Showing posts with label spices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spices. Show all posts

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Soup with Mustard Croutons for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I had a big head of cauliflower in the fridge that I hadn't gotten around to using this week so I knew it was destined for the soup pot. I googled cauliflower, soup and Yotam Ottolengi and found this recipe for Cauliflower Soup with Mustard Croutons online at his website. Like many Ottolenghi recipes, there are plenty of ingredients, but they are simple ones, and the soup is easy to put together.


Ottolenghi says, “These mustard croutons, adapted from those in Suzanne Goin's inspiring book Sunday Suppers At Lucques (Alfred Knopf, 2005), are a brilliant thing to have to hand and to sprinkle over gratins and salads. If you'd rather not make them, you'll need something else to perk up the soup: a teaspoon of rose harissa or some other savoury chilli sauce, swirled into each bowl before serving, would do the job perfectly well.


Cauliflower Soup with Mustard Croutons
(Serves 6)

2 Tbsp olive oil
10g (.35 oz) unsalted butter
5g (.18 oz) thyme sprigs
20g (.8 oz) parsley
Shaved skin of 1 lemon, plus grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces
2 bay leaves
1 tsp caraway seeds
salt and white pepper
1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1.4 litres (about 6 cups) vegetable stock (or chicken stock for non-vegetarians)
2 Tbsp chopped chives

For the mustard croutons:
90g (3 oz) unsalted butter
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tsp picked thyme leaves
3 tsp finely chopped parsley
150g (5 oz) crustless ciabatta, torn into 1cm pieces (I used sourdough)

First make the croutons. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the butter in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. When it starts to foam, whisk in the mustard, herbs and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, take off the heat, leave for a couple of minutes to cool slightly, then stir in the ciabatta. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes, until crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (Any you don't use for this dish, store in an airtight container.)

For the soup, put the oil and butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Tie together the thyme, parsley and lemon skin (or put them in a tied-up muslin), and add to the pan with the onion, celery, bay leaves, caraway seeds, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of white pepper. Cook for eight to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft but has not taken on any colour. Add the cauliflower, potato and stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for eight minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but still have some bite.

Use a slotted spoon to lift a third of the cauliflower out of the pan – avoid removing any potato – and set aside. Let everything simmer away for another five minutes, then remove the herb bundle and the bay leaves. Using a hand-held blender, or in a food processor, blitz the soup until smooth, return to the pan and add the reserved cauliflower pieces. Stir in the grated lemon zest and chives, and serve, sprinkling the croutons on top at the last minute.



Notes/Results: The mustard croutons are definitely the highlight of this simple soup--although the sou itself has good flavor from the herbs, lemon and caraway. I like that the soup isn't too thick and has a creamy texture and the bites of cauliflower florets, then the crispy croutons on top. It goes together easily--I started my soup while making my croutons, so it all came together relatively quickly. I would happily make it again. 


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are saying Welcome Back! to all of our nineteen IHCC featured chefs. Come join us!


And we have Tina hanging out with me in the Souper Sundays kitchen...
 

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared this Broccoli, Potato and Spinach Creamy Soup and said, "Anyway......I was fortunate enough to receive a cool new eBook called Soups and Stews recently and wanted to share one result for Souper Sunday. There will be more coming up. Here is the first recipe - a healthy broccoli potato and spinach soup.  Very creamy! ... This recipe comes from a new book Soups and Stews by the author Emily Brown. I will add more recipes and do a review soon."


Thanks to Tina for joining in!

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

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

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

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Glory Road" by Lauren K. Denton, Served with a Recipe for Quick Peach and Pear Crumble with Cinnamon-Pecan Streusel

Just one day until Friday and then the weekend and I am more than ready. I am also more than ready to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Glory Road, the new and third novel by Lauren K. Denton (a favorite of mine). Accompanying my review of this sweet Southern Alabama-set novel is a recipe for a sweet and homey Quick Peach and Pear Crumble with Cinnamon-Pecan Streusel, aka "The Dolly"--inspired by a dessert of the same name made by one of the characters.


Publisher's Blurb:

The only thing certain is change—even in a place as steady as Perry, Alabama, on a street as old as Glory Road.

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants—operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo. When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.
Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions—particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future. 

Once again, Jessie feels her protected and predictable life shifting.
In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 19, 2019)

My Review: 

This is my third book tour with Lauren K. Denton books (see links my reviews/recipes for The Hideaway and Hurricane Road and she always draws me in with a gorgeous cover, tempts me with delicious-sounding southern food, and touches my heart with her engaging and endearing female characters. Glory Road is no exception with its three generations of strong, loving Southern women. Told from the points of view of Jessie, a single mother, back in her hometown after her husband cheats with his dental hygienist, her fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, who witnessed the ending of her parents marriage when she was six, and her mother, Gus, widowed when Jessie was a teen and facing her senior years with memory lapses. Things are about to change for all three of these characters when Jessie's first love moves back to town with his teenage son and a local golf course designer/developer wants Jessie to expand her nursery business (charmingly called 'Twig') to include flowers for his daughter's wedding and shows personal interest in her too. 

The Alabama setting is vividly drawn and I could almost feel the humid summer days and smell the earthy potting soil of Twig, mixed in with Gus's baking creations. (I want a nursery like Twig to go to where I can get a scoop of cobbler or a hand pie with a purchase.) Although romance plays a strong role, the relationship between the three women is just as important in Denton's storytelling and what kept me turning the pages. It's not a completely light read with the subject of aging parents and dementia, but it's a feel-good novel, not too heavy, and sweet, but not cloying. Denton's books are marked Christian fiction, but although they lean to the cleaner side, the faith aspect is not pushed at all. Glory Road will appeal to anyone who likes women's fiction, Southern fiction, stories about family and mothers and daughters especially. It's a good one to add to your spring and summer park picnic, porch or by-the-pool reading list 

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Author Notes: Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, THE HIDEAWAY, was a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, HURRICANE SEASON, released in spring of 2018, is a USA Today bestseller. GLORY ROAD will release in March, 2019.
.
Connect with Lauren on her website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Food Inspiration: 

Lauren's books are always full of tempting food and usually some area favorites for her southern settings. Food mentions included: peas, peach cobbler, onion burgers, milkshakes, tomatoes, slushies, biscuits, friend eggs, peas--cooked so they were brown and almost creamy, cornbread, pound cake, popcorn, cereal, peanut butter, fried catfish, pecan trees, fried chicken, cornbread, fried green tomatoes, garden crops of sweet potato, cabbage, basil, and cucumber, pork chops with butter beans and green salad with cherry tomatoes, coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon and fluffy biscuits with grape jam, sizzling chicken, simmering soup, and fresh pie. a fried fig pie with cream cheese frosting, fresh strawberry iced tea, pancakes with lavender maple syrup, sugared pecans, chicken piccata, green beans, mac and cheese ("...it's a vegetable, you know..")and cornbread biscuits, apple pie, fresh apple jelly, peach galette, chocolate bourbon bread pudding, shrimp and angel hair pasta, Caesar salad, steak, thin crust pizza with mozzarella, greens and thinly sliced tomatoes, meatloaf, rice, sushi, shrimp and grits served in martini glasses or little glass jars, okra succotash, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies, "hunch punch" (grain alcohol mixed with fruit punch), root beer floats and pecan pie.


For my book-inspired dish I had to go with something homey and baked in honor of Gus. She made lots of different baked goods, offering cobbler or pie with a purchase at Twig. Two desserts in particular caught my eye because they had names; The June Cobbler--peach and blueberry with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and My Dolly--peach and pear crumble with cinnamon-pecan streusel on top. I am a sucker for crumbles and crisps--more so than the more doughy cobblers and cinnamon-pecan streusel? Yes, please. My Dolly it is. 


I am all for fresh orchard fruit when it is in season, or home-canned which is likely what Gus used, but this being the beginning of spring and Hawaii, and a weeknight on top of that, I needed something easy and available. i bought canned peach and pear slices in syrup, planning to add plenty of cinnamon to the fruit as well as the topping to liven up my canned items. 


Quick Peach and Pear Crumble with Cinnamon-Pecan Streusel
Based on Gus and her My Dolly from Glory Road by Laurel K. Denton
(Serves 5-6 with Ice Cream)

fruit:
one can (about 15 oz) sliced peaches in syrup, drained with syrup reserved
one can (about 15 oz) sliced pears in syrup, drained with syrup reserved
one Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 scant tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

topping;
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
1 tiny pinch salt
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
 6 Tbsp salted butter, cold, cut in small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the drained fruit in a medium bow and squeeze the lemon juice over it. In a small whisk the flour into about 1/3 cup of the reserved fruit syrup until completely blended. Pour flour/juice mixture over soup and toss until well mixed. Place fruit into an even layer in a small oven dish or pan (I used a small oval casserole dish) and set aside.  

For the topping, mix flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, and chopped pecans into a mixing bowl. Add the pieces of butter to the bowl and use your fingers to work them into the dry mixture until it is the texture of course meal. 

Spoon topping evening over the fruit, packing down lightly. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling up through the topping and the topping is golden-brown. If topping seem to be getting too dark/done, cover with foil and continue baking. 

Let crumble sit for about 15 to 20 minutes and serve warm with ice cream or half-and-half. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I do believe that there would be fewer battles waged and less pain and strife in the world if only everyone could enjoy a bowl of warm fruit crumble with good vanilla ice cream. This one is plenty cinnamony and mighty good, even for canned fruit and you can't beat the speed and ease of being able to get this crumble quickly into the oven--making it good for unexpected guests or a long tough day at work. The topping with the bits of toasted pecan and the crumbly, oaty goodness, is delicious too. I took some leftovers to work for breakfast (fruit and oats, people!) ;-) and poured some cream from the fridge on top. Yum! I will happily make this 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 "Glory Road" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Ottolenghi's Sour Lentil Soup (Adas Bil Hamoud) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

On the hunt for a good, nourishing soup to help with a lingering cough and a newer sore throat and cold this weekend, I found Yotam Ottolenghi's Adas Bil Hamoud or Sour Lentil Soup. It looked simple to make and Ottolenghi is a master of flavors, plus lentils, potatoes, garlic and lemon are always favorite ingredients of mine.


Ottolenghi says, "Versions of this soup, in which lemon is king, are found all over the Arab world. Mine is ever-changing, depending on what kind of stock I have in my freezer, or herbs in my fridge, so feel free to play around with the ingredients as you see fit. I like my soup super lemony, but adjust this to your taste, too. If using vegetable stock, consider adding a couple of teaspoons of miso paste to enrich the broth"


Adas Bil Hamoud (Sour Lentil Soup)
Slightly Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via TheGuardian.com
(Serves 4-6)

200 g (7 oz) Brown or green lentils
110 ml (3 oz) olive oil 
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 12 Tbsp cumin seeds (I used black cumin seed)
3 lemons, finely shave the skin off one into 5 strips, juice all three to get 75 ml (1/3 cup)
salt and black pepper to taste
3 firm, waxy potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), peeled and chopped into 4 cm pieces (about 650-700g or 2.5-3 lbs weight)
400 g (1 bunch) Swiss or rainbow chard, leaves and stalks separated and coarsely chopped
1 litre (1 quart) vegetable stock (I used 2 quarts water with vegetarian non-chicken broth paste)
1 1/2 Tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 spring onions, chopped at an angle

Put the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of cold, lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are nearly cooked but still retain a bite, then drain.

While the lentils are cooking, put 80ml oil in a large, heavy-based pot for which you have a lid, and put on a medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, cumin, lemon skin, two and a quarter teaspoons of salt and plenty of pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until very soft and golden. Stir in the potatoes, lentils and chard stalks, pour in the stock and 800ml water, bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes, or until the potato is soft but still holds its shape.

Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and chard leaves, and leave to cook in the residual heat for two or three minutes, until wilted. Divide between four bowls, drizzle over the remaining two tablespoons of oil, garnish with the coriander and spring onion, and serve hot.

Notes/Results: I really like this soup. The lemon (my three lemons gave me closer to 1/2 cup of juice and I used it all.) brightens up the lentils and chard, and the potatoes give it a stew-like feel. It also made me realize that I need to cook more Swiss Chard--the stems are like flavorful celery and the leaves are not as bitter as some other greens. I did almost double the broth in this one as the lentils will soak it up as it sits. I served the soup with rice, but it is hearty enough to enjoy on its own. I would happily make it again. 


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week--any recipe from any of our IHCC chefs.

And for Souper Sundays...


Elizabeth of Literature and Limes shared Crock Pot Beef Stew inspired by a recent read Educated by Tara Westover and said, "I decided to make a slow-cooked stew for this book. After the death of Tara’s paternal grandmother, Tara’s mom comes home to make stew for the family. The stew just has this homey feeling, which I feel like was likely a lot of what Tara had to eat growing up – homey food."


Here at Kahakai Kitchen, I made a book-inspired Avocado Caprese Salad that was a tasty weeknight meal with the fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, fresh basil and avocado. I am lucky enough to get these ingredients year-round, if you aren't , definitely make this dish in the summer. I will be making it again and again. 


Thanks to Elizabeth for joining me this week!  

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...


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

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



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Creamy Tomato & Gnocchi Soup with Spinach: Easy Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have house guests and wanted a soup that was tasty without a lot of time and effort. Gnocchi was on sale this week in the import section of my local grocery store and since I made a gnocchi soup a while back with beans and vegetables and love it, I thought I'd try another version.  I decided to keep this one simple and use tomatoes and spinach. A jar of vodka pasta sauce and a bit of sour cream help keep it rich and creamy.  


This soup was just tossed together from my head and what I had in my pantry so you can adapt it to your preferences--add more sour cream, use vegan dairy products, add more liquid/broth, etc.-it's all good.


Creamy Tomato & Gnocchi Soup with Spinach
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 to 8 Servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile pepper or chile of choice (if desired)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 (14 oz) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes and their juices
1 jar good pasta sauce (I used creamy vodka sauce)
4 cups vegetable broth
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup sour cream if desired 
sea salt and pepper to taste
5 oz baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 (16 oz packages) potato gnocchi
shaved Parmesan and basil leaves for garnish

In a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 7-8 minutes, until onion is softened and golden. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add dried basil, dried oregano, Aleppo chile, and cinnamon and saute another minute, until fragrant. 

Add the tomatoes and their juices, pasta sauce, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and puree the soup in batches in the blender. (I pureed about 3/4 of it.) Taste and add a pinch of sugar if desired. Stir in sour cream until completely blended. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. 

Bring soup to a simmer and add the baby spinach and gnocchi and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until greens are wilted and gnocchi rise to the top. 

Serve hot, topped with shaved Parmesan and fresh basil. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: Creamy and satisfying this is an easy and tasty soup to throw together when you don't want to do a lot of chopping or fuss. The gnocchi pillows and spinach are delicious in the creamy soup. Great comfort food, I am looking forward to taking it for lunches this week. I would happily make it again.


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


A big welcome (or welcome back?) to Elizabeth, now blogging at Literature and Limes and here with a healthy Kale and Pine Nut Salad she paired with a recently read novel. She says, "I have been on a keto journey for half a year now. I have made considerable changes in my health by cutting out the vast majority of carbs. I decided I needed something very green for my dish. They would make me something stuffed with vitamins, packed with flavor despite the lack of carbs, but something light so I could go do some yoga after lunch."

Debra of Eliot's Eats paired her Turning Over a New Leaf Salad with recently read non-fiction, What To Eat When. She says, "There is a bit of playfulness throughout the book. Again, the information here wasn’t revolutionary but it did cause me to re-plan menus. Besides just exercising our brains by jump-starting our neurons, the best food to eat is salmon, ocean trout, leafy greens, walnuts, coffee, olive oil, and blueberries. CUT OUT THE SUGAR!" This salad has several of those healthy ingredients.


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared a hearty Shepherd's Pie Stew and we are twins with the gnocchi. She says, "This gnocchi was found in the refrigerated section of the market.  Chop and measure your ingredients ahead of time and it's a quick meal to prepare.  This is the first time we have had a soupy/stew version of Shepherd's Pie. Usually we have beef or lamb or chicken with the massive amount of veggies and cover it all with mashed potatoes.

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen brought Spelt Beetroot Salad with Spinach and said, "Other than it being a dish to eat mindfully, by that I mean slowly because of the chewy nature of the grains, I actually quite enjoyed it. In fact I decided to make another recipe with grains the following week."  

Thank you to all who joined 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 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!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Widows" by Jess Montgomery, Served with a Recipe for Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples on Toast {and a Book Giveaway!}

Happy Thursday! It's been a few weeks since I did a book review and so I am very happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Widows, a historical mystery novel by Jess Montgomery. Paired with my review are some tasty Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples on Toast inspired by my reading, and there is a chance to win a copy of The Widows at the bottom of the post.



Publisher's Blurb:

Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.

Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.

From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be–and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.

Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.

Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 8, 2019)


My Review:

As you can probably tell by the number of historical novels I review on this blog, historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, especially when it takes me into the past and to aspects of history that I am not familiar with. In the case of The Widows, I was transported to the Appalachians and rural Ohio coal mines in 1925 where I learned about the attempts to unionize the mines and provide the workers with fair employment practices and safer working conditions, all why trying to solve a murder and a disappearance in a book with two strong female leads, based on real-life women. The character of Lily Ross is loosely based on Ohio’s first female sheriff, Maude Collins, appointed after her husband was killed during a traffic stop. Jess Montgomery had her character face a similar circumstance but made the question of who killed Lily’s husband Daniel the main mystery the book is centered around. As she investigates his death, Lily discovers aspects of Daniel’s life hidden from her including Marvena Whitcomb, also a widow, with a past that intersects with Daniel’s. Marvena is leading the local miners and their families in battling Daniel’s half-brother and his mining company against their unsafe work practices, all too real to both woman as Lily’s father and  Marvena’s husband died in the mines while trying to rescue miners after a cave-in. Marvena’s character is also loosely based a real person, Mary Harris (Mother) Jones, the labor activist who co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. Both lead characters are strong and doing what they need to do to take care of their families and communities. Lily steps into Daniel’s role of Sheriff while Marvena sells moonshine to support her daughter, Frankie. Marvena also spent time as a ‘working girl’ at the local boarding house, something her older daughter, Eula was doing when she turned up missing and Daniel was looking into her disappearance when he was killed, purportedly by Marvena’s brother Tom. Despite their dissimilar backgrounds, both women loved Daniel and find themselves working together and forging a relationship despite their differing backgrounds and economic levels.

I enjoyed the setting of the book and the way Montgomery wove the stories together, although The Widows isn’t a fast-moving mystery, it was absorbing and kept me engaged throughout. The mysteries—Tom’s death and Eula’s disappearance, were compelling, and while I guessed correctly about most of what happened, there were still some good twists to the story. I was interested in both Lily and Marvena’s characters and the fact it is a debut novel and is so well researched and written is impressive. I am happy to hear that The Widows is the first book in The Kinship Series and look forward to spending more time in the town of Kinship and its surrounding community. If you enjoy historical fiction, books set in rural Ohio and the surrounding area, stories with strong empowered female characters, mysteries, and learning more about American history, add The Widows to your TBR list. (You can enter a giveaway of a copy at the bottom of this post.) 
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Author Notes: Jess Montgomery is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.

You can connect with Jess on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Food Inspiration:

There is food to be found in The Widows, and often it helps to illustrate the difference in lifestyle for Lily and Marvena. While Lily's table is more bountiful--even what she cooks for the people in the jail's holding cells, Marvena is making due with less and its often food she gathers from the nearby woodlands--berries, greens, mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, pokeweed, black raspberries, and the vegetables she grows in her small garden. Montgomery speaks in the afterward about the research she did to capture the experience of the Appalachians in Ohio in the 1920s from the scenes in the mines, life in rural communities, and of course the food. Lily's mother's Dried Apple Stack Cake is based on her family recipe. (Looking online for examples, the cake looked delicious but far too work-intensive for me to attempt to make this week.) ;-) My list of some of the food mentioned in the book included tinned milk, cheese, chopped steak, ice cream, coffee, biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, potato and onion, bologna sandwiches, an after funeral buffet of fried chicken, deviled eggs, ham salad, corn relish, and apple and peach pies, roasted chestnuts, peppermint and butterscotch button candies, good salt ham, fresh-baked bread, green beans and corn, black raspberry jam and apple butter, corn pone with sorghum syrup, buttermilk pie, broth and foot vegetables, muffins, tea--chamomile and sassafras (a favorite character Nana says, "Life is hard. Have tea."--something I agree with), squirrel stew with root vegetables, beets and spring peas, soup beans made with dried pinto beans, onion, bacon fat and water, taffy, cornbread, buttermilk, beef stew, deer jerky, carrots and green onions, fritters, a fried apple stack cake, canned peaches, pickles, and jams.

I ended up taking my inspiration for my book-inspired dish from a mention of apples fried up with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon that Lily serves to Marvena in the jail cell: 

"Marvena snatches the plate through the food slot, carries it back to the cot, sits. She eats a bite of good salted ham. She has to keep herself from moaning with pleasure and relief. Next she takes a bite of apples, fried up with brown sugar and butter and cinnamon. Fancy, rich food. Marvena hates to admit it, but Lily's a good cook. She clears the plate quickly."


Although I kept the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter of the many recipes I looked at, I decided to add a pinch of salt and some (Aleppo) chile pepper to my apples, just to make them more interesting, and to serve them on thick slices of toast.

Spicy Cinnamon Fried Apples
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp of your favorite chile pepper or cayenne (I used Aleppo pepper), or to taste 
tiny pinch of salt
2 apples of choice (I used Gala), cored and sliced
bread and butter, if desired, to serve 
 
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it is melted and begins to bubble; stir the sugar, cinnamon, chile pepper and salt into the hot butter. Add the apples and cook until apples begin to break down and soften. (This can take anywhere from about 8 to 12 minutes depending on how thick you sliced them and how soft you want them--I like my apples to be tender but not mushy so mine took about 10 minutes.

Toast bread and butter if desired. Serve with the apples and their juices spooned on top. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: I love apples just about any way they can be served and this simple preparation didn't disappoint. I liked the combination of the sweet and slightly spicy sauce with a touch of tartness from the apples. The Aleppo pepper was present and give a little kick and warmth, but wasn't too spicy--just the way I like it (though the fried apples would still be perfectly delicious without it). Spooned over the toasted bread these apples made for a tasty after dinner snack. I made enough apples for another serving and will probably top my morning oatmeal with them. I will definitely 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.


***Book Giveaway!***

The publisher is generously providing a copy of The Widows to give away to a lucky reader (U.S./Canada addresses, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite era(s) in history to read about and/or why you would like to win a copy of the book

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Deadline for entry is Monday, January 21st.

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Note: A review copy of "The Widows" 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.