Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ellie Krieger's Aromatic (Veggie) *Noodle* Bowl with Lime-Peanut Sauce

Sometimes I just crave a big noodle bowl, full of fresh veggies and a yummy sauce and I have been meaning to make Ellie Krieger's Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce for a while now. Since I am avoiding wheat presently, I could have used a gluten-free noodle, such as a rice noodle, but I have been having fun with my recently purchased Inspiralizer and wanted to make an all-veggie bowl of goodness (covered in delectable lime-peanut sauce of course).

I have become a big fan of turnip noodles as they have great texture and absorb flavors really well. I was reading that carrot noodles have a whole wheat pasta vibe when lightly boiled, so I thought the two would be a nice mix as my noodle base. 

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce
Adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger
(Serves 6)

12 oz (3/4box) whole grain spaghetti (I used turnip and carrot spiralized noodles)
2 cups broccoli florets (I used local string beans)
2 cups snow peas, trimmed
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter (I used freshly ground, no salt, natural)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I used 1/2 low-sodium soy sauce / 1/2 coconut aminos)
1/4 cup water (hot water works best for firm peanut butter)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
3/4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 1 Tbsp coconut sugar)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse. (I spiralized one very large carrot and a medium turnip on the smallest (spaghetti noodle size) blade, then cooked them (separately) for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, drained them, gently squeezed out any excess water and patted them dry.)

While the pasta is cooking, put the broccoli in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water and steam for 3 minutes. Add in the snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for 2 minutes more--until veggies are crisp-tender

Toast peanuts in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to shake the pan or stir frequently to prevent burning.  

Make the sauce by pureeing the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Right before serving, toss the noodles with 3/4 cup of the peanut sauce. Divide among bowls and top with the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining sauce or the vegetables (or serve it on the side.) the veggies and peanut sauce. Sprinkle with the toasted peanuts (you can chop them if desired). Serve.

Notes/Results: I would probably be happy just licking the Lime-Peanut Sauce from a spoon. ;-) It is a nice combination of tangy, savory and slightly sweet. I have been cooking with coconut sugar lately, so I used it (and a lesser amount) rather than the brown sugar called for. I also used coconut aminos mixed into my low sodium soy sauce--they have a similar umami flavor profile but less sodium--always a bonus. For the veggies, broccoli does not agree with me and I had some string beans in my vegetable crisper, so i added those to the pea mix. I think baby bok choy would be a nice addition as well. The carrot and turnip noodles worked well, softening nicely but still retaining texture after boiling, absorbing the flavor of the sauce, and they were just as twirlable/slurpable as pasta to me. Plus, you take out all those calories from the pasta and you can afford to have MORE SAUCE! I have been looking for a good peanut sauce and I think this one is a keeper. 

This dish is linking to Oodles of Noodles at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we are making noodle (and even veggie *noodle*) filled Ellie Krieger dishes this week. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Golden Son" by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Served with Chai-Spiced "Golden Milk"

Today's TLC Book Tour stop has a review of The Golden Son, a beautifully-written novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. My book review is accompanied by a recipe for Chai-Spiced 'Golden Milk' that was inspired by my reading. It's my take on the popular turmeric-laced drink that is popping up everywhere on health and wellness sites. It also happens to be the beverage I want to sip while snuggling up with a engrossing and well-told story, so a perfect match for this book.

Publisher's Blurb:

The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts.

The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America. When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job, challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.

Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena’s romantic hopes, and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more—changing them both and the people they love forever.

Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures, and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.

Hardcover: 408 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 26, 2016)

My Review:  

Having a fondness of books set in India and/or stories dealing with cultural clashes and norms of different cultures in America and having loved the author's first book The Secret Daughter, I was really looking forward to The Golden Son and it did not disappoint in any way. As with Secret Daughter, Gowda skillfully drew me into the story and firmly attached me to the main characters. Both Anil and Leena are strong at heart, but are not yet confident in that strength and both must go through challenges to find their place in the world, even more difficult due to their loyalty to family and to the awareness that every choice they make has a huge effect on those they love. Anil, the titular "golden son" of his family and village, is the eldest and the first in the family to leave home and better himself through school. There is much responsibility placed on him, especially when his father dies and he becomes the head of his family and the arbitrator of his village while in the midst of a grueling residency program thousands of miles away. His self-doubts, both from his childhood and being away from what he knows and in a completely different culture in Texas, weigh heavily. One of the quotes I marked in the book that struck me the most was Anil's: "Not only was it impossible to truly belong in America, but he didn't fit in here anymore either. He was a dweller of two lands, accepted by none." Because of the disastrous turn Leena's arranged marriage takes, she also finds herself pushed out of the comfort of her cultural expectations. If her marriage doesn't work, Leena brings shame upon her family and village and will likely be ostracized--so, although she is still in India, she in a sense doesn't belong or fit in anymore with the cultural norm. Even if you aren't tied to a strong culture or facing the obstacles of Anil and Leena, I think anyone who has ever moved to a different environment or away from their family and what is known, or not lived their lives to the expectations of others can relate to their stories.
I found myself caught up in the book and pulled along, wanting to see what would happen and hoping for the best for the characters and their families. Gowda does a wonderful job of painting a picture of traditional Indian culture--both the good and the ugly, especially in how women are often devalued and treated. There are some tough-to-read parts with some graphic violence and abuse, but there is a hopeful tone overall. I especially liked that the ending had some twists that differed from my expectations, but which fit the story and characters and left me satisfied. I really enjoyed The Golden Son and if you like smart fiction about love, family, friendship, tradition, and culture, I'm sure you will too. 


Author Notes: Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. She has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas, and currently makes her home in California with her husband and children.
Find out more about Shilpi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Food Inspiration: 

There is actually quite a bit of food inspiration to be found in The Golden Son. Anil's mother warns him about trying food (and especially staying away from meat and alcohol) in America but he quickly falls for things like Tex-Mex, Pad Thai, Chinese food, ice cream, bean and cheese burritos and enchiladas, salsa, vegetable lasagna, pizza, sushi, grilled cheese, margaritas and beer. From India there are plenty of mentions of food and drink such as dals, curries, kulfi, chapatis, paranthas, chutney, sweet paan, laddoo, fresh mangoes (and mango pickle and lassi), chai, and other local dishes.  

I actually had my book-inspired recipe figured out almost as soon I set down to read the book with a cup of golden milk in my hand one night--liking the play of the title of the book with the drink's title. Lately I have been on an almost nightly ritual of golden milk, drawn to the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric for my asthma and allergy issues, as well as the delicious taste. 

It only solidified my decision to read how Anil's mother sends him off to America with a tin of turmeric, telling him, "The turmeric will keep you well, if you take it every day. Cough, cold, stomach problems, headaches, joint pain--turmeric cures all of it." Unfortunately, the tin spilled, ruining half of his clothes with turmeric stains. (That would totally happen to me!)  

Later in the book, Anil returns to Texas after a visit back home with a prescription bottle filled with chai masala powder his mother sent back with him, bringing comfort and memories. "On this visit, he'd followed her into the kitchen, watching how she crushed a nub of gingerroot and tore fresh mint leaves into the simmering milky liquid, sometimes adding lemongrass or cloves." So, the turmeric and chai spices became my inspiration to change up my golden milk. 

I make a simple vegan version of "golden milk" at night--usually turmeric spice powder, plenty of cinnamon, coconut milk, and lots of honey, and sometimes ginger or other spices. For this Chai-Spiced Golden Milk, I used fresh turmeric root and worked in some of my favorite chai spices, as well as fresh mint and ginger as Anil's mother did. Since I drink my golden milk before bed, I didn't add tea, but you could certainly steep a chai teabag in the coconut milk and turmeric mixture for an easy variation.

Chai-Spiced Golden Milk
From Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 1-2)

2 cups lite coconut milk (or milk of choice)
*1 1/2 Tbsp fresh turmeric, peeled and grated, or 1-2 tsp ground turmeric
fresh ginger, 2-3 peeled and thinly sliced pieces
1 cinnamon stick + 1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cloves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds 
3 cardamom pods, crushed slightly
3-4 black peppercorns 
2-3 sprigs of fresh mint
1 Tbsp honey--or to taste

Heat the coconut milk, spices, ginger and mint in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes--being careful not to over boil or scorch the milk. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes. 

Carefully (turmeric is a bright yellow stain waiting to happen on everything it comes in contact with!) strain the golden milk to remove the sediment and fresh ingredients. Stir in honey to taste. Serve warm.  

*Note: If you have not learned to love turmeric or have not used it much before, you may want to start with a smaller amount like 1 Tbsp. 

Notes/Results: A little more effort than my normal nightly golden milk but well worth it. I loved the addition of more spices and the fresh mint--so many layers of flavor. It also takes some of the bitter edge that turmeric can have. The fresh turmeric (I buy it local at farmers markets or Whole Foods here) has a brighter flavor than the dried and although it is a danger to me staining every item in my kitchen--including myself, I find the flavor far superior. If you find the turmeric too bitter, you can reduce the amount as noted above, but I find honey and cinnamon make the flavor personally enjoyable. A big mug of golden milk is a perfect after dinner and before bed beverage--it's become one of my favorite ways to end the day and relax with a book or catching up with television. 

I am linking this book review and food pairing up at the Beth Fish Reads: Weekend Cooking Event, an 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 Golden Son" 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.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Mollie Katzen's Lablabi (Tunisian Chickpea Soup) and a Souper Sundays Note...

When I posted Ellie Krieger's Lemony Lentil Soup, I mentioned that 2016 has been declared the "Year of the Pulse" by The United Nations. Peas, lentils, dried beans, all have good nutritional benefits to offer, as well as being budget-friendly and tasting great. 

While thumbing through Mollie Katzen's The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation (I won't mention the relatively new cookbook addition if you won't...), I was immediately drawn to the Lablabi or Tunisian Chickpea Soup. It was mostly likely due to the photo with the soup topped with an egg (one of my favorite things) and then her list of "optional enhancements" to make this simple soup more of a complete meal. Being a 'more is usually better' person, I picked four from the list--the aforementioned fried egg, some harissa paste stirred in, capers (oh, how I love you), and fresh cilantro. It made for a slightly spicy and satisfying hug in a bowl.

Lablabli (Tunisian Chickpea Soup)
Adapted from Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen
(Makes 5-6 Servings--Depending on Enhancements Added)

2 cups (1lb) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
8 cups water
3–4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups minced onion (1 large)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp minced or crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Black pepper

Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then transfer them to a soup pot, large saucepan, or Dutch oven, along with the water and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until the chickpeas are completely tender, an hour or longer. (You want to err on the soft side.)

Meanwhile, place a medium skillet over medium heat for about a minute, then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onion becomes soft. Add the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Cover and cook over the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes longer, then remove from the heat.

When the chickpeas are very tender, add the onion-garlic mixture, scraping in as much as you can of whatever adhered to the pan. Collect the remaining parts (this is flavor!) by adding the lemon juice to the skillet and stirring it around, scraping the sides and bottom (deglazing), then pouring all of this onto the chickpeas as well. 

Taste to adjust the salt (you will likely want to add up to another 1/2 teaspoon) and grind in a generous amount of black pepper to taste. At this point, if you choose, you can puree some of the chickpeas with an immersion blender.

Cover and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes or so before serving.

Mollie's Optional Soup Enhancements: 
A few strands of saffron added to the cooking water in step 1
A spoonful of harissa
Touches of torn fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint
Crushed red pepper
A poached or fried egg added to each serving
A drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (or a citrus-spiked olive oil)
Cooked diced carrot mixed in
A spoonful of thick yogurt on top
A sprinkling of capers on top
A spoonful or two of cooked brown basmati rice or couscous stirred in
Chopped, pitted olives on top—or a bowl of assorted olives on the side
Crisp, cold radishes on the side—whole or sliced
Chopped or slivered Marcona almonds
Sliced ripe tomatoes on the side

Notes/Results: One of those soups that while simple and good on its own merits, really takes on a whole new life with the add-ins and toppings. There is a wide list to choose from but I was happy with the way the egg yolk added silkiness, the capers a briny bite, the harissa's heat and the herby cilantro. Together it really made the soup sing. It made for a filling and satisfying dinner with good protein and fiber. I will happily make it again.

A Note About Souper Sundays: 

Several of you regular Kahakai Kitchen readers and Souper Sundays participants have been asking if it is ever coming back. (If you are new to the blog you can read about the event here.) The answer is... I think so! ;-) 

I took a hiatus from hosting this weekly roundup of soups, salads and sandwiches back in May when my mom passed away. It took a long time for me to be able to make or even eat soups without feeling really sad since it was such a big tie to her for me, a giant trigger you might say. Also, I have to confess that I haven't missed spending my Sunday mornings doing a full-on roundup. In healing some of my grief, I have slowly started up making soup again and enjoying the pleasant memories soup brings more than the sad ones. 

So, I am thinking I will bring it back in a couple of weeks but do it as a link-up where you (and I) can add soups to a weekly linky post and then the following week, I will roundup some of my favorites from the prior week. A little less work-intensive for me. I'll post the start up date soon and if you have any soups, salads, or sandwiches that you made over the past month or two and want to share, hopefully you'll link them up. Thanks for your patience--I have missed seeing you all and your soups, salads, and sandwiches.  


Friday, January 29, 2016

Thai-Style Mahi Mahi in Coconut-Curry Broth with Spinach and Turnip "Noodles"

I have been craving Thai food lately, particularly curries, so a long-tagged recipe for Ellie Krieger's Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut Curry Broth made it to the top of the "to-make" list. I was going to replace the halibut with salmon from my freezer but since local mahi mahi was on sale, it ended up my fish of choice

Ellie serves the curry and spinach with brown rice but I wanted something noodly and just bought a new kitchen toy to replace my tiny spiralizer. The Inspiralizer has four different settings so I could make a linguine--style noodle which I thought would go well in the recipe. After seeing a salmon red curry dish with turnip noodles, I chose it as my veggie for this dish. Beyond the fish and the turnip noodles, I made some other small changes to the recipe, noted in red below--mainly looking to add more broth and toss in some extra favorite Thai flavors.

Thai-Style Mahi-Mahi in Coconut Curry Broth with Spinach and Turnip *Noodles*
Adapted from Ellie Krieger: The Food You Crave and via Food Network
(Serves 4)

5 cups baby spinach
2 tsp vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
4 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) (I used 2/3 of a sweet Maui onion)
2 1/2 tsp red curry paste or 2 tsp curry powder (I used 1 Tbsp red curry paste)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used low-sodium veggie broth, diluted w/ water)
1/2 cup light coconut milk (I used 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning (I used 1/2 tsp total)
4 (6-oz) pieces halibut fillet, skin removed (I used mahi mahi fillets)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I used half cilantro/half Thai basil)
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used 3 Tbsp + lime slices to garnish)

(I added 3 kaffir lime leaves)
Freshly ground black pepper

(I added 1 turnip--spiralized into fettuccine-style noodles)

Steam or microwave 5 cups of washed baby spinach for 2 minutes, drain and set aside

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.

Season the halibut with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish in the pan and gently shake the pan so the fish is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 7 minutes.

Arrange a pile of steamed spinach in the bottom of 4 soup plates. Top with the fish fillets. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the sauce and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the sauce over the fish and serve with rice.

Notes/Results: This was just fabulous--quick and easy to make and full of flavor. It really hit the spot for my curry noodle cravings. Speaking of the noodles, turnip noodles are my new favorite thing. They absorb the flavor of the broth and soften nicely--not as soft as a pasta noodle of course, but I like the little bite of texture they have. I don't know when I last had a turnip before this but I have a feeling there will be more in my future. ;-) I buy kaffir lime leaves when I see them and store them in my freezer to add to curries and such. There is such a lovely fragrance when they hit the pan and along with the Thai basil I had on hand, help add extra flavor to this dish. I used Thai Kitchen red curry paste, as it has no artificial ingredients. I find it medium-spicy, so depending on the spice level of your red curry and your tolerance, taste and adjust accordingly. One of those dishes that looks impressive on the plate but goes together in a snap--I will definitely make it again.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--our chance to make any recipe by current IHCC chef Ellie Krieger or any of our previous IHCC chefs. You can see the chef and dishes that everyone picked by checking out the picture links on the post. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Evening Spider" by Emily Arsenault, Served with Apple, Fennel & Cabbage Slaw with Cranberries and Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Today's TLC Book Tour stop brings The Evening Spider, a novel by Emily Arsenault; the spooky story of two women living in the same old house, centuries apart. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Apple, Fennel, and Cabbage Slaw with Dried Cranberries  and Apple Cider Vinaigrette inspired by the book. How does a veggie slaw relate to a ghostly tale?  You'll just have to read the post to find out. ;-) 

Publisher's Blurb:

A gripping blend of psychological suspense and historical true crime, this riveting novel—inspired by a sensational real-life murder from the 1800s—by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault delivers a heart-stopping mystery linking two young mothers from different centuries.

Frances Barnett and Abby Bernacki are two haunted young mothers living in the same house in two different centuries.

1885: Frances Barnett is in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital, telling her story to a visitor. She has come to distrust her own memories, and believes that her pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood may have impaired her sanity.

During the earliest months of her baby’s life, Frances eagerly followed the famous murder trial of Mary Stannard—that captivated New Englanders with its salacious details and expert forensic testimony. Following—and even attending—this trial, Frances found an escape from the monotony of new motherhood. But as her story unfolds, Frances must admit that her obsession with the details of the murder were not entirely innocent.

Present day: Abby has been adjusting to motherhood smoothly—until recently, when odd sensations and dreams have begun to unsettle her while home alone with her baby. When she starts to question the house’s history, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years earlier. Abby finds the diary disturbing, and researches the Barnett family’s history. The more Abby learns, the more she wonders about a negative—possibly supernatural—influence in her house. She becomes convinced that when she sleeps, she leaves her daughter vulnerable—and then vows not to sleep until she can determine the cause of her eerie experiences.

Frances Barnett might not be the only new mother to lose her mind in this house. And like Frances, Abby discovers that by trying to uncover another’s secrets, she risks awakening some of her own.

Paperback: 400 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 26, 2016)

My Review:  

I adore a good ghost story, spooky and atmospheric and The Evening Spider certainly delivers. You have the old historic house, the bleak and snowy winter setting, a lunatic asylum in 1885, the centuries-old murder of a young girl with details of the forensics involved at that time, an exhausted new mother--mostly alone with her baby (who has mysterious bruising), a ghostly voice shushing an infant... and it all comes together into a smart and creepy story with a quiet build up of tension. The back and forth perspectives of Abby's present-day experiences, Abby reading Frances's journal, and Frances telling her story to her brother from the asylum make for a disjointed and slightly jarring reading experience which works to build the suspense and a deep sense of foreboding. It's hard to discern what is real and what is imagined by both Abby and Francis. Is Baby Lucy in danger? Is the presence in the house Francis and did she do something horrible to her own child that got her sent to the asylum? Is Francis really speaking to her brother or is she telling her tale in her head? How are the past secrets of Abby and Francis connected to what is happening in the house?  

This is the second of Arsenault's books that I have read, the first being In Search of the Rose Notes which also had parallel timelines and a narrative of past and present from dual perspectives. I think The Evening Spider does it even better. I find it interesting that what sparked Arsenault to write the book was an actual experience that she had, hearing her baby fussing over the baby monitor and then hearing a voice softly shushing her. The scene is replayed in the book and if that isn't creepy enough, there is the inclusion of a true crime case from 1878 Connecticut where a young farm girl is murdered that Frances is obsessed with (I love true events in my fiction). The Evening Spider successfully blends history, mystery, suspense, and paranormal elements into an absorbing story--perfect for adding a few goosebumps on a stormy evening.


Author Notes: Emily Arsenault is also the author of The Broken Teaglass, In Search of the Rose Notes, and Miss Me When I’m Gone. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

Find out more about Emily at her website and connect with her on Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

Food does not play a big role in the book but it is present--particularly in the journal that Abby obtains chronicling Frances's life. In it Frances talks about making dinners for her family and baking--in particular her mother's Cider Loaves. Frances doesn't have a passion for baking--seeing it as something she should do as a "normal" housewife and growing up was more interested in the scientific aspects of baking "...with its measurements and proportions and chemical reactions." In addition to the cider loaves, there are mentions of Molasses Biscuits, Saturday Spice Cake, sponge cakes, spice cake, plum pudding, gingerbread and ginger snaps, pumpkin pie, squash pie, and an less successful carrot pie, Baked Apple Pudding, soup, buttered bread and milk, roast chicken, and a Thanksgiving dinner including cornbread, turkey and oyster stuffing.  

With all of the baked goods mentioned, I could have taken my inspiration there, but I am not a big fan of baking and I am currently cutting wheat, dairy, and processed sugar out of my diet for a few weeks. Instead, I decided to take loose inspiration from the cider loaves (thinking apples and apple cider vinegar) and cabbages, as a man that figures into Frances's past, sells or trades pumpkins and cabbages and at one point brings Frances and her husband three whole cabbages that she complains about in her diary (the smell of boiling cabbages makes her nauseous). 

Having very recently purchasing an Inspiralizer and having all kinds of fun slicing every applicable produce item in my kitchen into spirals, I was trawling the Inspiralized website and saw an Apple, Fennel and Celeriac Slaw with a dressing of Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Since celeriac isn't as easy to find (or prep!) as cabbage, I switched up the recipe a bit. (Changes are in red below.)  I liked the pale, mostly white color of this winter salad as it reminded me of the snowy setting of the story, but (and not to be graphic but it's part of the inspiration...) Frances has an interest in science and forensic details and an obsession with blood and "corpuscles" from the murder trial, so I thought that adding some bright red dried cranberries would be a nod to that, as well as add some color and flavor interest to the salad. You can now forget the fact of why they are in the salad and just enjoy them. ;-) 
Apple, Fennel, and Cabbage Slaw with Dried Cranberries and Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Slightly adapted from Inspiralized
(Serves 4)

1 small head of cabbage (replacing the celeriac in the recipe)
1.5 Tbsp minced parsley (I used fennel fronds)
1 Granny Smith apples (I used 2 apples)
1 fennel bulb
(I added 1/3 cup dried cranberries)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey (I added an extra tsp)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used grainy mustard)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I reduced to 2 Tbsp)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing into a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add  cabbage, apple, fennel. Pour the dressing over and toss thoroughly to combine. Serve.

Notes/Results: Crisp, refreshing and a nice blend of sweet and tangy. I added extra apple and when making again, I will add another fennel bulb, as it's one of my favorite vegetables. The slaw partnered really well with a piece of seasoned and pan fried cod and was even better the next day. The spiralizer made quick work of shredding the cabbage and slicing the fennel and apple but you could also cut it all by hand and still enjoy the flavors in you don't have one. (If you do have a spiralizer, there is direction on the different blade settings to use on the site.) Easy, healthy, and delicious, I would happily make it again.

I am linking this book review and food pairing up at the Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Event, an 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 Evening Spider" 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.