Sunday, July 31, 2016

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Cashew Crème Fraîche and Cilantro for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I think that a good simple black bean soup works any time of year--no matter the season. Light but satisfying, spicy and tangy--it totally works as a summer soup. Even better if you add an extra topping or two--like fresh summer corn, red bell pepper, and avocado, along with cilantro and crème fraîche (or in this case, cashew crème fraîche). It's grey and drizzly here today, although it's still 80 degrees F., and this soup brightens the day right up, like a fiesta in your mouth.

I made some changes to Curtis's recipe--mainly doubling the black beans so I had plenty to blend and to keep whole in the soup--which I prefer to having it all pureed. I also upped some of the spices to compensate for the extra beans and used veggie stock. To add more of the cilantro flavor, I put some leaves and stems in with the soup in my blender and finally, I used cashew cream (with a pinch of salt and lemon juice added) in place of the crème fraîche. My changes are noted in red below. 

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Cashew Creme Crème Fraîche and Cilantro
Slightly Adapted from Curtis
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, coarsely chopped (I used 1/2 small sweet onion)
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped (I used 2)
1 red jalapeño chile, seeded, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I used 1 tsp)
2 cups cooked black beans (I used 4 cups black beans)
2 cups chicken stock (I used veggie stock)
(I added 1/3 cup cilantro leaves and stems coarsely chopped)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup crème fraîche (I used cashew creme)
1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded, finely diced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
(I added fresh corn kernels and chopped avocado)

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and shallot and sauté for 1 minute, or until tender. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute, or until the garlic softens. Add the beans and chicken stock and bring to the simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

(Deb's Note: I pulled out 2 full cups (about half) of the beans and set them aside, them blended the rest of the mixture in the blender, adding in the 1/3 cup of cilantro stems and leaves before blender. Then I added the blended mixture back to the pot with the reserved beans and seasoned to taste as directed.)  In a blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Transfer the pureed soup to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season the soup to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice. 

Ladle the soup into serving bowls, drizzle some crème fraîche over the soup, garnish with the red bell pepper and cilantro (and avocado and fresh corn as desired), and serve.

Notes/Results:  I liked the flavors in this soup and I think adding some of the cilantro to the broth gives the flavor more depth. I am not sure it quite deserves the 'spicy' moniker when you de-seed the pepper, so if you like it spicy have some cayenne pepper or hot sauce ready to add. The toppings are what make this soup special, so add what you like or have on hand. Crushed tortilla chips and fresh tomatoes would be nice as well. The crème fraîche (cashew cream if you want it vegan) is nice stirred into the soup, making it nice and creamy. Reasonably quick to make, healthy, and tastes great--I would make it again.

I'll be linking this soup up I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week's theme is Herbalicious. You can see what herbs people chose to cook with by clicking on the picture links on the post.  

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.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shares two salads that she enjoyed last week saying, "Can you believe it - next Monday will be August. A step closer to my favorite months and jackets and boots and fires in the yard. But until such a time arrives... we have cool lunches for hot days. ... A Greek Salad where I ditched the pepperoncinis but loved the extra black olives. This was enjoyed with a few slices of pizza while we had movie night.

And "Here we have a Salad Nicoise purchased from Hopkins Eatery in Tallahassee. Instead of fresh tuna, as I use at home, they added a scoop of tuna salad. It was very good and a cold salad loaded with lots of veggies and a bit of protein hits the spot. You can't see the potato slices very well but it had plenty of seasoned red potato slices."

Debra of Eliot's Eats made this pretty movie-inspired Spinach Salad with Sweet Peas, Strawberries, and Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette for Food 'n Flix and said, "I decided to obviously change up the recipe and use spinach in honor of Popeye. Luckily, the salad did contain frozen peas (for Swee’pea) and olive oil (obviously for Popeye’s love). And, I will reply “Yes” to the Commodore:  I am making a salad!"

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brings a Quick Quinoa Salad and says, "Leftovers can be recreated! I used three leftovers to create a quick and tasty quinoa salad. Tossed salad, leftover cooked quinoa, and homemade lemon dressing taste great together. Sometimes you discover something by accident that turns out to really work well!" 

Flour.ish.en Test Kitchen shared this Ottolenghi-adapted Sweet Summer Salad, saying, "I could not stop eating this salad. I substituted goat cheese for gorgonzola, so that the fruity sunny flavor of nectarines, as well as the greens, would shine. Used two kinds of green: arugula and endive. The lightly roasted chopped almonds in butter are a welcoming play in texture. This salad is so refreshing and tantalizing; I'm thinking of making another one in short order."


Vicki of I'd Rather Be At the Beach shared a Popeye-inspired Burger Soup and said, "This was a good soup. The ingredients didn’t cost much to buy, and it was easy and quick to make. The next time I make it I’m going to use a few each of Yukon potatoes, carrots, and a small bag of frozen peas, and maybe celery, instead of using a bag of mixed vegetables. It was good, but I like to try different ingredients to see which way tastes the best."

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!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pasta with Sweet Peas and Spinach Pesto for Food 'n Flix: July: "Popeye" {#FoodnFlix}

It's Food 'n Flix time again! This month's pick comes from Elizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook (see her announcement post here), the 1980 musical comedy Popeye, starring Robin Williams.

I have to be honest, I have no great affinity for Popeye, the character and the movie. I remember being exposed to the old cartoons growing up and my dad did have a Popeye the Sailor tattoo on his arm--although I think it was more of a "I'm on leave in the Navy during WWII and so what else do you get?" kind of thing rather than a deep love for Popeye. I think I remember watching this movie when it came out (or maybe on TV after it came out?), once, but I never had the desire to watch it again. But, that's why I love Food 'n Flix, it gets me to watch or re-watch movies I might not otherwise and it is always fun to see what everyone makes. And, although it's pretty cheesy--even for an '80s era-musical, it has its charm and I always enjoy the opportunity to have a little time viewing the much-missed Robin Williams.

So the movie is pretty much a live-action musical of the cartoons with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall well-cast as Popeye and Olive Oyl. Popeye, on a search for his long-missing sailor father, shows up in the coastal town of Sweethaven and meets Olive Oyl when he rents a room at her family's boarding house. Olive Oyl is engaged to rich and powerful Bluto, a ship captain who runs the town for the unseen "Commodore." Popeye and Olive Oyl come across a baby boy in a basket and Popeye 'adopts' him and names him Swee'Pea. Swee'Pea has the ability to predict the future and is kidnapped (by Wimpy for Bluto) and Popeye has to save the day--using spinach of course! OK, that was the short, non-spoiler version!

I actually watched the film while working on a project with only part of my attention captured by it and scrawling down some of the food inspiration on an envelope for the first third of the movie before petering out on the food listing. What I did manage to write down included: olive oil of course, fish--there was talk at the Oyl's of "fish futures" and dinner included fish, shrimp, chicken and meatballs. Olive (who was pretty annoying), complained that she wanted a glass and her mother asks whether she wants a wine glass, a brandy glass, or a water glass; there are plenty of burgers of course--including Wimpy's hard times meal of a "soup burger" and what looked like some sort of sandwich or canapé with an olive on top at Olive & Bluto's engagement party, and you can't help but think of sweet green peas (for Swee'Pea) and the obvious spinach. 

Speaking of spinach, I don't think I knew that Popeye hated spinach (or at least he did in this film) and was surprised that it doesn't come up until near the end. None the less, spinach was a key part of my inspiration as I decided to make a dish that represented the newly-formed family unit of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Swee'Pea and make something that would sneak the spinach in for Popeye or other spinach-haters out there. Pesto seemed like the perfect solution--using spinach, parsley and tarragon in place of the basil. Pesto goes great on pasta and in this case, I picked a gluten-free (quinoa & corn) rotini-style pasta for its corkscrew shape (it holds pesto well and the movie is pretty screwy). There is plenty of olive oil in the pesto for Olive and of course some frozen sweet peas for Swee'Pea. 

Because I am limiting my dairy, I made a vegan pesto, excluding the cheese. I swapped in hemp seed/hemp hearts for the Parmesan to boost the protein and healthy fats and to give it a little something extra. Instead of pine nuts, I used pistachios for the color and creaminess, and I used the herbs I had on hand--flat-leaf parsley and tarragon, with plenty of lemon juice and garlic to pump up the flavor of the spinach. 

Pesto is easily adaptable and you can of course use what you like/have on hand, but my recipe is below.

Pasta with Sweet Peas and Spinach Pesto
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen 
(Serves 3 to 4)

8 oz dried pasta of choice (I used GF quinoa and corn)
1 1/2 cups frozen sweet peas, defrosted 
about 1 cup spinach pesto (recipe below) or pesto of choice

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. During the last minute of cooking time, stir in  the defrosted peas.  Drain the cooked pasta and peas, place in a large bowl and allow to cool slightly. 

Gently but thoroughly  fold the pesto into the pasta mixture, until well-mixed. Taste for seasoning and serve at room temperature. 


Spinach and Herb Pesto 
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 3 cups pesto)

3 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves, washed and lightly drained
1/2 cup (packed) flat leaf-parsley leaves, washed and lightly drained
1/3 cup (packed) tarragon leaves, washed and lightly drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup toasted pistachios or nut of choice
1/3 cup hemp hearts 
juice and zest of 1 lemon, or to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper)
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Pulse all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor until chunky--stopping and scraping sides of bowl as needed. With food processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil in through feed tube until pesto is blended and mostly smooth.   

Place leftover pesto in an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap on top before covering, store in fridge for up to 3 days, or place in ice cube trays and freeze, storing cubes in an airtight container in freezer.

Notes/Results: Fresh, green and flavorful! I like the herby/garlicky/lemony pesto sauce with the contrast of the sweet peas--it's no wonder that it is a popular combination. I also like the tarragon and parsley and between them and the spinach, it doesn't discolor as quickly as a basil pesto does--bonus points for leftovers. The hemp hearts add that extra texture that Parmesan does, but if you don't have them available, you could up the amount of nuts instead, or just use cheese if you aren't eating dairy free. This makes about twice the pesto needed for the pasta but it stores pretty well and is a great topping for veggie noodles, sandwiches and wraps, etc. This ends up being a satisfying plant-based dish with (the 4g of protein in each serving of the corn/quinoa pasta, the roughly 5 g of protein in 1.5 Tbsp of hemp seeds per serving, the 3.6 g per serving in the pistachios, and 3.4 g per serving in the peas) about 17.5 grams of protein total, per serving--not to mention all of the fiber and other nutrients. It's also quick to make and tastes great. I will happily make it again.

Tomorrow is the deadline for Popeye and Elizabeth will be rounding up the posts on her blog shortly. If you missed this round and love food, movies, and food in movies, join us for the August film, Hotel Transylvania 2, hosted by Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles.

 Happy viewing, cooking, and eating!  

Cool new Food 'n Flix logo!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "The Runaway Wife" by Elizabeth Birkelund, Served with Nigella's "Go Get 'Em" Chocolate & Coffee Smoothie

Today's hot and muggy Tuesday has me conjuring up cold places like the Swiss Alps, the setting for today's TLC Book Tour stop, "The Runaway Wife" by Elizabeth Birkelund. Along with my review, I am pairing this quirky little novel with my version of Nigella Lawson's "Go Get 'Em" Smoothie.

Publisher's Blurb:

Three beautiful French sisters entrust an American hiker with the mission of rescuing their mother high in the Alps. 
But what if she doesn’t want to be found?
Recently fired from his high-power finance job and dumped by his fiancée, Jim Olsen has come to the Swiss Alps to clear his head. At the charming Cabane des Audannes, he meets Clio, Thalia and Helene Castellane, who are on a quest of their own: their mother, Calliope, has fled to these mountains to escape her philandering politician husband’s most recent scandal. As snow threatens to descend upon the Alps, the women have come to bring their mother home.
But the sisters are at the point of surrender; it is time for them to return to Paris. Buoyed by wine and inspired by their beauty, Jim impetuously volunteers to assume their search, but soon realizes that he is in over his head. The Alps are filled with beauty and danger, not the least of which is Calliope’s desire to stay hidden. And all the while Jim finds himself haunted by the memory of her daughters and conflicted in his desire for them.
The Runaway Wife is a story of adventure, survival, and romance—and of a man’s discovery of a world outside his conventional life and a new vision of himself within it.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 12, 2016)

My Review:

On vacation with a friend in the Swiss Alps, nice-guy and slightly sad-sack Jim Olsen is taking a break before starting a new job he is not thrilled about and trying to get over a broken engagement. (His fiancee delightfully told her parents it was over a month before she told Jim--so that the cake, the reception room at the Plaza, and other wedding preparations could be canceled.) At La Cabane des Audannes, an Alpine hutte (a stopping/sleeping place), they meet three French sisters--Thalia, Clio, and Helene. The sisters are searching for their mother (Calliope) who has vanished into the Alps when her politician husband's latest affair is publicly rubbed in her face. Jim is drawn to the women--especially the alluring Thalia, and because of his thrall and his 'nice-guy-ness,' decides to help them by looking for Calliope and bringing her back. The fact that he is an American, unfamiliar with the mountains and inexperienced in hiking, doesn't seem to phase him, or the sisters who have to get back to their lives and jobs. After getting lost and some missteps along the way, Jim finds Calliope, who has no wish to return and fights to stay hidden from the men in helicopters her husband sends after her. Calliope seems to know or sense a lot about Jim and her intuitiveness causes him to reflect on his own life, while he tries to convince her to return with him before the snows come and the mountains become even more dangerous.  

The Runaway Wife is a charming and unique book. Beyond Heidi as a child and The Sound of Music, I have not read or seen many books or movies with a Swiss Alps setting. The author captures their beauty, danger and mystery well--they are almost a character in the book. Jim is a loyal and likable character and I found myself rooting for him, as well as the free-spirited Calliope-trapped in a bad and loveless marriage. There is a lyrical, almost magical feel to Calliope and the mountains which captured Jim, as well as my imagination and I hated for the story to come to an end. And the end was probably my biggest disappointment with this book--I wanted more--more details and more of a 'big finish.' I know that life is seldom wrapped up in a bow, but it felt a bit unfinished to me, especially for some of the characters. Despite my lack of love for the ending, I definitely enjoyed my time with Jim in the Alps and would recommend this book if you like quirky novels about finding yourself, as well as finding yourself in a unique place and situation. A good summer read when you need to think cooling, snowy thoughts. ;-)

Author Notes: Elizabeth Birkelund is the author of one other French-inspired novel, The Dressmaker. As a freelance magazine journalist, Elizabeth was the personal finance columnist for Cosmopolitan and wrote for more than fifteen years for Working Woman, Self, and Glamour, among other publications. She lives in New York City.
Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

While there is not a lot of food mentioned in this book, there was one clear winner for a book-inspired dish; Ratatouille--which was mentioned several times as it was a meal Calliope made for Jim from her garden. Why isn't it my pairing for this book? I just made it a few weeks ago for Food 'N Flix (an awesome grilled one in fact!) and after getting through all of the rain of Tropical Storm Darby, we are left with 82 degrees F. with 74% humidity and 'feels like 90 degrees F.' weather so far this week. It is just too darn hot for me to stand over the stove or even chop and grill.

I read this book during the storm and consumed a couple of cups of hot cocoa (mentioned in the book) while reading, so I had hot cocoa in my mind, but I needed something cold. I thought about granita or an iced mocha but then I found a Nigella Lawson recipe for a Go Get 'Em Smoothie, featuring coffee and malted chocolate drink powder. I thought the title totally fit the book with Jim sent to go get Calliope, so it became my dish.

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe--using coconut milk, reducing the honey, and needing a kick this afternoon, increasing the espresso powder. My changes are noted in red below.

Nigella says, "This is truly a weekday special: a breakfast that combines food and drink for people who don't feel they've even got time to sit down in the morning. If the person-in-a-hurry is miniature in stature, and not progressed to caffeine intake, then replace the camp coffee with a tablespoonful of peanut butter. Extra protein and ultra delicious. I keep overripe bananas, peeled and cut into four, in bags in the freezer, which helps give ice-creamy bulk to the smoothie and dispense with the need for ice."

"Go Get 'Em" Smoothie
Slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson, Nigella Expres via The Food Network
(Makes 1 Serving)

1 peeled banana, cut into 4, from the freezer
2/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
1 Tbsp honey (I used 1 Tsp honey)
4 tsp malted chocolate drink powder (recommended: Ovaltine)
1 tsp strong coffee or 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (I used 2 tsp espresso powder)

Put all ingredients into a blender and whiz to mix.

Pour into a tall glass and drink before dashing out of the door

Notes/Results: This smoothie was quick and simple to make and completely hit the spot on a humid afternoon. I liked the flavor (and the buzz) I got by increasing the espresso powder and found that since I used coconut milk, which is naturally sweet, that the reduced 1 tsp honey was plenty for me. This was rich, thick and delightfully iced mocha-ish without being cloyingly sweet. I will happily make it again. 

I'm linking this post up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week is Potluck--our chance to make any recipe by our current featured chef Curtis Stone, or any previous chef like Nigella Lawson. 

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.

Note: A review copy of "The Runaway Wife" was provided to me 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 this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


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!