Showing posts with label salmon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salmon. Show all posts

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Dead Girls" by Alice Bolin, Served with a Recipe for Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Why do the shorter weeks with holidays in the middle usually seem like much longer weeks? It's a mystery--as is why I am pairing Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon with my review of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin. I'll attempt to explain how eggs fit with these essays that explore American pop culture by looking at our obsession with dead women on today's Aloha Friday TLC Book Tour stop. 


Publisher's Blurb:

In this poignant collection, Alice Bolin examines iconic American works from the essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin to Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, and Serial, illuminating the widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men’s stories. Smart and accessible, thoughtful and heartfelt, Bolin investigates the implications of our cultural fixations, and her own role as a consumer and creator.
 
Bolin chronicles her life in Los Angeles, dissects the Noir, revisits her own coming of age, and analyzes stories of witches and werewolves, both appreciating and challenging the narratives we construct and absorb every day. Dead Girls begins by exploring the trope of dead women in fiction, and ends by interrogating the more complex dilemma of living women – both the persistent injustices they suffer and the oppression that white women help perpetrate.
 
Reminiscent of the piercing insight of Rebecca Solnit and the critical skill of Hilton Als, Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 26, 2018)

My Review:

Dead Girls centers around essays about pop culture and books and the trope of how we as a culture, have a fascination with the female victim--the dead woman (or dead girl as is the current habit in book titles) and how so much of what we watch, read, and listen to focuses on the violence against young, often vulnerable women. Woven into mentions of everything from Twin Peaks to Brittney Spears are stories about Alice Bolin's own adolescence and young adulthood, particularly after her move to Los Angeles and Hollywood, the mecca of the dead girl. Bolin explores her family relationships, boyfriends, her best female friend, and the rotation of somewhat random roommates she lived with eking out a food service living in expensive LA. For me some essays worked better than others--I found many of them a fascinating look at popular culture through feminist glasses and wanted them to continue while a few felt bogged down and wandered about, and I pushed through those. Although many of Bolin's references lean to what was popular in the 1990s-2000s when she was coming of age, she also pulls in more obscure and older references--books and movies from the 1960s and 1970s, Joan Didion and the Swedish Martin Beck book series, and she also riffs on more recent fare like Law and Order, the Serial podcast, the Lisbeth Salander books, Gone Girl and True Detective--so there's probably something in here that any pop culture fan can respond too. Bolin is smart, witty, and often darkly humorous and although Dead Girls is a bit of a mixed bag, it is an impressive non-fiction debut that I enjoyed and made me feel just a little bit smarter after reading. ;-) Take it to your favorite indie coffee shop and settle in with it and your brew of choice.

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Author Notes: Alice Bolin’s nonfiction has appeared in many publications including ELLE, the Awl, the LA Review of Books, Salon, VICE’s Broadly, The Paris Review Daily, and The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.


Find out more about Alice at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.


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Food Inspiration: 

There's not a lot of good food in Dead Girls, although there is an essay that focuses on food obsession. Food mentions did include things like a plate of chicken (sadly, used to describe how a male comedian looked at a female rapper), pizza delivery, a raspberry bramble, grilled cheese and tomato soup, junk food, Thai noodles, sarsaparilla, expensive sandwiches, In-and-Out, roasted marshmallows, hot sauce-flavored potato chips, white wine, spaghetti, canned ravioli, Starbucks, peanut butter, peaches, a side of broccoli at a steakhouse, jars of preserved fruits and vegetables, "six dried apricots cut in quarters and mixed with a half cup of plain yogurt," angel food bundt cake with strawberries and sauce, Ginger Snaps (the movie but it could also be the cookie), a tea party, breakfast, Bud Lite with lime, the best Oaxacan food, Intelligentsia coffee beans, Pad Thai, a burrito, Diet Coke, chocolate and cookies, flash frozen ice cream, kimchi and pickles, chicken strips, root beer and dumplings.


So why deviled eggs? I like to tell you it's a because of the eggs symbolism of life, birth and fertility, immortality--womanhood and all that that fits into the feminist vibe of the book. Truthfully, the list of food mentions are either things I don't eat, junk food, gluten and excess carbs that I am currently avoiding, or things I just don't like. I had a busy week and had one book review post already and I was planning on making these eggs for I Heart Cooking Clubs--so I combined them with my review in one post. But, let's pretend it was because of the whole egg-feminist symbolism thing, OK? ;-)


Regardless of the whys, these are pretty yummy deviled eggs from Eric Ripert, made with a bit of luxury with the crème fraiche (spoiler alert--I used some Tofutti vegan sour cream I had on hand) and smoked salmon.

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Slightly Adapted by Eric Ripert via AvecEric.com
(Serves 4)

6 eggs
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp crème fraiche (I subbed in vegan sour cream)
2 oz smoked salmon, diced
1 Tbsp sliced chives
cayenne pepper (I used Aleppo pepper)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, cut in half
smoked paprika to garnish (I added a few capers to garnish & and a bit of extra smoked salmon & chive)

Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Let the eggs sit, covered for 12-15 minutes; drain the hot water and run cold water over the boiled eggs until cool.

Peel the eggs and cut each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove the yolks from the center into a small mixing bowl. Set aside the egg white halves.

Add the mustard, crème fraiche, shallot, smoked salmon and chives to the egg yolks and stir to combine. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Spoon the mixture back into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika.


Notes/Results: I am a deviled egg lover (Seriously, invite me to a party and if there are deviled eggs I will hover obnoxiously over the platter...) and a smoked salmon fan and I adore the two together. These have the perfect amount of flavor--nothing overpowers and they have a good, silky texture. Rather than stand over a tray of these eggs at a party, I would carry it to the couch and snarl at anyone who tried to take one. (There go my invites!) I would happily make them again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is From the Starter Menu, Eric Ripert recipes for appetizers and small plates.


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 "Dead Girls" 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.
 

 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Zucchini Noodles and Salmon in a Curry-Coconut Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

I have been doing my best to cut the bread and the wheat and all that kind ofstuff for the past couple of weeks and load up on the vegetables and fish and meat-free protein sources instead. I'll confess to craving noodles in a big way, and since I had a supply of zucchini in the fridge I decided to spiralize them and put them in a curry noodle bowl along with coconut milk and salmon. We've still had hot and humid weather but I find brothy noodle bowls and curry, things I crave regardless of the temperature.



The broth is a spin on the coconut curry broth from Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Ramen Bowl that I made a few months ago, only a few more ingredients added. You could of course use any kind of noodle, vegetable and protein in the bowl.


Curry Soup with Zucchini Noodles and Salmon
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 4 Servings)

1 Tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
2 shallots. Thinly sliced
4 or 5 scallions, chopped, white & green parts separated
1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut into 1 1/2-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & grated
2 Tbsp curry powder of choice, or to taste
½ tsp turmeric
4 to 5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
4 cups good, low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cans coconut milk, light or regular (I used one of each)
1 lb wild salmon fillets, raw, skinned and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce or tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
zucchini noodles from 3 large zucchini, cut to desired thickness, or noodles of choice
chili paste or hot sauce as desired
cilantro leaves and lime wedges to garnish

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, the whites of the scallions and the  red bell pepper and sauté about 5minutes until veggies start to soften and shallots start to turn opaque. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté another 2 minutes, then stir in the curry powder, turmeric, and kaffir lime leaves and cook another minute until spices are fragrant.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and bring back up to a soft boil. Add salmon pieces and cook about 5 minutes until salmon is just cooked through. Try not to stir so as not to break up salmon. Add fish sauce and lime juice and taste and season as needed.

To serve, divide zucchini noodles into large soup bowls. Ladle the soup mixture on top and garnish with the green part of the scallions and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve with wedges of fresh lime and hot sauce or chili paste.
Enjoy!
 

Notes/Results: This hit the spot—a big bowl of soupy curry zoodles that was just as enjoyable as pasta or rice noodles. You can change out the veggies to whatever you like or have on hand. I would have added spinach or bok choy but I forgot to buy any.   I like zucchini noodles but spiralized carrots or sweet potato would be good too. For those, or if you want more tender zucchini noodles, add them to the soup pot after you add the salmon so they soften. You can also use whatever protein you’d like; tofu, cooked chicken, another fish, whatever you like.  I didn’t make this soup particularly spicy—my curry is a medium spice on it’s own so either add Thai chiles or a jalapeno to your veggies, or add your favorite hot sauce or chili paste to the soup when you add the fish sauce and life juice. The zoodles help keep this one light but satisfying and perfect for a warm, humid day. I will happily make it again.


Let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.


Debra of Eliot's Eats brought Tortellini Salad with Tomatoes and Olives inspired by a recent read and said, "Truly, is there any food that speaks “family” more than pasta? Even if the the family is dysfunctional and flawed (as every family truly is to some degree)? ... This is an easy hearty salad, fully of summer bounty and goodness. ... Because of the briny olives, I did not add any salt to my salad.  Just beware and salt cautiously."



Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared her Spinach Dal in the Instant Pot or Not and said, "Spinach Dal which is known in India as Palak Dal is a hearty soup made with yellow split peas, tomatoes, spices, and spinach. ... I simply sauteed onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices for 5 minutes right in the IP ( Instant Pot) and then added my yellow split peas. I switched to manual setting and set the cook setting for 15 minutes! (which of course means it will take about 10 minutes to heat up before it begins cooking) You can do the same on the stove top- just add more liquid and allow to cook for about an hour  ( or more) until lentils are soft. I add the freshly chopped spinach after the soup was cooked and watched the greens melt right into the pot! So Good!"


 
And Tina of Squirrel Head Manor enjoyed a healthy Greek Salad with Chicken and said, "Salads, cold fruit and cool meals are in order these days. For a healthy change I had a Greek Salad with grilled chicken.  Excellent lunch. I have not abandoned my new Chowderland book yet and still have another chowder to share, but with the hot weather I think I may give that particular book a rest. Basically this is just a Greek salad with grilled chicken on top. Satisfying and cool for hot summer days. Chowder and news about the new ride coming up soon."


Mahalo to everyone who joined in with Souper Sundays this week!

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 your blog post that you link up her 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 (optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Eric Ripert's Seared Salmon; Sauteed Pea Shoots & Peas and Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette

It's Aloha Friday. Many of you have reached out to me today because of the volcano eruption on The Big Island. I'm on Oahu, a few islands away from the volcano and the eruption and so far we have not had any ill-effects from it. But there are a couple of thousand people in the surrounding communities of The Big Island that are very impacted by it, a few homes have been badly damaged, there have been earthquakes, there are dangerous sulfuric gasses in the air, and there could be more to come. So please join me in sending your positive thoughts and prayers their way.


It's been a long week and I meant to cook this Eric Ripert salmon dish yesterday but just didn't make it into the kitchen for more than a reheat. Actually, one of the the good things about this dish is that it is simple and quick enough to make on a busy night and it just happens to taste great too. The pea shoots I get here are very small and I've never tried sauteing them--so just in case they didn't saute well and to give myself more 'green'--I added more cooked peas, put in some snow peas, and served it over brown jasmine rice.


Seared Salmon; Sauteed Pea Shoots and Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
Slightly Adapted from AvecEric.com
(Serves 4) 

Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp grated ginger
½ tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium tamari)
1/4 cup olive oil
fine sea salt & freshly ground pepper (I didn't find it to need any extra salt)

Salmon:
1 (2 lb) fillet of salmon, skin & pin bones removed
2 Tbsp canola oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Pea Shoots:
1 Tbsp canola oil
(I added 2 cups snow pea pods)
8 cups baby pea shoots, (if not available, use adult pea shoot tops)
1/4 cup cooked peas (I added 1/2 cup)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp ginger-soy vinaigrette
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper (I didn't find it needed any extra salt)

Stir all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette together; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Using a large fillet knife, cut the salmon into 8 slices about 1-inch thick each.

For the pea shoots, heat the canola oil in a large pan high heat. (I added my snow peas first and sauteed them for about 4 minutes before adding the other ingredients.) Add the pea shoots and peas and cook just until they are wilted. Add the garlic and ginger and the vinaigrette and toss; season to taste, remove from the heat and set off to the side.

Preheat a griddle or plancha on high until very hot. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper and brush with canola oil. Place the salmon on the griddle or plancha and sear the fish until golden brown and crusted, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, until a metal skewer can be easily inserted into the fish and, when left in for 5 seconds, feels just warm when touched to the lip.

To serve, divide the pea shoots and peas between four plates; place 2 salmon slices on top of the pea shoots, slightly off-centered from each other and spoon the vinaigrette around the pea shoots.

Notes/Results: Simple but really good! I love all of the health benefits of salmon and tend to usually have some in my freezer to supplement the local fish I like to buy, In this recipe it is cooked very simply and works well with the dressing. I've never cooked pea sprouts before--I've just eaten them raw in salads and such, and mine seemed really small and delicate so the snow peas were a great way to 'bulk out' the dish a bit more, along with the brown rice. I also added extra cooked frozen peas. I didn't add extra salt to the vinaigrette or the sauteed peas--with the soy sauce/tamari, it was perfect and the rice absorbed the vinaigrette so it didn't need salting either. I really liked the ginger-lime-soy-garlic combination in the dressing and would use it with other fish and vegetables. I would happily make this recipe again.  


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is From the East.
 

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.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Eric Ripert's Salmon Rillette

There's a new chef in town--well at least at my food blogging group, I Heart Cooking Clubs. It's French chef, Eric Ripert and we will be cooking his recipes weekly for the next six months. Usually the first dish I make from a chef is a soup but I had heard good things about his Salmon Rillette and since I had a packaged of smoked salmon in my fridge and salmon in the freezer, and needing something quick and easy for a busy week, I decided to try it.


The recipe calls for salmon to be poached with shallots in white wine, then cooled down completely before being mixed into the mayonnaise with a few other ingredients. I poached my salmon the night before I made the dip--which meant putting it together took just a matter of minutes and was done while I toasted my sourdough baguette slices.


Salmon Rillette
From Avec Eric by Eric Ripert
(Serves 6)

2 cups dry white wine
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 lb skinless salmon fillet (preferably wild), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 oz smoked salmon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup (or more) mayonnaise
2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh chives
1 Tbsp (or more) fresh lemon juice
fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 baguette, thinly sliced, toasted

Bring wine and shallot to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low; add salmon. Gently poach until salmon is barely opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Strain poaching liquid through a fine-mesh sieve; set aside shallot and discard liquid. Place salmon and shallot in a large bowl; cover and chill until completely cooled.

Add smoked salmon, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, chives, and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to salmon and shallot. Gently mix just to combine (salmon will break up a little, but do not overmix or a paste will form). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more mayonnaise and lemon juice, if desired. 

Serve rillettes cold with toasted slices of baguette.

DO AHEAD: Ripert says that the Rillettes can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.


Notes/Results: If you like salmon and smoked salmon, you will like this rillette. Big chunks of tender poached salmon, little bursts of smoked salmon flavor and a silky texture from the mayonnaise all on a crisp baguette. It is impressive enough to serve guests at a party, but simple enough to serve as a weeknight starter or even a light lunch of dinner. I thought about swapping in Greek yogurt for the mayo but I decided to to keep the mayo and used my favorite vegan mayo which lowers the saturated fat--but is still creamy and good. I will happily make this again.


So Santé Eric Ripert! We are making any Ripert recipe to welcome him to IHCC. We'll be cooking with Chef Ripert at I Heart Cooking Clubs through September 30th. .
 

 Happy Aloha Friday!
 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Vegetable Soup with Pearl Couscous and Salmon for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

This is one of those soups that I have had pinned for a while because I was immediately drawn to the combination of ingredients and flavors when I saw it on Real Simple's email. It contains some of my favorite ingredients--salmon, leeks, fennel, dill, turmeric, and pearl couscous. I liked the sound of the recipe so much, I didn't even bother to make any changes. 


Real Simple says, "Israeli couscous (a.k.a. pearl couscous) is really a tiny, toasted pasta, and when tossed raw into soups, it cooks in 10 minutes flat. The small pearls add depth to this one-pot recipe, and the starch they release gives the broth a velvety texture. Turmeric, a relative of ginger (and typically found in curries), has a pungent, peppery flavor, and adds earthiness to the soup as well. To speed up prep, buy skinless salmon—and be sure to buy fillets that have a fairly even thickness, so that they cook evenly. If you’re not a fan of salmon, try shrimp."


Vegetable Soup with Pearl Couscous and Salmon 
Recipe from Adam Hickman via RealSimple.com
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 small bulb fennel, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup pearl couscous
16 oz skinless salmon fillets
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high.

Add the leek and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and turmeric and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the couscous; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, 5 minutes. Add the salmon and tomatoes and cook, stirring gently, until the salmon is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Break the salmon into pieces and serve the soup topped with the dill.


Notes/Results: A soup that goes together quickly and has great flavor from the garlic, salmon, and turmeric. It is also light but satisfying with the salmon and pasta. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and leeks work well with the richness of the salmon and the herby flavor of the dill and fennel. I also liked that the salmon is broken into chunks after cooking--it gives the soup a rustic feel. I really like this one, it is simple to make and looks bright and pretty in the bowl. I would happily make it again.


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

Debra of Eliot's Eats has a soup and sandwich combo and another soup to share this week. First up are her movie-inspired Celery Soup and Egg Salad Sandwiches. She says, "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is not typically a foodie film; however, there were a few food references. ... If it had been summer, I would so have tried to make one of those ice cream concoctions. Instead I decided to make soup and sandwiches. ... The egg salad was delicious. If there had not been so much dill in the soup, I would have swapped out the parsley in the salad recipe and used dill. I will certainly do that next time."

  
Debra's second entry is this Coconut Corn Chowder with Red Pepper. She says, "This recipe is sooooo easy and delicious. If you have all the ingredients chopped and prepped, it literally comes together in a jiff. I doubled this recipe for a recent potluck, a potluck that was not necessarily vegan or vegetarian. ... The verdict? No one complained at all or missed the meat."


Amber of The Hungry Mountaineer shared Philly Cheesesteak Soup and said, "In my hometown across the ocean to the east it’s winter today. My friends and family awoke to frosty roads and the promise of snow. It is winter, even though I’m this close to putting on a bathing suit and enjoying this eighty-degree morning so here is a recipe for some ridiculous delicious soup, perfect for a cold and chilly winters morning."

 

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought Spicy Sweet Potato Soup and said, "You can make this spicy sweet potato soup in just minutes. Serve topped with a drizzle of full bodied coconut milk and some diced avocado and you have a company worthy bowl of soup that is colorful and healthier than you may think. I am notorious for making fast and easy vegan soups. This wonderful  soup is no exception and of course is naturally gluten free!"
 


Finally here at Kahakai Kitchen, I enjoyed a combination of Creamy Tomato Soup, paired with my adaptation of Giada De Laurentiis's Grilled Cheese with Spinach. The pairing was excellent and the spinach grilled cheese was full of flavor and ooey-gooey cheesy spinach goodness.

Thanks to everyone who joined me this week at Souper Sundays!

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).




Note: If you are reading this post anywhere other than on this blog--Kahakai Kitchen, the content has been stolen--taken and used without my permission. It is very frustrating, when people steal your hard work--writing and photos, and put it on their blog like it is their own--when it is not. I am currently taking steps with the server that hosts the site that has been scraping my blog feed and stealing my work to both to get all of my work removed from that site and to deal with the troll who is stealing it (and also stealing material from other blogs). I am also hoping that karma will come around and bite them where it hurts.

As noted in two places on the sidebar: 

All Material on This Blog is Copyright Protected. (Stealing is Bad Karma!)

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected
 
Have a happy, healthy (and blog post theft and troll-free) week!
 

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.



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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.