Friday, September 21, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Yeled Tov" by Daniel M. Jaffe, Served with a Recipe for Matzo Brei with Strawberry Jam

It's Friday and that makes me happy. It's been a crazy week at work and I am ready for the weekend. To kick it off, I have a review of Yeled Tov, a coming of age story by Daniel M. Jaffe. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Matzo Brei with Strawberry Jam, inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb:

As he’s about to turn 16 in the mid-1970’s, Jake Stein notices a prohibition in Leviticus that never caught his eye before: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.” This discovery distresses Jake, an observant Jewish teen, because he’s recently been feeling increased attraction to other teen boys and men. He’s even been engaging in sexual exploration with his best friend. In an attempt to distract himself, Jake joins his high school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, but falls in love with the romantic male lead, obsessively fantasizing about him. Jake feels lonelier than ever.

The next year, while a freshman at Princeton University, Jake falls for his handsome roommate, is beset by serious temptations, and engages in a traumatic sexual encounter with a stranger. Seeking help from God, Jake tries to alter his desires, even dates a young Jewish woman in the hopes that she can change him, but to no avail.  Jake concludes that God could never love an abomination like him, so he attempts to prove his faith by ending his own life.

After he’s saved by his roommate, Jake receives unexpected support from doctors, family, and friends, some of whom have been suspecting his secret. With their help, Jake explores a different way of thinking about the rules of Torah and himself, and begins to consider that he might actually be a yeled tov, a good Jewish boy, just the way he is.

Paperback: 320 pages  
Publisher: Lethe Press (April 18, 2018)


My Review:

I was drawn to the description of Yeled Tov because I continue to look for books to diversify my reading with lives and perspectives that differ from mine. Jake Stein, the main character in Yeled Tov, couldn't be more different from me. He is a Jewish teen, becoming a man in the seventies and struggling with reconciling his sexuality with his religious beliefs in a time and environment where to be homosexual is considered an abomination to God. Jake tries to be a yeled tov--a good boy--for himself, for his family, and for his God. The pressures are enormous and Daniel Jaffe describes them well--with honesty, poignancy, and even a bit of humor. He has created a wonderful character in Jake and had me rooting for him from the beginning. Yeled Tov won't be a book for everyone--the sexuality in it is fairly graphic as Jake explores his sexuality in both thoughts and fantasies and reality, but it isn't gratuitous and it helps illustrate the conflict in Jake's life. It moves slowly in the beginning, but the quality of the writing, the story and the characters engaged me and I found myself caught up in Jake's world and satisfied with the journey.

-----

Author Notes: Daniel M. Jaffe is an award-winning, internationally published fiction and essay writer.  His novel-in-stories, THE GENEALOGY OF UNDERSTANDING, was a finalist and honorable mention for the Rainbow Awards; and his novel, THE LIMITS OF PLEASURE, was a finalist for a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award.  He is author of JEWISH GENTLE AND OTHER STORIES OF GAY JEWISH LIVING, and compiler/editor of WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF JEWISH FABULIST FICTION.  Also, Daniel translated the Russian-Israeli novel, HERE COMES THE MESSIAH! by Dina Rubina.
  
Read more at www.danieljaffe.com.

-----

Food Inspiration: 

There was a lot of food to be found in Yeled Tov and plenty of Jewish dishes. Food mentions included kosher food, rye bread, brisket with garlic and onions and green beans, Jake favorite "k" foods--knishes, kishka, kasha, kreplach, and potato kugel. There was parve apple pie and chocolate cake (made with no milk or butter), chicken soup, bagels and lox, whitefish salad, noodle kugel, gefilte fih and eggs, blintzes, knockwurst, and chicken schnitzel. There were mentions of tuna and egg salad, sandwiches with chips, tuna noodle casserole, popcorn, split pea soup, Beefaroni, mac 'n cheese, spaghetti in tomato sauce, hot dogs, hamburgers and fries, pot roast, roast beef, liver and onions, fried fillet of sole, pigs-in-blanket, turkey tetrazzini, chocolate chip cake, white sheet cake, and ice cream, pizza pancakes and French toast, brownies and PB & J, and red Hawaiian Punch with orange sherbet.      

With the crazy week, I really needed something simple to make which is what drew me to matzo brei. It's simple Jewish comfort food of eggs with matzo crackers that I have made before (see Ruth Reichl's version here). This time I wanted a sweeter profile and had some strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries that I thought would pair nicely with it. I found a basic recipe for Grandma's Matzo Brei on Jalie Geller's Joy of Kosher that I adapted. 


Joy of Kosher's Grandma's Matzo Brei
Slightly Adapted from Joy of Kosher.com 
(Serves 1 to 2)

2 sheets matzo
2 large eggs
(I added 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon)
(I added 1 tsp maple syrup)
kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper to taste
enough butter or oil to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet
strawberry jam and sliced fresh strawberries for serving, if desired

Break the matzo up into bite-sized pieces and place it in a small colander set in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the matzo pieces and carefully stir to moisten all of the pieces. Once matzo has softened, remove the colander from the bowl and drain the matzo crackers. 

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Beat the eggs well with the cinnamon, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Add the matzo crackers and gently mix together so all pieces are coasted with egg. 

Add the matzo and egg mixture to the pan in an even layer. Cook it undisturbed for 5 to 6 minutes, until the bottom is nicely browned. Using a long spatula and a plate, gently lift up the matzo brei and slide it onto a plate. Gently flip the plate back over the pan to cook the other side. Continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and gently transfer the cooked matzo brei to a serving plate. Lightly pat off the extra oil with a paper towel. Top matzo brei with strawberry jam and sliced strawberries and eat immediately. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: This matzo brei topped with jam and fresh strawberries really hit the spot for my Friday night dinner. If eggs and jam seem peculiar, think French toast or a Monte Cristo sandwich--only made here with the matzo crackers. I wanted enough to fill the plate for the picture so I used 2 matzos and 2 eggs, but eating-wise, half the amount would have been fine. Tasty comfort food whether sweet or savory, I will happily make it again.


I'm sharing this post with 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 "Yeled Tov" 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, September 16, 2018

Smoked Fish, Leek and Potato Chowder (Scottish Cullen Skink) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I love a good chowder. Add smoked fish and I'm even happier. This Smoked Fish, Leek and Potato Chowder, known as Cullen Skink in Scotland, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a great example. I was able to find non-smoked haddock at Whole Foods and smoked white fish, so I combined the two, added a little liquid smoke into the mix, and made a few other changes--noted in red below.


River Cottage says, "A creamy smoked fish and potato soup, known in Scotland as cullen skink, rarely fails to be supremely soothing and comforting. This very simple but utterly delicious example can be knocked up in little more than half an hour.


Smoked Fish, Leek and Potato Chowder
Slightly Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Via RiverCottage.com
(Serves 4) 

300g (10.5 oz) smoked pollack or smoked haddock fillet (I used 1 lb haddock fillet + 1/2 lb smoked whitefish)
650ml (about 3 cups) fish or vegetable stock (I used 5 cups no-chicken veggie stock)
a large knob of butter
2 large leeks, trimmed, washed and finely sliced (I used 4 medium leeks)
500g (18 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into 4–5mm cubes (about 1/2-3/4 inch)
4 Tbsp double cream (I used 1/2 cup coconut creamer)
(I added 1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped parsley, to finish (optional)

Put the fish into a saucepan and add the stock. Bring slowly to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat, flip the fish over in the pan, cover and leave for 3 minutes. Turn the fish over again and check if it is cooked – the flesh should all be opaque and flake easily from the skin. If it’s not quite done, leave it in the covered pan for a couple of minutes longer. Once cooked, lift it out of the pan on to a board, reserving the stock. Take the fish off the skin in large flakes, checking for any bones as you go.

Heat the butter in a large pan over a medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sweat gently for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the potatoes and reserved stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the cream and flakes of smoked fish. Reheat gently, without boiling, then taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into warm bowls and finish with a scattering of parsley if you like. Serve at once, with brown bread and butter on the side.


River Cottage Notes: If you don’t have leeks, but you do have spring onions, or even regular onions, you can happily use them instead. Trim and slice a couple of good bunches of spring onions and sweat for 5 minutes only. Or finely slice 2 large onions and sweat for 12–15 minutes, until soft and tender.


Notes/Results: Just a yummy bowl of chowder--like potato-leek soup and fish chowder married together. I actually liked using the frozen haddock fillets with the smoked white fish as it gave a nice variation in texture. adding the liquid smoke meant I didn't lose any of the smoky flavor and the frozen haddock was more economical too--a win-win in my book. This chowder will make great lunches throughout the week. The only think I am missing as I am avoiding gluten, is some good bread to dunk in it. A tasty soup and pretty quick and easy to make, I would happily make it again. 


Linking this chowdery soup up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it's our Monthly Featured Dish/Ingredient Challenge: Chilis & Chowders from any of our featured IHCC Chefs.


Here's a few links to my other favorite chowders and chilis (three of each) from our IHCC featured chefs:

Nigel Slater's Quick Fish and Corn Chowder:


 Rick Bayless's Lanie's "The World's Greatest Chili" 

 
Jacques Pépin's Corn and Hominy Chowder:


Mark Bittman's Espresso Black Bean Chili

  
Jacques Pépin's Tomato Chowder with Mollet Eggs

 
Giada's Vegetarian Chili Verde:

  
Lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen:


Lovely Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared Potato, Corn and Mushroom Soup and said, "This past week it was clean-out-the-fridge time and the orphaned veggies found themselves dropped into a soup. Sometimes those kind of soups are the best - no recipes to follow, just chop and dice whatever yummy vegs you have on hand and go from there. (Another bonus for zero waste.) It made enough for two days lunches for us. Once Doug retires I will divvy  up the lunch fixings so he can heat some at home and I take some to work. Now that will be weird after eating lunch together for decades. More on that later."


My pal Kim of Stirring the Pot brings a unique chili and said, "Giada's Lentil and Hominy Chili is a vegetarian delight. The lentils really make this chili hearty and comforting, and the hominy, well, I just love that stuff. It's fragrant, it's chewy, it just pops in your mouth and it's just plain fun to eat. I have NO idea why it's not more popular. However, I do feel like what makes this chili are the toppings, especially the lime juice. The squeeze of lime really brightens things up and brings all the flavors together. The avocado adds a lovely creamy quality and the cilantro...well I just love that too.

  
Mahalo to Kim and Tina for joining in this week!
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at 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 Souper Sunday'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. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "Cross Her Heart" by Sarah Pinborough, Served with a Recipe for Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice

Happy Thursday. We got lucky again this week, with Hurricane Olivia down to a tropical storm today and besides some heavy rains still to come, not much of an impact on Oahu, Kauai, and while there were damages, it certainly was not as bad as it could have been on Maui. My thoughts are with the East coast and those dealing with Hurricane Florence. I hope for a similar outcome. 

If you are nervously anticipating a storm, it doesn't hurt to have a good thriller to distract you like Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for this novel. Accompanying my review is a recipe for healthy and tasty bowl of Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice, inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb:

Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. 

Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 4, 2018)


My Review:

Cross Her Heart is my first Sarah Pinborough book. Well, at least the first one I've read. I chose her bestselling previous novel, Behind Her Eyes as a Book of the Month pick last year, before I decided that my biggest problem with the Book of the Month club was actually reading the books. I have a stack of them just sitting on my shelves. I have a feeling though, that Behind Her Eyes may move up to the top of the pile, now that I have given her a try. 

Cross Her Heart snuck up on me a bit. I felt like it started a little slow but whether that was me (seriously, I can't read ANYTHING lately at night and stay awake lately) or the book, I'm not sure, but the twists in the story began to unfold and I found myself caught up in this story and the secrets and lies of Lisa, Ava, and several of the other characters. It is easy to assume that you know what Lisa might be hiding herself and her daughter from, and I liked that I had it wrong. I had several things wrong as a matter of fact, until I reached the end. I was expecting a bigger shock than I got--maybe because I heard so much about a shocking twist in Behind Her Eyes (If you read it don't tell me--I have managed to go more than a year knowing there was a twist but not knowing what it is!), but I felt like in this case, there was a lot of foreshadowing of the big reveal. It didn't spoil the journey for me though, the last third of the book was quite a ride and had me anxiously turning pages. I don't want to say much more than that, as this is a book you'll want to go into without many more details than you already get in the publisher's blurb. 

If you like mystery-thrillers full of twists, secrets, lies, and family and friendship dramas with interesting and flawed characters, add Cross Her Heart to your fall TBR list--it's engaging and entertaining and will keep you guessing.

-----

Author Notes: Sunday Times No.1 bestseller Sarah Pinborough is the critically acclaimed and award-winning, adult and YA author. Her previous novel, Behind Her Eyes, has sold in 25 territories, been shortlisted for the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller in hardback and paperback. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.
 
Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

-----

Food Inspiration:

Although there wasn't a lot, there was food to be found in Cross Her Heart including pizza, milk, bread, Battenberg cake (an almond-flavored tea cake), tea, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, vodka, cakes,  drinks, a punch of fruit juice, lemonade, vodka and Bacardi, a cold jacket potato, donuts, prosecco, sandwiches and chips, microwave popcorn, cider, tequila shot, crisps, brownies, frozen lasagna, oven fries and peas, curry, beer, bread, olives, scallops and sea bream, Chablis, ice cream with wafers, chicken salad, Chinese takeaway (mentioned a few times, from the Peking sweet-and-sour pork and chicken chow mein, etc.) Caramacs, jelly, ice cream, Chocolate cake, beans on toast, and Jelly Babies (a jelly candy).


Recipe Inspiration: Since there were several mentions of Chinese take-away, for my book-inspired dish, I thought I pick one of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes--fried rice. I wanted to be a bit healthier than my favorite take-out place and use plenty of vegetables and since I still had the remains of a large bag of frozen cauliflower rice, use it in place of rice.

Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 as a Main, 4 as a Side)

4 cups cauliflower rice (fresh or frozen--see note*
3 Tbsp olive or coconut oil, separated
1/2 sweet onion sliced
1 medium carrot diced
1/2 large red bell pepper
3 scallions/green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger minced
2 cups white button and crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and sliced into thirds
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp sesame oil, plus more to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste
toasted sesame seeds

Prep Cauliflower: If using fresh cauliflower, wash the head and pat it dry, then shred it using the largest holes of a grater or by pulsing the florets in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice. If using frozen, let thaw in a colander then squeeze/press as much of the liquid out as possible. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion slices, carrot, red pepper, the white part of the scallions, garlic and ginger and saute until just the vegetables are just starting to get tender--about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender and vegetables are tender and cooked through. Remove the vegetables from the pan, cover and set aside. 

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. When hot, add the cauliflower rice and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Stir in the snow peas, 2/3 of the green onion tops, and the tamari/soy sauce and cook for another minute or two. Then push the cauliflower rice to one side of the pan and scramble the beaten eggs on the opposite side. Once eggs are scrambled, gently stir them into the cauliflower rice, along with the sesame oil. Taste and add additional tamari, salt and black pepper as desired. serve immediately, garnished with the remaining chopped green onion and toasted sesame seeds, Enjoy!

Note: This fried rice is at it's best when fresh cooked and hot but you can enjoy leftovers within a day or two. 


Notes/Results: Especially when served hot and fresh, this cauliflower fried rice stands up to it's counterpart in flavor but is much lighter, less greasy, and so much lower calorie and healthier. If you are using frozen, pre-riced cauliflower, the more liquid you can press from it the better--much like the original, the drier the 'rice'--the better the fried rice as you can get it crispier. Use any veggies you like here, you can also add more protein with shrimp, chicken, or tofu and you can leave out the eggs if you aren't a fan--it's very versatile. I'm not saying I don't love the slightly greasy, salty shrimp fried-rice from my local Chinese restaurant, but a big serving of this works just fine and leaves me some wiggle room for dessert calories. ;-) I'd happily make it again. 


I'm sharing this post with 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 "Cross Her Heart" 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, September 9, 2018

Eric Ripert's Simple Instagram Lentil Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Sometimes you just want something simple. In this case it was this simple Lentil Soup that I ran across on Eric Ripert's Instagram account.


It just said "Grey NYC antidote (Vegan) Lentil soup: 1medium onion & carrot split in 1/2, 2 cloves garlic,15oz lentils. Boil to tender w/1 liter water, salt, pepper..."

Picture from Eric Ripert's Instagram

I wouldn't be me if I didn't pump up the flavor a bit with dried thyme, parsley and a bay leaf and by using a combination of homemade garlic broth mixed with mushroom soup paste and a not-chicken bouillon cube. I also pulled out the onion and carrot after cooking the soup, chopped them, and stirred them back in. Finally, I added a little red wine vinegar at the end to brighten things up.


That's it. No other recipe needed!


Notes/Results: Just a great easy soup. Lentils are an ingredient I love--so healthy for the heart and body. I liked the changes I made as it really added some nice layers of flavor. I'm not going to lie, this weekend's heat and humidity are a bit much for this fall-feeling soup, but I am looking forward to bringing to lunch in my ultra-cold and air conditioned office. ;-) I would happily make it again. 


Linking up this From the Heart dish with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week we are cooking up dishes with ingredients we love. 


Lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared two sandwiches she enjoyed this week. She says, "The Before and After Sandwich is chicken and egg salad combined. We had a bit of chicken but not quite enough for two sandwiches. We also had farm fresh eggs so, why not boil some and mix them together. Cheap buns at Costco were handy so this made a great lunch for work."

Then Tina said, "This Cuban is from 4 Rivers BBQ in Tallahassee and it was a very good sandwich. Would I order it again? Absolutely! This packed pressed sandwich was so large that I wish I hadn't gotten the two sides. Next time I'll only order the sandwich. It has more meat than I am used to eating but I wasn't sorry - Smoked pork,  ham, onion rings, mustard, pickles, melted provolone and 4R signature sauce."


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought this Victory Garden Soup she made from a recent book review and said, "I eventually selected "Victory Soup" from World War II section. I selected this recipe because I am a backyard vegetable gardner at heart and love a good bowl of soup. This is a simple vegan and gluten free vegetable soup that would be easy and fun to make with your kids or grandkids!"

 
Mahalo to Judee and Tina for joining in this week!
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at 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 Souper Sunday'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. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).




Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Hotel on Shadow Lake" by Daniela Tully, Served with Trout with Almonds and Butter-Parsley Fingerling Potatoes

It's Tuesday and I'm happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for a new historical mystery novel, Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully. Accompanying my review are recipes for  tasty Trout with Almonds and Butter-Parsley Fingerling Potatoes inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb:

Suspenseful and compelling, Daniela Tully’s Hotel on Shadow Lake is at once an intricate mystery, an epic romance, and a Gothic family saga.
 
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.
 
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.
 
Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 10, 2018)


My Review: 

Although she has worked in the film industry for years, Hotel on Shadow Lake is Daniela Tully's first book, but hopefully not her last. She packed an amazing amount of history, story, stories within the story, mysteries, and well-drawn characters into just over 250 pages. There are skillful twists and layers to uncover and the book travels from Germany in 1938 to the 1990s and beyond, then to America and upstate New York in past and present day. Tully's writing is evocative and descriptive enough to have me feeling like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book (in a good way) and I think it would be fabulous adapted as a film. I am a big fan of WWII historical fiction, especially when it gives me a different look or perspective--in this case that of a young book and story-loving, free-thinking young woman in Germany during the rise of Nazi power, and her granddaughter--who is stronger than she thinks and trying to find out what happened to her grandmother decades ago. Along with the mystery there is romance and dark family drama that Tully balances well. I did have some of the secrets figured out, but other bits surprised me and I turned the pages, anxious to learn if I was correct. My only real complaint is that I would have liked more of it, I was sorry to see the book end. 

-----
 
Author Notes: Daniela Tully has worked in film and television for decades, including with famed film director Uli Edel. She has been involved in projects such as the critically acclaimed Fair Game, box-office hits Contagion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as the Oscar-winning The Help. She splits her time between Dubai and New York. Inspired by a real family letter received forty-six years late, Hotel on Shadow Lake is Daniela Tully’s first novel.

Connect with Daniela on her website, Facebook and Instagram.


-----

Food Inspiration:

There wasn't a lot of food in Hotel on Shadow Lake, but it's not surprising that there wasn't room for more with the amount of story packed into the page count. There were some mentions including decaf coffee, marmalade, beer, ice cream, pad thai, pretzels, Obatzda (a beer garden cheese delicacy), red wine, a few restaurants--Italian, a bagel place (with regular, pumpernickel, and blueberry bagels) and an Asian restaurant, Malbec, hamburger, martinis, oysters, foie gras, caviar, Hendl (roasted chicken), Schweinsbraten (Bavarian pork roast) with dumplings and Apfelstrudel, Kaffe and Kuchen (coffee and cake), and trout with potatoes and butter sauce.


Since the trout and potatoes were part of a dinner and the last time two of the characters were truly happy, I chose to make them for my book-inspired dish. I looked up some German recipes online and then put them together into a dish that sounded good to me.


Trout with Sliced Almonds
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serve 2

2 large trout fillets
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp almond meal or flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
extra lemon wedges for serving

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the almond meal with salt and black pepper. Drizzle the trout fillets with lemon juice and then dredge them in the almond meal, shaking off the excess. 

Cook the trout for 5 to 6 minutes on one side, then turn and cook the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the fish flakes and is cooked through. Remove the fillets from the pan, add the almonds, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook he almonds for about 2 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Plate the fish and top with the toasted almonds, Serve with lemon slices and fingerling potatoes.
 
-----

Butter-Parsley Fingerling Potatoes
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 to 4)

1 lb or so fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Steam or boil potatoes about 15 minutes or so, until they are just tender enough to pierce easily with a fork. 

Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium until it bubbles. Add the potatoes, cut side down in a single layer if possible (or cook in batches) and cook potatoes for 6-8 minutes, until the cut sides are nicely browned and crisp.  

Add parsley, sea salt and black pepper to the pan and toss until well combined. Serve and enjoy.


Notes/Results: The trout was tasty--basically it's a trout almondine which I always enjoy, but give me fingerlings, rich with butter and parsley and I could be perfectly happy just eating a bowl of them. Potatoes make me happy. ;-) You could do the preparation with other fish, trout is just a popular German fish and what the characters ate. When not cooking for the book, I might use a nice local monchong (a type of promfret), when it is fresh and available. With all of the butter and richness of this dish, it would be great served with a green salad. In fact, the leftovers are accompanied me to work cold in a salad form, along with currant tomatoes, capers, and a creamy dressing. I would happily make both recipes again.  


I'm sharing this post with 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 "Hotel on Shadow Lake" 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.