Sunday, July 5, 2020

Avgolemono (Egg & Lemon) Soup with Pearled Couscous for Soup (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This is not the soup I intended to make today but life got in the way of soup making and I switched to a quicker recipe, this variation of Greek Avgolemono Soup from Mark Bittman. It made the most of local eggs and locally-grown lemons, dill and a carrot. 

I was most intrigued about using a blender to "froth" the egg, certainly a nontraditional take on this classic soup. My other changes based on what I had on hand are in red below. 


Avgolemono Soup
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman via Woman'sDay.com
Serves 4 

6 cups chicken stock (or non-chicken stock)
1 medium carrot, thinly-sliced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/2 cup orzo (I used pearled/Israeli couscous)
2 cups chopped chicken (I omitted & added a can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed)
2 large eggs
3 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
(I added 1 1/2 tsp fresh dill)
salt and pepper

Bring 6 cups of broth to a near boil in a large soup pot, then turn down until it's just bubbling. Ass carrot and celery and cook about 10 minutes, until vegetables are getting tender. Add 1/2 cup orzo (or couscous or other small pasta shape) and cook until pasta is tender, another 8-10 minutes. Add 2 cups chopped cooked chicken if using, or chickpeas and add the dill. Season with salt and pepper.



Meanwhile, put eggs into blender and blend briefly. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and pulse again. Then, with the blender running, slowly add two cups of the soup (moslty broth) and blend until it is frothy and creamy looking. Pour it back in to the pot with the rest of the soup and heat for a couple of minutes without boiling. Taste and add additional salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired. Serve and enjoy. 


Notes/Results: A quick and simple soup that is comforting and light with lemony goodness. I'm not sure the looks were improved by using the blender to blend and froth the lemon-egg mixture but it was quick and easy to do and once the froth had settled in the bowl, it looked better (at least to me!). I liked the pearled couscous, although rice or any small pasta shape would work as well. The lemon flavor of the soup makes it light for the summer and warmer weather. I'd happily make it again. 


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are celebrating Farmers Market and Local Produce this week.

Let's see who is here in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week:

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen brought Broccoli and Ginger Soup this week saying, "I had planned to make a bookmarked Broccoli and Ginger Soup, but instead found myself adapting the last Broccoli Soup recipe that I shared on the blog.  ... Though it does not look that exciting,  i felt nourished. it felt healing to eat. I loved the ginger and it warmed my throat with its natural fire and the blended greens was goodness in a bowl." 



Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brings a sweet and cooling Creamy Strawberry Soup saying, "I'm addicted to this light delicious chilled soup that I've been enjoying in this hot humid weather. I know there are many people who just can't wrap their finger around the idea of "chilled soup". I used to be one of them. I guess it's an acquired taste and concept. Call it a smoothie if you don't like the idea of "chilled soup."'



Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made the most of a Fettuccine with Summer Vegetables by adding protein and turning it into Summer Vegetables and Steak Soup. She says, "Well, all I did was saute onions and once soft, added the leftover vegetables. Snip the remaining fettuccine noodles into smaller pieces and toss in a pot. We had a few strips of steak we couldn't finish one evening a few weeks ago and those had been in the freezer, awaiting a casserole or soup concoction. I added a tiny bit of broth, a few other orphan veggies and more salt and pepper. That's it. Use up all the leftovers in any way you can. No waste :-)"


Thank you to Judee, Tina and Shaheen for joining me this 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 to Souper Sundays 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 add a 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 this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Black Bean Soup from "What's Gaby Cooking: Eat What You Want" by Gaby Dalkin for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays & for #AbramsDinnerParty

I had heard of Gaby Dalkin and her blog What's Gaby Cooking but I had never really explored it or her recipes until I received her cookbook, What's Gaby Cooking: Eat What You Want: 125 Recipes for Real Life as part of #AbramsDinnerParty. I have just started going through the book and found many recipes to try, the first being her Black Bean Soup. I'll review this cookbook officially after I have tried a couple more recipes (the Baked Feta with Honey & Black Pepper, Goat Cheese Polenta with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil Vinaigrette are next up) so let's get right to the soup.


I stuck to the recipe with the exception of adding a slightly limp red pepper that I needed to use so as not to waste it. I also thought I had a can of chipotles in adobo and didn't buy one when I went to the store so I substituted McCormick Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Seasoning to taste.


Gaby says, "I have such fond childhood memories of my mom making this for us ... and then letting us pile on an insane amount of cheese. We were seriously aggressive.) For this version I've swapped all that cheese for sour cream, which gives the soup the perfect amount of tangy creaminess. It's easy to make, fantastic as leftovers, and freezes well too."

Black Bean Soup 
From What's Gaby Cooking: Eat What You Want by Gaby Dalkin 
(Serves 6 to 8)

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 to 2 Tbsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo, depending on desired spiciness
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 (15 oz/430 g) cans black beans, drained & rinsed
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) vegetable broth
juice of 1 lime, plus more lime wedges for serving
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
fresh cilantro sprigs
fresh scallions, thinly sliced

Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the cumin and adobo sauce and cook until the vegetables are well coated and very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beans and vegetable broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Transfer half the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and the juice of 1 lime. Divide the soup among bowls, Top with a drizzle of olive oil and some sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and scallions. Serve lime wedges alongside.


Notes/Results: This soup smelled really delicious while cooking and tasted just as good. Smoky, a kick of spice, just a good simple black beans soup. I especially liked that she used 4 cans of beans. It seems like I always add extra cans to bean soup recipes because when you puree half a soup and there aren't enough beans it just isn't chunky enough. This one is definitely chunky. I approve of the toppings too--the sour cream is delicious and you could use a vegan version if you wanted a vegan soup.

   

Many thank to Abrams Books and #AbramsDinner Party for this great new cookbook that I intend to cook a lot from. This post is sponsored by Abrams Books, as part of the Abrams Dinner Party however my thoughts, feelings and experiences cooking from it are my own. #sponsored 

Let's see who awaits in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week:

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen brought Pea Shoots and Asparagus Pasta Salad, saying, "Yes, I know what some of you may be thinking - another Pasta Salad! but you will be pleased to note that this one does actually have some homegrown ingredients - Pea shoots. The pea shoots and pea stems and leaves are all from the garden, not the asparagus - that came from the supermarket. ... The pea shoots pasta salad is not heavy in pea flavour, its delicate in flavour. And to punctuate the green, I stirred in some raw diced red pepper for colour and crunch."
  

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor was also feeling the black beans this week and made this unique Black Bean Gnocchi Soup loosely inspired by Kong Skull Island. She said, "I don't have a recipe but I'll tell you what I did. I sauteed an onion and several garlic cloves in olive oil. Once the onions were soft I added a can of black beans and chopped tomatoes. Mix this up well then add broth, salt, ground pepper, roasted garlic powder and basil. I used roughly 4 cups of broth as I like it soupy. Now add gnocchi and simmer."
  

Thank you to Tina and Shaheen for joining me this 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 to Souper Sundays 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 add a 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 this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week and be well. 
 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Jamie's Quick Mushroom Noodle Broth with Quick Carrot & Ginger Pickle & Scallions for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I picked another soup recipe to try from Jamie Oliver's Ultimate Veg this week. I can always eat a noodle bowl and I love mushrooms so his Quick Mushroom Noodle Broth seemed like it would hit the spot today. I liked the idea of the accompanying Quick Carrot & Ginger Pickle to brighten things up.


I made a few small changes based on what I had including my favorite porcini mushroom broth cubes to add to the mushroom flavor. My changes are noted in red below.


Jamie notes that "This broth welcomes any delicate veggies like snow peas, sugar snap peas, chard or baby corn, if you want to chop and change it to keep it interesting."

Quick Mushroom Noodle Broth with Quick Carrot & Ginger Pickle & Scallions
Jamie Oliver Ultimate Veg
(Serves 4)

4 cloves of garlic
1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
peanut oil
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
(I added 2 porcini bouillon cubes) 
1 carrot
1 fresh red chili
1 tsp sushi pickled ginger
2 scallions
2 heaping tablespoons red miso paste
reduced-sodium soy sauce & black pepper
7 oz dried egg noodles (I used fresh saimen noodles)
2 bok choy (I used baby bok choy)
8 oz mixed mushrooms (I used crimini, shiitake, & brown beech mushrooms)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
lime wedges to serve, optional

Peel and finely slice the garlic and ginger, then place in a large pan on high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry for 2 minutes. add the porcini and 6 cups of boiling water (I added the porcini bouillon cubes), then cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, scrub and coarsely grate the carrot with the chili and mix with the sushi ginger. Trim and finely slice the scallions, then put both aside.

When the time's up, stir the miso paste and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce into the broth. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions, then divide between warm bowls. Season the broth to taste with soy and black pepper, then halve or quarter the bok choy and add with the mushrooms (chopped or sliced depending on size) for just 1 minute, to keep their freshness. 

Divide the veg between the bowls, ladle over the steaming broth and serve with the pickle, scallions, and a scattering of sesame seeds. 

Delicious with a squeeze of lime juice, if you like.


Notes/Results: The broth is rich, earthy and savory and full of umami from the miso. The noodles, mushrooms and bok choy keep it satisfying while the lime juice (excuse my one tired lime) and the carrot and ginger pickle add that little zip that the earthy flavor needs. There's a little bit of heat from the grated red chili pepper, but you could add more heat with your favorite chili paste. I am keeping the components separate to make noodle bowls for work lunches this week. I would happily make it again.


I'm linking it up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are still doing Needs Must cooking along with Julia Child and 19 other featured chefs including Jamie Oliver.

Let's see who awaits in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week:

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared Chilli Carrot Pasta Salad, saying "I don't know why I thought the carrots would break down like red lentil dal and cling to the penne pasta like sauce, but that is not what happened. The carrots were grate-y, in fact looking at it you would think there were red lentils in this, but no.  ... The flavours were alright though - mildly spiced.  Once the carrot had softened up, I used my hand blender thinking it would turn smooth, but it just grated the carrots - I don't know what I was thinking, in fact I wasn't thinking properly.  Regardless of the texture, it tasted okay and was alright to tuck into for working lunch at home."


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor did her own riff on one of my favorites, Boursin Potato Soup. She says, "This recipe I shamelessly stole from my friend Deb... I had planned to make this and post it when we were having daily downpours.  Now it's sunny. Either way, I like soup.  This saves you from reading a rain rant and we can right to this easy and delicious bowl of goodness. ... I modified the recipe as I didn't have leeks or celery.  What I did was add additonal green onion and carrots to make up the bulk. Topped it all with pepper and chopped scallions."

Thank you to Tina and Shaheen for joining me this 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 to Souper Sundays 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 add a 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 this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

 

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "JD in the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks" by Jasmine Daya, Served with a Recipe for Coconut Ladwa (Indian Macaroons)

Happy Aloha Friday! It's been another long and busy week and I am very happy the weekend is here. Weekends are a good time for indulging a bit so I am going to enjoy a few of these Coconut Ladwa with a cup of chai. They are one of the treats in JD in the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks by Jasmine Daya, and I am today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for this little cookbook. 


 Publisher's Blurb:

Jasmine Daya is a seasoned home cook who loves creating sweet treats while collaborating in the kitchen with her mother, Shan. In her third cookbook, Daya shares recipes for delicious Indian sweet snacks with East African influences that include almond halva (a special occasion dish), coconut ladwa (an Indian macaroon), crushed bundhi ladwa (a soft, delightful treat often given at weddings), jalebi (a festive sticky treat known for its bright color and immense sweetness), pera (a saffron flavored snack), thepla (an Indian cookie that pairs perfectly with an afternoon cup of tea), and many more recipes for satisfying concoctions that tantalize the taste buds while comforting the soul. JD in the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks is a collection of easy-to-follow recipes that will guide home cooks of all ages to create tasty treats that will leave their guests content and wanting more.

Paperback: 70 pages
Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services (January 22, 2020)

My Review:

I don't buy a lot of specialty cookbooks that delve only into one food item or category but I am always intrigued by Indian cooking and like to broaden my knowledge and cooking repertoire, always looking to learn in the kitchen. That's what I was looking for with JD in the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks and I wish there was more information included in the book. I think there are probably two groups of people most interested in this type of cookbook--either those who grew up with these snacks and treats and are looking for easy recipes for how to create them, and those of us who maybe enjoyed some halva or burfi at a restaurant and are looking to know more about them and try them in our kitchens. The book would meet the needs of the first group, but not so much the second. It is basically a collection of 31 recipes for sweet treats and snacks. There is a brief, mostly one-sentence description of the recipe with an occasional note about when it might be served or that it is a favorite of the author and her family. What's missing for me is a list of unfamiliar ingredients. I recognized the basics and even some of the slightly less known, but I am not sure the average home cook who hasn't grown up with ingredients like semolina, custard powder, chickpea flour, milk powder, jaggery, and fried gundh (edible gum believed to have healing properties) will know what they are, and where to get them. So an ingredient list and resources to buy would be helpful including information about candy molds and sizes and other tools. I liked that there were good color photos of the snacks but some of them had embellishments that a home cook would probably not achieve without help. The burfi below is a good example--there is no mention of the decorative chocolate topping. A "this is what I use to make it festive but you could also serve it plain or with scattered ______ on top" would be helpful. There was mention of optional edible silver leaves on the Cardamon Burfi recipe but not on the other few recipes that used them later in the book.



I wanted more detail and more stories as the author's background very interesting as a practicing lawyer and her mother was born in East Africa and immigrated to Canada. More detail about the food and her background is available on her blog, but I would have liked it in the book. The recipes are listed in alphabetical order and I would have liked an index of some sort to accompany them by ingredient. I did like the cover--perfect for wiping spills off and the spiral binding as it lays flat perfectly when you are reading and cooking from it. The recipes themselves are pretty clearly written and many could be made with a visit to a decent grocery store and a well-stocked spice rack, however others do require molds and other equipment. All in all, if you are looking for some Indian sweets recipes, this is a good compact book of them, just don't go into it expecting more than that.


-----


Author Notes: Jasmine Daya is the mother of three children and a practicing lawyer.  She is passionate about her work, life and children but doing it all means that her day starts early and ends late.  Jasmine decided to start a blog to share how she balances spending quality time with her children every day while accomplishing her career goals, enjoying time with friends and having a little time to herself in the hopes that aspiring young women can realize that they too can have it all.

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


-----

I tabbed several recipes to try from the book like the fudges--Burfi, more of a milk fudge and the Cashew Burfi with cardamom and cashews, and the Coconut Paak, a pretty pink coconut based fudge and Pistachio Paak--a crunchy and nutty fudge. I also thought about making the Jugu Paak, an easy peanut brittle, the Kokotende, an Indian cookie coated with a sugar glaze, the decadent (2 cups of butter) Mesub which is one of the author's mother's favorite treats or the intriguing Sev Paak, a sweet treat made with vermicelli.



Ultimately with timing and easy availability of ingredients, I decided to make the Coconut Ladwa, essentially an Indian version of a macaroon. They required only six ingredients including water and no baking--just cooking and time to set up.



Coconut Ladwa (An Indian Macaroon)
Printed With Permission From JD in the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks by Jasmine Daya

1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup water
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a pot over low heat, combine the sugar and water, stirring periodically until the sugar dissolves. Add the the coconut and ground cardamom and stir to combine cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and butter and stir to combine, cooking for about 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Once cooled, take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all the mixture is used. Let set and place on a serving dish.



Notes/Results: These are tasty little macaroons. I love cardamom and fennel and coconut and all of those flavors are at the forefront so if you don't like any of those flavors, these are not your macaroon. I did have some challenges getting them to stick together to form a ball (it could have been the store-brand shredded sweetened coconut I had to buy as it seemed coarser & dryer than the Baker's brand I usually use) but I used my small ice cream scoop and once they were packed in, they held together well once set up. They did have a slightly gray-green cast to them that doesn't show up as much in the pictures, but I think with the two teaspoons of dried cardamom powder in the mix, that color is a given. With the way the week went, I didn't get a chance to make a cup of chai to enjoy with these treats, but I will this weekend.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event that was held at Beth Fish Reads, but is now being hosted with Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see this past week's post here.

Note: A review copy of "JD in the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Summer House" by Lauren K. Denton, Served with a Recipe for Pimiento Cheese & Shrimp Dip

It's Tuesday which means it is one day closer to Friday! If you need a little not quite midweek escape, I have the perfect book for you The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton. I am excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for this lovely new novel. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a tasty Pimiento Cheese and Shrimp Dip inspired by the book.    


Publisher's Blurb: 

Sometimes it takes losing everything to find yourself again.

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago—just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over—and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far. The Summer House weaves Lauren K. Denton’s inviting Southern charm around a woman’s journey to find herself.

Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (June 2, 2020)


My Review: 

Lauren K. Denton's books are an automatic read for me. I get excited and happy when she has a new one coming out--usually starting with the gorgeous covers that grace them and then excited for the escape I find in them. This is her fourth book and the fourth one I have reviewed for TLC Book Tours. I love that they are hopeful, usually about second starts and chances and finding your place in the world, and they are filled with quirky and endearing characters. She also manages to work in delicious food and have me longing to move to a small Southern town or community despite having spent almost no time in the south. Take The Summer House for example, if someone asked me if I wanted to become a hairstylist in a retirement village in coastal Alabama, I'd think they were crazy but by the end of the book, I want to do just that. ;-) 

In The Summer House, Lily awakes one morning to find her husband has left her with a brief note and signed divorce papers. Not sure what she is going to do, she knows she doesn't want to move back to her hometown or go to his family in Georgia, but they just moved to Alabama for him to take a new job and she knows almost no one. She stumbles across a flyer advertising for a hair stylist--something she grew up doing in her single mother's salon and something she has missed since her mother passed away. The position is in a retirement community and soon she is interviewing with Rose, the owner and caretaker of Safe Harbor, a woman who has known her own heartache and has closed up to others because of it. Something in Lily causes Rose to take a chance on her and she is soon living above the hair salon and becoming friends with the colorful group of seniors that live in Safe Harbor. The story is told from the points of view of both Lily and Rose, and each begins to craft a new life. 

I think this may be my new favorite of Denton's books--something about the setting and characters and their stories that made me devour this book and wish for more than one summer with Lily and Rose. There is romance for each character, but friendship and personal growth are the main players in the story. Set in the summer on Alabama's coast, it's a perfect summer book for tucking in a beach bag or curling up on the lanai with a cold glass of lemonade or sweet tea, and immersing yourself in Safe Harbor. I recommend The Summer House to anyone looking for a brief, languid escape from all of the crazy in the world lately and I am already looking forward to the author's next book. 

Here are my reviews and accompanying recipes of the first three books, The Hideaway, Hurricane Season, and Glory Road. They are each separate books and stories so you can dip into them as you please.

----- 


Author Notes: Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, THE HIDEAWAY, was a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, HURRICANE SEASON, released in spring of 2018, is a USA Today bestseller and her third, GLORY ROAD released in March, 2019.

Connect with Lauren on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

-----

Food Inspiration: 

Lauren K. Denton's books are usually filled with good Southern food and The Summer House is no exception. Food mentions included Columbian roast coffee, salad and pasta, whiskey, wine, a shopping cart with buttermilk, flour, eggs, butter, a package of bacon, and a handful of kiwis, lemons, The Sunrise Cafe's Menus with spaghetti & meatballs, shrimp & grits, Mississippi pot roast, honey-glazed carrots, fried okra, butter beans, macaroni & cheese, chocolate icebox pie, layered lemon cake and peach cobbler, lemon tea, sunflower seeds and rice cakes, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, gumbo, oysters, corn chowder, a platter of fried chicken, Sazeracs, microwave dinners, cans of soup and crackers, Cajun fish fillets, chicken, buttered rice and asparagus, pound cake with orange flower water and milk, cheeseburgers, cornbread muffins with homemade butter, cucumber salad, fresh baked bread, apples, cheese balls, pigs in a blanket, barbecue cocktail weenies, sweet tea and lemonade, coffee cake, deviled eggs, Coke floats with chocolate chip ice cream, potato salad, chocolate cake, Alabama Slammers, Hurricanes, macaroni and cheese, rosé, Watermelon Bellinis, Strawberry Sundays and Lemon Sparklers, pimiento cheese dip, fudge pie, snickerdoodles, hushpuppies, passion fruit La Croix, chocolate muffins, milkshake, a Reuben, fish sandwiches, fried crab claws, The Sunrise Cafe's Foods of the Caribbean Menu: saltfish, plantains, rice pudding, ackee, conch fritters, Jamaican jerk chicken, rice and peas, callaloo, flan, and Christmas cake, hot dog, carrot sticks and watermelon, hummus and crackers, a strawberry Popsicle, shrimp, sausage and vegetable skewers, olive oil sprinkled with black pepper and bread, redfish and crispy potatoes, salted bread pudding, lasagna, Bushwackers, Jell-O, Sunrise Cafe's menu with chicken-fried steak, gumbo with lump crabmeat, fried catfish, collards, field peas, coleslaw, bourbon bread pudding, chess pie, and key lime pie, fruit and cheese, Firecrackers (Saltines, canola oil, spices...), and a dish of fried fish, green beans and cornbread.  Whew! I am so hungry now!


There were so many things to choose from for this book. I was especially tempted by the Coke Float with chocolate chip ice cream (I am betting that will still happen on one of our warmer weekends) and the Firecrackers (seasoned saltines--who knew?! I'm sure that will happen in my kitchen too!). I knew that I wanted to include shrimp as it is what Rose's family did, especially her nephew Rawlins and was featured heavily. There was a somewhat dubious pimiento cheese dip made by someone named Donna for a big community summer kick-off party and one of the chararcters complained it gave her a stomach ache but I started craving it. Pimiento cheese or pimento cheese (depending on your spelling preferences) pops up periodically on this blog in various interpretations--from the dip itself here and here, to inside a grilled cheese sandwich, in deviled eggs, and even Pimento-Cheesy Eggs on Toast, made for one of the author's previous novels. I was going to make pimiento cheese grits and serve it with shrimp but I wondered if I could add shrimp to it as a dip. As in most things, I found that many people do this online as a quick search online uncovered quite a few variations.


I ended up using this Pimento Shrimp Dip from The Elevated Palate as my guideline, swapping or adding in a couple of ingredients. I thought it would be a great place to use some of my Where The Crawdads Zing Gulf Coast Bay Seasoning, a Book Blend from the BookClubcookbook to give it a bit of zing. (It's a mix of celery seed, sea salt, cayenne pepper, ginger and bay leaves.)

Pimiento Cheese and Shrimp Dip
Based on Pimento Shrimp Dip by The Elevated Palate
(Makes About 4 Cups)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup mayo of choice
16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used 1 4oz block extra sharp & 1 4 oz block sharp white cheddar)
4 oz jar pimentos, drained and chopped
2 Tbsp green onion, chopped + more for garnish
1 1/2 tsp Where the Crawdads Zing, Old Bay, or other seasoning blend of choice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper to taste 
about a dozen medium shrimp, cooked and shelled, tails removed & coarsely chopped

Soften cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and stir in the mayonaise. Coarsely grate cheddar cheese and add it to the bowl along with the pimentos, green onion, seasoning blend, lemon juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix together until well combined. Gently but thoroughly fold in the chopped shrimp until everything is well-combined. Taste and add more seasoning or lemon juice if desired. 

Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve, garnished with green onion with your favorite crackers (maybe Firecrackers!), or baguette. I used black pepper table water crackers. Enjoy. Store tightly covered for up to 3 days. (I will be trying this in a sandwich too!)


Notes/Results: Yes, I know pimiento cheese is not at all healthy but dang, it sure tastes good! This dip is rich and creamy and decadent but with enough zip from the seasoning and the lemon juice to keep it from being too much. The shrimp are a nice tradition with their slight sweetness. I would happily station myself by a bowl of this at a summer party and scoop it up with happy abandon. I'll definitely make it again.


I'm linking up this review and recipe to Novel Food #39, hosted by my friend Simona of briciole, an event celebrating food inspired by the written word. The deadline for this round is Sunday, July 12th.

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event that was held at Beth Fish Reads, but is now being hosted with Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see this past week's post here.


Note: A review copy of "The Summer House" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.