Sunday, May 15, 2022

Three Recovery Soups for COVID and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

After chasing me down for two years, COVID finally caught up with me last week, It knocked me out for a while and it's still kicking me as we speak. The exhaustion is real and I find myself wanting to drop and take a nap every few hours. I have been eating a lot of soup, canned, deli, from my freezer, it's been a relief for my stuffy nose and cough. So in honor of restorative soups, here are three to get you through a cold or COVID. 

The Cure-All Lentil Soup from Sweet Potato Soul by Jenné Claiborne who says that she calls this soup the "cure-all" because of how nutritious it is. She notes that she modeled it after her Nana's chicken soup--replacing the chicken with lentils. I added extra potato because I had two Yukon Golds I needed to use and used the smaller Puy green lentils because I had them in my pantry and like the firmer texture they add.
  


A flashback to 2010 and a Oregon classic, Elephant's Cure Chicken Soup, has enough ginger and spice to kick the germs out. From the Oregonian: For centuries, chicken soup has been a trusted home remedy to fight colds and flu, and though science has never nailed down its exact medicinal value, there are some things we know: Warm stock helps ward off chills; its vapors help loosen nasal and respiratory congestion; and it's an easy way to get some calories and nutrients into your system when your appetite is droopy. One of the most soothing chicken soups around is Elephants' "Cure," a rich and spicy broth that's loaded with ginger, garlic, lemon grass and serrano chiles, a potent blend of ingredients that have known curative powers. "There's no real proof that chicken soup can cure the common cold," says Scott Weaver, the executive chef of Elephants Delicatessen, where Elephants' "Cure" is on the menu throughout the winter and available in the freezer case year-round. "But there is proof that a lot of these ingredients that are in here can help your immune system."Like the serranos, which are loaded with vitamin C. Or garlic, which has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, and helps fight cholesterol and high blood pressure."And there's just something about chicken," Weaver says. "It's something you grew up with. Your mother probably made it, so it takes you back. It's a real comfort thing, and when you're sick and miserable you want something that's soothing and comforting."The ample use of ginger and lemon grass gives Elephants' "Cure" a hint of Asian flavors, evoking the spicy Thai soups that take the sting out of a sore throat. It's a nod to the global reach of chicken soup, which spans continents and cultures."



Finally, Giada de Laurentiis' Pastina Soup is perfect when you need a simple, comforting bowl of soupy pasta goodness. Giada says that the "final 'soup' is a cross between a risotto and a very thick stew" since the tiny pasta soaks up all of the flavor and liquid when they cook. 



Any of these will make you feel better, half the battle when you are recovering.

We have a couple of dishes waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look! 

The link up below will be open for a couple of weeks, so feel free to add a soup, salad or sandwich creation and I'll highlight them soon.


Melynda of Scratch Made Food shared a Quinoa Tabbouleh salad saying, "Full of fresh vegetables, lemon, and parsley this salad is perfect to serve alongside grilled meat for a light dinner. Quinoa Tabbouleh is going to be your new favorite this summer, I can already tell! There is a bit of prep work to make this salad, but it goes quickly and the flavor of Quinoa Tabbouleh is worth it!"



Thank you, Melynda for joining me. 

If you'd like to join in Souper Sundays, I am opening up the below link for two weeks while I try to finish deciding what my go-forward looks like. 

Anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the two weeks and I will post a recap of the entries on Sunday in two weeks.) 

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

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 Kitchenand 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).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Revisiting Giada De Laurentiis's Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

When picking a soup to revisit this month, I went back four years to Giada De Laurentiis's Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese. This is a great spring soup, making the most of fresh asparagus and basil with tangy, herby goat cheese on top.


Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese
Slightly Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network
(Makes 4 to 6 Servings --1/2 cup

Goat Cheese: 
1/2 cup (4 oz) goat cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper 
vegetable oil cooking spray

Soup:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large leek, white and light green part only, finely sliced (I used 2 leeks)
(I added 2 cloves garlic, minced)
(I added 1 tsp celery salt & 1 tsp dried basil)
4 cups low sodium broth (chicken or veg)
2 lbs medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
(I added 2 tsp fresh lemon juice) 

Goat cheese: Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 
Using a fork, in a small bowl, combine the goat cheese and basil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a 1/2-ounce cookie scoop or a round tablespoon measure sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray, scoop the goat cheese into balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Soup: In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring constantly until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. (I added the garlic, celery salt and dried basil and sauteed for another minute here.) Add the broth, asparagus and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (I stirred in two teaspoons of lemon juice here.) Keep the soup warm over low heat. 


To serve: Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the herbed goat cheese. (I also garnished with shaved asparagus and a couple of basil leaves.)   

Cook's Note: The soup can also be pureed by ladling, in batches, into a food processor or blender and blended until smooth.

My Notes: A rich-tasting soup with good flavor on its own but it is the herbed goat cheese balls that make it shine. I am for putting herbed goat cheese balls in/on everything--soups and salads, pasta... ;-) If you wanted to make it vegan, you could use a vegan cream cheese in place of the goat cheese. I like the additional flavor I added to the soup with the garlic, spice and lemon--I felt like the soup would have lacked a bit without it. I meant to buy bread to go with the soup but forgot so I served it with cracked pepper water crackers for a light lunch before some tuna pasta salad. This soup is easy to make and pretty enough to make for a party or luncheon. I would make it again with my changes. 


We have some great friends and dishes in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look! 
I'll highlight their dishes below and open the link up for a couple of weeks so feel free to add a soup, salad or sandwich creation and I'll highlight them in two weeks.


Debra of Eliot's Eats shared the Sweet and Spicy Balsamic Vinaigrette she made for our last Cooks the Books round, saying "As Nate lunches with other CIA employees, there’s a simple salad dressing that just spoke to me. ... I agree with Nate’s description of this recipe: “The dressing had a balsamic sweetness cut with Dijon and a hint of heat, unlike any vinaigrette he had ever tasted” (261). ... The salad I created had bits and pieces of things from the veggie drawer—shaved Brussels sprouts, shaved radicchio, some baby kale and some chard cut into ribbons. (The last two ingredients came from the greenhouse, the first two from last week’s farm bag.)  I added some red quinoa that I also had precooked in the fridge, some hard boiled eggs, and a bit of smoked goat cheese. Loved it!"



Melynda of Scratch Made Food also shared salads with us, saying "Fresh Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, and Toasted Walnuts! That is a long name for a salad............but this is a salad worthy of every letter used! Because it is delicious! Don't think the blanching process is not worth the trouble, this process is a cinch..."



Another salad she shared saying, "Does your family love potato salad? Want a delicious yet easy-to-make potato salad? Mary's Potato Salad is the potato salad of my youth, with potatoes, eggs, onions, pickles, celery, and a delicious mustard dressing. Now made even easier with the help of your electric pressure cooker..."


Thank you friends for joining me, even when it has been so sporadic!

If you'd like to join in Souper Sundays, I am opening up the below link for two weeks while I try to finish deciding what my go-forward looks like. 

Anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the two weeks and I will post a recap of the entries on Sunday in two weeks.) 

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

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 Kitchenand 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).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of National Geographic's "Into the Forrest" by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

Aloha! I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tours for National Geographic's Into the Forrest: The Secret Life of Trees by Susan Tyler Hitchcock. 

Publisher's Blurb:

For millennia, trees have offered renewal and inspiration. They have provided for humanity on every level, from spiritual sanctuary to the raw material for our homes, books, and food. In this beautiful and revealing book, National Geographic combines legendary photography with cutting-edge science to illuminate exactly how trees influence the life of planet Earth—from our personal lives to the weather cycle. Beautifully illustrated essays tell the stories of the world’s most remarkable trees, from Tane Mahura in New Zealand, the ancient Maori “lord of the forest,” to Pando, a single aspen spreading over 100 acres: Earth’s largest living thing. You’ll also discover how an astronaut carried tree seeds to the moon and back; the reason “microdosing” on tree gas is a sure way to boost your immune system; and why playing in the dirt boosts serotonin, happiness hormone.

For nature and science enthusiasts, as well as photography lovers, Into the Forest is a beautiful and edifying gift to give or cherish.

Publisher: National Geographic (April 5, 2022)
Hardcover: 352 pages

My Review:

There are few things more beautiful than a dense forest of trees so that makes a great subject for one of National Geographic's newest coffee table book, Into the Forest: The Secret Lives of Trees. The photos are stunning as once expects from National Geographic and the essays accompanying them are well written, interesting and passionate. Slightly smaller than most National Geographic tomes (8.8" x 8.8"), its 352 pages had me lingering over the stories of trees, finding out facts, and marveling over the sheer gorgeousness of Mother Nature in all her glory. It made me want to do some actual "forest bathing"--immersing myself in the sights, sounds and smells in the forest, but if one isn't nearby, Into the Woods makes a nice substitute.  

Author Notes: Susan Tyler Hitchcock has been writing all her life. Her first book, Gather Ye Wild Things: A Forager's Year, was published by Harper & Row in 1980. Since then she has authored 12 more books of her own, ranging from a memoir about a year-long sailing trip with her husband and two small children to a cultural history of Frankenstein's monster, continuing work she began while earning her PhD in English at the University of Virginia. In 2001 she began working as a book editor for National Geographic, focusing on nature and science especially. In that role, she has developed dozens of new titles and contributed writing for many of them. She is thrilled that National Geographic will publish her next book, Into the Forest, in 2022. She lives in the country south of Charlottesville, in the house she and her husband built. She tends a garden of flowers and vegetables and roams the forest nearly every day.

Here are a few pictures from the book.





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

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


 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of Octopus, Seahorse, Jellyfish from National Geographic

If you follow this blog or know me at all, you know I love a big, beautiful National Geographic coffee table book, especially when it is about our oceans and the wonderful creatures that live there. I am very excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Octopus, Seahorse, Jellyfish, which speaks all of my love languages. 

National Geographic (April 5, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 256 pages

From the Publisher:

In this mesmerizing book of photography, acclaimed photographer David Liittschwager reveals the unnerving beauty of three notoriously mysterious sea creatures--the jellyfish, octopus, and seahorse--and how they perceive the world. 

The jellyfish, the octopus, and the seahorse are among the most wondrous species on Earth--as well as some of the most difficult to document using traditional photography methods. Enter celebrated photographer David Liittschwager, who has spent decades developing specialized portraiture techniques to capture these creatures’ pulsating bioluminescence, translucent bodies, and ethereal movements. 

This luminous collection showcases 200 of Liittschwager’s most revealing photographs, paired with penetrating essays that explain how a creature without a brain or without bones perceives the world. Bestselling science writers Elizabeth Kolbert, Jennifer Holland, and Olivia Judson explain the biology and advanced cognitive abilities of these spineless denizens of the deep, exquisitely evoking their unnerving yet undeniable charisma. In these pages, you’ll glimpse a seahorse only half an inch tall, a moon jelly spinning off a snowflake-shaped clone, and the blinking comb jelly, which may be the most ancient living animal on Earth. 

Both enlightening and profound, this enchanting book documents the expanding frontiers of marine science, creating a powerful testament to the value and beauty of these little-seen--and endangered--species.


My Review:  

Octopus, Seahorse, Jellyfish is one big beautiful book of fascinating and gorgeous color photos of three of the most wondrous of the deep sea denizens. Although the photos rule this book, there are some interesting essays and facts given about each creature. Seahorses have always been a favorite of mine and the many pictures--including one pot-bellied seahorse giving birth, had me pouring over that section. But more recently, I have become a fan of the octopus, being amazed by their intelligence and grace. And, as scary as the box jellyfish that swim the shores here after a full moon are to me, you cannot deny how incredible and beautiful they are even lacking brains and bones. I've included some pictures from the book below, but trust me, if you are a lover of the ocean ad it's creatures, you need a copy of this book for your coffee table, library or bookshelves--it's as relaxing and fulfilling to look at as watching an aquarium. 

Author Notes: DAVID LIITTSCHWAGER, the Richard Avedon of obscure but beautiful creatures, has shot more than a dozen assignments for National Geographic, primarily specializing in portraiture of natural history subjects. He has published or contributed to six books as well as Scientific American, Audubon, and other magazines. Liittschwager's photography has been exhibited at major museums including at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. He lives in San Francisco. Instagram: @davidliittschwager.

ELIZABETH KOLBERT won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for her book 
The Sixth Extinction, and has been recognized with several other awards for her writing in National Geographic, the New York Times, and the New Yorker, as well as a previous book, Field Notes From a Catastrophe. 

JENNIFER HOLLAND is a senior science writer for National Geographic magazine and a New York Times best-selling author of the Unlikely Friendships books. 

OLIVIA JUDSON is an evolutionary biologist and author of the bestseller Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation.


Some Photos From the Book:







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

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

 

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Revisiting Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Ramen Bowl with Crispy Hoisin Tofu for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's April. Work and a general funk are still kicking my butt ,and indecision about Super Sundays is still in effect. This weekend I was craving a bowl of ramen. Did I make it? No... I bought it. My gas station/7-11 happens to have a kick-ass simple bowl of ramen that you grab from the chill display and heat in the microwave. I have no regrets--other than the current price of gas so don't get me started.... 

If I had been in the mood to cook my own, I definitely would have made Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Ramen Bowl with Crispy Hoisin Tofu, posted on April 1, 2018 from her book, Chloe Flavor. It is not at all hard to make and non-traditional but so delicious with the hoisin sauce, curry and coconut milk. 


Vegan Ramen Bowl
From Chloe Flavor by Chloe Coscarelli
(Serves 4)

About 8 oz fresh or dried ramen noodles
3 Tbsp vegetable oil + more as needed (I used coconut oil)
1 (16 oz) package extra-firm tofu, pressed (see note below) and cubed
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 1/2 cups (8 oz) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch baby bok choy, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp curry powder (I used 2 tsp)
1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk

Toppings: thinly sliced scallions, sesame seeds, sriracha or chili-garlic sauce, optional (I added pea shoots)

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water and return to the pot--off the heat.

Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the tofu and sear for about 3 minutes per side, until it turns golden and crispy. (Chloe says the key to crispy tofu it not to flip them over too soon--to let them get nicely brown before turning them over.) Add more oil as needed if the pan looks dry. Add the hoisin sauce, reduce the heat to low and turn the tofu to coat it evenly.

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat and when it shimmers, add the mushrooms and bok choy. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and the bok choy wilts. Add the garlic, curry powder, and salt and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk. Add the cooked ramen noodles and stir until heated through.

Ladle the broth and noodles into bowls and top each serving with scallions, sesame seeds, and tofu. If you like heat, add a drizzle of sriracha or chili-garlic sauce. 


My Notes: It's not traditional, but this ramen bowl totally hit the spot with the curry-coconut broth and the crisp-chewy hoisin-sweet tofu. If you are not a fan of tofu, you haven't tried it pressed, fried up and tossed in a yummy sauce--it adds great flavor and with the mushrooms, a meat-like vibe to the soup that is really satisfying. It's nice on its own and with a touch of heat from the sriracha. Although there are a few steps and pans used in this recipe, it goes together pretty quickly and easily. Chloe notes that you can make it gluten free with rice or other gluten free noodles and making sure your hoisin sauce and broth are GF. 


We have a few stalwart friends in the Souper Sunday kitchen from earlier in the month. I'm going to highlight their dishes below and open the link up for a couple of weeks so feel free to add a soup, salad or sandwich creation and I'll highlight those in two weeks.

Melynda from Scratch Made Food shared Creamy Potato and Celery Soup, saying "Now about this soup, it is a lighter potato soup with all the nutrition you could ever want! Celery provides a good source of fiber and potassium, along with vitamins A and K. Plus it is a low carbohydrate food. This is why I love using it in my potato soup recipe. I get a creamy, delicious potato soup that is still light enough for lunch, with all the flavor I could hope for. On those rare days I am starving, I can easily add a sandwich and still not feel stuffed!" 



Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup and said, "The news of the world..... I'm hating what is going on in Ukraine and wish I could make vat after vat of this nourishing soup to help feed those in need. This soup is an adaption of an Ina Garten recipe which only distantly resembles the original recipe.  This is more of a third cousin to Ina's roast lemon chicken with orzo."



Radha of The Magical Ingredients for a Wholesome Life From the Heart of My Home stopped by with Carrot Slaw/Carrot Salad, saying, "This is a simple and delicious slaw with season's best carrots and flavored with Meyer lemons. This healthy, vegan salad is a crowd pleaser and can be made in minutes! This is a very tasty side for Spring or a anytime healthy snack!"



And Debra of Eliot's Eats shared a salad of Rabbit Food with Chicken Nuggets she made for a book review. She said, 'So, to celebrate Ann I decided to morph together two meals that revolve around her. One is a meal from her early life, a salad of “kale, some cucumbers, carrots, sunflower seeds for protein” ... This salad sounded immediately delicious to me even if she was only eating it to lose weight for her abusive husband. She also prepares a separate meal for him because he won’t eat this “rabbit food.” ... From her second life, that of a loving wife and mother who runs a multi-million dollar foundation, I topped the salad with my  version of chicken nuggets. Right before she is called on stage by her powerful and rich boss, she gets a phone call from home. In a twist from her previous life, her current husband is home cooking and caring for their children. He has just over nuked the chicken nuggets to the horror of their young daughter" 


Thank you friends for joining me, even when it has been so sporadic!

If you'd like to join in Souper Sundays, I am opening up the below link for two weeks while I try to finish deciding what my go-forward looks like. 

Anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the two weeks and I will post a recap of the entries on Sunday in two weeks.) 

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

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 Kitchenand 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).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Soubise (Onion and Rice Casserole) for Cook the Books Feb/March Pick: "Red Sparrow" by Jason Matthews

It's Cook the Books time again, the bi-monthly virtual foodie book club I cohost and of course, per usual, I am right at the deadline. What can I say? February was busy, March was no better and I found myself involved in five "buddy reads" of books with various book groups, not counting this one. This book got put on the back burner and I finished it Tuesday, last night after a long day of work I tossed my dish together and I was way too tired to set up lighting and fuss with the looks, so I apologize for the very bad pictures. 


This round of Cooks the Books was hosted by Simona of briciole and her pick was Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews, a spy novel with recipes. 

From the Publisher:
In contemporary Russia, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova has been drafted to become a “Sparrow”—a spy trained in the art of seduction to elicit information from their marks. She’s been assigned to Nathaniel Nash, a CIA officer who handles the organization’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. 
The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception and, inevitably, a forbidden spiral of physical attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow.

My Thoughts:

I have never been a reader of spy novels. I actually avoided them until the author of one of my favorite series released a new series centered around a former CIA case officer with the first book set in Russia. I gave it a try and enjoyed it enough to load the second and third on my Kindle but I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. Anyway, I digress... we are here to talk about Red Sparrow. I was a bit lukewarm  going into this book and wondered at the combination of spies and food, and was not thrilled to be reading about Russia given the current Ukraine situation, but I actually found myself caught up in the story and wanting to find out what happened next. 

It's not a perfect book for me--it's a deeper, grittier dive into the spy trade than I wanted. Some of the violence and misogyny is hard to take, as are the descriptions of "Sparrow School" where Russian women and men train for honey traps and more. The pace is uneven, tension ebbed and flowed and I found myself slogging through some parts and then rushing through others. But I liked Dominika and Nate and some of the other characters and I kept reading. The food descriptions and abbreviated recipes were varied from different countries and cuisines beyond Russia, and I actually marked several I wanted to make or read up on.  

Overall, it diversified my reading with a seldom-picked genre, and that's always a good thing. I don't know if I'll keep going--it's a trilogy I believe, but I am curious to see what happens after somewhat of a cliffhanger ending. I may even try and watch the film version (I tend to avoid spy movies too so it wasn't something I made an effort to see.

Food Inspiration:

As I mentioned above, a recipe follows each chapter, based on something one of the characters cooked or ate. I originally thought about making the "Old Lady's Beet Soup" from the first chapter but I wasn't feeling it. Some of the pastas and sauces sounded good, as did the Bristol Hotel Cucumber Salad and Gable's Cheese Fondue and Proper French Omelet. I ended up going with (Station ChiefForsyth's Soubise, described as "He knew one dish, a soubise, buttery braised rice and caramelized onions." It was what I wanted most. 

I took the recipe sketch in the book and also looked online where I found Julia Child's version. Mine is a combination of the two, cut down t heavily to make a small portion and I cheated by using my favorite frozen glazed onions.(I used a tray which is about 3 onions worth). To save time on a night after a long work day, I cooked my arborio rice about 10 minutes and ended up cooking the dish about 35 minutes instead of Julia's hour. I also added a little dried thyme and stirred it into the mix and besides adding the cheese to the rice mixture, at the last minute, I shaved Gruyere on top of the dish.
 

I promise, it tastes MUCH better than my sad little pictures look! ;-)

"Forsyth's Soubise" From Red Sparrow

"Boil rice in salted water for five minutes. In separate French sauciere, highly caramelize seasoned onions in butter. Stir in rice, cover, and cook gently in medium oven, stirring occasionally, until golden. Before serving, stir in heavy cream and grated Gruyere.

-----

Soubise
Adapted from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Knopf, 1970 
(Yields 6 Servings)

1/2 cup rice 
4 quarts rapidly boiling water 
1 1/2 Tbsp salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup (one-half stick) butter, plus 2 tablespoons softened butter 
2 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced 
1/8 tsp pepper 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese (I used Gruyere)
1 Tbsp minced parsley (I mixed in dried thyme)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. (I cooked it at 325 degrees)

Drop the rice into the boiling water to which has been added the salt. Boil five minutes exactly and drain immediately.

Heat the 1/4 cup of butter in a three-quart flameproof casserole and when it is foaming, stir in the onions. When they are well-coated with butter, stir in the rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cover and cook very slowly in the oven for one hour, stirring occasionally. The rice and onions should become very tender and will usually turn a light golden yellow. Taste and reseason. (The recipe may be prepared to this point several hours in advance. Reheat before proceeding.) 

Just before serving, stir in the cream and cheese and then the softening butter. Taste again for seasonings and turn into a dish. Serve with sprinkled parsley. 


Notes/Results; OK, this is really good--really rich and REALLY good. It's creamy, buttery, decadent, and the sweet, caramelized onions and nutty Gruyere are an excellent match. It's like an oven-baked risotto with less stirring and it probably would even be better without the shortcuts I took. I was both sad and glad that I made 2-3 servings only. Sad because I enjoyed it, glad because health food it is not. I will definitely make it again. 


The deadline for this round is today, and Simona will be rounding up the entries for Cook the Books on the website in a day or two. If you missed this round and you like books and food and foodie books, join us for our April/May pick, Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, hosted by me.