Showing posts with label tea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tea. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Quiet Child" by John Burley, Served with a Recipe for a Tea Affogatto

I am excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour today for the psychological mystery/thriller, The Quiet Child by John Burley. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a Tea Affogatto made with coconut black tea and vanilla ice cream, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.
It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.
Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer—and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.

Paperback: 304 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 8, 2017)

My Review:

I am going to try to review The Quiet Child as vaguely as possible, because it is a book that could easily be spoiled with too many details and if you like dark and twisty thrillers, you will want to go into it not knowing too much about it. It's set in 1954 Cottonwood, California--interesting to me because Cottonwood is a real town and I lived in nearby Redding as a child--so the town and landscape felt familiar--even if I lived there in the 1970s. Cottonwood is a small town where everyone knows each other, or about each other, which has not been easy on the McCray family as most of the town believes that their six-year-old son, Danny, is the cause of illness and other maladies in the town and he is regarded with suspicion. This isn't easy on his parents--his mother is suffering and weakening from her own illness and his father, Michael, a local high school teacher is trying to cope. While Michael is getting ice cream from the store with Danny and Sean (Danny's 10-year-old brother), a stranger drives off with Michael's car and the boys. Local plumber and part-time Cottonwood Sheriff Jim Kent, along with two Shasta County Sheriff's detectives vow to bring them home--despite the rumors and negative feelings of the town about Danny.

I like the historical aspects of police work in the 1950s--it definitely doesn't make crime solving easy, not having the technology we have today. The author keeps the perspective bouncing around several different characters and keeps the chapters short, building the tension steadily and making the pages fly by. There were several twists and although I had parts figured out, there were some things I did not see coming--which I always enjoy. The book is unsettling--after all it is missing children and it seems that besides their mother and the sheriff, not a lot of people seem to really want Danny back in town--which is something that made me stop and think a bit. The story and its ending have some ambiguity--but it works in this case. This is my first book from John Burley (it's his third), but with storytelling like this, I am sure it won't be my last.


Author Notes: John Burley attended medical school in Chicago and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He currently serves as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their Great Dane and English bulldog.

Find out more about John at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

OK, The Quiet Child was a difficult book to pair with food--but it's what I do and you know I like a challenge. Taking place mostly over about a period of eight or nine days with missing children there was understandably, not much time for food. The few mentions I noted were: ice cream and strawberry ice cream in particular, cotton candy from a fair in a flashback, coffee, sugar, a vanilla shake and a burger with fries, a steamed artichoke appetizer and a glass of wine, lots of tea, milk, scotch, and an unspecified soup.  

In the end, I went more with what I was craving than anything truly tied to the book, using the mentions of ice cream and the frequent cups of tea together--making them into a tea affogato. Affogattos--which translates to "drowned" are usually espresso shots poured over a scoop or two of ice cream where it melts into a lovely and delicious mess. Sometimes I make them with espresso or coffee, sometimes I'll sneak a shot of liqueur in there if I'm feeling fancy, I have even tried it with hot chocolate, but I had not yet made them with tea.

You can use any favorite tea and ice cream pairing here--although a fully flavored, stronger tea works best. I wanted to use the traditional vanilla ice cream, and wanting a flavorful tea, I chose a black coconut tea. I received a gift certificate from from Adaigio Teas to try their products a couple of months ago and I have been bad about reviewing and cooking with it (Those posts are coming soon!) so this was a great opportunity to do more than just drink it. Not that there is anything wrong with just drinking it, I have loved all of the flavors I've tried. I love coconut teas and Adaigio's is blended into Ceylon black tea for a wonderful balance and smooth finish.

Tea Affogato
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 1

1 serving tea of choice--about 1 1/2 tsp loose leaf or 1 tea bag
4 oz water
2 small scoops ice cream of choice
garnishes and/or cookies to serve (I used vanilla coconut chips & vanilla sugar wafers)

Scoop ice cream of choice into balls and freeze for an hour or two to harden. 

When ready to serve: Brew your tea strong, steeping the tea bag or leaves in about 4 oz of hot water until it cools down to warm--about 10 minutes. You want the temperature to be nicely warm (not just off the boil, but not tepid) so the ice cream melts quickly but not immediately. If your tea gets too cool, rewarm it slightly before serving.

Place your ice cream scoops into your serving glass/dish and bring to the table with the warm tea and garnishes or cookies if desired. Pour tea over the ice cream and serve immediately. Enjoy. 

Notes/Results: Just a simple bowl of creamy tea goodness. The coconut tea (which is also wonderful on its own) was perfect with the vanilla ice cream--rich and delicious and it was a good balance of sweetness. Although I liked the coconut chips, I preferred my affogato without them and with the sugar wafers for dipping. I will definitely make this again, playing around with different teas--matcha and chai come to mind immediately. 

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

Note: A review copy of "The Quiet Child" 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.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Color of Our Sky" by Amita Trasi, Served with Masala Chai & Samosas

Today's TLC Book Tour takes us to Mumbai, India for a review of an often heartbreaking but ultimately satisfying story; The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi. Accompanying my review is Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Masala Chai--shown with the book and also a few tastysamosas from my favorite Indian market.

Publisher's Blurb:

In the spirit of Khaled Hosseini, Nadia Hashimi and Shilpi Somaya Gowda comes this powerful debut from a talented new voice—a sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends in Mumbai, India, whose lives converge only to change forever one fateful night.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old village girl from the lower caste Yellama cult has come of age and must fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute, as her mother and grandmother did before her. In an attempt to escape her fate, Mukta is sent to be a house girl for an upper-middle class family in Mumbai. There she discovers a friend in the daughter of the family, high spirited eight-year-old Tara, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to an entirely different world—one of ice cream, reading, and a friendship that soon becomes a sisterhood.

But one night in 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s family home and disappears. Shortly thereafter, Tara and her father move to America. A new life in Los Angeles awaits them but Tara never recovers from the loss of her best friend, or stops wondering if she was somehow responsible for Mukta’s abduction.

Eleven years later, Tara, now an adult, returns to India determined to find Mukta. As her search takes her into the brutal underground world of human trafficking, Tara begins to uncover long-buried secrets in her own family that might explain what happened to 
Mukta—and why she came to live with Tara’s family in the first place.

Moving from a traditional Indian village to the bustling modern metropolis of Mumbai, to Los Angeles and back again, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and, ultimately, redemption.

Paperback: 416 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 18, 2017)

My Review: 

I am always slightly leery of book blurbs that claim a new book is similar to favorite books or authors. The Color of Our Sky is said to be "in the spirit of" works by Khaled Hosseini and Shilpi Somaya Gowda and I was worried that it wouldn't live up to The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, or Secret Daughter and The Golden Son--all books I loved. It turns out that I didn't need to worry, The Color of Our Sky holds it own with these other books and is a beautifully crafted and moving story. It isn't always easy to read, delving into harsh subjects like the caste system, human trafficking and the sexual slavery of women and children, prostitution, violence, poverty, and illness. I think it walks a good balance of being heart-wrenching but hopeful and it showcases the courage and strength of two women, friends of unequal backgrounds who are torn apart but who never forget each other. 

The story is told in the alternating points of view of Tara and Mukta, from the 1980s up through 2008, and illustrating the very different paths their lives take on a fateful night in 1993, shortly after the Bombay bombings. Mukta's chapters are the hardest to read, she's born into a family of temple prostitutes in a small village and it seems she is going to be able to break away from that fate until she is kidnapped from Tara's home and sold into slavery. Tara and her father move away from India and its memories and she has an easier life in California--although neither she or her father are ever the same due to their losses. Tara holds a lot of guilt from her role in what happened that night and comes back to Mumbai as an adult to find Mukta, in part to assuage that guilt. It took me longer to warm up to her than it did Mukta and stop judging her for her childhood mistakes. There are bright moments throughout the book--mostly Tara and Mukta's memories of the times they shared and although the book is close to 400 pages, the back and forth and the tension about whether or not Mukta would be found made it move quickly. I found myself completely caught up in the story and vested in the well-drawn characters, full of hope that redemption would happen. As tough as the parts of Mukta's life in the brothels are hard to read, it is important to be aware of the enormous and shameful problem of human trafficking that is rampant all over the world and this book gives what feels like a very realistic view. Ultimately it is a beautiful book about friendship and love and although not one for the "light and breezy" pile, it is absorbing and well worth reading.


Author Notes: Amita Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in human resource management, and currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two cats.
Find out more about Amita at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


It's hard for me to read any book set in India and not immediately crave Indian food and although it's not a focus of the book, there was definitely food to be found--along with many cups of hot and cold chai. Food mentioned included: saffron in pulao (rice), turmeric in dal, sweet rasgulla (a dessert), golas (crushed ice pops), ice cream, and sherbet, tea and sandwiches. energy bars, rice, pickles, chutneys, curries, pakoras (fried vegetable snack) Limca (lemon lime soda), jalebi (sweet fried dessert), chapati, paratha, and roti (flat breads), dahi wadas (lentil dumplings), American finger foods at a party like cheese and crackers, chicken tenders, salami, chips and dips, and veggies like carrots, tomatoes. onions, potatoes, and brinjal (eggplant).

I ended up deciding to make chai or tea, since there was so much tea in the book and chai masala which is spiced tea, often with milk. I make masala chai frequently at home, drinking it both hot and iced but I wanted to see how my favorite Indian chef Madhur Jaffrey makes hers. I have several of her cookbooks and recipes abound but I found this great article on Food 52. that talks about how she changed her recipe to use whole spices and less milk and I wanted to try it. 

I have included Jaffrey's ingredients and outlined the basic recipe below but I encourage you to read the Food 52 article as it has all of her tips and tricks in it. 

Madhur Jaffrey's Masala Chai
Slightly Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey via

3 cups water
4 cloves or so
4 cardamom pods
4 peppercorns
1-inch piece of cinnamon bark or cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground ginger (Jaffrey says fresh ginger can curdle the milk)
3 black tea bags
1 cup whole milk or milk of choice (I used coconut)
sugar or honey to taste (Jaffrey uses 4 teaspoons of sugar)

Place the 3 cups of water into a medium saucepan. Add the masala--cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and ginger and the three black tea bags and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the milk and sweeten to taste, bring to a gentle simmer again, then remove pan from heat and pour contents through a fine mesh strainer into your teapot or serving vessel. Discard tea bags and spices. Taste and add additional sweetener or milk if needed. Serve and enjoy.

Notes/Results: Making your own chai at home will make you wonder why you bother ordering it at Starbucks or other coffee shop. It infuses the kitchen and house with the heavenly aroma of spices and it is quick, easy and you can store any leftovers in the fridge for iced chai or heat it up (just be sure not to boil it so the milk doesn't curdle). I like Jaffrey's blend, which is fairly close to my own although I tend to work in some star anise and coriander seeds into my blend. But the beauty of it is that you can put in your favorite spices and change the amounts to your preferences. You can also use whatever kind if milk--dairy or non-dairy you prefer and adjust the sweetness. I used about 3 tablespoons of honey in my blend because I don't like mine that sweet and it was perfect. I also used Bigelow Tea's "Constant Comment" black tea which is flavored with orange rind and sweet spice as I like the touch of citrus flavor it adds. You could also add orange rind to your masala mix. I was low on cardamom pods and it gave me an excuse to stop by the Indian market on the way home from a meeting where I gabbed some of their homemade samosas. Their spicy pea and potato filling went perfectly with the tea for an afternoon snack.

This post is linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs for Potluck week--our week to make any dish from our current or any past IHCC featured chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links.

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

Note: A review copy of the "The Color of Our Sky" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

(Pickled Turmeric Eggs) Curried Egg Salad Bites on Naan and Chai Tea Whiskey Toddies for Blog Party #44: Tea Party!

I just had my ninth year Blogaversary and I forgot! Whoops! 

But yes, nine years ago last week I made my first blog post and it's been a fun nine years and 1,626 posts ever since that first one. Since I didn't have a party, ;-) I am joining in with my friend Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness as she has resurrected one of my favorite blogging events from those early years: Blog Party!

I *met* Stephanie not long after I started blogging through her Blog Party event when it caught my eye. The object of Blog Party is to make an appetizer and cocktail to go with a monthly theme. I didn't join in until Blog Party #34--The Buffy Bash, where for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme, I made Spiked DoubleMeat Sliders & Garlic Fries with Hellmouth Dipping Sauce and Soylent Green Cocktails. (Note: It was from my meat & poultry-eating and bad blog photography days!) It was fun and I took part in the next nine Blog Parties--up until Stephanie stopped having them. 

Stephanie drops by Souper Sundays occasionally when she has a soup to share and so when she tweeted a message to some of the old Blog Party attendees that she was having a Blog Party #44, I really wanted to take part. The only trouble was that it was really short notice (gotta love those impulses!), less than a week in fact--so I knew if I did join in, it would be with something simple and from my pantry. 

Flash forward to this afternoon, when I turned some of Heidi Swanson's Pickled Turmeric Eggs that were in a jar in my fridge into some delightful and delicious Curried Egg Salad Bites on Naan Bread and partnered them with quick Chai Whiskey Toddies. I gotta say, with just a little planning and using up leftovers, these were perfect for an impromptu tea party. 

I highly recommend that you try the Pickled Turmeric Eggs for the egg salad--they add such a great tangy bite to the curry mayo and are easy to make and loads of fun. 

(Pickled Turmeric Eggs) Curried Egg Salad Bites on Naan
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen with Heidi Swanson's Eggs
(Makes about 2 scant cups of egg salad)

4 turmeric pickled eggs (recipe here) or regular hard-boiled eggs
3 Tbsp vegan mayo or mayo of choice
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp celery salt
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pieces naan bread
1 tsp olive oil
Garnishes like: cilantro, celery leaves, Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds, pickled onions from the turmeric pickled eggs.

Grate pickled eggs on the large holes of a box grater into a small bowl. Add mayo, curry powder, cumin, turmeric and celery salt and mix together well. Taste and season with salt and pepper.  

Brush a pan lightly with olive oil and heat on medium-high. Use a biscuit or cookie cutter to make small rounds out of the naan bread and lay those circles into the pan. Cook until lightly toasted on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove naan circles from the heat and allow to cool.

To Assemble: lay the naan circles on a serving plate. Scoop a small amount of the egg salad onto each round, spreading it out to cover the edges. Top the egg salad mixture with garnish of your choice (I used celery leaves, black sesame seeds, and chopped pickled red onions from the Turmeric Pickled Eggs.)

Serve and enjoy!

Chai Whiskey Toddies
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 8-oz drinks)

1 cup Chai Tea Latte Concentrate (or strongly brewed chai tea)
1 cup coconut milk
honey to taste
2 ounces whiskey or Bourbon

Heat chai concentrate and coconut milk together in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add honey to taste--depending on how sweet you want it. (I used about 1 Tbsp.) When hot, remove from heat and stir in whiskey. Pour into mugs or tea cups and serve immediately. Enjoy.

Notes/Results: I am not sure these two are perfectly paired but it kind of works and they are both delicious--and hey, in this case they are for an entire tea party with other food and drinks so you don't have to have them together. ;-)  I am going to make more Turmeric Pickled Eggs in order to have more curried egg salad--it was so good, especially on the toasted naan bread. I love the bright notes of the vinegar (it kind of takes the place of mustard) in the egg salad when it combined with the curry. A really fun way to change up a basic egg salad sandwich. The warm chai toddy was really tasty--creamy and with a little kick from the Maker's Mark Whiskey I used. For coming together with bits and bobs from the fridge and pantry, I was very pleased with how it all turned out.

Thanks to Stephanie for hosting! I hope Blog Party becomes a regular thing again. The deadline for Blog Party #44 is tomorrow, Friday, April 21th and Stephanie will be rounding up the BP entries on her blog soon after. You can get the details here

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


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Fifth Petal" by Brunonia Barry, Served with a Tisane of Lemongrass, Blood Orange, Ginger, Hibscus, and Rose (+ a Giveaway!)

Today's TLC Book Tour has us traveling to Salem, Massachusetts for a new mystery/thriller, The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry. One of the places in the book is the fictional Eve's Lace Reader Tea Room, so to pair with my review I have blended my own herbal tea (tisane) mixture inspired by my reading and there is also a chance to win a copy of the book at the end of the post. Happy Reading!  

Publisher's Blurb:

“Do you think, inside, every one of us is a killer?”

This is the question that haunts the people of Salem, Massachusetts, in Brunonia Barry’s spellbinding, masterful new thriller, THE FIFTH PETAL (January 24, 2017; Crown), a tale of otherworldly powers, ancient myths, and a gruesome triple homicide. Ten years after her New York Times bestselling debut novel THE LACE READER became an international sensation, Barry revisits contemporary Salem, where the dark history of the paranormal continues to reverberate in the lives of the Whitney family and their neighbors. With its release, THE LACE READER became an overnight success, winning numerous awards and rave reviews from the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, New York, People, and being named an Amazon Best Book of the Month. Barry, born and raised in Salem, now returns with a complex brew of suspense, seduction, and murder in her highly anticipated novel THE FIFTH PETAL.

When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. Now Rafferty must uncover who, or what, is killing the descendants of Salem’s accused witches, while keeping the town’s paranoia—all too similar to the hysteria that lead to the infamous witch trials—at bay.

As Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter of Salem’s past, he finds unexpected help from Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the Goddess victims, who has recently returned to town. Discovered at the scene of the crime when she was five years old, Callie survived the mysterious massacre with only scratches on her arms and a perfect stigmata of a five-petal rose in the palm of her bloodied hand. Now Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. Neither Rafferty nor Callie believes the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and honorary aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But clearing Rose’s name might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if Rafferty and Callie can’t discover what happened that night, will evil rise again?

Grounded in Salem’s true, dark history, Brunonia Barry paints a complex, eerie portrait of a modern New England town living in the past. With magical realism that will appeal to readers of Erin Morgenstern and gothic suspense echoing Deborah Harkness, THE FIFTH PETAL brings the world of Salem to life with Barry’s signature rich and twisting prose. Suspenseful, sinister, and masterfully composed, THE FIFTH PETAL is a haunting novel that will grip audiences long after the final page.
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Crown (January 24, 2017)

My Review: 

First off, I have to say how striking the cover of this book is with its gorgeous blues and the rose petals--it conjures up the lushness of the story, the rich history and the menacing feel that permeates the story inside. The Fifth Petal is a lush and evocative book, capturing me from the get-go with the subject of witches in Salem and their history. Although the story goes mostly between the horrific murder of a trio of young women (called The Goddesses by the town) in 1989 and the mysterious death of a young man twenty-five years later, the folklore and history of the Salem Witch Trials is skillfully woven in--especially as the deaths seem to be happening to descendants of the original women that were hanged back in 1692. We get to know the current day characters the most, Callie Cahill, daughter of one of the 1989 victims who was there the night of the murders, but was only five and has repressed most of her memories and John Rafferty, the local police chief who came well after the 1989 crimes but wants to solve the cold case and see justice served. John particularly wants to do right by Rose Whelan, once respected as a historian but who is no homeless, considered crazy and guilty of both the 1989 murders and the 2014 death of the young man (who was bullying her at the time of his death) by most of the town. Rose 's mental state makes her hard to know as well, but all of these characters are well-drawn and interesting and the mysteries and their connections pulled me in.

There are times the book drags--mainly in the middle, but the back-and-forth in the time frame and perspective and the subject kept me going and the action picks up well at the end and had me turning the pages to find out what happened. There are times I had to go back and reread bits to understand them and how the folklore and past related to the current day. It may have had a few too many different angles and history bits fit in that were not completely necessary and it might have made it a tighter book if pared down but I also liked the amount of research and knowledge that went into the story. I had guessed most of the mystery but there were still twists and surprises and overall it left me satisfied and I enjoyed the journey it took me on. I wouldn't say that this book is necessarily a sequel to Berry's popular novel, The Lace Reader--but it does share some of the same characters and places. I actually bought The Lace Reader at a Library sale but did not get a chance to read it before The Fifth Petal--not that I think you need to read them in order, but based on my enjoyment of this book I plan to go back and rectify that as soon as I can.  

Don't forget to check at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy.

Author Notes:  Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction and Amazon’s Best of the Month. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times and The Washington Post. Brunonia co-chairs the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband Gary Ward and their dog, Angel. Her new novel, The Fifth Petal will be released in January 2017.

You can connect with Brunonia via her website, Facebook & Twitter

Food Inspiration:

There is food to be found in The Fifth Petal like the  pastries (cinnamon rolls, scones, croissants, and brioches) and teas served at Eve's Lace Tea Room, some with names like Serendipitea, Chakra Chai, Difficult-Tea (black tea with cayenne, cinnamon, and just a hint of cilantro) and other more basic blends like orange and mint. There are also food offerings at Eve's like soft-boiled egg and fruit, salads, and a single pear--cut and perfectly fanned out on the plate with a tiny stripe of honey across the slices. There's mention of a charity dinner with choice of roast beef, salmon or chicken, salad and a dessert of chocolate mousse and madeleines, a Thanksgiving dinner of goose, venison and "every food that might have been offered in New England during the first Thanksgiving feast," port and cheese, a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice, beef stew with vegetables from the garden, corn bread, jars of canned zucchini, eggnog, a family recipe of Lobster Newberg, apple pie and savory mince pie, Christmas cookies, a dinner of crown roast with wild rice and apples, Parker rolls, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, Chinese takeout, pizza in Italy, cold avocado and crab soup and beef tenderloin roast, lobster risotto garnished with flowers, and plenty of alcohol, including some creative drinks like a cocktail with Seven-Up, cloves and Hawaiian Punch and The Green Fairy with absinthe.

The author offers a couple of recipes from the book on her website for book clubs (the Lobster a'la Newberg and a Death in the Evening Cocktail with absinthe and champagne, but since my asthma has been acting up, I wanted to make an herbal tea blend (called a tisane) that would both be a good healthy drink for me and represent the book. 

I wanted to make a tisane that nodded to the book of course--the color, the use of rose, and the blood orange for the color. I also wanted to make it work for my own needs--adding ginger, for clearing my sinuses, lemongrass and honey for their anti-bacterial properties, and citrus for the vitamin C. I was going to use dried rose hips (both for color and their vitamin C) but even though I was sure I had some in my pantry, I couldn't seem to find them with my tea and tisane blending ingredients. Instead I grabbed dried hibiscus flower which also has a lot of vitamin C and would also help make the color a bright blood red--not a bad trade off. I decided to add a touch of rose water, both to play up the floral notes and to represent the five petals in the book. If you aren't a fan, you can omit or add less rose water but I think a little helps round out the flavors.  

My recipe is below, brewed in a large coffee press (I keep separate one for teas) for ease of straining but have given instructions for making it in a pan on the stove.

Tisane of Lemongrass, Blood Orange, Hibiscus, Ginger & Rose
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 5 Cups) 

5 cups water
2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and thickly sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, bottom six inches of stalk, sliced or cut and bruised
2 Tbsp dried hibiscus leaves
3-4 thick slices of blood orange
4-5 strips of lemon peel
1/2 to 3/4 tsp rose water, or to taste, optional
honey to taste
blood orange slices and lemongrass stalks to serve (optional)

Put the ginger, lemongrass, dried hibiscus, blood orange slices, and lemon peel into the bottom of a large coffee press and pour water just to the boil over the mixture to the metal rim. Cover and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes and gently press. 
Remove cover, stir in rosewater and honey to taste, cover again and let steep another 2 to 3 minutes before serving. 

(Alternatively, you can make it in a pan by adding the ingredients up to the rose water and bringing to the boil. Then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, then strain. Add rose water and sweeten with honey to taste.

Strain and serve hot in tea cups, and/or pour strained tisane into a carafe and chill well in fridge to enjoy cold. Serve over ice and enjoy.

Notes/Results: A nice mix of tangy and sweet with floral notes from the lemongrass and rose water and the pleasant bit of ginger at the finish. I like it hot and that's helpful for the breathing benefits but this mix would be really good and refreshing iced. The hibiscus and blood orange keep it from being too sweet--which you can also adjust with the amount of honey you use. I had two cups last night and saved the rest for today. I would make this again.

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

Note: A review copy of "The Fifth Petal" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

***Book Giveaway***

The publisher is generously providing a copy of The Fifth Petal to giveaway (U.S. and 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 about your favorite tea or tea drink and/or why you would like to win a copy of the book

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii), and/or author Brunonia Barry (@BrunoniaBarry), and/or Crown Publishing (@CrownPublishing) on Twitter
(Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow me, Barry, and/or Crown on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is Monday, February 13th.

Good Luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway