Showing posts with label honey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honey. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Blueberry Lavender Tea Infused Chia Seed Pudding Parfaits {#SipBySip Tea Party}

I am very excited to be taking part in the #SipBySip Tea Party today, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla and sponsored by The Republic of Tea to celebrate the release of their Beautifying Botanicals line.

(FTC Disclosure: I received free tea from the sponsor company for the purpose of reviewing and creating recipes. All opinions are my own.)

I admit to already being a fan of The Republic of Tea and several of their tins (Ginger Peach, Hibiscus Pineapple Lychee, get some ZZZ's, Immunity Super Green...) regularly grace my panty tea shelf, so I was looking forward to sampling the new botanical line featuring: 
  • Daily Beauty Blueberry Lavender Tea (Organic green rooibos, organic hibiscus, organic lemongrass, organic rosehips, blue butterfly pea flower, apple, organic lavender, organic hibiscus extract, sweet blackberry leaves, organic lemon balm, bamboo, blueberry, schizandra extract and natural blueberry flavor) and  
  • Beauty Sleep Chamomile Rose (Organic hibiscus, biodynamic chamomile, organic rosehips, organic lemongrass, blue butterfly pea flower, sweet blackberry leaves, licorice, organic hibiscus extract, bamboo, schizandra extract, natural honey flavor and natural rose flavor).
I had a little trepidation too since anything with strong florals like lavender and rose as ingredients needs a deft hand so it isn't like drinking a bowl of rehydrated potpourri, but I needn't have worried since The Republic of Tea has done their usual excellent blending of flavors so the teas are well-balanced and the floral notes are pleasant rather than overpowering. Both teabags brew a lovely color of herbal tea or tisane (sorry I didn't take a pic when sampling) and are a treat to sip. The packaging is beautiful and perfectly matches the tea--in colors and mood. (I think a tin of these teas paired with an antique tea cup in similar colors would be a lovely Mother's Day, bridal shower, or birthday gift.

For the task of creating a tea-infused recipe, I chose Daily Beauty and wanted to make a healthier pudding that nodded to all of the healthy botanicals in the tea. I love eating chia seed puddings and they make great breakfasts or snacks as the chia seeds are filling without being heavy and provide many good nutrients like fiber, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids and are hydrating too. 

I made a simple blueberry compote to serve with the chia pudding and ended up layering the pudding and compote with fresh blueberries and topping it with dollops of coconut yogurt. Putting them in jars is fun and gives me a grab-and-go breakfast to take to work. 

Since the tea is not overpowering, I used 3 bags in my coconut milk and added 1/2 tsp of culinary lavender. Since these teas are really botanicals or tisanes and not actual tea, I steeped them for about 15 minutes, to maximize the flavor without fear of the tannins that occur in 'real' tea (grown from camellia sinensis bush) making it bitter. 

Note: What is a lovely purpley-blue in the cup takes on a bit of a grayish cast in coconut milk, so I added a touch of purple food coloring to my chia pudding which gave it a light lavender hue that doesn't come through well in the photos.

Blueberry Lavender Tea Infused Chia Seed Pudding
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 Servings)

1 can coconut milk + extra if needed
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp culinary lavender
3 bags of Republic of Tea's Daily Beauty Blueberry Lavender Tea
1/3 cup chia seeds
purple food coloring (optional) 

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk the coconut milk, honey, vanilla and culinary lavender together. Add the tea bags and bring slowly to a simmer over medium-low heat--stirring and not letting the milk boil or scorch.  Once at a simmer, remove from heat, cover and allow tea bags to steep about 10 minutes. 

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the tea bags against the strainer with a wooden spoon in order to press out all of the liquid, then discard tea bags . Allow strained mixture to cool to room temperature. Once mixture is cool, add the chis seeds, whisking them in and then set the mixture aside for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to avoid the seeds clumping together. Add a couple of drops of purple food coloring if desired. Cover tightly and place pudding in the fridge several hours, preferably overnight.

Once pudding has set, remove it from the fridge and stir it, adding additional coconut milk if mixture is too thick or firm.


Blueberry Compote for Parfaits
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups Compote)

3 heaping cups fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Place the blueberries, brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium. Bring to a simmer and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring ocassionally, until mixture has thickened. Set aside and allow to cool before making parfaits.

To Assemble: Blueberry Lavender Tea Infused Chia Seed Pudding Parfaits:

Alternate layers of the blueberry compote, the chia seed pudding, fresh blueberries and yogurt of choice (optional) in small juice glasses or jars. Garnish parfait tops with fresh blueberries and a few buds of culinary lavender. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I really like the pudding--especially when layered with the blueberry compote and am happy how these turned out. Blueberry is the prominent flavor with the lavender as more of an after note. The fresh blueberries and yogurt are optional but add different textural elements to the parfaits. I ate one last night for a dessert/snack and took another for breakfast today and I would 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.

Check out the #SipBySip bloggers and their recipe creations and reviews:
A big thank you to our sponsor! And mahalo to Camilla for hosting and for the packs of lavender and honey she included with our tea.

You can find The Republic of Tea on the web, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,& Instagram

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Book Review and a Recipe: "Another One Bites the Crust" by Elie Alexander, Served with a "Grown-Up Grilled Cheese" Sandwich

It's 2018 and I am happy to start the year off deliciously by reviewing Another One Bites the Crust, a new entry in the Bakeshop Mystery series by Ellie Alexander. These foodie cozy mysteries never fail to charm me and make me hungry and this seventh book is no exception. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, a delectable sandwich concoction from the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

Torte—the beloved small-town bakeshop run by Jules Capshaw—is set to hit the stage. But who would have guessed that murder would makes a surprise appearance?

It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama—and his just desserts—but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets—before the curtain drops on someone else. . .

St. Martin's Paperbacks (January 2, 2018)
316 Pages 

My Review:

The Bakeshop Mysteries have become one of my favorite cozy series--I love the characters and the Ashland, Oregon setting. It's such a great town and I love how Ellie Alexander brings it to life. Without giving spoilers if you haven't read the previous six books, I can tell you that in Another One Bites the Crust, we are starting the busy season as the Shakespeare Festival is kicking off and also at Torte--the bakeshop run by Jules and her mother, Helen. The festival's flamboyant artistic director, Lance, has become a close friend and Jules is concerned when he seems out of sorts and it only gets worse when the lead actor of Anthony and Cleopatra ends up dead and Lance is the chief suspect. Of course Jules is going to help him and she finds herself caught up in another mystery, while expanding the bakery and other 'life stuff' (no spoilers) ;-) she is involved in. 

The usual cast of characters is in play--Torte's college-age staff, Helen and the Professor, Ashland's head of police, Thomas (deputy and Jules's old boyfriend), plus there is a new doughnut-loving investigator called in on the case from the 'big city' of Medford, who we may see more of. The food descriptions don't stop--something I love in a foodie cozy and I like the cooking and baking details and tips that the author works in. The pacing and how the mystery unfolded is good--I like that Jules has a fairly level head most of the time and although it wouldn't be a cozy if she didn't take some risks in the name of mystery solving, I don't find myself 'yelling' at her in my head as much as the leads in other cozies. I also was happy that Jules's estranged husband Carlos was not a big factor in this book. I like Jules best when she is independent and not focused on romantic tangles. 

Although you could read this book without reading the first six as Alexander does a great job in layering in the backstory, I wouldn't recommend it. You get more of the details and the evolution of the characters by reading the series in order and you get to taste Torte's and Jules's creations vicariously by reading them--just don't do it on an empty stomach. (Here's my blog review of the first five books.) Although I am reading an advanced reader's copy e-book and have not officially confirmed it, there are usually some of Jules's sweet and savory recipes at the end of each book and plenty of food inspiration along the way. Another One Bites the Crust is a fun way to start 2018 and a great book to curl up with a cup of tea and a muffin and enjoy--or, if it's lunch time or late night and you have a hankering for savory comfort food, read below for my take on Jules's Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.


Author Notes: Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the popular Bakeshop Mysteries and the new Sloane Krause Mysteries.

Connect with Ellie on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram 


Food Inspiration:

There is no shortage of food inspiration in these books but here's just a small example from the sweet--lemon tarts, coconut cream pie, cowboy cookies, fig tarts, carrot cake, pastry treats  from Shakespearean days for an event like clotted cream, trifle, puddings, tarts and royal marchpans (marzipan sculptures), French macarons in all manner of flavors, chocolate-covered strawberries, cinnamon pecan muffins, apple turnovers, bread pudding, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, and fresh raspberry jelly-filled doughnuts. There are savory dishes like chicken tortilla soup and bean and cheese sandwich wraps on homemade tortillas, salsa and guacamole, paninis, roast beef and cheddar cheese sandwiches, and French Onion and Cheeseburger soups. There's also plenty of tea, coffee and coffee drinks like a vanilla rose latte and a jelly doughnut latte. That's just a small sampling and why I am always drooling reading these books.

For my book inspired dish, it was a grilled cheese sandwich of fontina cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes with the unique addition of honey on the bread that caught my eye and wouldn't leave my head. Even though in many places it isn't the season for fresh tomatoes and basil, in our mild climate I have access to local tomatoes and herbs most of the year so I grabbed the cheese, a couple of local Roma tomatoes and a big bunch of basil (pesto will occur later) along with a small wedge of fontina cheese from the gourmet section of my local grocery store. 

For the honey, I went not-so-local, wanting to try the New Zealand Manuka Honey I received in a kit from Melora. It's debuting at Costco stores here, Arizona and Orange County. I will be doing a review post on it later (I'll just tell you now that it's non-GMO, wild harvested and Fair Trade and really yummy) but I couldn't resist using it for this sandwich.

From Another One Bites the Crust, Jules says:

"I scanned the shelves in the fridge and decided on a grown-up grilled cheese with fontina, basil, tomatoes, and honey on thick-sliced Parmesan bread. I warmed butter in a skillet and spread it on both sides of the fresh bread. Then I cut thin slices of fontina and layered in basil leaves and tomatoes. Once the sandwiches had been stacked, I drizzled a touch of honey on the top and placed the first one in the sizzling skillet. 

The lemon tea soothed my nerves as I flipped the first sandwich and drizzled honey on the other side of the bread. Fontina is an Italian cheese made from cow's milk. And not just any cows. The most exquisite fontina is produced in the summer months when the cows are moved to higher elevations to dine on rich alpine grasses. It's a wonderful melting cheese with a creamy texture and woodsy aroma."

Jules  tells Thomas she's calling the sandwich a grown-up grilled cheese:

"Thomas bit into the sandwich and closed his eyes. He tilted his head to the ceiling then looked at me. 'I'm calling it the best thing I've ever tasted.'"

Notes Results: For my sandwich, I followed Jules's instructions above, only I did not have her Parmesan bread, using some fresh bakery sourdough instead. The result was still delicious--one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have eaten. The combination of the savory ingredients, set off by the sweet honey is delicious and the cheese perfectly melty. Honey might seem odd on a grilled cheese, but just the small drizzle on the bread really works. I served my sandwich with my favorite dill pickle Kettle Chips because why not work a bit of sour into the mix too? I will definitely make this sandwich again.

I have to link up this delicious sandwich to Souper Sundays--hosted right here at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday we feature delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches from friends around the blogosphere--please join in if you have any to share. Here's this week's post and linkup.

Another One Bites the Crust is my first foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the January 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.  

I'm also 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.

Note: A review copy of "Another One Bites the Crust" was provided to me by the publisher. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery" by Jenny Colgan, Served with Jenny's "Awesome Hot Chocolate" and Toast with Butter & Honey

Although I lean to the slightly Grinch-ish side and don't like to see, hear, or think about Christmas until well after Halloween, I am happy to be on the TLC Book Tour for Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. It's pretty impossible to not feel at least a bit of the holiday spirit when reading a Jenny Colgan book and the fact that this is the third book set in Mount Polbearne on the Cornish coast and featuring Polly, her boyfriend Huckle, and Neil the (most adorable) Puffin only adds to the feels. Along with my review, I made a batch of the Awesome Hot Chocolate from the book, served with toast with butter and honey. 

Publisher's Blurb

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.

Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.
But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.
Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 10, 2017)

My Review:

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is the third and possibly final (say it isn't so!) book with these characters and set in an adorable Cornish coastal village. I recommend reading Little Beach Street Bakery (my review here) and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (my review here) before this one. I do think it is possible to catch up on the story without reading the first two books, but why would you want to? You'll get all of the back stories, the character growth, experience living in a lighthouse, and sppend more time with Neil, the most adorable 'pet' puffin out there. 

This third book finds Polly running her bakery and scrambling to afford the upkeep of the lighthouse she and Huckle are living in. Huckle has marriage on his mind but Polly is hesitating on taking the next step. The storm mentioned in the back cover blurb is less of an issue to happy holidays than the tension between Polly and Huckle, family drama for Polly, pregnancy and issues between her best friend Kerensa and her husband (and Huckle's bestie) Ruben, and a threat to the local puffin sanctuary. But this is a Jenny Colgan book and it's Christmas, so ultimately things end on a satisfying note, making this a happy holiday read for even the Grinchiest of hearts. 

In the foreword Colgan mentions that Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is (probably) the last book in this series but I hope that's not the case. As much as I have enjoyed her other books like The Bookstore on the Corner and The Cafe By the Sea, I have a special place in my heart for these characters and village--I'd love to continue on with them.


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 and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

There is plenty of food inspiration is Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery--the bulk being baked good and pastries. Polly's olive oil focaccia and scones, fish and chips, Polly's bread spread with salted local butter and Huckle's orange blossom honey, sandwiches and pasties, croissants, cream cheese brownies, doughnuts, cheese twists, tea and coffee, pecan and cinnamon buns, apple turnovers, Empire biscuits, Sachertorte, coarse brown bread with fresh salty butter and loads of smoked salmon on top, chocolate coins, raisin and cinnamon Christmas twists, mince pie bites, gingerbread, clotted cream fudge, brandy-soaked Christmas cakes, religieuses, chocolate matzos, rugelach, knishes, mulled wine, and galette des rois

There are still more food mentions but I stopped writing them down and just enjoyed immersing myself in the book because I knew I wanted to make the Awesome Hot Chocolate. (Yes, it's still warm and humid here but at least this week has been windy and rainy--if I waited for cool weather I'd hardly have time to make anything hot!)

There is a recipe for the hot chocolate in the back of the book (along with recipes for the knishes, mincemeat twists, and galette des rois). I stuck to the recipe ingredients for the chocolate but I found the method of heating the chocolate first in a pan on the store too worrisome with my tricky stove burners or dragging out a double boiler, so I slowly warmed the milk, then added the chocolate and whisked and stirred and slowly melted it. I chose not to add anything other than a touch of vanilla at the end---it was plenty sweet and I was craving the chocolate rather than the taste of liqueur.

I served my Awesome Hot Chocolate with toasted cranberry-walnut bread, spread with good salted butter and my favorite Big Island Bees Lehua and Cinnamon Honey.

Awesome Hot Chocolate
Slightly Adapted from Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery
(Serves 2 to 3, or more)

Note: Jenny says, "Don't add too much cream, otherwise it will turn into pudding. But do add marshmallows, even though those two statements contradict each other. Also keep an eye on the chocolate. If it gets above a simmer when it's melting, it's all over."

One large bar of milk chocolate (the size of one they offer you in shows when you buy a newspaper. The branding is completely up to you.)
One small bar of dark chocolate (Bournville or similar but go posh as you like. If you like, e.g., chilli flavoring (I don't judge), go for that at this point.)
Brandy or Cointreau (optional)
750 ml (about 3 cups)
a dollop of single cream
vanilla to taste
ginger or cinnamon to taste
2 tsp sugar (optional)
marshmallows (optional)

Melt the chocolate INCREDIBLY slowly stirring over a very low heat. If you've got small people chuntering around, they may need a distraction whilst you get this together. if you don't, a small slug of brandy or Cointreau is practically de riguer.

When the chocolate is melted, add up to 750ml of whole milk--the precise consistency is up to you--and a dollop of single cream. it should be lovely and thick but not dessert. 

A spot of vanilla; a tiny pinch of ginger or cinnamon to taste. Some people add a teaspoon or two of sugar at this point, and that is entirely to your taste. I do.

If you have a foamer, use that; otherwise carefully whisk and pour. 

Small marshmallows or tiny ones are up to you. I prefer the little ones because it feels like I get more. Don't look at me like that. 

Drink slowly. Possibly with this book in your hands. 

Notes/Results: This is an ultra rich hot chocolate, thick and creamy with sweet delicious chocolate flavor. I think as a snack, the hot chocolate or the toast would suffice without the sugar overload of both treats (the salted butter and yeasty bread helped the overall sweetness level a bit) but it certainly was tasty. I also may have overdone the mini marshmallows a tad--they spread out all over the top and got nicely melty so they were hard to resist. ;-) I may have consumed my hot chocolate with the air conditioning on, but it was worth every sip and is "awesome" as the recipe title suggests. This hot chocolate is one you would save to make when you want a really indulgent treat rather than a quick and simple cup of cocoa but it was well worth it. I would make it again. 

I am linking this post up as my ninth entry for Foodie Reads 2017. You can check out the October Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.

I'm also linking 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.

Note: A review copy of "Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery" 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, September 22, 2017

A Fried Halloumi Salad for My Friend

Some weeks are tougher than others. This week has been one of those weeks. Lots of issues and work deadlines and some 'life stuff,' combined with everything that is going on in the world. My heart goes out to the people of Mexico, Puerto Rico and everywhere else so horrifically impacted by earthquake and hurricanes. Years ago I spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico for work and still have former coworkers and friends there and seeing the devastation is heart-wrenching. Then there is all the recent health care news and the stupid Twitter battle being waged with Korea that may result in an H-Bomb being 'tested' in the Pacific Ocean--not great news when you live on an island there. 

It's also hard when a good friend is grieving and it hits close to home. The wonderful Kim of Stirring the Pot, my friend of many years and co-host at I Heart Cooking Clubs lost her mom last week and that makes me sad for her. My mom passed away two years ago and so I know at least some of what she is feeling and I wish I could give her a big hug and offer some better form of comfort than were words. Since I can't do that in person, like many of her other blogging friends, we are dedicating this week's IHCC Potluck to Kim and sending her our love, along with some virtual food for comfort, in honor of her mom who was a big supporter of Kim's cooking and blogging.

You may not think a salad is the right food for solace, but this one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has fried cheese (halloumi) on top of a Greek-style salad and I know Kim is a fan of those flavors and ingredients. Her mom was quite the green thumb and herb gardener so I think she'd approve. Cheese, especially fried cheese, is always welcome and I hope the capers I tossed in are too. Most especially it was made with plenty of love.

Fried Halloumi Salad 
Slightly Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
(Serves 4)

For the dressing:
1 tsp honey

juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of sea salt
3 Tbsp canola or olive oil

For the salad:
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup kalamata or other black olives, pitted
large handful of mint leaves, coarsely shredded
large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

(I added 1 heaping Tbsp of capers)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
large pinch of smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
2 Tbsp canola or olive oil

First, make the dressing. Stir together the honey, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt until well combined, then whisk in the oil. 

In a large bowl, toss together the onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, mint, and parsley. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, and some salt and pepper. Moisten the halloumi slices slightly with water, if necessary, then press them into the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the halloumi slices over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden and slightly soft inside.

Toss the salad vegetables with the dressing, turning them over with your hands to make sure everything is lightly coated. 

Divide the salad among 4 plates, put 2 pieces of the hot halloumi on each one, and serve immediately.

Notes/Results: This is a simple salad but full of fresh flavor from the fresh herbs and the from dressing--which is slightly sweet with a little kick from the crushed red pepper flakes. The halloumi is the perfect touch with it's chewy, melty goodness and I especially liked the hint of smoked paprika in the coating. I would happily make it again.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Club and this one is in honor of Kim. Sending her much healing love as she goes through this difficult time.  

And I am linking this salad 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.  


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of the Novel "White Fur" by Jardine Libaire, Served with a Recipe for Strawberry-Peach Chia Seed Jam (& a Giveaway!)

I'm excited to be today's stop for the TLC Book Tour of the novel, White Fur by Jardine Libaire. Along with my book review, I'm offering up a recipe for easy and delicious Strawberry-Peach Chia Seed Jam--spread on toasted English muffins, inspired by my reading. There's also a chance to enter win a copy of the novel for yourself at the end of the post.  Happy Tuesday!

Publisher's Blurb:

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City

When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in public housing without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.
White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hogarth (May 30, 2017)

My Review:

White Fur was a journey for me--I wasn't quite sure what I had gotten into and whether I was going to enjoy it. It took me a while to get into the actual story, even longer to care about the main characters, their romance, and how things might turn out, but Jardine Libaire's visceral writing pulled me along like a strong current until I was caught up in this wild, whirling book and didn't want to put it down. Starting with the first page--set in a motel room in June of 1987 with Elise holding a gun pressed to Jamey's chest and him asking "Don't you love me?"--you know that it is going to be a crazy ride, then it heads to January 1986 when these two young people meet in Connecticut and learn how they got to that motel room eighteen months later. Most of the book takes place in New York City in 1986 and the writing sets a wild and gritty tone full of excess and dark passion. New York in the 80s--the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes almost becomes a character itself and was my favorite part of the book. Neither Jamey or Elise were easy people to like or connect with--she is tough, raw and defiant, from the wrong side of the tracks and quickly sets her sights on Jamey. He is rich, spoiled, and self-destructive and seems to want Elise because of just how much his family and friends will disapprove of her, and of him. These aren't people I would want to hang out with, but they are compelling and hard to look away from. If you are looking for a simply written story of sweet love, White Fur isn't for you, but if you want an edgy, gritty romance that pounds off the pages with messy emotion, it's a book worth reading.


Author Notes: Jardine Libaire is a graduate of Skidmore College and the University of Michigan MFA program, where she was a winner of the Hopwood Award. White Fur is her second novel for adults. She lives in Austin, Texas.

You can connect with Jardine via her website, Facebook, or Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

I was surprised at how much food was in White Fur. I had about four pages of notes of the food mentioned by the time the book was done that included New York restaurant food like pizza, sushi, chop suey, and Chinese food, escargots, potage aux pommes, oysters, steak tartare, New York strip, prime rib, lobster, salmon, filet mignon, profiteroles, Indian food, duck lo mein, dumplings, rack of lamb, iles flottantes, cabbage soup, lemon tarts, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburger pitas, a cheeseburger, and a turkey club with fries. Like Jamey and Elise, the food ranged from rich and expensive to more common and inexpensive like a Balducci's order of French goat cheese, fresh squeezed juice, English muffins, lemon curd, rib-eyes, champagne grapes, fresh pasta from Italy, Perrier, romaine salad, shrimp with cocktail sauce, bagel and capers, contrasting with McDonald's Hamburger Helper, Christmas nachos with red and green peppers, Cheez-Whiz, bacon, egg 'n' cheese, macaroni and cheese, Pringles, hot dogs and Dr. Pepper. There was plenty of alcohol and a Puerto Rican feast of yellow rice, pork shoulder, green sofrito, and caramelized plantains.

For my book-inspired dish I was pulled towards strawberries that were mentioned a few times, in different ways--in a "story about strawberries and a sunburn," in strawberry ice cream, wrapped in an Air India napkin, and on the "English muffins toasted with cheap strawberry jam" that Elise eats with the Pakistani cabdrivers who hang out at a deli she likes. I got a sudden craving for English muffins with strawberry jam and decided to make some chia seed jam rather than use the cheap stuff. ;-) I added the peach to mix things up a bit and because I though it might give the jam a more salmon-ish color like the gorgeous cover.

Chia seeds are my favorite way to make jam as they thicken it without pectin and excess sugar. I have made and posted several varieties of chia seed jam on the blog--you can check them out by clicking on the jams/preserves tag on my sidebar.

Strawberry-Peach Chia Jam
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 4 cups of Jam)

3 cups strawberries, fresh (or frozen, thawed), chopped
3 peaches fresh, (or frozen, thawed) peeled, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp honey or sweetener of choice, or to taste
juice of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
4 heaping Tbsp chia seeds

Place strawberries and peaches in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer about 10-15 minutes, stirring and as the fruit softens, use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to smash it against the sides of the pan to break them down, leaving some chunks as desired. (I like plenty of chunks.) 

Once fruit is broken down to the consistency you want, remove from the heat and stir in the honey, lemon juice, extract, and chia seeds until thoroughly combined. Leave jam to cool to room temperature and thicken/set. Once jam is room temperature, transfer to a jar or airtight container and refrigerate. 

Store jam, tightly covered, for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. 

I used this jam on toasted English Muffins, spread with a bit of butter. It is also good mixed into yogurt with granola, used in a PB&J sandwich, stirred into or as a topping for vanilla ice cream or rice pudding, or mixed into a cocktail. A great way to welcome summer.

Notes/Results: This is a happy little jam for summer-perfectly sweet and so tasty. The strawberry is the predominant flavor but the peach is there in the background, rounding out things out. As you can probably see from the photos, I like a very chunky jam especially for sandwiches or as a topping as getting those little bites of fruit are one of life''s little pleasures.  English muffin perfectly toasted, a little bit of real butter spread on top and this jam and you are set for a snack or breakfast. I have some pecan butter from the natural foods store that I am going to pair it with next. I would happily make it again.

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.

Note: A review copy of "White Fur" was provided to me by the publisher, Hogarth, and 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 White Fur to give away (U.S./Canada addresses only, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite flavor of jam or favorite summer fruit. 

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 Author
Jardine Libaire (@Jardineraven), and/or Publisher Hogarth (@HogarthBooks) on Twitter. (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow me, the author, or publisher on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is 12:00 AM (HST) Thursday, June 15th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!