Friday, August 18, 2017

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Very Lemony Hummus

It's a good feeling to whip up a batch of homemade hummus on a Friday afternoon to have available for munching with root chips and veggies or slathering on a veggie sandwich over the weekend. I have my standard hummus recipe but I am always looking to try variations like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Very Lemony Hummus from River Cottage Every Day.

Hugh says, "You might like to try this hummus in a sandwich with sliced tomatoes and a smear of harissa paste, or with grated carrot and a few torn mint leaves. If you are short of time, instead of cooking dried chickpeas, you can use a tin, well drained and rinsed; add a little water to them for the initial puréeing."

Very Lemony Hummus
River Cottage Every Day or at
(Serves 4-6)

2/3 cup dried chickpeas
1 bay leaf
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small garlic clove, crushed with a little salt
2-3 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of ground cumin (optional) (I added 1/2 tsp cumin + 1/2 tsp smoked paprika to hummus)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly, then place them in a large bowl with enough water to cover them well. Leave to soak for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a saucepan with the bay leaf and enough cold water to cover generously. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down and partially cover with a lid. Simmer gently for about 3 hours, until the chickpeas are really soft, skimming the surface and topping up with boiling water as necessary to keep the chickpeas covered. Add ½ teaspoon of salt near the end of cooking.

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid, and discard the bay leaf. Put 3-4 tablespoons of the hot cooking liquid into a food processor or blender with half the chickpeas, 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice and the garlic. Whiz for a few seconds. Add the remaining chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of tahini and 2 tablespoons of oil, then whiz again until you have the consistency you like.

Scrape into a bowl and season with salt and plenty of pepper. If you think it needs more oil, lemon juice or tahini, add a little at a time, beating well, until you're happy with the flavor. Top with a sprinkling of cumin, if you like.
Variation: Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, chervil or chives - or all three - to create a lovely, green-flecked purée.

Notes/Results: Although lemony isn't what I am usually going for when I make hummus, this was actually pretty balanced (you control the lemon and seasonings) and it tasted great--light and bright. I did put a bit of cumin and paprika into my hummus--which I think balanced the flavor even more. It is Friday and I was in a time crunch from a busy week so I used canned chickpeas in this hummus--actually boxed as I like Whole Foods 365 Brand no-salt added garbanzo beans and they are in a tetra-pack instead of a can. I think definitely cooking the beans from dry is best but in a pinch, they are a good substitute. My favorite snack is root veggie chips in hummus and so that's how I enjoyed it tonight--although I have a cucumber and red pepper and some naan bread I will probably dip into it over the weekend. I would happily make this hummus again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme this week is Dippity Do Dah--dips and spreads from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

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

Publisher's Blurb:

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

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

My Review:

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

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


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

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


Food Inspiration:

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

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

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

Tea Affogato
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nigella Lawson's Tomato & Rice Soup (With Artichoke Hearts & Fresh Basil): Almost a Complete Cheat for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Back to a warm soup this week but one that takes so little effort, it is just about cheating. I was looking for tomato soups both to fill a craving and to cook with tomatoes for our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week and realized that between a combination of hot and humid weather, a busy week and some not-so-great breathing, I just didn't feel like chopping and cooking. This variation of Rice and Tomato Soup from Nigella Lawson is the perfect solution.  

Basically you dilute a good jarred pasta or tomato sauce with water and toss in some rice and that's it. Of course I felt slightly guilt about it being so easy, so I used homemade garlic broth from the freezer in place of most of the water and tossed in a can of quartered artichoke hearts from the pantry. I also had some brown basmati rice cooked in the rice cooker and some fresh basil, but that was it--and in about 10 minutes of cooking and flavor-blending time, a warm bowl of hearty tomato soup was ready to eat. It doesn't get much easier than that. 

Rice and Tomato Soup
By Nigella Lawson via Food Network
(Serves 4)

1 jar good tomato sauce
3 cups water, plus more if needed (I used 3 cups homemade garlic broth + 1 cup water)
1 cup basmati rice (I used 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice)
(I added 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained)
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional) (I used fresh basil)

Nigella says, "I like to make an unfussy rice and tomato soup (for myself, too, sometimes, especially when I'm trying to balance out my characteristic gluttony) by diluting a good, bought tomato sauce with water, adding a handful or so of basmati rice, and cooking until the rice is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. With children it makes more sense to leave the soup fairly solid, but you can add water from a boiled kettle toward the end of cooking time if you want a thinner soup rather than liquid tomato-rice stew. Grate Parmesan on top and eat - with bibs."

Notes/Results: I'm not going to tell you that this compares to my best homemade tomato soup but for opening a jar, a can and tossing in cooked rice, it is a tasty substitute when you just can bring yourself to make an effort--and it tastes much better than the tomato soup in the can. Of course your soup flavor is dependent on the quality and flavor of the jarred sauce that you use, so pick one you like. I used a roasted garlic tomato sauce, and with it and the added garlic broth, my soup had plenty of flavor. Even better if you make and freeze or jar your own tomato sauce but I wasn't that planful. You could substitute the rice with pasta and toss in beans for a minestrone version, or put whatever add-ins you like. Fast and simple, I will happily make it again.

I'm linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs this week where our Monthly Featured Ingredient/Dish Challenge is Tomatoes--any recipes using tomatoes from our current featured chef or any of our past IHCC featured chefs.

We have some delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Janet of The Taste Space is back at Souper Sundays this week with No Mayo Coleslaw. She says, "I wanted a simple coleslaw and this one delivered. The dressing reminded me of the first bean salad I ever made. I recall hunting down celery seeds when I moved away for university because I made mixed bean salads often. This salad makes a lot, but it also keeps really well. It travels well for a picnic but also packs up nicely for lunches throughout the week. Classic."

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared Zucchini-Courgette Orzo Pasta Salad and said, "There is nothing fancy about this Orzo Pasta Salad, though I must admit it is quite colourful.It was made last week for the working week, again making the most of my Zucchini aka courgettes growing in my garden, this time the stripy kind called Courgette Squash Striato di Napoli." 

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad and said, "Loved this quick little meal and it's so pretty.  Lots of colorful vegetables. Also, it was fairly quick to put together and this makes it a good weekday/workday meal. A side dish was a cucumber, tomato and feta salad.  Another quick fix.  This recipe I borrowed from Beth Fish Reads, check it out HERE.  My version isn't as pretty but the salad was very good."

Debra of Eliot's Eats shared Veggie Salad with Berbere and said, "There’s an Ethiopian restaruant in Denver that we go to every summer when we’re there visiting the nieces. It’s kind of in a sketchy part of town. It’s in a seen-better-days strip mall. The sign out front has faded to oblivion. It takes almost an hour to get your food (definitely made from scratch). They’re kind of grumpy. We go every year. It’s that good. On our last trip, we had a delicious cold salad on our platter that reminded me almost of a tabouli. After some research, I found it it was probably a Timatim Salad. An authentic timatim has shredded injera which is probably what I mistook for a type of grain. ... I used a fresh cucumber, tomatoes, and jalapenos from our garden for this one."

 Mahalo to everyone who joined in Souper Sundays this week! 

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.

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 Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy healthy week!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "A Beautiful Poison" by Lydia Kang, Served with a Chocolate Egg Cream (+ A Book Giveaway!)

Happy Tuesday! I'm excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for the historical mystery A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang. Along with my review, I'm including a recipe for a sweet and cool Chocolate Egg Cream, inspired by my reading and there is a chance to win a copy of the book for yourself at the bottom of the post!

Publisher's Blurb

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.

Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 1, 2017)

My Review:

I love historical fiction and I love a good mystery--especially one that delves into forensics to solve crimes, so A Beautiful Poison sucked me into the story immediately. With the main character Allene having a passion for science and chemistry and her friend Jasper operating as an apprentice in the medical examiner's department at Bellevue Hospital, there was plenty of interesting historic forensic data but it is written in an accessible and entertaining way. I loved the 1918 New York City setting and how Kang brought it to life through her vivid descriptions of the current events of the day. In 1918 World War I was being waged and the draft age range was expanded, from 21-35 to 18-45, and the Spanish flu pandemic was cutting a swath through the city, resulting in over 20,000 deaths. Kang even managed to work in a job as a female factory worker, painting radium on watch and clock dials for Birdie, one of the lead characters--of particular interest to me  having recently checked out Radium Girls from the library via e-book. It's a whole lot of history but oh-so-fascinating and woven together very well, along with the poisoning of friends and family members of the three main characters. Because the author is a physician, the medical and historical details ring true and that was probably what I liked best about the book--that and the mystery which kept me guessing until close to the end and had plenty of twists and turns along the way. 

It took me a while to warm up to the main characters and I had to keep reminding myself that Allene and Birdie were only eighteen and Jasper was nineteen, as they came across as quite immature and shallow, particularly at the start of the book. There is growth however, especially for Allene, and I was much fonder of her and her friends by the end of the book--as I'm sure the author intended. For some reason I also thought the book would have more of a cozy mystery feel and it is definitely darker in tone--not that I mind that at all, but if you are looking for something lighthearted, this isn't your mystery. If you love history, crime, forensics and mysteries, you should enjoy this one. (And you have to love that gorgeous cover!) There's a chance to win a copy of your own at the bottom of the post if you live in the U.S. and Canada.

Author Notes: Lydia Kang is a physician and author of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine. She completed her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and currently lives in the midwest, where she continues to practice internal medicine.

Connect with Lydia via her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Food Inspiration:

With all of the descriptions of poisoning effects, autopsies, and the Spanish flu pandemic, A Beautiful Poison doesn't exactly inspire a desire to cook and eat, but there were certainly food mentions in the book like: champagne, jam, almonds and the smell of burnt nut brittle, chewing gum, beer, whiskey, newly baked bread and honey, oatmeal, eggs--especially poached eggs, Nabisco's cookies, a "Hooverite" (chocolate hard candy), cabbage, yellow wax beans, juicy roasted chicken and tarragon, cream sauce and scalloped potatoes, peaches, tea cakes, tea, "Meatless Tuesdays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays," sandwiches, cold jellied chicken, fresh eggs, applesauce and toast for breakfast, wine, filet mignon, veal sweetbreads, cherries, birthday cake, Apricot Brandy, a chocolate phosphate, hot chocolate, strawberry tarts, twist doughnuts with glaze, cooked onions and good thick onion soup broths, roast beef, a Danish, and pasta and braised chicken,

Since Holly (Birdie's young sister) requests one in the story and because it's a popular historical drink, I decided to make an egg cream as my book-inspired dish. A classic New York soda drink that contains neither egg or cream, but instead chocolate syrup, milk and soda water or seltzer. 

Epicurious says, "The name egg cream is misleading—in actuality, the soda fountain classic contains no eggs and no cream. The three winning elements are milk, flavored syrup, and seltzer. For an icy beverage like top soda jerks used to craft, it's best to frost glasses in the freezer."

Classic Chocolate Egg Cream
Recipe from
(Makes 1 Drink)

1/2 cup whole milk (I used coconut milk)
4 Tbsp chocolate syrup

Pour the milk into a very cold 12-ounce glass. Slowly pour in the seltzer, then gently add the syrup. Using a long spoon, stir well and serve.

Notes/Results: I have decided that an egg cream is a very good thing.;-)It's sweet and chocolatey without being over-sweet or cloying and the seltzer bubbles keep it light. I used non-dairy coconut milk because my lungs aren't fond of dairy, and it was delicious. Cooling and refreshing, it was a nice afternoon treat on a warm ad humid day. I will make it again.

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

Note: A review copy of "A Beautiful Poison" was provided to me by the author and 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.

***Book Giveaway***
The publisher is generously providing a copy of A Beautiful Poison to give away (U.S. & Canada addresses only, sorry) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite molecule (It's a question Allene likes to ask/answer) and/or your favorite soda or fizzy beverage.

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or Author Lydia Kang (@LydiaYKang)
(Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow me and the author on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is midnight (EST) on Wednesday, August 16th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Gazpacho: Cooling and Full of Flavor for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

It's another cold soup weekend. Not that I wouldn't have enjoyed a warm soup even though it's been quite humid, I just ran into a time issue and needed a soup of raw (or mostly raw in this case), ingredients that I could use for our In the Raw theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs, so I tried High Fearnley-Whittingstalls Gazpacho for the River Cottage website and from River Cottage Veg Everyday.

River Cottage says, "This traditional, chilled Spanish soup is as cooling as they come: the perfect thing to serve on a hot summer’s day or a sultry evening. You can, if you like, press the puréed soup through a sieve to get a really smooth finish – but bear in mind you’ll lose some of the volume if you do this. It goes without saying that the tomatoes need to be full of flavour or you’ll be selling your soup short.

Slightly Adapted from Hugh Fernley Whittingstall via
(Serves 4)

2 thick slices of stale white bread (about 100g/3.5oz), crusts removed
1 garlic clove, crushed
1–1.5kg large, ripe tomatoes (about 2 1.2 lbs 
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped (I used 2 shallots)
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (ideally apple balsamic) (I used Sherry Vinegar)
1 tsp sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to finish
shredded basil or chopped flat-leaf parsley
Tear the bread into pieces and put into a bowl with the crushed garlic.

Pour on 200ml cold water and leave to soak while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, leave for a couple of minutes, then scoop out and peel off their skins. Quarter and deseed the tomatoes, putting all the seeds and clinging juicy bits into a sieve over a bowl. Put the skinned flesh into a separate bowl. When all the tomatoes are done, press the seedy bits in the sieve to extract as much juice as possible, adding it to the tomato flesh.

Put the soaked bread and garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a food processor (you should just about be able to do it in one batch). Process to a coarse purée and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can leave it chunky, or whiz a bit longer then press through a sieve, if you prefer.

Cover and chill for 2–3 hours, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the gazpacho topped with croûtons and shredded basil or chopped parsley.

Notes/Results: This is a simple but great gazpacho with a good blend of ingredients. I've had gazpachos (there are several different ones posted on this blog) that are almost too garlicky or oniony and where the tomato gets lost in the mix but in this one the tomato comes forward, and the pepper, and the basil with the vinegar bringing a pop of bright flavor. I used sherry vinegar instead of balsamic and shallot instead of red onion, so that may have helped the overall balance--as does the pinch of sugar the recipe calls for. Some people think gazpacho is like eating a bowl of salsa, but when done right like this one, it is deliciously cooling and wonderful on a humid afternoon. It's cheating a bit for a 'raw' dish--but I didn't cook the bread or croutons and the tomatoes are just briefly topped with boiling water for east skin removal. I would definitely make this soup again. 

I'm linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs this week where the theme is In the Raw!--Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes using raw ingredients and this recipe mostly fits. 

We have some delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!
Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared Roasted Courgette-Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes and Popped Black Bean Salad and said, "We enjoyed this lightness of this roasted Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Salad.  both the courgettes and the tomatoes were subtle in lemon zing and the Tasmanian Pepper Salt flavoured Popped Black Beans were much more enjoyable this way..  This salad is more of a starter than a filling lunch or meal.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared Avocado, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad and said,  "Another thing we have been doing is eating at home more on weekends. Besides the obvious cash savings, it's healthier. We don't typically eat out during the week so weekend rides and grabbing a meal was always a treat but that's not been possible (*See weather conditions above) ... So, this is from a previous weekend but I wanted to share a simple and fairly quick meal.  A baked potato and a favorite Avocado, Tomato and Mozzarella salad from Mary Berry's cookbook."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen,  I made some little Russian open-faced appetizer sandwiches called buterbrodik for a book tour review. These are small rounds of dark rye bread, topped with anchovy butter, hard boiled egg and radish slices. Pretty and they taste great too. I think anchovey butter may be a few favorite thing.

Mahalo to Tina and Shaheen for joining me at Souper Sundays this week! 

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.

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 Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of 'Red Year" by Jan Shapin, Served Up with Radish & Egg Buterbrodik on Dark Rye with Anchovy Butter

On today's TLC Book Tour stop, I'm happy to be reviewing Red Year by Jan Shapin, historical fiction about a real-life female American journalist and set in China and the Soviet Union in 1927. I'm pairing my review with Russian buterbrodik--little canapes of dark rye bread, topped with anchovy butter, hard boiled egg, and radish slices, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Can a red-haired woman from Chicago single-handedly force Joseph Stalin to back down?

China, 1927. Thirty-three year old Rayna Prohme, accompanying her left-wing journalist husband, becomes the political confidant and lover of Mikhail Borodin, the Russian commander sent to prop up a failing Chinese revolution. In a bid to continue their love affair, Rayna hatches a plan to accompany Mme. Sun, the widow of the Chinese revolution’s founder, to Moscow.
But Moscow does not welcome the women. Borodin shuns them. Rayna’s stipend and housing arrangements are cancelled. “Go home,” she is told. But Rayna does not want to go home to an ordinary life, to her husband and Chicago. Instead, she applies to a Soviet espionage school that soon demands she spy on Mme. Sun. The Chinese widow is, by now, in grave danger as her exit visa is blocked. Rayna must make a choice — Borodin and Russia or Mme. Sun and China.

Paperback: 286 pages
Publisher: Cambridge Books (June 4, 2017)

My Review:

Red Year is an interesting look at what is probably lessor known history for most Americans--Communism, politics and revolution in China and the Soviet Union in the 1920s. It's a fictionalized account of a real person, Rayna Prohme, an American journalist who with her de facto husband, Bill Prohme, traveled to China, supporting the Kuomintang (National People's Party of China) and writing for their newspaper. While there, she became acquainted with and fell for Mikhail Borodin, a Russian agent for the Comintern, an international Communist organization and became friends with Madame Sun Yat-sen, widow of a revolutionary leader of the People's Republic of China. Needing a job and wanting to be close to Borodin (she calls him "Mr. Bee") Prohme travels to Moscow as part of the entourage and tries to get ito The Lenin Academy--a Soviet espionage school and finds herself torn between China and Russia.

I enjoyed much of the book, I love learning more about history and real people that are not normally in my radar. Red Year seems well researched and although liberties are taken to fictionalize history, the author did base the book's details on true accounts of the time and people involved. My one dislike was that I had a hard time connecting with Rayna and I like to connect with the characters I read about. Author Jan Shapin is a playwright and screenwriter and it comes across in this novel--it reads a bit like a play or a movie and that's not a bad thing, I just wanted more set up versus feeling like I was dropped into the story trying to guess what led up to the scene I was in. I do admire Rayna's bravery, spirit, and tenaciousness, but I was challenged by understanding her motivations beyond getting and staying close to Borodin (who seemed to mostly regard her as a fascinating inconvenience). How much of her motivation was to fight for a cause versus a strong attraction that she felt was love and/or as she thinks at one point in the story, "...a way to dispel her morbid fear of an ordinary life." Is she a heroine, or a woman wanting an adventure who got caught up in the turmoil of history--or maybe a bit of both? At the end of the day, I'm not sure I know the answer--and maybe I'm not supposed to know. If you enjoy historical fiction and find world history and politics in the 1920s interesting--especially in Russia and China, Shapin does an excellent job in portraying them and making them vivid and full of life. She has two previous novels--also historical fiction but set in different periods and places that I will definitely be checking out.  


Author Notes: Jan Shapin has been writing plays and screenplays for nearly thirty years, in the last decade concentrating on fiction. Shapin has studied playwriting at Catholic University in Washington, DC, screenwriting at the Film and Television Workshop and University of Southern California, and fiction writing at a variety of locations including Barnard College’s Writers on Writing seminar, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Her plays have been produced in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. She has received grants from the RI Council for the Humanities and has served as a juror for the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts screenplay fellowship awards. Two previous novels, A Desire Path and A Snug Life Somewhere, were published in 2012 and 2014. She lives in North Kingstown, RI with her photographer husband. Learn more about Jan at her website,


Food Inspiration:

Since Red Year is set primarily in 1927 and times were a bit tough for many--including Rayna, I wouldn't call this the foodiest of books, but there was mention of food like: brown rice with cucumber slivers, "nasty fish," a pear, banquet food of duck, honeyed fruit, rice, and root vegetables, canapes of peanut butter and raisins, cheese, punch, tea and black bread, kishke, porridge, sticky rice cakes, pickled cabbage at a Japanese restaurant, ginger ale, fruit nectar, stale rolls and cold tea, sandwiches and fruit drinks, vodka and tinned sardines, a poppy seed bun, meat in cream sauce and carrots, kippers on crackers, cheese and smoked eel, potato and stewed greens, beets and mutton, cabbage, stewed fruit--plum and crab apple and brandy, scalloped potatoes, and tea with a dollop of jam. 

At a reception, Rayna is "...holding something made of egg and radish" and it is later mentioned as deviled egg, and later as on a cracker. I decided to keep some of those elements and make a buterbrodik--which is a two-bite version of buterbrodi, or Russian open-faced sandwich of bread spread with butter and different toppings. After just finishing Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Van Bremzen for Cook the Books, I had Russian food on the brain and made a variation of a buterbrodi to go with my okroshka (cold kefir soup). I had checked out a page of buterbrodi options in Van Bremzen's Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook and two (pumpernickel rounds with anchovy butter, topped with thinly-sliced red radishes and butter pumpernickel rounds with sliced hard-boiled egg and an anchovy fillet) caught my eye and I decided to combine them for "something made of egg and radish."

I found a recipe for Anchovy Compound Butter on that I modified slightly to make my butter. It used diced anchovy fillets but rather than open a new can for the 1/2-stick of butter's worth I was making, I decided to used anchovy paste in a tube. I also added a bit of lemon zest and pickle juice and added in smoked paprika to the hot paprika in the recipe. My recipe is below, you can see the original recipe here. I served my buterbrodik with a cup of smoky Chinese Lapsang Souchong tea.

Anchovy Compound Butter
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, based on a recipe from Bon Appetit via
(Makes about 1/3 cup compound butter)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 tbsp anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika

1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp pickle juice
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine softened butter with other ingredients and mix a fork until smooth. Taste and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Place in a serving bowl and chill slightly or transfer butter to waxed paper, roll into a cylinder, chill, and slice.    

To make buterbrodik: Spread small pumpernickel breads, or rounds cut from a loaf generously with the compound butter and top with a slice of hard-boiled egg and thinly-sliced radish, adding a tiny sprig of dill to garnish. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: If you are scared of anchovies (and I used to be), much like with a Caesar salad, you do not get a fishy taste from this butter--it just adds a delicious savory umami to the bread that goes well with the mild, creamy egg and the bite of the radish slices. Although minced anchovy would likely add a bit more texture to the butter and keep it a more yellow color, using the paste in the tube (easy to find in most grocery stores) is quick and easy and good for those who don't like to look at these little fishies ;-) and being a lazy girl when it comes to weeknight and humid weather kitchen time, I recommend taking the easy way out here. This is a tasty (and cute) little appetizer sandwich and this compound butter would have plenty of uses besides the buterbrodik or as a steak topper as recommended in the recipe. I made some grilled romaine lettuce the other day and I think topping it, or any grilled vegetable or greens really, would be delicious. It would also be nice on bread or potatoes, or even served to spread on raw radishes, or basted on grilled salmon. Mmm... I am a bit sorry (although my hips aren't) that I made a small amount--I will definitely make it again.

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

And since these are mini sandwiches, I am linking them up to Souper Sundays here at Kahakai Kitchen where every Sunday, we share soups, salads and sandwiches from around the internet. Here's a link to this week's post with details on joining in.

Note: A review copy of "Red Year" was provided to me by the author and 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.