Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Book Tour Stops Here: "The Kitchen Daughter" by Jael McHenry with "Rocks" (Cookies) from My Great Grandmother's Cookbook & a Giveaway Too!

Sweet, funny, sad, hopeful, wise, charming and engaging are some of the words that I would use to describe "The Kitchen Daughter" by Jael McHenry. A foodie novel for sure, but the book goes beyond that, blending family drama, loss, love and finding yourself all with a quirky, courageous heroine trying to determine what normal is and find her place in the world. Ginny Selvaggio has been sheltered by her parents all of her life because of her Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism that is characterized by serious difficulties interacting with people. At 26, Ginny would love to be "normal" even if she isn't quite sure what normal really means. In fact she keeps a "normal book" of newspaper clippings from various self-help and advice columns about normal behavior and she looks through it to regain control whenever she feels stressed or overwhelmed. Ginny also uses food and cooking to calm herself down, seeking comfort in the kitchen, reading food blogs and visualizing food and the process of cooking it in her mind as a coping behavior.

After Ginny's parents are unexpectedly killed in an accident, her overbearing sister Amanda wants to sell their house and bring Ginny to live with her, her husband and daughters. Ginny retreats to the kitchen to make her grandmother's Ribollita soup and has an unexpected visitor--her grandmother who has been dead for 20 years. Finding that she has the power to call forth the ghost of any deceased person whose recipe she makes, Ginny decides to use the skill to get help in solving some family mysteries.

This book hooked me from the start. Ginny is a fascinating and unique character and autism and Asperger's syndrome have long interested me. Jael McHenry has infused the story with tantalizing descriptions of food and ten original recipes are woven into the story. Each recipe is hand-written to reflect the person who wrote it. McHenry's passion for food and cooking (She's is a pop culture columnist, home cook and food blogger at the Simmer blog), comes through clearly. She writes skillfully so that even the premise that Ginny sees ghosts in her kitchen seems pretty believable. A very enjoyable read and a book I am happy to add to my foodie fiction shelves. (Check out the giveaway at the bottom of this post to get a chance to add it to your bookshelves) ;-)

For more blogger feedback on this book you can check out the other Book Tour Stops for "The Kitchen Daughter" here.


Although many of the ten recipes included in the book sounded wonderful, especially the ribollita, I was inspired by Ginny to make a dish from recipe jotted down in an old family cookbook. Several months ago my aunt asked my mom if she thought I might like to have my great-grandmother's cookbook. (Apparently, I have quite the reputation for being both a cookbook hoarder and a lover of vintage cookbooks.) Of course I said yes and a few weeks later my mom sent a package with "An American Family Receipt Book" by Mrs. Gregory and Friends inside. A heavy tome filled with hundreds of recipes and tips and suggestions for The Home, the Sick and Convalescent, Infants--How and What to Feed Them, Prevalent Disorders and Their Remedies, Toilet Suggestions and Recipes, Nuisances About the House, and Birthday Parties. Some of the advice is is pretty hilarious--but I will save that for another post.

Since there was no publication date in the book, I did a little research and found out that it was published in 1902. My great-grandmother was born in 1883, so she would have been 19 when it came out. There were a couple of old recipes clipped from newspapers and a little jello recipe booklet inside the pages of the cookbook that my mom suspected my grandmother had put there. A few recipes had check marks or stars by them, and on the last page at the back were two handwritten recipes for "Rocks." and "Aunt Frieda's Oatmeal Cookies." My mom wasn't familiar with either recipe so I decided to make the Rocks--a cookie with brown sugar, raisins and nuts. There is no indication of where the recipe came from or anything else about it.

The big challenge was that in the style of the day, the recipes consist mostly of a list of ingredients and not a lot of instruction like recipes today. In fact most of the many recipes in the cookbook are very brief. Most of the baking recipes just say things like "Bake in a moderate oven" or "Bake 10 minutes in a quick oven."


2 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. butter
3 eggs
3 C. flour
1 C, raisins
'1 C. nuts
1 t. soda
3 T. hot water

I used the ingredients for 1/2 batch of the "Rocks" and creamed the sugar and butter, then added the eggs and the baking soda diluted by the hot water. Next I stirred the wet ingredients into the flour and folded in the nuts (I used walnuts) and raisins and then just baked them like bake I many cookies--a scoop from my mini ice cream scoop onto parchment paper and baked in a 350 degree oven for about 10-11 minutes.

Notes/Results: I guess I expected them to be more "rock-like" but they spread out into a soft cookie. There are good but could use some livening up with some spices and maybe even a little chocolate. ;-) My great-grandmother or the "author" of the recipe did not appear in my kitchen while I baked these, which is fine because I didn't know her as she passed away the year I was born. (Plus that would have been just a little too freaky anyway) ;-) But it was a nice way to connect with the past.

***The Kitchen Daughter" Giveaway***

The publisher has graciously offered to ship a copy of this wonderful foodie novel to one of my lucky readers. (You must have a U.S. Shipping address to win--sorry to my Int'l readers)

If you would like to be entered to win, please let me know in your comment and also tell me about a favorite family dish that brings up memories for you.

  • The deadline for this giveaway is Monday, May 2nd.

I will do a random drawing from all eligible comments on Tuesday, May 3rd, so please be sure I have a way of contacting you if you are the lucky winner. Good Luck!

Obligatory Disclosure Statement: Review and giveaway copies of this book were provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours but I was not compensated for this review or influenced by anyone--as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

28 Day Vegan Challenge Update: Thanks to all of you for your positive comments and support on the challenge. It's just Day 2 but so far so good. (Obviously the "Rocks" were made before the challenge started.) Breakfasts have been easy, for lunch today I had a big salad with chickpeas, and dinner these past two nights has been a tomato-veggie-no oil sauce over quinoa pasta. I have a couple of recipes from the book that I will be posting about soon.

How is your week going?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jamie's Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt

Jamie Oliver and I have been rockin' the curries lately (Fish with Very Simple Curry, Chicken Korma) so this week for Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs I thought we should keep with our winning streak. Wanting something fast and easy, I selected his Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt.

I made two small changes--based on what I had on hand--using a tandori curry rub instead of a paste, subbing the mint for the cilantro (I could have sworn that I bought cilantro the other day), but otherwise I left this simple, flavorful recipe as written.

You can find the recipe at Jamie or in "Jamie's Food Revolution" on pages 28-29.

Jamie says, "I love this dish. If you’re a fan of chicken tikka masala, give this one a go. You might think it odd to use robust spice pastes on fish, but it’s very common in southern India. When buying your fish, ask the fishmonger to scale it for you. You'll be amazed at how quickly these cook."

Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
(Serves 2)
Time: 17 minutes

2 naan breads (I used a garlic naan)
1 fresh red chilli
1/2 a cucumber
1 lemon
4 Tbsp natural yogurt
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh coriander (I used mint)
2 (200g/7oz) salmon fillets, skin on, scaled and bones removed (I used my Costco Wild Salmon fillets which are about 5-6 oz each)
1 heaped Tbsp tandoori or mild curry paste (like Patak's) (I used a Tandori Curry Rub)
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 110°C.
Pop your naan breads into the oven to warm through

Halve, deseed and finely chop your chilli. Peel and halve your cucumber lengthways, then use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds. Roughly chop the cucumber and put most of it into a bowl. Halve your lemon and squeeze the juice from one half into the bowl. Add the yogurt, a pinch of salt and pepper and half the chopped chilli. Pick the coriander leaves and put to one side

Slice each salmon fillet across lengthways into three 1.5cm wide slices. Spoon the heaped tablespoon of tandoori paste into a small dish, then use a pastry brush or the back of a spoon to smear the tandoori paste all over each piece. (don’t dip your pastry brush into the jar!)
Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Once hot, add a lug of olive oil, put the salmon into the pan and cook for about 1½ minutes on each side, until cooked through

Place a warmed naan bread on each plate. Top each one with a good dollop of cucumber yogurt and 3 pieces of salmon. Scatter over a little of the reserved cucumber, chilli and coriander leaves and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Notes/Results: Quick and delicious--what more do you want?! The wild salmon is moist and flavorful and pairs well with the slight kick of the pepper and the cooling yogurt and cucumber. Jamie says it takes 17 minutes to prepare but I warmed the nan on top of the stove and it took under 15 minutes to put this together. (BTW: That is a "fat" garlic naan bread, not pita bread --you just can't see much of the top of it.) Quick and easy and good enough to make often.

You can see what Potluck dishes the other IHCC are making this week by going to the post here and following the links.

And in other news...

No Meat for a Month?!?

No meat, no poultry, no fish, no eggs, no dairy... Yep, I am going vegan for 28 days with The Engine 2 Diet 28 Day Challenge. As I have mentioned before on this blog, I work sometimes with my local Whole Foods Market and they are sponsoring/hosting this challenge for their employees and customers with weekly Monday evening meetings. I am leading a piece on nutrition and label reading next week and it seemed inauthentic to get up and talk to the group about finding and choosing healthy foods appropriate for the diet without actually taking the challenge myself. Besides it is always easier to go into a challenge with support and there are about 30 people going through it. A few years ago about 3/4 of my office went through a pretty intense cleanse and yoga program, and although I learned more about my co-workers' bathroom "business" than I ever wanted to know, ;-) going through it with a group was fun and made it much easier.

You might have noted that a fair amount of vegan and vegetarian recipes appear on this blog already and over the next month you will see a lot more. Since I lean towards eating meat only on occasion, I eat only very limited quantities of dairy, and I make a lot of vegetarian dishes already, the only thing I am struggling with a bit is the ...gulp... no oil part of the diet. I usually reduce the oil in recipes, but going without it completely for a month is difficult--especially when eating out. I stopped by my local co-op today starving after a long meeting and all of the vegan choices on their hot food bar had some kind of oil in them. So I came home and made quick vegan tostada on puffed corn thins.

You will see a few more posts with non-vegan recipes that I made before we started the challenge this week, but the bulk of the next four weeks' recipes and posts will be vegan. The diet, conceived by Rip Esselstyn a world class triathlete turned firefighter, to address the dangerously high cholesterol of one of his fellow firefighters. His entire Engine 2 firehouse took the challenges and they all had dramatic positive changes to their cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, etc. So here's to 28 days of a plant-based diet that is good for my body and the planet, as well as a good kick start to put my focus back to healthier food choices.

Sounds like a worthy challenge to me! ;-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sometimes It's About the Soup Bowl: Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder and a Bowl to Feed the Hungry for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This post is actually more about the soup bowl than the soup itself. Not that the soup isn't really good, I just didn't make it. (Oh the horror!) It's actually the Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder from Whole Foods that I get sometimes when I "need" a shot of comforting corn chowder. Buying just a cup is automatic portion control--plus I usually add a scoop of spinach or kale from the salad bar to the bottom of my cup before ladling on the hot soup. That's a healthy little tip from my friend Natalie who does the marketing there. ;-)

But back to my bowl... It came from a special event for the "Empty Bowl Project" which aims to feed Hawaii's hungry by selling handmade bowls filled with soup. The handmade bowls are meant to remind us that even after we enjoy a meal there are empty bowls in the world that need filling.

This event, held Friday, was a joint effort between The Hawai'i Potter's Guild (makers of the bowls), Whole Foods (location of the sale, providers of the soup and gift cards), and Kanu Values (think locally based Groupon, only the "deals" are from local companies screened for positive social and environmental practices). The Kanu Values deal was $15.00 for the handmade bowl filled with soup and a $10.00 Whole Foods gift card for the first 50 people to sign up. A wonderful deal with 100% of the proceeds going to the Empty Bowl Project Hawaii.

It was a challenge picking out my bowl from the many on display in front of the store. But I wanted one that looked "earthy" and that had a good "cup-in-your-hands feel" and was light in color with a more matte finish (the better to photograph most soups in).

The above bowl was the first one I picked up and my first choice... but, a slightly larger, shinier bowl with a blue swirl also caught my eye, and since it was for a really good cause...
yes, I ended up springing for another bowl.

There was choice of a vegan vegetable soup and my favorite Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder, so you know which one I picked. The recipe can be found in "The Whole Foods Market Cookbook: A Guide to Natural Foods with 350 Recipes" by Steve Petusevsky and Whole Foods Market Team Members. A book that has been on my shelf for ages and contains lots of good recipes and tips for cooking with natural foods.

Whole Foods says, "It's a little bit of "high noon" in a bowl. Corn has been around since 3400 B.C., adding sweetness and flavor to hundreds of dishes throughout our culture, which probably accounts for Americans eating about twenty-five pounds of it per person each year. Poblano chilies are ancho peppers that are still green and have not been dried, and they range from mild to hot. They usually make their appearance as stuffed chiles rellenos; however, we happily add them to this hearty soup."

Roasted Corn Poblano Chowder
From "The Whole Foods Market Cookbook"--page 73
(Serves 6 to 8)

2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk, or 1 cup milk & 1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, unpeeled and diced
3 medium poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 (16 oz) package frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
salt to taste cayenne pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, celery, and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes, being careful not to let the flour scorch. Turn the heat to high and slowly whisk in the stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.

Add the milk. Bring the soup to a rolling simmer and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the potatoes, poblano chilies, corn and roasted red peppers. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the salt and cayenne pepper.

Per 1-cup Serving: calories 130, calories from fat 25 (2.5g), calories from saturated fat 15 (1.5g), protein 5g, carbohydrates 22g, cholesterol 5mg, sodium 70mg.

Notes/Results: Creamy, hearty and good. This isn't the spiciest soup--probably made that way for public consumption, so stir in the cayenne if you like a bit more of a kick. One of these days I am going to get around to making a healthier, non-dairy version at home but until then, an occasional cup will keep me going.

Not wanting my second bowl to feel left out I filled it with some local eggs fresh from the farmers market. I love the pretty little light blue one that was by itself in the carton with all the brown eggs.

Happy Easter!

Being Easter Sunday, it is a little quieter than usual here in the Super Sunday kitchen but we still have some wonderful friends here with some delicious dishes to share.

Swathi from Zesty South Indian Kitchen is here this week with a Curried Barley Green Peas and Mixed Vegetable Soup. She says, "Inspiration for this soup came from a leaflet from Whole Foods. Last time when I made Russian barley soup, it tasted bland and not much fanfare was there for it. So for making this soup I had to spice it up so that it will be consumed without hesitation. I like warm soup and not much of a fan of clear soup. ... It was spiced up with garam masala and chili powder along with addition to parsley and black pepper. Further it has goodness of ginger- garlic paste. Finely I topped with little bit of heavy cream and grated Parmesan cheese."

And for my tortilla soup obsessed friend girlichef, it's another delicious bowl for her quest, this colorful Ancho Chicken Tortilla Soup. She says, "The flavor of this particular Tortilla soup was sweet, smoky, deep and pretty amazing. And actually, it was a bit sweet from the corn and the honey and the tomatoes...with that hint of cinnamon that lies beneath. But the sweetness wasn't an unpleasant sweetness. It was tempered nicely with that nice smoky heat of the paprika and anchos... But, as usual, it was all about the toppings...the cubes of queso fresco add a chewy saltiness...the avocado and crema add cool, creamy spots...the tortillas and chicken add an earthy toothsomeness...and a finishing hit of tangy lime rounds the whole thing out."

Joanne from Eats Well With Others ran the Boston Marathon this week. She is amazing! Waiting at home for her was this nutritious Vegetarian Chili with a Cashew Pistachio Sauce. Joanne says, "More of a curry than a chili, I made this a few days before I left and it was so lovely to come home to yesterday. It has a really interesting flavor, especially with the smoked paprika that I used (and that is now my new favorite spice!) and is filled with so many good fats and fiber that it will keep you full for a looonnnggg time. All the better to sustain you during those long hours of studying. Or running. Or chasing children around your living room. Or whatever endurance "event" you're participating in."

A new face to welcome this week, Sharon (aka TheTravelCook) from Brainfood and joining us from Southern Florida with a bowl of hearty Fish Chowder. Sharon says, "This easy-on-the budget bouillabaisse-style fish chowder is made for quick meals on the stove top or in the slow cooker, ready for the evening meal. Easy substitutions for the white fish, herbs, and leeks make it an ideal economical travelcook selection. ... Whitefish are easy to find frozen in most stores; some carry fresh whitefish. If you have a choice, choose the fresh and buy just the amount you need for your family. That makes this dish easy for the traveling cook to prepare. Cod is my preferred fish for this dish, but tilapia works equally well." Welcome to Souper Sundays Sharon!

Janet from The Taste Space made a Sesame, Edamame and Pea Shoot Salad to share this week and says, "Can you taste spring? I can and it tastes like this salad. It is light, fresh and filled with green vegetables bursting with flavour. Inspired by Gourmet (June 1994), the base of this salad comes from pea shoots, which are sweet like peas with a nice body from the stems and delicate leaves. I topped it with fresh sweet sugar snap peas, edamame and carrots and coated it in a subtle sesame dressing. The star of this dish are the veggies, not the dressing."

Libby from The Allergic Kid is here with a seasonally-perfect Spring Salad with Fresh Corn and Asparagus and says, "Sometimes a salad is just a salad. Sometimes it's a fortuitous combination of what's in the pantry with what's in season that becomes more than the sum of its parts. This one was a happy accident that paired the best of the spring produce at the market and some potatoes, that were a little past their prime, with a tangy, creamy mustard and dill dressing."

It's nice to have Denny from Oh Taste n See... back at Souper Sundays this week and here with some lovely Baked Falafels in Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Pockets. She says, "...Making this was quite a breeze. I really enjoyed the baked falafels, and except for the ones in the picture, munched on them even before it got into the pitas. (the cook gets to taste, :) that's one of the best perks of it). The pitas were sooooo soft and tender, I am never buying store bought pita again. They tasted good until the next day. When stuffed with the falafels and the condiments, it made for a healthy and very filling meal."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad and sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy and healthy week,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jamie's Chicken Korma--Creamy, Flavorful & Comforting

Nothing makes me happier than a creamy, not too spicy curry. Other people may like to "go for the burn" but I like to be able taste my food rather than burn off my taste buds so that I can appreciate the nuances of all of the different spices. There is a lot to appreciate in Jamie Oliver's Chicken Korma--it is slightly sweet, nicely spiced and just a little tangy from the lemon and yogurt spooned on top. A great choice for our "Chicken and the Egg" theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week.

This would be a U.K.-style korma according to Wikipedia which states, "A dish called "korma" is very popular in Pakistani/Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom. In the UK a korma usually refers not to a particular cooking technique but to a curry with a thick, cream-based sauce or gravy; this bears little resemblance to a classical Indian korma, as it is not braised. The korma popularised in UK curry houses is invariably mildly spicy and may often feature nuts, usually almonds or cashews, and coconut."

BTW: Jamie does include a recipe for an easy korma paste (below) which I intended to make but meetings ran late, there was traffic on the way home and I just wanted to eat my curry and didn't want to mess with the extra time and mess of toasting and grinding spices, cleaning the food processor, etc. Lazy? Yes... I don't deny it. But since I also had a jar of the korma paste that Jamie recommends (Patak's) languishing in my pantry cupboard and getting dangerously close to the expiration date, it seemed like I should use it.

Jamie says, "This is a much-loved curry. It's got a slightly milder, creamier taste than the other curries in this chapter, which makes it a great one for kids to try. Because I love fresh chiles I've added one here, but if you want to keep the flavors nice and mild feel free to leave it out. Kormas are also delicious made with shrimp."

Chicken Korma
"Jamie's Food Revolution" by Jamie Oliver
(Serves 4-6)

1 3/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, preferably free-range or organic (I used a package or organic chicken breasts and a package of organic chicken thighs)
2 medium onions
optional: 1 fresh green chile
a thumb-sized piece of ginger root
a small bunch of fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans
peanut or vegetable oil
a pat of butter
1/2 c. korma or mild curry paste such as Patak's or Jamie's recipe below (I used Patak's and increased to about 3/4 cup)
1 (14 oz) can of coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk)
a small handful of sliced almonds, plus extra for serving
2 heaped Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup natural yogurt (I used non-fat Greek yogurt)
1 lemon

To Prepare Your Curry:
Cut the chicken into approximately 1-inch pieces. Peel, halve, and finely slice your onions. Halve, seed, and finely slice the chile if you're using it. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks. Drain the garbanzo beans.

To Make Your Curry:
Put a large casserole-type pan on a high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil. Add the onions, chile, ginger, and cilantro stalks with the butter. Keep stirring it enough so it doesn't catch and burn but turns evenly golden. Cook for around 10 minutes. Add the curry paste, coconut milk, half your sliced almonds, the drained garbanzo beans, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sliced chicken breasts. Half fill the empty can with water, pour it into the pan, and stir again. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Check the curry regularly to make sure it's not drying out, and add extra water if necessary. When the chicken is tender and cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper--please season carefully.

To Serve Your Curry:
Serve with rice. Add a few spoonfuls of natural yogurt dolloped on top, and sprinkle over the rest of the sliced almonds. Finish by scattering over the cilantro leaves, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.


Korma Paste
"Jamie's Food Revolution"

2 cloves of garlic
a thumb-sized piece of ginger root
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh green chiles
3 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp almond flour
a small bunch of fresh cilantro

Spices for Toasting:
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds

First peel the garlic and ginger. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the spices for toasting to the dry pan. Lightly toast them for a few minutes until golden brown and smelling delicious, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the toasted spices to a pestle and mortar and grind until fine, or put them in a food processor and whiz to a powder. Either way, when you've ground them whiz the toasted spices in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients until you have a smooth paste.

Notes/Results: Creamy and delicious comfort food that made my stomach content. For the most part I stuck to Jamie's recipe--but I did swap out half of the (organic skinless/boneless) chicken breasts for (organic skinless/boneless) chicken thighs as they are cheaper and actually I prefer the dark meat in curries as it stays juicier. I also used light coconut milk and non-fat yogurt. The curry's flavor was good--it's mild, even with the chili and I liked how both the yogurt and the squeeze of lemon livened it up--I also added extra curry paste for a bit more flavor. The chick peas, shredded coconut and sliced almonds in the curry give it an interesting (in a good way!) ;-) texture.

To serve the curry, I used a base of regular brown rice (it was what I had leftover in the fridge), and if you look closely at the photos you will see some baby spinach leaves peeping out along the edges. I like to add a handful of spinach on top of the rice to get more of those nutrient-packed leafy greens into my day and also, the warm curry makes it "wilt" so nicely. A great dish and another Jamie recipe that I would make again--maybe trying Jamie's korma paste recipe the next time.

You can see whether the other IHCC participants chose the chicken or the egg by going to the post here and following the links.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quick & Easy White Bean and Sage Dip (Garlicky Enough for National Garlic Day!)

This simple dip has become one of my very favorite snacks or party pupus after finding it in a magazine and making it for the first time a few months ago. Only four ingredients (plus salt and pepper of course), and it goes together in a jiffy. White beans, sage and garlic is one of my favorite combinations and I find that even people who don't think they like beans or sage love this dip.

After making 18 cups of it last week, served with carrots and multi-grain chips as one of the healthy snack examples at the wellness event I was working on (and where it was a huge hit), I thought I wouldn't want to make it again for quite a while. (That came from the tedium of peeling and slicing 40 garlic cloves, chopping 2 1/2 cups of sage and mashing 10 cans of beans with a potato masher.) But tonight I was craving it once more, so I whipped up a quick batch for dinner. Served with some of my favorite garlic bread from a local bakery and a simple green salad, it was a simple, satisfying, meat-free dinner--and a good way to honor National Garlic Day today. ;-)

Quick & Easy White Bean and Sage Dip

Health Magazine, Sept. 09: Adapted from “Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it” by Karen Solomon.
(Makes about 1 3/4 cups)
Time: 20 min

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more to garnish
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain beans. Place in a bowl, and mash with fork until a chunky mash; set aside. Heat a small pan over medium heat, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, and let it warm. Add the sliced garlic and chopped sage. Stir constantly for 4 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned and sage is crispy. Pour hot oil over beans and stir. Garnish with 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with veggies, pita chips or whole-grain crackers. Dip can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Nutritional Info: Per 2 Tbsp serving: calories 79; Fat 4 g (sat: 1g, mono: 3g); cholesterol 0mg; protein 3g; carbohydrates 8g, sugars 0g; fiber 2g; iron 1mg; sodium 52mg; calcium 25mg.

Notes/Results: Delicious, savory, sagey-garlicky-beany goodness! There is not that much more to say, just that you really need to make this dip. And if you are a bean and sage lover, trust me and double the recipe--you'll be happy you made extra. It also makes a great sandwich or wrap spread.

Is there a garlicky dish on your menu for National Garlic Day?!?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tortilla Soup: Soup as Sculpture for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays and the Food n' Flix Pick: "Tortilla Soup"

What else do you clip from magazine besides recipes? I have folders for my clippings on exercise, new products I want to try, and "good ideas" that I think are interesting. Usually these ideas center around home decor, parties, table setting and different ways to serve food and drink. I think food should look good and be "fun" so when I found a recipe feature in an old Metropolitan Home design magazine that showed a bowl of tortilla soup served in a unique way, I had to pull it out and save it. The magazine picture showed a small bowl of shredded chicken, topped with guacamole and with several long, thin strips of fried tortilla standing upright in the bowl with someone pouring the soup broth into the bowl from a small pitcher. How fun is that?! And how great for a party--just hand out the little bowls full of goodies and go around and pour the soup in. The recipe, with it's red pepper and tomatillo flavored broth looked pretty good too.

A good excuse to try it? My tortilla soup fanatic friend girlichef has an ongoing challenge for her favorite soup on her blog, and she also picked the movie Tortilla Soup for her Food n' Flix event. Perfect timing for an "arty" bowl of tortilla soup goodness!

I have reviewed Tortilla Soup--the movie before (see this post with Mark Bittman's version of the soup) so I won't go into a full review here. Suffice it to say, it is a favorite feel-good food movie of mine, that I pull out now and then when I need a little escape. It's a remake of Ang Lee's Chinese foodie flick Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, this time set around a Mexican-American Family. In addition to the tortilla soup, there is all manner of delicious Mexican food in the movie as the father Martin is a restaurant owner and cook and eldest daughter Carmen would like nothing better than to quit her corporate job and join him--much to Martin's disapproval. Since Carmen likes to put her own modern twist on the more traditional foods Martin cooks each week for the family dinner, I have a feeling she would love this soup but Martin might not ... at least not until he gets a taste!

Tortilla Soup
Chef Randy
Zweiban, Metropolitan Home, May 09
(Serves 6)

2 chicken legs, drumsticks & thighs separated (I used rotisserie Chicken breasts)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Tortilla Soup:
3 cups canola oil (I cut this down to about 1/2 cup)
6 white-corn tortillas
1/4 cup canola oil (I cut this down to 1 Tbsp)
1 cup chopped red onion
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
tomatillos, husked and diced
1 pickled
serrano pepper (I used a regular serrano pepper)
2 quarts vegetable stock
3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped

1 ripe
Hass avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
1 Tbsp finely diced red onion
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

To prepare chicken: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer saute pan to oven and roast until meat is cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Let chicken cool slightly at room temperature. when chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces, set aside.

To make soup: Heat oil to 325 degrees F. in a large sauce pan or home fryer. Halve tortillas, then cut into 1/8-inch thick strips. Working in batches, add handfuls of tortilla strips and fry, carefully stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside 1 cup for garnish; reserve the remainder for the soup. Discard oil.

Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic,
tomatillos, and serrano pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock, bell peppers, and reserved tortilla chips, and simmer until peppers are tender, about 35 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and puree until smooth, working in batches if needed.

To make guacamole: Combine avocado, onion, lime juice and cilantro in a medium bowl. Mash together with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Divide shredded
chicken and guacamole among six small serving bowls. Stick tortilla strips in guacamole. Pour hot soup into bowls just before serving.

Notes/Results: Excellent! Although I made the recipe mostly for the presentation, it turned out to be a really great bowl of tortilla soup. The broth has great flavor--you can taste the red pepper and tomatillo and it gets a nice lightly spicy kick from the serrano pepper. The creamy guacamole adds both texture and flavor. I kept the recipe mostly the same--just used a rotisserie chicken and reduced the oil. I find I can cook/fry my tortillas in about about 1/2 cup of the oil in small batches in my pan and get a good result, so I hate to waste it by using more. If you wanted to make this a vegan or vegetarian dish, you could omit the chicken and add a can of beans or brown rice. I would definitely make this again--a little bowl to kick off a Mexican fiesta dinner party would be fun. I would double the guacamole recipe though!

So this fun sculptural take on tortilla soup is going to:

Click on the links to join in either of these fun events.

Let's get into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here this week.

girlichef has two dishes this week, a soup and a sandwich that you'll see later on. A book review inspired her soup and she says, "From tears in my eyes to cheeks that ached from grinning to a belly that grumbled at me from the fabulous descriptions of food and recipes on these pages, there were many different aspects of this book that I enjoyed. I actually find myself wanting a sequel so that I can experience the next stage in Ginny's journey. From the first ghost-summoning recipe for her Nonna's Ribollita all the way to Ginny's own version in the end...I knew that this was what I would wind up making first from this book. And I am so glad that I did."

Also "double-dishing it" this week is Janet from The Taste Space with a soup and a salad. About her filling Spanish Lentil and Squash Stew with Roasted Garlic, she says, "This is a lovely, hearty stew that is both savoury but still slightly sweet. Lentils fill the stew as its base, and the butternut squash and red peppers add colour and sweetness. A head of roasted garlic brings a mellow sweetness as well. ... Instead of adding in two fresh tomatoes (nothing with a fresh taste is around during the winter!), I added 1 cup of passata (strained tomatoes) at the end. This is where you get a silky tomato base for the stew that complements the squash, bell pepper and lentils so well."

Shirley from Enriching Your Kid! is back at Souper Sundays with this simple Drumstick Soup and says, "A vacation... ... is when I can snooze in the day without having to worry whether my kids are murdering each other. What's your idea of a vacation? While I am enjoying myself eating chaat, meeting up with friends and a lot more, I leave you with this yummy drumstick soup. Drumstick is known to be a great source of calcium and a blood purifier."

Debbi from Debbi Does Dinner... Healthy & Low Calorie made a colorful Carrot Chipotle Soup and says, "I loved this super creamy, delicious soup. It was extremely low calorie and I've already made it twice. The first time I used the amount of chipotles that Biz used. Holy cow, that woman's mouth must be made of steel. It knocked my socks off with spice. But it was still good, though I had to dilute it a bit. The second time I cut the adobo chipotles in half and it was fine. Super tasty and totally a keeper!"

It is nice to have Danielle from Cooking for My Peace of Mind at Souper Sundays, and this week she is back with a creamy White Cheddar and Cauliflower Soup. She says, "This soup is dedicated to winter....who refuses to let go and let it be spring. To the hopes of warmer weather and comfortable nights. This soup is dedicated to everyone who does not live in Southern California. ... The flavor is smooth and tangy. The garnishments are a must! They add additional flavor, especially the lemon zest which adds a nice, fresh zing! Here's to warmer weather to come and the last of the winter soups!"

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes has a Hot and Sour Chicken Noodle Soup in a pretty new bowl to share this week. She says, "I know it’s spring. But just because it’s spring, that doesn’t mean I give up my cravings for soup. Because really, is there anything more perfect than a lovely bowl of soup? Everything you want, right there in a bowl. And if it’s in a lovely bowl, even better. See these? These are my pretty new bowls from HomeGoods. HomeGoods. My most favorite store on the planet. And yes, the design is a little smudged on one of them, which is really funny. Why is it funny? Because I stood there at the shelf, with my husband’s help, picking and choosing and putting back the ones that weren’t perfect, and somehow I still brought home a smudged one. We are pathetic."

Zibi from Fresh Slowcooking is very busy getting ready for baby #1, but she still managed to make a delicious bowl of Tom Yum Soup with Coconut & Chicken (Tom yum nam khon) to share this week. She says, "One of my favourite soups -- I love the heat from the curry paste, the freshness from the coconut and lime, and the nutrients from the broccoli, cauliflower and chicken. A healthy and complete meal easily prepared in your slow cooker."

Fellow soup-lover Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice made a bright and hearty Roasted Winter Squash Soup and says, "This rich and creamy soup brings together the earthy flavors of both acorn and butternut squash with caramelized onions and salty bacon. Seasoned with thyme and sage herbs and a pinch each of warm nutmeg and cinnamon spices, the natural sweetness of the squash is enhanced. The onion and bacon are meant to be a garnish, if you prefer you can add more and stir it right in along with the onion."

Tigerfish from Teczcape--An Escape to Food has a healthy, satisfying Tofu, Shrimps and Celery Soup - 豆腐虾仁芹菜汤 to share this week and says, "...not any thick soup but a light yet substantial soup with vegetables and proteins. A perfect soup for spring and maybe a regular during summer. Those succulent shrimps, tender cubes of tofu and added crunch from the celery dices - the textures are exciting and flavors promising."

Swathi from Zesty South Indian Kitchen is back with a colorful Jicama, Mixed Bell Pepper Salad with Red Wine Mustard Orange Vinaigrette and says "...My hubby cut jicama, red and green bell pepper, carrot, apple, radish and lettuce into bite size chunks. He always does that in the name of helping me. In turn I made vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, orange juice, shallot, salt, black pepper and olive oil. I didn’t add any sugar, and the only sweetness is from red wine vinegar and orange juice. It is really delicious dressing which goes well with the salad."

For her salad, Janet from The Taste Space, made this unique Wheat Berry Salad with Kohlrabi, Apple and Sunflower Seeds and says, "Reminiscent of two of my favourite wheat berry salads, a bright citrus dressing pairs incredibly well with plump, nutty wheat berries. The salad is flavoured with a tart-sweet crisp apple, chopped sweet red pepper, dried cranberries as well as crunchy carrots and sunflower seeds. I added lots of cilantro and mixed in slivered baby spinach (pea shoots were great, too!) for more body. While it may seem counter-intuitive, a tip I’ve picked up for wheat berry salads is to dress it right before serving. Otherwise, the wheat berries sop up the dressing and it becomes dry when eating them as leftovers."

Making her first appearance at Souper Sundays this week is Miriam from In Vogue At Home, joining us all the way from India and here with a Corn Pepper Lime Salad. She says, "I saw some really fresh corn in the veggie shop today and decided to buy it, without having a clue as to what I want to make with it. Anyway,I have had this flavoured corn in a cup at least a zillion times when we go out (mostly found in Malls). I used to have them even when we were in Bahrain. My favourite flavour is Lime and Pepper. So for a lazy Sunday evening, I decided to try making this as evening snacks. It turned out easy, healthy and tasty. Its really simple..." Welcome Miriam!

Akheela from Torviewtoronto is here with a nourishing, warm Salad of Quinoa and Vegetables, made with carrots, beans, celery and cabbage and seasoned with chili powder. An easy to make dish, Akheela says that you just cook the quinoa in broth then "Heat oil add the vegetables and chillie powder if using and stir fry until it is cooked to preference. Add the cooked quinoa and toss to blend with the flavours. Serve hot."

girlichef's second dish is this ooey-gooey grilled cheese, The Wisconsinite, and she says, "Were you aware that Colby cheese was invented in Wisconsin? Or that Wisconsin lays claim to 46 different blue cheeses? How 'bout the fact that cranberries are Wisconsin's numero uno fruit crop? Or that the Mustard Museum makes its home in Wisconsin? Did you know that for a very short time period I made my home in Wisconsin? All of those facts, aside from the last, were laid out in the intro to this utterly addicting grilled cheese sandwich in grilled cheese, please! by Laura Werlin."

Wow! So many wonderful soups, salads and even a yummy grilled cheese this week. A big thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sunday logo for all of the details.

Have a great week!