Sunday, July 24, 2016

Nigel Slater's Easy, Summer Miso Broth with Greens for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

When I made Nigel Slater's Summer Vegetable Laksa a couple of weeks ago, I found myself also interested in the other summer soup listed in his The Guardian article, Miso Broth with Greens. I make a lot of quick miso soups with vegetables for a quick meal or snack, but I liked his use of an herb paste to add to the mix.

Nigel says, "You can use yellow or brown miso paste to give body to a clear broth, but the yellow had my attention this week for its mellow, almost creamy quality. It dissolves easily and adds a mushroom-like note. I keep it in the fridge for occasions such as this. (Or for my emergency meal of powdered vegetable bouillon, miso paste and any green vegetable that's around.) What I really love about miso paste is its ability to make a soup more sustaining without adding bulk. ... The greens are up to you. I used long thin ung choi, but bok choi, spinach, shredded spring cabbage or anything that takes your fancy, and cooks quickly, will work."

Miso Broth with Greens
Very Slightly Adapted from Nigel Slater via The Guardian
(Serves 4

water--1 litre (about1 quart)
yellow miso paste--4 Tbsp
green chilli--1, hot
spring onions--2
mint--a handful
lemon grass--3 stalks
ginger--1 Tbsp or to taste
lime leaves--6
greens, such as bok choi--4 handfuls (I used baby bok choi and choi sum)

(I added black and white sesame seeds to garnish)

Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, stir in the miso paste until it has dissolved, then turn down to a simmer. 

Put the chilli, spring onions, mint and the inner leaves of the lemon grass into a food processor with the ginger and blitz to a smooth paste. Stir the spice paste into the simmering broth, scrunch the lime leaves and add them, and cook for a few minutes. 

Blanch the greens, then add to the soup and serve.

Notes/Results: This is another great summer soup because it is quick to make, light and delicious. I really like the lemongrass paste that Nigel adds to the soup base and it is what sets this apart from most miso soups--the lemongrass, chilli, mint and ginger add so much fresh flavor. I used baby bok choi and choi sum in my soup but you can add whatever greens or veggies you have on hand. You could also add tofu or another cooked protein (like shrimp or chicken) to this soup to make it more of a meal. This soup hit the spot on a very blustery day with Tropical Storm Darby on the horizon, I will make it again.  

I will be linking this post up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is Potluck--our chance to make any recipe by our current featured chef Curtis Stone, or any previous chef like Nigel Slater. 

(Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.


Here's the roundup of what was shared this past week:

My fellow Hawaii blogger, Claudia of Honey From Rock shared Curtis Stone's Quick and Easy Chilled Gazpacho saying, "The weather, being so muggy and hot, has been inspiring me to more salads and less cooking.  A Gazpacho sounded quite cool and refreshing, and it was, it is!"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brings a Grilled Avocado BLT Sandwich and says, "For this week I want to share a simple throw together grilled sandwich. It’s avocado, tomato, bacon and cheese grilled and melty. When it’s a few days before payday and you don’t want to hit savings, look in your fridge and pantry and see what you can put together."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shares her Easy Summer Salad, saying, "I had company last night, and I made this amazing summer salad! I used most of the veggies that I received from my CSA this week:  tomatoes, cucumbers, fennel, cabbage, celery, red onion, fresh basil, fresh mint, plus I added some sliced black olives and thick slices of avocado sprinkled with cumin. The salad was pretty to look at and absolutely delicious to eat."

Thanks to everyone who linked up last week!

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 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.
On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Braised Opah Puttanesca

A quick Friday post and a recipe from Curtis Stone that goes together quickly, takes minimal effort and works in summery fresh tomatoes with local fish--which makes it a winner in my book! I served it with spiralized zucchini noodles for a healthy dinner.

Curtis says, "Try my take on classic puttanesca—a Mediterranean tomato sauce in which capers and olives provide an added punch of flavor—by using it to braise mahimahi or bass. You make your sauce, pop in your fish, cover the pan for a few minutes, and come back to a beautiful dish. The heat of the sauce does the cooking for you."

Braised Mahi Mahi Opah Puttanesca
Slightly Adapted from Curtis Stone via
(Serves 4)
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided (I reduced oil to 2 Tbsp)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved (I used mixed olives)
2 Tbsp capers, drained
sea salt
4 skinless mahi mahi or sea bass fillets (6 oz each) (I used local opah)
2 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. oil over low heat. Add garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring frequently and mashing anchovies, about 2 minutes, or until garlic is soft but not browned. Stir in red pepper flakes. Add tomatoes, wine, olives, and capers. Increase heat to medium and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, or until tomatoes have broken down. Season to taste with salt.

Season fish with salt, and lay gently in the sauce. Drizzle fillets with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Cover and simmer gently over low heat 7 to 10 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through and still moist. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Notes/Results: Easy and delicious--a good amount of spice and yummy briny olives and capers. This is a keeper dish! Curtis's recipe calls for mahi mahi (or suggests sea bass as an alternative) but with local fish you have to go with what looks best and freshest and today that was opah (moonfish) and it cooked up perfectly moist and tender. I think any firm, mild white fish will work well. I reduced the oil by half and went for carb-free zucchini noodles, but pasta or rice would also work well. Another small change was using  assorted (and pitted) olives from the grocery store olive bar. The kalamata olives they had had pits and I am lazy! ;-)  

This post is linked up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto. You can see all the tomato-filled dishes everyone made by clicking on the picture links of the post.  

***Book Giveaways Reminder!***

If you happen to live in the U.S. or Canada and love to read, I have two great book giveaways going on right now. Click on the links below to see my reviews, recipes inspired by the books, and how you can enter!

The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorius:  Dark and gritty mystery thriller, set in South Africa with history and speculative fiction worked in. 
(Giveaway runs through 8/1/16

Unearthed by Alexandra Risen: Beautiful and moving food, garden, and family memoir (Giveaway runs through 8/4/16)   

 Happy Aloha Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mango Ice Cream with Sumac-Spiced Fruit & Maple Granola, Inspired by 'Unearthed' By Alexandra Risen & a Giveaway! {#UnearthedParty}

I got the opportunity to join some fabulous bloggers for an Unearthed Blog Party hosted by The Book Club Cookbook to celebrate the publication of Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons From an Abandoned Garden by Alexandra Risen, a food, garden, and family relationship-centered memoir. 

Accompanying my review is a recipe for Creamy Mango Ice Cream with Sumac-Spiced Fruit and Unearthed Maple Granola and there is a giveaway at the end of this post to win your own copy of this beautiful and touching book.  

Publisher's Blurb:
In this moving memoir, a woman digs into a garden and into the past and finds secrets, beauty, and acceptance. 

Alex’s father dies just as she and her husband buy a nondescript house set atop an acre of wilderness that extends into a natural gorge in the middle of the city. Choked with weeds and crumbling antique structures, the abandoned garden turned wild jungle stirs cherished memories of Alex’s childhood: when her home life became unbearable, she would escape to the forest. In her new home, Alex can feel the power of the majestic trees that nurtured her in her youth. 

She begins to beat back the bushes to unveil the garden’s mysteries. At the same time, her mother has a stroke and develops dementia and Alex discovers an envelope of yellowed documents while sorting through her father’s junk pile. The papers hold clues to her Ukrainian-born parents’ mysterious past. She reluctantly musters the courage to uncover their secrets, while discovering the plants hidden in the garden — from primroses and maple syrup–producing sugar maples to her mother's favorite, lily of the valley. As every passionate gardener knows, to spend time with the soil is the opposite of escapism — it is to embrace our own circle of life and hold it close. 

My Review:  

I love to look at plants, I love to eat them, I don't love to work in the yard or garden other than sometimes puttering around the clay pots of herbs on my lanai, but there is something that pulled me into this book where a couple buys a house with a large overgrown garden in terrible disrepair and spend 10 years and much time, effort and financial outlay to restore it. Unearthed is a beautifully written memoir that not only documents Alexandra Risen's experiences reclaiming her abandoned garden, but also documents her thoughts and feelings as she strives to understand the past of the parents that she felt so distanced from. Each of the 20 chapters features something (sour cherries, maple, cattails, periwinkle, mulberries, clay...) found in her garden and includes her memories related to it, what is happening in the restoration project and her current life, and a recipe for food, drink, or a craft project featuring or related to that item. Even though we are geographically far apart--my Hawaii to her Toronto, many of the plants are ones that I am familiar with from growing up in the Pacific Northwest and I very much enjoyed reading her unique ideas and recipes using them. 

The parts not about the garden were difficult for me to get through, not because they are not well-written, but because they are. Having lost my mom in May of last year, reading about Risen's mother and her decline in health was extremely painful and had me putting down the book and reading something else until I could handle it again. Although our relationships with our parents were very different and the circumstances and length of her mother's illness differed, there were enough similarities that triggered me and frankly, hurt my heart. Risen captured many of my thoughts and feelings--like the mix of guilt and sorrow battling with an unwelcome relief that I lived away, while my siblings were there dealing with everything in the day-to-day. ("I'm either angry with her or sad for her. I feel guilty for being far away, but not guilty enough to move back.") I believe it has a lot to do with the timing--the death of Risen's father that kicked off the book touched me, but since I have over 20 years of distance from losing my dad, it wasn't as painful to read about. So, between my pleasure in the garden restoration parts and my needing to take breaks from the parts that were triggers, I read Unearthed in a somewhat spotty fashion. 

Despite my personal issues and although it has its poignant moments, I promise that it isn't a downer book. I admired Risen's spunk and tenacity to restoring the garden, as well as her sense of humor. I definitely would have loved some pictures of what sounded like a truly amazing garden included in the book to go along with Risen's words. There's a lovely drawing in the front featuring some of the landmarks and plants, but pictures of the beginning of the project as well as the progress along the way would be welcome. I did feel like I could picture it from the author's vivid descriptions, but I am a visual girl. I think that anyone who enjoys memoirs, plants and gardening, books about finding yourself within your past, and food and ingredient-focused books will enjoy Unearthed. If that's you--take a minute to enter to win a copy at the end of this post  


Author Notes: Alexandra Risen has lived her life as a gradual migration from the northwestern prairies to the hilly southeast, all the while enjoying nature and increasingly warmer Plant Hardiness Zones. Unearthed is her first meditation on love, forgiveness, and our interconnectedness with nature. She lives and gardens with her husband, son, and rescued dog in Ontario.


Food Inspiration:

I have to admit I am not much of a forager. I have tried a time or two and there is a local Slow Food sponsored guided foraging hike that I want to go on, but I can't seem to work out my timing with when it has been offered. I once went on a geocaching hike with a group of co-workers (think Pokémon GO, only old-school) and ended up carrying home a small bag of wild guava--but they were a major pain to do much with because of all the seeds for such a tiny-sized fruit. I do try to at least grow herbs on my lanai, but this year I didn't get around to re-planting much and only a few hardy plants from last year are looking good. But, there is a mango tree that is in my neighbor's yard that overreaches into mine, and although I don't forage from it myself (I'm not tall enough and don't have the handy fruit-picker basket), I will come home periodically during mango season to find a plastic bag with a mango or two hung on my door knob. (The lazy girl's favorite way of passive foraging--thanks neighbor!) ;-) 

The mangoes are usually a bit stringy in texture, but the flavor is good--making them better for the blender than just eating. Since I had a giant one on my doorstop last week, I wanted to use it in my book-inspired dish and decided to make mango ice cream as I have been craving it. Of course the hard thing became waiting for it to ripen! I finally ended up putting it into a paper bag with a couple bananas in order to release the ethylene gas and speed up the process. Waiting did give me time to think about my dish and decide that I wanted to work sumac into the mix. 

There was a chapter on sumac in the book and when the author found that she had fresh sumac berries, she made tea and there is a recipe for a Homemade Za'atar Spice Blend. I don't have fresh sumac here, but I got introduced to the powdered spice and its tart lemony flavor through the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi and have a very large jar in my pantry. I wanted to use my sumac in a sweet dish instead of my usual savory. I first thought about mixing the sumac into the ice cream, thinking of it almost like li hing mui powder (a powder with a sour/salty flavor made from salty dried plums that is popular locally and finds it way onto everything from gummy candies, to the rim of margarita glasses, to salad dressings, and beyond...), but I am such a mango ice cream fan and purist, that I didn't want to take the chance that I wouldn't like it in the ice cream. (I have a firm rule--DON'T WASTE MANGOES!) So, after reading a few online suggested sweet uses for sumac, including sprinkling it on melon--I decided to use it in a fruit salad of sorts to serve with the ice cream.  

To add another texture, I decided to top the ice cream with granola--more specifically, the author's own Unearthed Maple Granola since we received a little care package as a thank you for reviewing the book. So ice cream, fruit salad, and granola--it all comes together in kind of a fruit-filled sundae

I have made a lot of ice cream over the years, most recently I have been concentrating on non-dairy or vegan versions, which I love--but I like them ultra creamy. I had pinned an piece on How to Make Dreamy Dairy-Free Vegan Ice Cream on The Kitchn as used it as the starting point for my mango ice cream base. The recipe used cornstarch and I have read quite a few different things lately about how using cornstarch instead of eggs makes ice cream richer, creamier, and even less icy. I decided to give it a try, but to make half of my ice cream mixture the base and the other half a mango puree--mixing it together for a mangoes and cream style.

Creamy Vegan Mango Ice Cream
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, based on this recipe by Emma Christensen at The Kitchn
(Makes about 1 Quart)

Coconut Ice Cream Base:
1 (13.5 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tbsp  cornstarch (or 3/4 Tbsp arrowroot starch)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Mango Puree:
2 1/2 cups chopped fresh (or frozen) mango chunks
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water, or as needed 

Prepare ahead: Place the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer 24 hours before you are ready to make the ice cream so that it frozen solid. Prepare and chill the coconut milk base at least 4 hours before making the ice cream. (I did it the night before, then added the mango puree later.)

To Make Coconut Base: Gently shake can of coconut milk to ensure that any separated layers are mixed together before opening the can. Pour coconut milk into a small saucepan, setting aside one half cup to mix with cornstarch. Add maple syrup and salt to pan with coconut milk and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally until warm and sweetener has thoroughly dissolved

Meanwhile, thoroughly whisk the cornstarch into the 1/2 cup of reserved coconut milk until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan of warm coconut milk and gently whisk until combined. Increase heat to medium and stirring occasionally, cook the base until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 6 to 8 minutes). Do not let the mixture boil!

Once thickened, remove the base from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour base into a shallow container and allow to cool to room temp on the counter. Press a piece of plastic wrap on top of cooled mixture so a 'skin' doesn't form, cover and place in fridge until thoroughly chilled (at least 4 hours, up to 3 days). Base should become thicker and pudding-like as it chills. 

To Make Mango Puree: Place mango chucks, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water into the blender or food processor. (If using frozen mango, allow to thaw before blending.) Blend or process mango until any fiber are broken down and puree is thick and very smooth. Refrigerate until cold.

To Make Mango Ice Cream: Fold the mango puree into the coconut base until thoroughly mixed, then pour it into your ice cream maker. Churn according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Churning times will vary but you will want the ice cream to be thick and to start to pull away from the sides of the ice cream maker (usually 20-25 minutes). Once it is the right consistency, scrape it into a freezer safe container, cover the top with wax paper resting against the surface to prevent ice from forming and freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until solid. 

Before serving--if ice cream is too hard, allow it to thaw for 5 minutes or so on the counter or until it is soft enough to scoop, before serving. Enjoy as-is, or serve with fruit salad and granola.


Sumac-Spiced Fruit Salad:
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 3 cups)

3 cups assorted fruit such as strawberries, stone fruit, blueberries, kiwi, mango
1/4 cup mint leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
2 Tbsp lime juice 
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground sumac, or to taste

Wash, peel, and pit fruit as necessary. Chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl with the mint. Add the lime juice and ample syrup and sprinkle with ground sumac. Stir gently to combine. 


Easy, Scrumptious Maple Granola
Printed with Permission from Alexandra Risen from her blog: Foraged Love

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup pecans
1 cup blanched hazelnuts
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins or dried fruit (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C). Cover two large cookie sheets (with sides) with parchment paper or foil.

Mix together maple syrup, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and salt in small bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients (except raisins or dried fruit) together in large bowl and stir in the liquid mixture. Spread on sheets and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in raisins or dried fruit.

Store in airtight container for up to two weeks.

Notes/Results: Like a party in a bowl! ;-) I wanted mango ice cream so much and it turned out to be good, not great, but good. The flavor was excellent, but the texture was off just a bit. I am not going to blame the recipe or the cornstarch because I changed things up a lot by adding the mango puree and need to experiment a bit more with the coconut base. (I think the texture of this vegan Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream was better.) But that's how we learn and don't get me wrong--I have no problem eating and enjoying it. It still went marvelously well with the fruit salad and the granola--making a dessert that's cold, sweet, and slightly tart with the crunch of the oats and nuts on top. I need to talk about the Sumac-Spiced Fruit Salad--it was fabulous! To the point that I wished I made more than 3 cups worth. The sumac's lemony tang went so well with the sweet fruit, mint, maple syrup and lime juice. My big bottle of sumac (you can see the edge peaking thru in the fruit salad pic up above) just found a new use in the sweet arena. It just brightens up fruit and gives it a bit of personality. I will definitely be making it again. The author's granola with its sweet and nutty crunch is really tasty too. Overall, I think this kitchen experiment was a success!

Do be sure to stop by and check out the Unearthed Blog Party here to see all of the reviews and book-inspired creations!

You can find:
Alexandra Risen on Facebook and Instagram
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest & Instagram
Book Club Cookbook on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest 

Unearthed is my eleventh foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2016 event. You can check out the July Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month. 

I'm also linking up this review and recipe 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.

***Book Giveaway!***

The Book Club Cookbook and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (the publisher) have generously offered a copy of Unearthed to one of my readers as part of the Unearthed Blog Party Event. (Open to US/Canada addresses)

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me either a favorite ingredient that you have foraged or grown (or at least bought locally!) or tell me why you would like to win a copy of Unearthed.

There are a couple of other optional ways to get entries: 1) Tweet about this giveaway  or 2) follow me (@DebinHawaii), Book Club Cookbook (@bookclubcookboo) and/or Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHbooks)
on Twitter. (Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow any of us on Twitter.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway runs until 8/4/16. Good Luck!   

Note: A review copy of "Unearthed" was provided to me by the publisher and The Book Club Cookbook 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.