Showing posts with label nuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nuts. Show all posts

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."

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)

To serve: 
soy sauce
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.

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!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Hotel on Shadow Lake" by Daniela Tully, Served with Trout with Almonds and Butter-Parsley Fingerling Potatoes

It's Tuesday and I'm happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for a new historical mystery novel, Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully. Accompanying my review are recipes for  tasty Trout with Almonds and Butter-Parsley Fingerling Potatoes inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Suspenseful and compelling, Daniela Tully’s Hotel on Shadow Lake is at once an intricate mystery, an epic romance, and a Gothic family saga.
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.
Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 10, 2018)

My Review: 

Although she has worked in the film industry for years, Hotel on Shadow Lake is Daniela Tully's first book, but hopefully not her last. She packed an amazing amount of history, story, stories within the story, mysteries, and well-drawn characters into just over 250 pages. There are skillful twists and layers to uncover and the book travels from Germany in 1938 to the 1990s and beyond, then to America and upstate New York in past and present day. Tully's writing is evocative and descriptive enough to have me feeling like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book (in a good way) and I think it would be fabulous adapted as a film. I am a big fan of WWII historical fiction, especially when it gives me a different look or perspective--in this case that of a young book and story-loving, free-thinking young woman in Germany during the rise of Nazi power, and her granddaughter--who is stronger than she thinks and trying to find out what happened to her grandmother decades ago. Along with the mystery there is romance and dark family drama that Tully balances well. I did have some of the secrets figured out, but other bits surprised me and I turned the pages, anxious to learn if I was correct. My only real complaint is that I would have liked more of it, I was sorry to see the book end. 

Author Notes: Daniela Tully has worked in film and television for decades, including with famed film director Uli Edel. She has been involved in projects such as the critically acclaimed Fair Game, box-office hits Contagion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as the Oscar-winning The Help. She splits her time between Dubai and New York. Inspired by a real family letter received forty-six years late, Hotel on Shadow Lake is Daniela Tully’s first novel.

Connect with Daniela on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

There wasn't a lot of food in Hotel on Shadow Lake, but it's not surprising that there wasn't room for more with the amount of story packed into the page count. There were some mentions including decaf coffee, marmalade, beer, ice cream, pad thai, pretzels, Obatzda (a beer garden cheese delicacy), red wine, a few restaurants--Italian, a bagel place (with regular, pumpernickel, and blueberry bagels) and an Asian restaurant, Malbec, hamburger, martinis, oysters, foie gras, caviar, Hendl (roasted chicken), Schweinsbraten (Bavarian pork roast) with dumplings and Apfelstrudel, Kaffe and Kuchen (coffee and cake), and trout with potatoes and butter sauce.

Since the trout and potatoes were part of a dinner and the last time two of the characters were truly happy, I chose to make them for my book-inspired dish. I looked up some German recipes online and then put them together into a dish that sounded good to me.

Trout with Sliced Almonds
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serve 2

2 large trout fillets
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp almond meal or flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
extra lemon wedges for serving

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the almond meal with salt and black pepper. Drizzle the trout fillets with lemon juice and then dredge them in the almond meal, shaking off the excess. 

Cook the trout for 5 to 6 minutes on one side, then turn and cook the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the fish flakes and is cooked through. Remove the fillets from the pan, add the almonds, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook he almonds for about 2 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Plate the fish and top with the toasted almonds, Serve with lemon slices and fingerling potatoes.

Butter-Parsley Fingerling Potatoes
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 to 4)

1 lb or so fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Steam or boil potatoes about 15 minutes or so, until they are just tender enough to pierce easily with a fork. 

Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium until it bubbles. Add the potatoes, cut side down in a single layer if possible (or cook in batches) and cook potatoes for 6-8 minutes, until the cut sides are nicely browned and crisp.  

Add parsley, sea salt and black pepper to the pan and toss until well combined. Serve and enjoy.

Notes/Results: The trout was tasty--basically it's a trout almondine which I always enjoy, but give me fingerlings, rich with butter and parsley and I could be perfectly happy just eating a bowl of them. Potatoes make me happy. ;-) You could do the preparation with other fish, trout is just a popular German fish and what the characters ate. When not cooking for the book, I might use a nice local monchong (a type of promfret), when it is fresh and available. With all of the butter and richness of this dish, it would be great served with a green salad. In fact, the leftovers are accompanied me to work cold in a salad form, along with currant tomatoes, capers, and a creamy dressing. I would happily make both recipes again.  

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

Note: A review copy of "Hotel on Shadow Lake" 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.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "When We Found Home" by Susan Mallery, Served with a Recipe for Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit and Coconut Syrup

Happy Aloha Friday! I'm kicking off the weekend as today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for When We Found Home, a new novel by Susan Mallery. Accompanying my review are some easy and health-ish Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup. There's also a chance to enter a tour-wide giveaway for a prize pack at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, funny and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family—blended by surprise, not by choice—and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 10, 2018)

My Review:

I have only read a few of Susan Mallery books (this is the last one I reviewed) and they are generally feel-good books that are perfect for summer reading. Heavier subjects are touched on, but ultimately they are about love, friendship, family, and relationships. When We Found Home follows suit with the story of three half-siblings Malcolm, Callie, and Keira who are brought together by their grandfather--each looking for love and acceptance. The trio grew up differently with Malcolm brought into the fold as a pre-teen and then Callie--who needs a fresh start after a big mistake, and Keira--a twelve-year-old in foster care, are discovered later (after their deadbeat, woman-in-every-port father passes away and Grandfather Alberto learns of their existence). 

The book is set in Seattle, where the family owns Alberto's Alfresco, a successful high-end food distribution company that Malcolm runs, along with his best friend Santiago who is the company's CFO. In the building that houses the company's headquarters is a coffee bar with an attractive part-time barista named Delaney, a former finance executive who is now pursuing a new life by becoming a Naturopath after losing her fiance. Malcolm is attracted, Keira be-friended, and Delaney's story is a big focus of the book, both her own story and her romance with Malcolm. Callie and Santiago are a second potential couple and they, Keira, Grandfather Alberto, and his housekeeper (and perhaps more) Carmen make up the rest of the main and secondary characters. The romances are fine (although Callie and Santiago seemed a bit too insta-love to me), but it is in the family dynamics, the building relationships between the siblings, and the second chances for characters that are seeking and/or hurting that When We Found Home excels. 

There is good humor--especially from Keira and poignant moments (also many from Keira) that made the book enjoyable and made me care about the characters. There are no big surprises here, but a heartwarming and uplifting story that drew me in with the Seattle and somewhat foodie setting. The 400+ pages were enjoyable from start to finish and I think anyone who likes family dynamics, romance, and second chance and start-again books will like this one. 

Author Notes: #1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

Connect with Susan on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

Susan Mallery books never seem to have a shortage of food in them and with the family being food purveyors there were plenty of food mentions that included coffee and espresso, pasta--rotini and fusilli, marinara sauce, macrons, biscotti, cinnamon rolls, jelly donuts, and a children's party offering of PB & J sandwiches, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks, organic apple juice, punch, mac-n-cheese, mini hot dogs made into cars with tomato and cucumber wheels, There was oatmeal, poached eggs and fruit, an antipasto plate, cookies, steak, dark chocolate, expensive hot cocoa mix and mixes for minestrone soup and spicy sangria (from the food company's gift baskets), macadamia pancakes with bacon and fresh fruit, sandwiches, brownies, pizza and salad, tea with scones and tea sandwiches, wine, Dr. Pepper, chocolate cake, brandy, stuffed mushrooms, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake, puff pastry appetizers, Cosmos, Shrimp & Crab Louie and BLT salads, mini mushroom quiches, salmon, potato casserole, martinis, egg and sausage sandwiches, chocolate croissants, Mexican food, and ice cream with chocolate sauce. 

In determining what to make for my book-inspired dish, I considered the two recipes in the back of the book--Shrimp with Lemon Linguine and Triple Chocolate Biscotti Brownies, but neither really fit my current eating habits and gluten-limiting. I decided to go with the macadamia pancakes that Carmen serves for breakfast with bacon "and a lovely little fruit garnish." I wasn't going to have the bacon and gluten-limiting seems not to fit pancakes, but then I thought of the 2-ingredient, gluten-free banana-egg pancakes I make sometimes (like here, or this peanut butter variation). A new friend (Kamala of KamalaWellness) just posted a pic of egg & banana pancakes with chia seeds on Instagram and I thought they looked delicious, and it would be easy to add chopped macadamia nuts to the banana, egg, and chia seed mix. I was going to use maple syrup with fresh fruit and chopped mac nuts to top my pancakes, but I thought I'd play around with the container of coconut sugar I had in the pantry and make a quick coconut simple syrup instead.

Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup
Adapted & added to from The Kitchn
(Makes About 6 pancakes)

2 medium-ish ripe bananas
2 large eggs

1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp chopped macadamia nuts (I used roasted)
dash of vanilla

large pinch of cinnamon
coconut oil for pan
coconut syrup (recipe below) and chopped mac nuts, fresh blueberries and other fruit as desired to serve

Mash the peeled banana with a fork until no large lumps remain and stir in egg until well-combined. Add chia seeds, mac nuts, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until it forms a slightly loose, liquid-y batter. Let sit for about 10 minutes so chia seeds gel a little which helps hold the pancakes together.

When ready to cook, heat pan or griddle over medium heat and add a small amount of coconut oil to prevent sticking. When pan is hot, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the  pan--if it doesn't sizzle slightly, turn up heat. 

Cook until the bottom of the pancake looks golden brown when you lift a side--about 1 minute or so. The edges should also be looking set but the middle will still be a bit loose. 

Carefully lift the pancake by gently working a thin spatula about halfway underneath the pancake, and carefully turning over to the other side. If any loose batter spills when you turn the pancake, lay the pan cake on top of the spill and move any excess back under the pancake. Cook the pancake for another minute or so until it is golden brown on each side--flipping back and forth as needed to get them evenly browned.

Set pancake aside (keep warm) and cook remaining batter/pancakes. 

Serve immediately while warm with coconut syrup, fresh blueberries or other favorite toppings.


Coconut Simple Syrup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1/2 cup)

1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the coconut sugar and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes--until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture starts to thicken. 

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool and thicken. Use warm, or store in a glass jar in the fridge. 

Notes/Results: I was happy with both the pancakes and the syrup. The pancakes have a nice texture with the addition of the chia seeds (which also some extra protein, fiber and Omega 3-s) and the macadamia nuts. The chia seeds give the pancakes a poppy seed-like texture which I like and they, along with keeping the pancakes on the smaller size, hold things together pretty well. I know not everyone likes bananas, but if you do and you are looking for a paleo-friendly or gluten-free pancake option, these are winners. The syrup has a toasty coconut and molasses-like flavor that worked well with the pancakes and fresh fruit--I used blueberries, raspberries and diced pineapple, as well as the dry roasted mac nuts on top. Eat them for breakfast or for a satisfying dinner, as I did. I will happily make both the pancakes and the syrup 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.

When We Found Home is my Sixth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the July 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   


The publisher is doing a fun tour-wide giveaway for this book with a great foodie prize pack:
This Taste of Seattle Gift Bag includes:
  • An “I [Heart] Happy Books” tote bag
  • Starbucks Pike’s Place ground coffee
  • Seattle Chocolates gift set (3 truffle bars)
  • Cucina Fresca marinara sauce
  • Sahale Snacks (6 packs)
  • Maury Island Farms jam (2 jars)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of "When We Found Home" 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.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Because I'm Worth It" by Linda Nielsen, Served with Nepenthe's Café Krevah Granola

I'm easing over the Wednesday hump with a book review and a recipe. Kahakai Kitchen is today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Because I'm Worth It, a novel by by Linda Nielsen. Accompanying my review is a recipe for my version of Nepenthe's Café Krevah Granola, inspired in part by the book's Big Sur setting.

Publisher's Blurb: 

An impressive contract combined with lavish perks influence Skye Topple to marry the boss’ daughter, Delaney Mae Anne Covington, a self-centered and spoiled southern belle. The “perfect” wedding is threatened when an alarming secret refuses to stay hidden. With no regard for anyone other than herself and her daughter, Delaney’s alcoholic mother takes control, inserting irrational solutions that leave mother and daughter looking foolish while a baby’s life, a grandmother’s love, and a man’s career hang in the balance. 

This is certainly not a North meets South story—more like South moves North and meets West, where what works for one family may not work for another. Choices must be made. Lives will be changed. One thing is for sure… Skye is smack dab in the middle when Big Sur life meets country club values.

Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: TouchPoint Press (March 1, 2018)

My Review:

Because I'm Worth It starts well before the description on the publisher's blurb about the "perfect" wedding being planned by Delaney, a spoiled Chicago socialite and Terri Sue Ellen, her even more spoiled, plus alcoholic and really annoying, southern belle of a mother. The book begins in Big Sur, California, with the family of Sky Topple (the groom) then darts to Atlanta, Georgia to meet the family of the bride and it isn't until about fifty pages in that we actually get to know Delaney Covington and Skye Topple--who start as fairly obnoxious teenagers and don't improve with age. I really wanted to like Because I'm Worth It, I felt like it had strong potential, and there were times I did enjoy reading it--but it just wasn't the book for me. I found myself disliking most of the characters, some fairly intensely-Delaney, Terri Sue Ellen, Skye, and even Charles Covington (Delaney's father) who were so over-the-top annoying that they were more caricatures than characters. Terri Sue Ellen's dialogue is peppered with southern dialect that made my teeth grind with all of the "ahs" and "mahs" and distracted me from the story. In fact, for me, much of the dialogue in the book didn't seem natural--even from the characters I liked. The Topple family from Big Sur, with the exception of Skye--who wanted to escape his bohemian background and family, were all enjoyable and I found myself wanting much more of Melissa (Skye's mother) and her story and much less of everyone else. 

I found the writing strongest when the author was describing Big Sur and the Topple family's unique house and the surrounding landscape. About halfway through the book, things did start to pick up for me--there is some character growth for Delaney and Skye, an interesting twist is added, and some new (and likable) characters are introduced. There were more humorous moments and some touching ones, so I am glad I stuck with it and finished the story. The book and the author's previous work have some very good reviews on Amazon, so Because I'm Worth It is the book for some people and you can read their reviews and see if it might be for you. (There's a link to the TLC tour stops and other reviewers at the end of the post.) It definitely got me thinking about the beauty and spirit of Big Sur and it inspired some delicious granola, so I still came out a winner. ;-)


Author Notes: Linda’s first book, Lasso the Stars, was published in 2011 under L.L. Nielsen. Her newest novel, Because I’m Worth It, is scheduled for release by TouchPoint Press in early 2018.
Find out more about Linda at her website, and find all her books at Author Central page.


Food Inspiration:

There was a fair amount of food and a whole lot of alcohol in Because I'm Worth It. Mentions included herbal tea, sandwiches, lemonade, vodka in orange juice, coffee with extra cream and sugar, warm pecan buns, beer, cherry snow cones, peaches, pop-tarts and peanut butter, moonshine, bourbon, champagne, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with homemade potato chips, peach bellinis, molasses, turkey and a Thanksgiving meal, martinis, soup, pumpkin pie, turkey sandwiches, a dish with warm Indian spices and vegetables, cookies, chicken, pizza, chocolates, coca cola, caviar and toast points, pies and casseroles, popcorn, green olives, a salad with a squeeze of lemon, salt-washed three times and no dressing, steak sandwiches and French fries, sole with lemon and capers and al dente vegetables, buttered bagels,  quiche, iced tea, fruit, Sherry, Scotch, Pinot Grigio, cheese and crackers, goat cheese, pasta with shrimp, apple cinnamon rolls, ollalieberries (like a blackberry), blackberries, tomatoes, eggs and bacon, granola, French toast, quail eggs with Danish smoked ham and Chardonnay mustard with toast points, roast with braised potatoes and veggies, Bloody Marys, pigs-in-a-blanket, green peas, chicken and dumplings, and BLTs. 

I knew I wanted to go with something related to Big Sur--my favorite parts of the book and so I narrowed in on the granola. There's a scene where spoiled Delaney is offered cereal by Pete. 

"Cereal?" Delaney looked surprised. "Oh, no thank you." She moistened her lips and continued, "I have a private brand of granola that's made for me. It's expensive, but I'm worth it." 

"Come again?"

"Ahh, it's specially formulated for my dietary needs based on my metabolism and nutritional requirements achieved through scientific testing, to assure me of a healthy start in the morning."

I went to a cookbook I reviewed about 8 years ago called My Nepenthe by Romney Steel. (You can see my review here) Nepethe is a classic and famed Big Sur restaurant that Steele grew up at, the granddaughter of the restaurant's founders. When I reviewed the book I had noticed the CafĂ© Kevah Granola recipe and had always meant to try it. CafĂ© Kevah is a small casual cafe on the  restaurant's grounds. In the book, Delaney's granola was specially formulated, but this one sounded delicious with cashews, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds added to the oats. I also liked that it has orange zest, along with the usual cinnamon. I modified the recipe slightly, based on what I had on hand--leaving out the wheat flakes and the powdered milk (sometimes used as a binder and protein source) and using a mix of black and regular sesame seeds and dried cranberries.

Romney says, “Low in commercial sweetener and oil, this granola is a healthy and tasty alternative to store-bought cereal. It is easy to make and stores well in a glass jar or a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. The recipe, a variation on the one we still use at the cafĂ©, can easily be doubled or tripled. Sprinkle over yogurt or serve with milk. For a sweeter granola, that has more clusters, stir in 1/4 cup honey with the maple syrup."

Café Kevah Granola
Slightly Adapted from My Nepenthe by Romney Steel
(Makes About 6 Cups)

2 cups whole oats
1 cup wheat flakes (I omitted and added extra oats)
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds (I used a mix of regular and black sesame seeds)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup oat bran (I pulsed a heaping 1/3 cup oatmeal in my blender)
1/3 cup high-quality organic powdered milk (I omitted)
zest of one orange
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
(I added a large pinch of sea salt)
1/3 cup safflower oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 to 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, wheat flakes, cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oat bran, powdered milk, orange zest, cinnamon, safflower oil, boiling water, and maple syrup, mixing well. Spread out on a baking sheet. Bake slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. Stir in dried fruit when cooled. Store in an airtight container.

Notes/Results: I really like this granola. Every time I make homemade granola, it reinforces that you should never, ever buy it pre-made. Even the gourmet brands just don't have the same freshness and appeal as when you mix and bake it to your own preferences. The cashews add a decadent note and for some reason I have neglected to put sesame seeds in my granola and the orange zest was lovely with the cinnamon. I like my granola flakier than clumpy and so I used just the 1/3 cup of maple syrup--so it isn't overly sweet. With a handful topping the creamy Siggi's vanilla yogurt (my new favorite) and fresh blackberries, it was delicious and more like a dessert than breakfast. I have to go get more yogurt and berries and I will happily scarf down all of my granola and 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 "Because I'm Worth It" 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.