Sunday, July 13, 2014

Flashback Special--5 Fabulous Summer Soups for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays!

Well my friends, I have done what I vowed NEVER to do. I skipped making a soup this week!  I know... I can hardly believe it myself. 

By the time this posts I will be just landed in Toronto for the quickest, longest trip business trip ever. I'm on planes for 12 hours, get in to the city to hook up with one of my favorite blogging friends for some face-to-face girl time that's been over 6 years in the making.  Then it's three packed days of work--including a day and a half teaching a workshop and back on the planes for the 12 hours back to Hawaii on Thursday. Whew! Soup just didn't happen.

Not one to let a Souper Sundays go by, I decided to do a flashback post of five of my favorite summer soups. Some people think soup isn't for summer--but I think it's perfect all year round. Here are five fabulous ones to get you in a souper (Sundays) mood. 

Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho:  
Gazpacho is the perfect summer soup and I like my gazpacho to be unique like this one full of cool refreshment from the green grapes and cucumber and made creamy from the Marcona almonds.  

Creamy Lime and Coconut Edamame Soup:
This soup was a thrown-together, pantry and fridge clean out creation. It's Thai-flavor profile is tangy with a little kick of heat. It's also good at any temperature making perfect for any kind of summer weather.  

Sure one is made with winter squash but you can always swap it out for a summer squash. Any of these Three "Detox" Soups would be perfect for a summer lunch or dinner starter. My favorite is the Roasted Red Pepper but they are all quick to make and full of flavor. 

There you have it--soups that are quick to make, healthy and taste great on a warm summer day!

We have a couple of friends hanging out with salads in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

Foodycat shares her Meat-Free Monday salad of Eggs, Peas and Feta and says, "I saw a picture on pinterest, of a dish similar to this, but the link didn't work and my google-fu let me down. So I made up my own version. It has several of your so-called five-a-day and is utterly delicious and satisfying."

Tigerfish of Teczscape - An Escape to Food brings Broccolini and Bean Sprouts in Peanut Vinaigrette Salad and says, "Today, this three-ingredient salad is enjoyed with a newly created peanut-sauce dressing, an upgraded version from this basic peanut butter sauce, which is perfectly balanced - nutty, tangy, salty, sweet, spicy.

Thanks to Foodycat and Tigerfish for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Miso Soup with Prawns and Green Tea Noodles for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

As much as I rely on a good veggie soup to get me through the week, sometimes the heart and stomach call instead for a bowl of Asian-flavored noodly soup. I had Nigel Slaters simple Miso Soup with Prawns tagged to make and since his recipe didn't call for noodles, I added my own--cooked green tea soba noodles--to make it a heartier bowl. It's still light and lovely and on the table in the time it takes to cook the noodles and heat the broth.  

Miso Soup with Prawns
Adapted from Nigel Slater via TheGuardian online
(Serves 2-3)

vegetable stock--750ml (about 3+ cups) (low-sodium)
white (shiro) miso paste--2 Tbsp
chilli sauce--2 tsp (I used
dark soy sauce--2 tsp
little gem lettuce-1 head (I subbed local baby manoa lettuce)
spring onion--1, finely sliced
large, cooked prawns--a couple of handfuls
coriander leaves--a handful

(I added cooked cha soba (Japanese green tea noodles) + sesame seeds to garnish)

Bring the stock to the boil, stir in the miso paste, the chilli sauce (I like the thicker kind) and the soy sauce. (Note from Deb: Nigel doesn't make this clear but, to avoid cooking all the good nutrients out of the miso, remove the stock from the heat when it starts to boil and stir in the miso at the last minute before serving.)

Before the broth...
Break up the lettuce and divide it between two bowls, together with the spring onion. Add a few large, cooked prawns to each bowl then pour over the hot miso broth. Finish with coriander, letting it wilt in the heat of the stock.

Notes/Results: A bowl that is big on satisfaction and flavor. A happy hug of noodle soup goodness. The broth has plenty of flavor from the veggie broth (use homemade or a good quality low sodium one), the soy sauce, Sriracha, cilantro and miso. The broth has a subtle heat, if you like a spicier bowl, add more chile. Want to keep it veg-friendly--replace the prawns with tofu or more veggies. Use rice noodles if you want to keep it gluten free, or leave out the noodles--you can adapt this one however you like. Love the simplicity of this one and that tasty miso-forward broth, I will make it again.  

This bowl of noodly goodness is being linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week's theme is 'Eating Around the Globe.' Nigel and I 'hoofed it' to Asia this week. ;-) Once the post goes live, you can see where everyone traveled by checking out the picture links on the post.  

We have some soups and salads and good friends waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen so let's take a look.

Janet of The Taste Space shares Brazilian Black Bean and Seitan Stew adapted from Afro-Vegan, a new cookbook by Bryant Terry. She says, "Now I am sharing another great soup, which I simplified by skipping the dumplings. This black bean stew, inspired by the Brazilian feijoada, is more tomato-heavy than my previous versions, but still nice and hearty and simple enough for an easy meal."

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm is here with African Black Eyed Pea Soup and says, "Even in summer, when it is rainy outside as it is today, a bowl of soup can hit the spot - even on Independence Day - so what if it's not colored red, white and blue :) ... This recipe isn't particular to any country in Africa, but more a general recipe using ingredients common in African cuisine. Black eyed peas are one of the most common legumes used throughout the continent and this soup is a perfect way to utilize it."

Tigerfish of Teczcape-An Escape to Food brings her special Chickpea Salad and says, "Chickpeas (a.k.a Garbanzo beans, or commonly known as Channa in Indian cuisine), red bell peppers, red onions (or shallots), and fresh parsley or cilantro are easily available ingredients from the grocery store but their nutrition and natural flavors are not at all ordinary. The dressing is also quite an extra-ordinary blend of organic cold-pressed flax oil, organic raw apple cider vinegar and raw honey."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made this simple salad of Broccoli Rabe Tossed in Pesto and says, "You know you want to eat more greens, so don't be intimidated if you've never made broccoli rabe before.  This is an easy recipe that is really tasty. Do you like Italian food? It doesn't get more Italian than tossing broccoli rabe, broccoli or broccolini  in a delicious pesto sauce. Because of all the variety of fresh greens, this recipe provides lots of energy giving chlorophyll and nutrients while the basil flavor is a little milder."

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes shares a healthy-hearty Farro and Sweet Potato Salad and says, "Unfortunately I had already used my barley for another salad, but I had plenty of farro around and since I’ve found that most grains are somewhat interchangeable, I went with the substitution.   All I can say is that I don’t know how good this is with barley, but it is amazing with farro.  I cooked the farro (which by the way, I found organic in a large bag at Costco) al dente so it had a nice toothsome bite.  I also roasted the sweet potatoes instead of sautéing them in a pan like the author calls for.

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Little Green Onion & Ricotta Omelettes with Asian Dipping Sauce

Little is always more fun to eat. These Little Green Onion & Ricotta Omelettes by Nigel Slater are a good example. Savory little egg pancakes studded with green onion and cilantro and served with an Asian Dipping Sauce, they are a good little starter for a light summer meal. 

Nigel says, "Tiny, free-form omelettes the size of a large biscuit. Let them form their own shape in the pan. Eat them as they are, or with the simple dressing below."

Little Green Onion & Ricotta Omelettes
Adapted from Notes From the Larder by Nigel Slater
(Makes 6, Serves 3)

ricotta cheese: 1 cup (250g)
eggs: 4
green onions: 3
cilantro leaves: a handful
butter: 1 1/2 Tbsp (20g)

Mash the ricotta with a fork. Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the ricotta. Finely chop the green onions, then mix with the cilantro leaves. Fold them into the ricotta and egg mixture with a generous seasoning of salt and a little black pepper.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. When it starts to sizzle gently, pour a spoonful of the mixture in and let it settle into a small pancake, about 2 1/2 inches (6cm) in diameter. Add as many others as you can comfortably fit in the pan. Let them cook for a couple of minutes till lightly colored on the underside, then flip gently over and cook the other side for a minute. 

Lift the omelettes out onto warm plates and serve immediately.

A very simple dressing for the omelettes can be made by mixing a tablespoon each of fish sauce, lime juice, and soft brown sugar with a little chopped red chile and grated ginger to taste. (Note: I didn't have a red chile so I used a squirt of Sriracha sauce instead.)

Notes/Results: These are light little omelettes, kind of a little fritter / pancake sort of thing. They remind me of the scallion pancakes at a favorite Chinese food restaurant. The ricotta makes them light and they have plenty of flavor from the green onion and scallion. The dressing goes well with them and adds a good combination of salt, sweet and heat. I made a half batch and used a medium ice cream scoop to make three of them. They did spread a bit and I probably could have scooped smaller and made four or six but two on a bed of spinach, with the sauce worked well as a starter. Quick, simple and tasty, I would make them again.

The theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Starters and Nibbles. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Book Tour Stops Here: 'The Sea Garden' by Deborah Lawrenson with Provencal White Bean and Artichoke Spread with Lavender and Herbs

From an island off the French Riviera, to lavender fields in Provence, to the cities of London and Paris, 'The Sea Garden'--A Novel by Deborah Lawrenson is a journey through both time and place as three novellas converge into one alluring story, spanning decades and shrouded in mystery.

Publisher's Blurb:

Three stories rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere are linked by a single mystery in this spellbinding novel of love and loss in the fog of war.

  • The Sea Garden: On the lush Mediterranean island of Porquerolles off the French coast, Ellie Brooke, an award-winning British landscape designer, has been hired to restore a memorial garden. Unsettled by its haunted air and the bitterness of the garden’s owner, an elderly woman who seems intent on undermining her, Ellie finds that her only ally on the island is an elusive war historian. . . .
  • The Lavender Field: Near the end of World War II, Marthe Lincel, a young blind woman newly apprenticed at a perfume factory in Nazi-occupied Provence, finds herself at the center of a Resistance cell. When tragedy strikes, she faces the most difficult choice of her life and discovers a breathtaking courage she never expected.
  • A Shadow Life: Iris Nightingale, a junior British intelligence officer in wartime London, falls for a French agent. But after a secret landing in Provence results in terrible Nazi reprisals, he vanishes. When France is liberated, Iris is determined to uncover the truth. Was he the man he claimed to be?

Hardcover: 320 pages 
Publisher: Harper (6/24/2014)

It seems a bit silly to start my book review with the fact that I could just be happy sitting and staring at the cover of The Sea Garden. The artwork is gorgeous--as it should be to capture the mood and beauty of Deborah Lawrenson's words. I had the pleasure of reviewing Lawrenson's novel The Lantern a couple of years ago and described it as "lush" and "a book for the senses." The Sea Garden is no different. The author's words paint pictures in the mind--you see the characters and places, feel the warm breezes, smell the flora and fauna and generally get just as caught up soaking in the settings as you do in the stories themselves. Of the three stories, I probably connected most with the second and third which are both primarily set in the later part of WWII. I have an interest in the history of that time. I found the characters of Marthe and Iris to be brave and compelling and the roles they played in the war were fascinating. The book's 300+ pages move quickly, as much as I wanted to linger and soak in the beauty of the prose, I found myself hurrying to turn pages to find out what would happen next and see how everything would connect. The way it all comes together at the end was a good balance of things I had figured out as well as some startling things I did not see coming. This is a wonderful book for a warm summer morning in the garden or on the lanai. If you love descriptive writing, mysteries, historical fiction, women's fiction, or you just want to escape--grab a copy of the The Sea Garden and let it take you away. 

Author Notes: Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter and lives in Kent, England. She and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for her novel The Lantern and inspiration for The Sea Garden.  Find out more about Deborah at her website, read more at her blog, and connect with her on Facebook

Although not a foodie novel, there was plenty of food to be inspired by in the book. Lawrenson's descriptive writing translates well to food and there were lush fruit trees and gardens on the island, warm croissants and coffee, a tomato and onion tart, salad with a light tangy dressing and grilled crayfish, tea and toast, orchards of fruits, nuts and olives, even courgettes and a nice fat aubergine...-- so many ideas to choose from. On the island, Ellie eats from a platter of Provencal hors d'oeuvres and that got me thinking of some sort of savory spread with the flavors of Provence. I wanted to work lavender into the mix for perfumer Marthe (who also appeared in Lawrenson's The Lantern). I ended up putting together a pantry-friendly recipe of Provencal White Bean and Artichoke Spread with Lavender and Herbs that I think makes the most of the ingredients and would be a welcome part of any appetizer plate. 

Provencal White Bean & Artichoke Spread with Lavender and Herbs
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 1/2 Cups

2 Tbsp + 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp culinary lavender
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped finely

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
juice of 1 medium lemon
2 cans (15.5 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

sea salt and white pepper to taste 
In a small  skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, culinary lavender, fresh rosemary and thyme, stirring until the herbs are fragrant and the garlic is just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor. Pour the garlic-herb oil mixture over the beans. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and process to a fairly smooth puree--stopping the machine to scrape down the sides if needed. Add the artichoke hearts and pulse 4-5 times so they are chopped but still have some texture. 

Taste and season as desired with sea salt and ground white pepper, pulsing another 3-4 times to mix. Place in covered container in the fridge for an hour or two so that flavors develop. Serve with raw vegetable sticks, bread chucks, crackers or flat bread.

Dip will keep covered and refrigerated for several days. 

Notes/Results: This is just a wonderful little spread, the lemon, lavender, rosemary and thyme setting off the flavor of the beans and artichoke hearts rather than overpowering them. There is always a fine line between getting enough lavender flavor to have it be a happy surprise and not like being bashed with a bottle of flowery perfume and this one doesn't cross to the dark side. Since I had a tin of Maui-grown culinary lavender, I used it along with fresh rosemary and thyme from my herb pots but you could also use an Herbes de Provence blend to get a similar effect. The fig and walnut wheat bread may seem like an odd choice with a white bean spread, but the little bursts of sweetness from the figs, the nutty walnuts and the yeasty flavor of the bread went surprisingly well with the dip. With a glass of crisp white wine, it was an easy dinner on a warm night. I will make it again. 

Note: A review copy of "The Sea Garden" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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 the TLC Book Tours and Reviews here.  


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cold Tomato-Almond Soup with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce & Hardboiled Egg for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

It's been a humid few days so I was in the mood for a cold soup this week. I wanted a Spanish gazpacho-style soup, thickened with bread and almonds (similar to this Cordoban Gazpacho). Cool, creamy and slightly smoky. 

I have been slightly obsessed with Old Bay Seasoning lately (the low-salt one)--adding it to hummus (recipe coming soon), mixing it into my scrambled eggs and tuna salad--I like its zestiness and the combination of flavors. I thought it would be a great addition to this soup, with a bump-up of smoked paprika. Another recent obsession, Creamy-Basil-Caper Sauce adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe. I loved it over pasta and knew it would be a great piquant contrast to the sweet and smoky soup and chopped hard-boiled egg.

Cold Tomato-Almond Soup with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce 
Soup by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, Sauce Adapted from Nigel Slater
(Serves 4)

2 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes
1/2 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp tomato paste (sundried tomato paste if possible)
2 slices bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and black pepper to taste
To Serve: 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped and Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce (recipe below)

Using a paring knife, make a shallow "X" on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch tomatoes for 30-40 seconds in boiling water. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Once cooled, drain, peel and chop tomatoes. 

Place tomatoes in a blender jar with sweet onion, garlic, tomato paste, bread, toasted almonds, vinegar, oil and spices. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and taste. Refrigerate until very well chilled, at least 2 hours. 

Serve soup cold, topped with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce and chopped hard-boiled egg


Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce 
Adapted from Notes From the Larder by Nigel Slater
(Makes about 1 cup)

Basil leaves, a good couple of handfuls, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of capers, pureed with enough olive oil to make a thick pouring consistency. Stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of cream and some salt and pepper.

Notes/Results: Not everyone is a gazpacho or cold soup fan but if you aren't or haven't tried cold soups before, this is the way to go. The bread and almonds add a creaminess that soften the edges of gazpacho and make it rich and indulgent. So good. The smoky-sweet combination is wonderful on its own but even better with the toppings. It takes just minutes to make and the only cooking is blanching the tomatoes. Serve this soup as a starter for an outdoor dinner on a warm night, maybe with some crackers and Spanish Manchego cheese. This totally hit the spot--I will make it again.  

Let's take a look in the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.

Foodycat is here with a delectable Fried Prawn Salad and says, "I haven't deep-fried anything in ages, so I thought topping a big meal-in-a-bowl salad with marinated fried prawns would be a good Friday night treat. And it was. There are a couple of new-to-me features about this salad - one ingredient and one technique. The ingredient is this avocado oil flavoured with chipotle, which recently sent me to try. It has a lovely buttery flavour with a good chipotle warm smokiness. Apparently you can cook with it, but so far I have just used it in salad dressings. And the technique is this - you marinate the prawns in lemon and bicarbonate of soda before dredging in flour and frying. It works extremely well although I am not entirely sure why..."

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes shares this summer-ready Cod with Grapefruit Salad and says, "Am I the only one with about 6 or 7 mason jars of various homemade dressings on the bottom shelf of their fridge?  Most were made for a recipe and I put the leftovers in my fridge, planning on using them later on something else.  Well, I wasn’t going to let this wonderful dressing with it’s earthy hints from the sesame oil and sweet heat from the ginger go to waste! I remembered reading about a cod and grapefruit salad from Eating Well.  That combination sounded like the perfect backdrop for the ginger dressing – and it was!"  

Thanks to Foodycat and Pam for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tortellini with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce, Toasted Pine Nuts, & Golden Tomatoes for Food 'N Flix June: 'Moonstruck'

Where does the month go? It's time again for Food 'N Flix--time to cook a dish inspired by a movie. Our selection for June, hosted by my friend Debra of Eliot's Eats, is the 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck starring Cher, along with Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, and Vincent Gardenia. 

"La bella luna! The moon brings the woman to the man. Capice?
Cher plays Loretta Castorini, a widowed Italian bookkeeper from Brooklyn whose husband was killed in a bus accident several years earlier. (Loretta believes her first marriage was cursed because they got married at City Hall instead of doing it right at the church.) She decides to make a safe choice and marry Johnny, a nice, mild-mannered friend of her late husband even though she really isn't in love with him. When Johnny goes to Italy to see his dying mother, Loretta meets his estranged younger brother Ronny and on the night of a huge, glorious full moon, she begins to feel passion and feelings for Ronny that are missing from her relationship with Johnny.

I had not seen this movie in years and was happy to find it conveniently playing on HBO all this month so I set my DVR to record it and then sat down for trip back to visit 80's Cher and Nic Cage. I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed it--I am a serious repeat movie watcher when I like/love a movie and the fact that I never made an effort to watch this one again led me to think I must not have been impressed. But, it is funny, sweet, a bit quirky, and you can see why Cher won the Oscar for her performance and the always delightful Olympia Dukakis won best supporting actress for her role. 

Of course there is plenty of Italian food inspiration in this movie--minestrone soup, pasta, bread, steak, and a simple breakfast of eggs-in-the-hole with roasted red peppers that Loretta's mother makes to share with her. In the end, I found my inspiration in a Nigel Slater recipe sketch from Notes From the Larder--a simple but unique little pasta sauce with some of my favorite ingredients in it. Not at all from from the movie but I figure the slightly sharp and tart sauce represents Loretta, while Nicolas Cage's character Ronny is a little nuts, so the pine nuts are for him, and finally, the baby orange tomatoes I added to Slater's dish represent the big old full moon that inspires such passion. (But mostly I made this dish because I really just wanted to try it!) ;-)  

Tortellini with Creamy Basil-Caper Sauce, Toasted Pine Nuts, & Golden Tomatoes
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Notes From the Larder
(Serves 2)

Nigel says, "First, dinner. Basil leaves, a good couple of handfuls, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of capers, pureed with enough olive oil to make a thick pouring consistency. Stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of cream and some salt and pepper, then toss with a bowl of cooked cappelletti. Pine nuts, toasted in a nonstick pan, get chucked on top after the pasta and sauce have met."  

(Note: I added extra capers and local sweet orange baby tomatoes and, unable to find cappelletti "little hats" in my neck of the woods island, I used a similarly stuffed pasta--a basil and Parmesan fresh tortellini.) 

Notes/Results: Such a great quick pasta sauce and a dish with lots of flavor--it's like a creamy pesto with a slight tangy, briny edge. I liked how the sharper elements--the basil, capers (I doubled the amount), mustard and white wine vinegar were mellowed by the cream. Definitely a dish I wanted more of. Using fresh pasta, it took less than 15 minutes to make--most of that boiling the pasta water. The sweetness of the little Kahuku Golden tomatoes was a nice contrast to the sauce and the buttery, nutty toasted pine nuts added a good touch of crunch. Since the tortellini I used was stuffed with basil and Parmesan, I didn't feel like it needed any additional cheese but you certainly could grate some in if you wanted to. I really liked the sauce and will definitely make this again.

In addition to Food 'N Flix, this pasta is doing double-duty at I Heart Cooking Clubs where our theme this week is Mediterranean Magic. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 

The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is tomorrow, Friday, June 27th and Debra will be rounding up the entries on her blog soon after. If you missed out on Moonstruck and love food, films and foodie films, come join us for July when we will be watching and cooking from one of my favorite foodie movies, Like Water for Chocolate, hosted by Elizabeth at The Law Student's Cookbook.