Sunday, May 26, 2019

Green Curry Spinach and Coconut Soup with Grilled Shrimp for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

It's Memorial Day Weekend and the weather shows it in the warmth and humidity, but still, any weather is soup weather for me. My tastes in summer soups are lighter and brighter. Thai flavors are a favorite because even though they can be spicy, they have such cooling elements in the coconut, lime and lemongrass that they are perfect or warmer days. I was attracted to Nigella Lawson's Spinach and Coconut Soup for those flavors and for the speed and ease it putting it together, limiting time and effort in the kitchen. She recommends adding some small cooked prawns and I tossed frozen shrimp in coconut oil and spices and tossed them in the toaster oven. Easy and delicious.


Nigella says, " This is an almost instant, super soothing supper made easily from store cupboard ingredients. I have stipulated two tablespoons of Thai green curry paste, but do be prepared to add more if you like a bit more fire.
 
If you want to adjust this a little, consider adding some little cooked prawns; just make sure they’re heated through before serving. The chopped red chili I add on serving is not obligatory, but I like the glossy red confetti!"

 
Green Curry Spinach and Coconut Soup with Grilled Shrimp 
Slightly Adpated from Nigella.com
(Serves 2-4)

2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste, or to taste
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
500 grams frozen chopped spinach
250 ml freshly boiled water
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
(I added the juice from 1 lime + extra lime for serving)
1 red chili deseeded and chopped (optional)
grilled shrimp (optional)   

Put the curry paste into a medium-sized saucepan or casserole with a lid, and add a few tablespoons of the coconut milk to whisk it into a paste over heat. 

Stir in the remaining coconut milk, and add the frozen spinach chunks. Stir, then pour over the boiled water. (It should almost cover the spinach, but not quite.) 

Add the vegetable bouillon powder and stir to mix. Bring soup to the boil before putting on the lid and turning the heat down, so that the soup cooks at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. 

When serving, if so wished, sprinkle each bowl with chopped red chili.

Note: I tossed raw peeled extra large (16-20 per lb) shrimp in a little coconut oil, lime juice, dried basil, Aleppo pepper, roasted garlic powder and cumin and coked them in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes--until pink and cooked through.


Notes/Results: A very simple and tasty soup--as Nigella says it is almost as quick as instant, even if you take the time to cook some shrimp. If shrimp isn't your thing, you could do a skewer of tofu or vegetables, or add some cooked chicken to round it out. I will likely take this to work this week with rice as my accompaniment. I used about 3 tablespoons of green curry paste and found it pleasantly spicy but not overpowering but make it to your tastes and the level of heat in your green curry paste. I would happily make this again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs for Potluck Week

 
Now let's have a look in the into the Souper Sundays kitchen.


Angela of Mean Green Chef is back and sharing a delectable Bistro Broccoli Cheese Soup. She says, "I can honestly tell you that our Bistro Broccoli Cheese Soup is the best broccoli cheese soup ever, I mean it this is one seriously good soup! It transcends Panera by leaps and bounds, plus it’s super easy to make! A one pot wonder that we’ve boosted taste on by sautéing the vegetables and then browning the flour to pull out every last drop of flavor. Did I mention it’s easy to make too? It is!"



Debra of Eliot's Eats brought this yummy Chopped Greek Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Pitas inspired by Mama Mia Here We Go Again for Food 'N Flix. She said, "The original recipe (found here) used cannellini beans and grilled peppers. I halved the recipe to make servings for two, swapped out the cannellini beans for chickpeas, added more cucumber, less feta, and topped it off with toasted pine nuts. (I had jarred red peppers to add but forgot. I found the jar still in the grocery sack while I was doing dishes. Notice they’re optional.)"
 
Thanks to Debra and Angela for joining in 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 add a 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 this post or my blog 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!
 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Garlicky White Bean (Chickpea) Soup: 5 Ingredients or Less for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I had been craving a simple bean-based soup and our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs: All Chef's Edition is 5 Ingredients or Less. Of course I turned to Mark Bittman and found his Garlicky White Bean Soup.


Beans of choice, a bulb of garlic, rosemary, plus salt and pepper (not counted in our 5 or less) and olive oil for garnishing and that's it. Because I wanted chickpeas (even though I made a chickpea soup a few weeks ago, they are my favorite), the cooking time is longer than other white beans, even after soaking, but it's worth it and the wait while the rosemary-garlic aroma permeates the house.

Bittman's advice: "Use dried beans, don't skimp on the garlic (when I say '1 bulb' I mean it) and you won't be disappointed."


Garlicky White Bean Soup
Slightly Adapted from How To Cook Everything: The Basics via MarkBittman.com
(Serves 4)

1 1/2 cups any dried white beans, rinsed and picked over
1 medium garlic bulb, cloves peeled
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tsp dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for garnish

Deb's Note: I usually soak my beans--especially chickpeas--overnight before cooking.

In a large soup pot, place beans, garlic, and rosemary and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat so the soup bubbles steadily. 

Cook, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until the beans are tender and falling apart, 45 minutes to up to 2 hours (or more) depending on the bean and whether they were soaked first. Add more water or broth if mixture gets too thick or dry. 

When beans are tender, sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste and stir vigorously to break up the beans even more, or you can mash or puree some of the soup to thicken the broth even more. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on each bowl. Enjoy! 

Bittman has two variations--adding chopped greens or peeled shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  


Notes/Results: Perfectly garlicky, perfectly good. It's amazing what just a few good ingredients and lots of time will do. I ended up cooking the soup about 3 hours total to get the chickpeas as tender as I wanted them, which allowed them to build plenty of flavor from the garlic and rosemary and concentrating the broth. I pureed a couple of cups of the mixture to thicken it, and it was just the right texture. Simple and delicious, I would happily make it again.


Linking Up with I Heart Cooking Clubs: 5 Ingredients or Less.

 
 Let's take a look in the in the Souper Sundays kitchen.


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought Indian Cucumber and Tomato Salad and said, "The theme for May's spotlight dish at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Indian cuisine. My first thought was Tandoori chicken or a curry dish but I went with a simple salad. Diana Henry's recipe and column is posted at The Telegraph so I grabbed it there. She says this looks like an ordinary salad but it's fresh and punchy. Must be the chilli and cumin. Certainly smells good when you are heating the cumin."


Debra of Eliot's Eats shared Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Dressing with Salad and said, "My sister and mom had to make a quick trip back recently. They spent one day with us and Sis was telling me about a new salad dressing she had recently made. Her favorite cookbook is Joy of Cooking and she gave me a copy for Christmas many years ago. As she described the ingredients, I decided I had to look up this recipe in my own Joy of Cooking. It’s now bookmarked! The accompanying salad was made of spinach, shredded carrots, chopped celery, cucumbers, radishes and bean sprouts. I had also intended to toss in some snow peas but I forgot. This is a great salad and an even better dressing.   It is definitely a way to get your family to eat their vegetables!"

 
Thanks to Debra and Tina for joining in 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).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "How We Disappeared" by Jing-Jing Lee, Served with a Recipe for Stir-Fried Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce and Rice with Radish

It's Wednesday and the week is sliding into the home stretch and the weekend and I couldn't be more ready. I am also happy to be today's TLC Book Tour stop for How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee, a compelling World War II historical novel that is haunting and beautiful. Accompanying my review is a simple recipe for Stir-Fried Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce and Steamed Rice with Radish.
 


Publisher's Blurb: 

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel set in World War II Singapore about a woman who survived the Japanese occupation and a man who thought he had lost everything—for fans of Pachinko and We Were the Lucky Ones.

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.
 
In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a “comfort woman.” After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her.

In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he never could have foreseen.

Weaving together two time lines and two very big secrets, this stunning debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, revealing the strength and bravery shown by numerous women in the face of terrible cruelty. Drawing in part on her family’s experiences, Jing-Jing Lee has crafted a profoundly moving, unforgettable novel about human resilience, the bonds of family and the courage it takes to confront the past.

Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Hanover Square Press; Original edition (May 7, 2019)


My Review: 

I will say that I was disappointed when How We Disappeared arrived. I was caught up by the incredibly gorgeous tropical cover and thinking of how great it would look in pics, that when the more plain black ARC arrived I was a bit sad. What I wasn't disappointed in however, was the incredibly moving and beautiful story I found within its pages. I have read several books, fiction and non-fiction about the so-called "comfort women" of the WWII era--young women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military in brothels. It is a disturbing subject and one that isn't easy to read or think about, but I try to read historical fiction from different perspectives and viewpoints and I think these women's voices are incredibly powerful and important. Author Jing-Jing Lee has incorporated some of her own family's history and experience in Singapore during WWII for the novel and has written a compelling story that while hard to classify as an enjoyable read, is certainly an engrossing one. 

The book alternates from the voices of Wang Di, a young village woman who is taken from her family and forced into sexual slavery for nearly three years during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, and Kevin, a twelve-year-old boy, living in Singapore with his parents and grandmother. Wang Di tells of the war years as well as Singapore in 2000 where Kevin's story is also set. It isn't completely clear in the beginning how these two lives will intersect but the pieces come together well and I found myself equally caught up in their stories. I liked the way Lee wove the stories, setting and times together and how the disappearing in the title applied to both characters, how they felt about themselves and how others failed to see them. I finished the book a few days ago and can't stop thinking about it and our contrasting human powers for cruelty and kindness, despair and resilience, overwhelming fear and incredible strength and courage. If you need an easy, breezy book, How We Disappeared is not it, but it is a well-written story that will touch you with its poignancy.

-----

Author Notes: Jing-Jing Lee is the author of the novel, If I Could Tell You. Her poems have been published in Ceriph, Poetry Quarterly, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and Moving Words 2011: A Poetry Anthology. Jing moved to Europe in her early 20s and started to pursue writing full-time. In 2011, she gained a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. She now lives in Amsterdam with her husband and is working on her second book of fiction. When she’s not working on her novel-in-progress or reading (or taking photographs), she can be found here and on twitter.

Connect with Jing-Jing on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.

-----

Food Inspiration:

There was so much food in How We Disappeared, even with the wartime years, when supplies were meager and the fare simpler, there was no shortage or food inspiration. I had a couple of pages of notes that included egg, water spinach, biscuits, congee--(several mentions with different toppings and additions to this simple rice gruel), pork with salted cabbage and peppercorns, chicken rice, coffee, mangosteens, roast duck and chicken, soup stock with fishcake, raw stuffed okra, silky tofu and straw mushrooms, sweet dumplings and cakes, noodle stalls, Oolong tea, boiled rice in banana leaf, fried shrimp, pickled mustard greens, tapioca, banana, chicken wings in coconut milk with freshly ground curry, root vegetables (cassava and potato,tapioca) home-pickled vegetables, curry, mangoes, silky soybean curd, cups of hot Milo, white bread with margarine and jam, a twist of radish omelet, pandas cake, oyster omelet, soft-boiled egg, pork dumplings, sweet potatoes leaves stir0fried with chili paste, sweet potato porridge, various kinds of kueh (dessert pastries, cakes usually made from gulitnous rice),  salted fish, vegetable soup, tangerines,char su rice with no cucumbers and extra chili, peanut and pigs tail soup, lotus root soup, stir-fried greens, and chocolate Hiro cake.


For my book inspired dish, I thought about making my favorite hawker dish of Singapore street noodles, and considered congee--although I made it fairly recently for a post and didn't want to repeat it. Finally I decided on something very simple--lunch that Kevin's mom left him of white rice, stir-fried choy sum, and three pieces of luncheon meet. (I left off the luncheon meat of course). ;-) I had wanted to stir-fry some water spinach (ong choy here) as it starts out the book, but it isn't as easy to find as choy sum at my local grocery store. Speaking of local, the choy sum and the radishes I put on top of the rice (I was going to pickle them but ran out of time) are local ingredients. I like my greens with garlic and looked at a few recipes online before tossing together my own.


Stir-Fried Choy Sum with Garlic Sauce
Inspired by a bunch of recipes, but tossed together by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 3 to 4 as a Side Dish)

Choy Sum:
2 bunches choy sum (about 1 & 1/4 lbs or so), chopped as desired
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil or peanut oil + 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Garlic Sauce
1 Tbsp coconut oil
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 Tbsp low-sodium Tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp water
salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add choy sum--blanch for about 2 minutes, drain, and pat dry. 

While water is boiling, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute for abut 2 minutes, until fragrant. Scrap cooked garlic from the pan into a small bowl, add tamari/soy sauce, oyster sauce, corn starch, sesame oil and water, whisking together until well blended. Taste and season with salt and black pepper if desired and set aside.

Heat a large wok or saute pan and add oil. When pan is hot and oil is at smoking point, add the choy sum, and saute, stirring regularly for 2 to 3 minutes. Add sauce and stir into the choy sum, cooking for about 2 minutes. 

Plate, serve with a scattering of sesame seeds if desired and enjoy!

Note: I just used some leftover white rice, topped with thin slivers of radish for crunch.   


Notes/Results: Just a simple, fairly quick to put together light lunch or dinner of garlicky greens and rice. Sauteing the garlic softens it somewhat, but it definitely plays a big flavor role, so you can reduce it if you want something milder. The sauce would be equally as good on other greens--kale, chard, spinach, bok choy... as the garlic, sesame, tamari and oyster sauce work well with the slight bitterness greens can have. You can of course add your favorite protein to round things out. I actually had some tofu poke salad that I enjoyed with my meal, and my leftovers will likely be topped with a soft-boiled egg tomorrow. I will happily 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 "How We Disappeared" 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, May 12, 2019

Kerala Fish Stew with Lime and Curry Leaves (and Potatoes & Peas) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I stopped by Whole Foods the other night to drop something off to my friend and we ended up shopping together. Since I knew I would be making an Indian dish this week for I Heart Cooking Clubs, I checked the local produce aisle to see if they had any fresh curry leaves and ended up with a large bag. Luckily, Natalie took some from me because, although they can be dried or frozen, they are always better fresh.


I looked to Madhur Jaffrey for a soup recipe that used curry leaves but ended up going with a Kerala Fish Stew with Lime and Curry Leaves from Nigel Slater. I liked the combination of the cardamom, lime and curry leaves. I did make a couple of changes, adding some small potatoes and frozen peas (I have been craving samosas I guess!) and adding more broth and coconut milk to make it soupier. I used two kinds of local fish, kajiki and shutome--both mild, firm white fish that held up well. 


Nigel Slater says, “Curry leaves, coriander, coconut, tamarind and limes. These are the tart, cooling flavours you expect further east, yet a Keralan fish stew may be scented with them all. The fish in the market is good enough, the usual Indian blue-grey pomfret, giant eel and the area's famous prawns - after all we are not far from the sea - but we can do better. Down by the sea, past the fishing boats at Cochin, you can also buy it from the boats down by the harbour in Cochin.

Kerala Fish Stew
Slightly adapted from Nigel Slater via TheGuardian.com
(Feeds 4 to 6)

750g (about 1.5 lbs) mixed fish, such as haddock, mullet (I used local kajiki {blue marlin} and shutome (broadbill swordfish)
a little turmeric
juice of a lime
3 Tbsp of coconut, vegetable or groundnut oil
an onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 large, or 6 small green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
a piece of ginger as big as your thumb, peeled and finely grated
6 green cardamoms
20 fresh curry leaves

(I added about 1 lb small yellow potatoes, sliced)
(I added 2 cups light veggie stock)
(I added 1 cup frozen peas, thawed)
400ml tin (15 oz can)  coconut milk (I used 2 cans)
rice to serve

Rinse the fish, taking care to remove any loose scales or bones. Pat it dry with kitchen paper, put it in a shallow dish and dust with a couple of pinches of turmeric and the same of salt. Squeeze over the lime juice and set aside for half an hour or so.

Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan, adding the onion as it warms. Cook over a low to moderate heat until the onion is soft, stirring from time to time, then add the chillies, garlic and ginger, continuing till all has softened.

Break open the cardamom pods, crush the seeds slightly, and add them to the onion mixture with the curry leaves. Stir in the coconut milk and an equal amount of water. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, making sure it does not boil. (It will curdle if it does.)

Cut the fish into large, meaty chunks then slide them into the sauce. Let it cook gently, barely bubbling, until tender and easily parted from its skin or bone. This will take about 4 or 5 minutes depending on the thickness and variety of your fish. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt as you wish.


Notes/Results: I really love this soup, the curry and cardamon give it an exotic flavor--not curry, but fragrant and aromatic, while the lime, chilies and coconut give it an almost Thai vibe. I used three large jalapenos and seeded, it was just spicy enough for me without overpowering the dish. I forgot to make rice, so served it with a microwave lime-coconut rice.I will happily make this again.


Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs for Cuisine Spotlight: Indian!

 
Let's take a look in the in the Souper Sundays kitchen.


Debra of Eliot's Eats shared this Quick Salad, inspired by By Invitation Only by Dorthea Benton Frank. She says, "Being the only cook in the family, Shelby brings “two bags of prewashed romaine lettuce to make a salad, with cherry tomatoes and a container of mini-mozzarella balls in water” (176). On the following page, she describes her recipe. ... This salad, however, was a great light Sunday lunch for us. I paired it with some balsamic-butter toasted pretzel buns. (More about that butter later—I’m still perfecting it.)"
 


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared her Kitchen Clean Out Salad, saying "This salad is from scavenging in the fridge.  Best soups and salads come out from those forages. Here I used butter lettuce, some baby spinach, cucumber, chopped yellow bell pepper, grape tomatoes and a bit of rotisserie chicken. This was hauled off to lunch as I am still dragging myself in for a bit longer. While I enjoy lunch I prop up my Kindle and read. The life of a Government Drone."


Thanks to Debra and Tina for joining in 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).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Have a happy, healthy week!