bottled pasta sauce and liked the flavor and ease of that option. I would make it again and Max agreed that his salmon was tasty.

Linking up the recipe with I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week--any recipe from any IHCC chef.

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.

Note: A review copy of "The Secret Language of Cats" 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.  


Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "Cross Her Heart" by Sarah Pinborough, Served with a Recipe for Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice

Happy Thursday. We got lucky again this week, with Hurricane Olivia down to a tropical storm today and besides some heavy rains still to come, not much of an impact on Oahu, Kauai, and while there were damages, it certainly was not as bad as it could have been on Maui. My thoughts are with the East coast and those dealing with Hurricane Florence. I hope for a similar outcome. 

If you are nervously anticipating a storm, it doesn't hurt to have a good thriller to distract you like Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for this novel. Accompanying my review is a recipe for healthy and tasty bowl of Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. 

Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 4, 2018)

My Review:

Cross Her Heart is my first Sarah Pinborough book. Well, at least the first one I've read. I chose her bestselling previous novel, Behind Her Eyes as a Book of the Month pick last year, before I decided that my biggest problem with the Book of the Month club was actually reading the books. I have a stack of them just sitting on my shelves. I have a feeling though, that Behind Her Eyes may move up to the top of the pile, now that I have given her a try. 

Cross Her Heart snuck up on me a bit. I felt like it started a little slow but whether that was me (seriously, I can't read ANYTHING lately at night and stay awake lately) or the book, I'm not sure, but the twists in the story began to unfold and I found myself caught up in this story and the secrets and lies of Lisa, Ava, and several of the other characters. It is easy to assume that you know what Lisa might be hiding herself and her daughter from, and I liked that I had it wrong. I had several things wrong as a matter of fact, until I reached the end. I was expecting a bigger shock than I got--maybe because I heard so much about a shocking twist in Behind Her Eyes (If you read it don't tell me--I have managed to go more than a year knowing there was a twist but not knowing what it is!), but I felt like in this case, there was a lot of foreshadowing of the big reveal. It didn't spoil the journey for me though, the last third of the book was quite a ride and had me anxiously turning pages. I don't want to say much more than that, as this is a book you'll want to go into without many more details than you already get in the publisher's blurb. 

If you like mystery-thrillers full of twists, secrets, lies, and family and friendship dramas with interesting and flawed characters, add Cross Her Heart to your fall TBR list--it's engaging and entertaining and will keep you guessing.


Author Notes: Sunday Times No.1 bestseller Sarah Pinborough is the critically acclaimed and award-winning, adult and YA author. Her previous novel, Behind Her Eyes, has sold in 25 territories, been shortlisted for the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller in hardback and paperback. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.
Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

Although there wasn't a lot, there was food to be found in Cross Her Heart including pizza, milk, bread, Battenberg cake (an almond-flavored tea cake), tea, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, vodka, cakes,  drinks, a punch of fruit juice, lemonade, vodka and Bacardi, a cold jacket potato, donuts, prosecco, sandwiches and chips, microwave popcorn, cider, tequila shot, crisps, brownies, frozen lasagna, oven fries and peas, curry, beer, bread, olives, scallops and sea bream, Chablis, ice cream with wafers, chicken salad, Chinese takeaway (mentioned a few times, from the Peking sweet-and-sour pork and chicken chow mein, etc.) Caramacs, jelly, ice cream, Chocolate cake, beans on toast, and Jelly Babies (a jelly candy).

Recipe Inspiration: Since there were several mentions of Chinese take-away, for my book-inspired dish, I thought I pick one of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes--fried rice. I wanted to be a bit healthier than my favorite take-out place and use plenty of vegetables and since I still had the remains of a large bag of frozen cauliflower rice, use it in place of rice.

Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 as a Main, 4 as a Side)

4 cups cauliflower rice (fresh or frozen--see note*
3 Tbsp olive or coconut oil, separated
1/2 sweet onion sliced
1 medium carrot diced
1/2 large red bell pepper
3 scallions/green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger minced
2 cups white button and crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and sliced into thirds
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp sesame oil, plus more to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste
toasted sesame seeds

Prep Cauliflower: If using fresh cauliflower, wash the head and pat it dry, then shred it using the largest holes of a grater or by pulsing the florets in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice. If using frozen, let thaw in a colander then squeeze/press as much of the liquid out as possible. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion slices, carrot, red pepper, the white part of the scallions, garlic and ginger and saute until just the vegetables are just starting to get tender--about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender and vegetables are tender and cooked through. Remove the vegetables from the pan, cover and set aside. 

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. When hot, add the cauliflower rice and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Stir in the snow peas, 2/3 of the green onion tops, and the tamari/soy sauce and cook for another minute or two. Then push the cauliflower rice to one side of the pan and scramble the beaten eggs on the opposite side. Once eggs are scrambled, gently stir them into the cauliflower rice, along with the sesame oil. Taste and add additional tamari, salt and black pepper as desired. serve immediately, garnished with the remaining chopped green onion and toasted sesame seeds, Enjoy!

Note: This fried rice is at it's best when fresh cooked and hot but you can enjoy leftovers within a day or two. 

Notes/Results: Especially when served hot and fresh, this cauliflower fried rice stands up to it's counterpart in flavor but is much lighter, less greasy, and so much lower calorie and healthier. If you are using frozen, pre-riced cauliflower, the more liquid you can press from it the better--much like the original, the drier the 'rice'--the better the fried rice as you can get it crispier. Use any veggies you like here, you can also add more protein with shrimp, chicken, or tofu and you can leave out the eggs if you aren't a fan--it's very versatile. I'm not saying I don't love the slightly greasy, salty shrimp fried-rice from my local Chinese restaurant, but a big serving of this works just fine and leaves me some wiggle room for dessert calories. ;-) I'd happily 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 "Cross Her Heart" 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.