Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Book Review and Recipe: What Tears Us Apart by Deborah Cloyed and Kenyan Corn and Bean Stew for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I feel somewhat guilty about the timing of this book review. When author Deborah Cloyed sent me an email a few months back and asked if I would be willing to read and review her second book, What Tears Us Apart, (I had reviewed her first book The Summer We Came To Life two years ago), I immediately said yes. I got the book in early April, and there it sat on my nightstand. I found it difficult to get past the prologue, which starts with a sexual assault on the main character. (Not a spoiler--it is the first few pages of the book.) Books create, capture and/or reinforce moods for me and between the disturbing first scene and fact that the novel is set in an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi, during a time of great political turmoil and violent upheaval in Kenya, it was a mood I found myself not wanting to delve into for a time. Finally, one night I picked it back up, made my way beyond the first few pages, and found myself caught up in the story and finishing the book in a couple of days. I am sorry it took me that long to read it because, much as parts of it were tough to read, I really enjoyed the book. 

At its heart, What Tears Us Apart is a love story between Leda, an American woman, raised with wealth and at 32, still restlessly searching for a calling, and Ita, raised in the Kibera slums and now running a small orphanage there. Leda, looking up career and then adding meaningful on a Google search, finds a posting for a volunteer opportunity at the Triumph Orphanage and applies. Although almost polar opposites in life, Leda and Ita both have dark pasts that, along with their current situation and the unstable Kenyan environment, stand in the way of their deepening relationship. What can tear us apart is just as much those internal "little monsters" that live inside our heads as the external obstacles that surround us. With the Kenyan elections in December 2007, life in the slums becomes even more volatile as violence and civil unrest break out and those external obstacles become life-threatening. 

Paperback: 319 pages
Harlequin Mira Publishers

The book goes back and forth in time, namely during the period of a few months and told primarily from either or Leda and Ita's perspective. Occasionally the back and forth broke up the flow for me--I found myself several times going back to the chapter heading to remind myself where in time we were, but overall it does lead to the suspense of the story as the reader gradually uncovers the different characters' secrets and motivations and finds out what really happened. Cloyed spent time volunteering in East Africa and her descriptions of Kenya are both jarring and moving--particularly the scenes of the slums. Although Leda and Ita are the main focus, the supporting characters--the orphan boys, Mary the orphanage cook, Chege--local gang leader-mobster and Ita's childhood friend and protector, and Kioni--Ita's friend and first love are well written for the time they are given in the story. The characters are all very human--no one is as good or innocent, or as dark and evil as they may seem. It's not always an easy book to read, but What Tears Us Apart is a literary love story that entertained, transported me to a different place, taught me about Kenya and its politics, and caused me to think--making it a level above your average romance. I'm glad I kept reading.      

Although not a "foodie" book, there is food throughout the novel. Mary cooks rice, stews and chapatis at the orphanage. In order to raise funds, Ita runs safari tours and cooks "luxury camping" meals for foreign guests (I was tempted to make homemade creamy celery and onion soup Ita served). The Christmas feast is chunks of greasy smoky goat meat and Leda gives the boys candy and small gifts for the holidays. I ended up deciding that a simple Kenyan stew was what best represented the book to me and found a recipe from Whole Foods--any chance to use fresh local corn. I did feel the need to add some cumin to bump up the flavor but I did some googling and cumin is one of the spices used in Kenya, so I feel somewhat justified! ;-)

Whole Foods Market says, "This simple, nourishing stew, githeri, originated with the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya. Today it is eaten throughout the country as a staple dish. Inspired by Whole Planet Foundation® microcredit client recipes."

Kenyan Corn and Bean Stew
Adapted from Whole Foods Market
(Serves 4)

1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight, or 2 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3 cups corn kernels, fresh (from 4 ears) or frozen
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
(I added 2 tsp ground cumin)
3/4 tsp fine sea salt

If using dried beans, drain and place in a medium saucepot. Cover by 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 1 hour or until tender. Drain.

In a large high-sided skillet or saucepot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 10 minutes or until tender and golden, stirring occasionally. (Stir in cumin and cook for 1 minute, stirring.) Add tomato paste and cook another minute, stirring. Add cooked beans, corn, potatoes, 4 cups water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and most liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Notes/Results: A simple, humble and nourishing vegan bowl of stew that seems perfect for the book. The corn adds sweetness to the mix of beans and potatoes and I enjoyed the smoky taste that the cumin I added provided. A stew like this would probably be enjoyed with chapatis (unleavened flat bread), but was satisfying enough on its own. Nothing fancy, but filling and good and I would make it again.

Note: A review copy of What Tears Us Apart was provided to me by the author. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am sending this book review post to Novel Food, a culinary/literary event hosted by my friend and fellow Cook the Books host Simona at Briciole. This is the 19th edition of this event when great food and great books come together. Check back at Simona's blog for the roundup soon.
Let's see who is in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week!

Sandra of Meadows Cooks is back with a bright and refreshing Cold Minty Pea Soup and says, "With the weather heating up no one is interested in turning on the stove, and certainly not the oven. Here is the perfect summer meal, involving no cooking, few ingredients, little preparation, and it is so refreshing.

Mireille of Chef Mireille's Global Creations has two dishes this week. First this healthy Kale Chickpea Soup. She says, "This is one of the easiest soup recipes ever. Stick everything in a blender and then heat. It's ease is what made my decision to try this recipe first. You can be sitting down, enjoying this protein and vegetable packed soup in 20 minutes. Using coconut milk, this creamy soup is dairy free so appropriate for those who are lactose intolerant."

Next Mireille shares a hearty Carrot and Mung Bean Salad and says, "I am having so much fun discovering UK celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi and today I am presenting another one of his delicious salad recipes. Like me, he uses global ingredients from every culture. Full of warm, smoky spices, this recipe packs some powerful flavor into the two star ingredients."

Joanne from Eats Well With Others brings this colorful Thai Millet Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing and says, "This was another one of The.Boy's "random pinterest picks". I haven't talked about them much, but he always manages to choose the strangest, most out there things. Things that he would have never chosen for himself were he not essentially pulling a random recipe out of a hat. Not that this was particularly strange, but it does contain cabbage (which he hates) and a grain base (which he thinks is boring), so the odds were really against it. Now if I had chosen this and set it in front of him, he would have crinkled his nose and said, skeptically,"Do I like this?", but because he chose it, he dug right in. And loved it."

Traveling this week, Janet of The Taste Space offers up two salads, first up this road trip friendly Avocado and Sauerkraut Salad with a Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing. Janet says, "I brainstormed before I left. What can I easily find at grocery stores? What would pack well? For some reason, I kept returning to salads with avocado and lemon. Easy, peasy. Throw in some nuts/seeds, cooked beans or tofu as an easy protein. And then I decided sauerkraut would be a wonderful addition, too."

Janet's second salad is this sunshine-hued Chickpea and Apricot Salad with Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing. she says, "One of the recipes Tess included is one of my favourites from her first book: Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad. I routinely make it, changing ingredients, matching what I have in my kitchen.This time, I swapped the black beans for chickpeas; the mango juice for pineapple juice; swapped the corn for more carrots and scrapped the spinach altogether. Combined with the sweet dried apricots and cilantro-ginger spiked dressing, you have a delicious summer bean salad. Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy.. It is really hard to mess it up."

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food shares a summery Pasta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Baby Kale and says, "As much as I enjoy hot warming soups all year round, a change of seasons usually switches our eating habits - from hearty wholesome stews to light, fresh vegetables and/or fruit salads... With heirloom tomatoes, it is a great time to inject freshness and juicy sweetness to this light and flavorful pasta dish."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brings a sweet and tangy Oranges and Beet Salad in White Balsamic Vinegar. She says, "Cooking beets looks intimidating, but it's really really easy. If you do decide to cook some, you can try  this simple, tasty, cold recipe that makes a great side for a BBQ or a tasty accompaniment for any dinner on a hot summer night. I love the color combination of the ruby red beets and vibrant oranges. It makes a beautiful presentation."

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

Have a happy healthy week!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Spicy Ahi Tuna & Avocado Tower: "Reconstructed" Sushi for Food 'n Flix: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

"Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honorably."  ...Jiro Ono, Jiro Dreams of Sushi

One of the great pearls of wisdom from Jiro Ono, restaurateur, sushi master, and the subject of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, our Food 'N Flix pick for June. I first watched this 2011 foodie documentary last year but I was happy to rent it again when our host Camilla at Culinary Adventure with Camilla selected it. It's hard not to be in awe of Jiro, who has devoted his life to perfecting his craft, establishing a Michelin Guide 3-Star restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. More amazing still at 86 now, he is still there working (according to the Internet), along with his elder son, Yoshikazu, in his early 50's, who will take over the restaurant and have to fill his father's footsteps someday.

The film, subtitled in English,  is beautifully shot. Each morsel of sushi is a little work of art and Jiro's quotes about passion, work ethic, food and sushi are thought-provoking. When you think of the many years he has worked to perfect his craft, and the fact that he keeps on striving every day to do better, it is amazing. 

"I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I'll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is." ...Jiro Ono, Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I dream of sushi frequently and eat it frequently too. It's hard not to living in Hawaii. In some form or another, it ends up at most events, parties and potlucks. It's perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, and even a box of take-out brown rice ahi rolls from Whole Foods makes me happy. (Although not as happy as Max, nothing delights his little kitty heart more than seeing the box he recognizes come out of the shopping bag occasionally. I am "forced" to share the ahi out of the center of the roll and usually end up with the leftover rice and cucumber. I have a feeling Max would like Jiro a lot.) ;-)

What I don't dream of is making sushi. I have done it at a class and at a party and while it was fun (especially while drinking) at the time, it was also too much effort for me to ever want to do at home. Obviously sushi is the focus of this film--although we see some different foods like tempura and soba noodles at a staff meal. Wanting to stick with a sushi-ish dish but not wanting to fuss individual sushi pieces, I decided to recreate one of my favorite potluck dishes from my old office. It was always a hit when my friend and co-worker Corinne would bring in a big pan of her husband Shawn's Spicy Ahi Tower. It's like a spicy tuna roll without the fuss of rolling, especially when served with little sheets of seasoned seaweed to wrap around it. Since you are breaking down the components of a sushi roll, and then building them back up again, I think of it as "reconstructed" sushi rather than deconstructed. Whatever you want to call it, the tuna in it's creamy spicy sauce with the cooling avocado and slightly sweet and vinegary sushi rice is delicious.

Spicy Ahi Tuna & Avocado Tower 
Recipe Adapted from Shawn Shiroma (& Corinne)
(Number of servings is dependent on the size you make)

(Since this isn't my recipe and Shawn adapted it from (an unnamed) restaurant he worked for, and Corinne gave me just the basic ideas and tips over the phone, I am not including an actual recipe here for the spicy ahi layer--just the ingredients. If you want to make it and need more coaching or direction, shoot me an email and we'll *talk!*)

In a springform pan or mold of your choice, layer the following:
  • Layer 2: Mashed Ripe Avocado with Lemon Juice
  • Layer 3: Spicy Ahi Tuna Mix: Cubed Ahi Tuna, Mayo, Sesame Oil, Shoyu, "Ichimi" Togarashi (Japanese red pepper spice), Toasted Sesame Seeds (Note: Shawn adds tobiko {small fish roe} but I was too cheap. $11.99 for a small container! I mixed in some roasted sesame seeds to give the sauce a bit more texture.) 
  • Topping: Furikake Seasoning (a mix of nori, sesame seeds, salt and sugar) + extra Roasted Sesame Seeds
  • To Serve: Unmold tower on serving plate and enjoy with sheets of nori or seasoned seaweed to scoop up the layers. 

Notes/Results: Although not exactly the same as the champion dish my friend Shawn makes, I was pretty happy with how this one turned out. I used my mini springform pan to make a small tower that would be a great appetizer for two or three. (It was a little too much for dinner for one, but I managed!) ;-) Two of the best tips from Corinne and Shawn were to make sure the ahi cubes were patted dry with paper towels, and to make up the sauce the night before--to allow the red pepper spice to meld, before stirring in the ahi cubes and making the tower the next day. This is an easy dish to make if you have access to a good Asian market for supplies. I'm lucky here to be able to get everything at the grocery store, including the pre-cut cubes of ahi that the seafood department uses for their poke. The cost of the ingredients does add up--fitting for the movie since lunch at Sukiyabashi Jiro was something like $300, so the cost (and the mayo in the sauce) make this good as an occasional indulgence that I will happily make again.

"In order to make delicious food, you must eat delicious food." ...Jiro Ono, Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Thanks to Camilla for the great movie pick. She'll be rounding up the entries shortly on her blog. Since the dealine is today (gah!), join us for July when we will be watching one of my all-time movie favorites, Moonsoon Wedding, hosted by Heather at girlichef.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Celeriac & Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint Salad

Ottolenghi calls this Celeriac & Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint salad "a hearty autumn main course." Living where we don''t have big seasonal differences anyway and wanting to cook with celeriac, I added some leftover/extra local fresh sweet corn and I am calling it a "seasonless" main course or a side dish when accompanied by some perfectly cooked Copper River Sockeye salmon. ;-)

Celeriac & Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint Salad 
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 4)

1/3 cup whole hazelnuts, skin on
1 cup Puy lentils (I used small green lentils) 
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
1 small celeriac (1 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 3/8-inch strips 
(I added 3/4 cup of fresh sweet corn) 
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp hazelnut oil (I used walnut oil)  
3 Tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar (I used raspberry red wine vinegar) 
salt and black pepper
4 Tbsp chopped fresh mint 

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Scatter hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Let cool and chop roughly. (I peeled/rubbed the skins off first.) 

Combine lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

In a separate saucepan, cook celeriac in plenty of boiling salted water for 8-12 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.

In a large bowl mix the hot lentils with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut oil (I didn't have hazelnut oil so I used walnut oil instead), the vinegar and plenty of salt and black pepper to taste. Add celeriac and stir well. Taste an adjust seasoning as needed.

When ready to serve, stir in half of the mint and half the hazelnuts. Pile into a serving bowl and drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil on top. Garnish with the remaining mint and hazelnuts and serve.

Notes/Results: Another great Ottolenghi combination of flavors and textures. Although I had my ingredients purchased and had planned to make this for our "pulses" theme before seeing my pal Sue's version post at Couscous & Consciousness, but seeing her variation just sealed the deal. I loved the color her additions of roasted red pepper and pickled lemon added to the mix. I was thinking of adding the sweetness of dried fruit to my version but since I had the kernels from an ear or so of fresh sweet local corn leftover from another recipe, I tossed that in instead. The corn and the raspberry wine vinegar I used added the touch of sweet I was looking for. I have not cooked much with celeriac, although I frequently come across it at the local grocery store. I like the subtle celery flavor and silky texture it added. 

This salad was very good warm, served alongside a moist and flaky piece of gorgeous Copper River salmon (just pan-fried with salt and pepper and lightly dressed with lemon) and my final dab of quick-pickled lemons (ala Sue's idea!) It was even better after it sat overnight, eaten cold on its own, and with leftover salmon for lunch the next day. I would make this again.  

Our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is "Got a Pulse"--recipes with beans, lentils and legumes. You can check out what everyone made by following the links. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tomato Soup with Rice & Basil: Cooking Tessa Kiros for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's no secret that I love Tessa Kiros. I owned most of her books before cooking along with her for six months at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Her books are gorgeous and her recipes delicious. Her latest book, Recipes and Dreams From An Italian Life is no exception. One of the first recipes that caught my eye was this simple Tomato Soup with Rice and Basil. Because you want perfectly fresh and very ripe tomatoes and beautiful basil for this one, it is a best as a summer soup. It's homey and comforting but not too heavy making it perfect for a summer evening.  

Tessa says, "This is simple and summery, just the thing for when you have beautiful ripe tomatoes in your vegetable patch. How can it not be great with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic."

Tomato Soup with Rice & Basil
Recipes and Dreams From An Italian Life by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 5 or 6)

5 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra, for serving
1 small red onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 3/4 lbs very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
12-15 basil leaves
5 cups hot water
1 scant cup short-grain white rice
8-10 Tbsp grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the onion until nicely golden and a bit sticky. Add the garlic and when it smells great, add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Tear in about seven of the basil leaves and simmer for about 5 minutes or so, squashing down most of the tomato lumps with a potato masher. Add the hot water and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. 

Add the rice and simmer for another 20 minutes or so, putting the lid on at the end to prevent too much liquid from evaporating. It should be quite thick, but if it seems too thick just add a little hot water. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve in wide bowls. Tear a couple of basil leaves in half and add to each bowl. Scatter a heaping tablespoon or so of Parmesan over each and drizzle with a little olive oil. Grind a little black pepper over the top and serve.

Notes/Results: One of those soups that showcases the ingredients and proves that simple is best. I grabbed the tomatoes, soft and ripe, and just-picked-fresh basil from the farmers market and they shine beautifully in this soup. Go for the freshest and best ingredients you can get for this one. It does come out very thick but I like it that way. If you have leftovers, you might need to add a little more water or a light broth as the rice keeps absorbing the liquid as it sits. I served it with some Charred Leek Spread with Dill on Baguette from Grills Gone Vegan by Tamasin Noyes, a book I am in the process of reviewing. More on these soon.

This is what I call a "heavy sigh" soup. By that I mean that sitting down over the bowl with the tomato-basil aroma so tempting and a light layer of melting Parmesan cheese on top, you release a heavy sigh of satisfaction as you spoon the thick spoonfuls into your mouth. A definite keeper recipe. 

Since it is Potluck week at IHCC where we can cook any recipe from our current chef Yotam Ottolenghi or any former chef (like Tessa), I am linking this soup up there. You can see what chefs and recipes everyone brought to Potluck by following the links. 

Now let's step into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.

Janet of The Taste Space brings this golden Ravi's Curried Red Lentil and Apricot Soup and says, " has all the components of a great Indian dish: red lentils, tomato, a touch of coconut milk, garlic, ginger and curry powder. The dried apricots are what hold me from thinking this is an authentic Indian dish, but they work really well here. Chopped up in small pieces, you get bursts of sweetness that complement the savoury elements of the rest of the dish. Creaminess comes from the red lentils and just a hint of coconut milk."

My friend and fellow IHCC co-host Sue of Couscous & Consciousness shares a tasty Ottolenghi salad and says, "This Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad, from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty, was perfect.  It was suitably light when I wasn't feeling like anything too heavy.  Lentils always speak to me of comfort and nourishment.  And celeriac ... well, celeriac is one of my favourite winter vegetables, and is pricey enough in these parts to make me feel like I'm having something quite luxurious."

Sue's salad is on my roster to make next week, but this week at Kahakai Kitchen, I tried another Ottolenghi salad creation, this Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon. In addition to the chickpeas, I added some home-dried blueberries and taosted pistachios for extra color and crunch. Full of interesting flavors and great texture, this was a perfect take-to-lunch-salad. 

Mireille of Chef Mireille's Global Creations has two salads to share this week. First up a delectable Roasted Tomato Salad. She says, "This is another recipe from Nigella Lawson. This super simple salad makes the perfect first course to start a summer meal. Roasting the tomatoes create a sweet flavor and super juicy tomatoes. It makes you realize why tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable."

Mireille's second salad is an exotic Paneer Mint Peach Salad. She says, "With protein, fruit, vegetable and dairy, this is a great salad, giving you a little of most of the food groups in one healthy bowl. Add some crackers or bread to eat with this salad and you'll have a complete balanced meal, with grains included also.

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or 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, healthy week!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon

As much as I love the two beautiful Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks I own, my spontaneous (read procrastinating, fly-by-the-seat-of my-pants) style of shopping and menu planning has me frequently turning to the Ottolenghi iPhone app to choose a recipe usually as I sit in the grocery store parking lot. Best $4.99 I have spent in a while. ;-) This Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon is my latest app recipe find. I love a good grain salad to pull out of the fridge for a quick meat-free meal and of course I loves me some caramelized onions and feta. The fresh tarragon in the mix intrigued me, and you can't beat bulgur for fast and easy grain cooking.

I made a few changes and additions to the recipe--like extra lemon juice and onions. On the recipe overview, Ottolenghi suggests adding other elements such as cooked chickpeas, currants, semi-dried tomatoes or roasted sweet potato cubes. I went with the chickpeas and then tossed in some home-dried blueberries (I'm not a huge current fan and blueberries are more fun than raisins) and added roasted pistachios for color and crunch. My changes to the recipe are in red below.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon 
Adapted from the Yotam Ottolenghi (iPhone Recipe App)
(Serves 4-6)

1 3/4 cups bulgur wheat
1/2 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions (I used about 5 cups)
2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1 large lemon (I used the juice of two lemons)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup loosely-packed chopped tarragon
3 1/2 oz feta, broken into chunks
salt and black pepper
(added 1 can low-sodium chickpeas)
(added 1/3 cup dried blueberries)
(added 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts, roasted and coarsely chopped)

Place bulgur wheat in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 15-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cumin and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until dark golden. (Note: I found that it took about 25 minutes to get them truly dark golden.) Transfer onto paper towels to drain.

Drain the bulgur in a sieve and shake very well to get rid of the water. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the cooked onion and remaining ingredients, along with salt and black pepper to taste. Mix. Gently stir in the feta so it doesn't break up too much. Then serve.

Notes/Results: I like this salad--the different tastes and textures mix well. You can't argue with caramelized onions and feta for pumping up a salad, but I think my favorite bites were the ones with tarragon or the dried blueberries that I added. The sweetness of the berries and the sharper, anise taste of the tarragon add interest. I definitely welcomed the extra lemon--it didn't overpower but gave it the brightness and balance the salad needed. Adding the chickpeas and pistachios to the satisfying bulgur made this into a main dish salad for me. Great with bread for a light dinner and as the flavors melded, the leftovers were even better the next couple of days for lunch. I would make it again. 

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. The time to make any Yotam Ottolenghi recipe or any recipe from one of the previous 7 IHCC chefs. I like to spread the love so in addition to this Ottolenghi grain salad, I'll be cooking up a Tessa Kiros (one of my very favorite IHCC past chefs) soup that I have been eyeballing in her new cookbook this weekend. You can see what everyone made for Potluck by following the links at the post.

I did my first guest post this week over at girlichef for Heather's The Summer of the Popsicle event. Stop by and check out the recipe for my sweet/tangy/herby (in a good way!) Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops, inspired by a favorite restaurant's house lemonade.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops: Guest Posting at girlichef for the Summer Of The Popsicle!

Stop by girlichef and you can find me hanging out, guest posting for my pal Heather's Summer Of The Popsicle event. I linked up a few of my popsicles last year when Heather first created her gathering of icy treats. This year, since I am "holding the (popsicle) stick" for this week, I came up with some tasty ice pops just for this fun event. 

Sweet/tangy/slightly herby Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops were inspired by the house lemonade at my favorite restaurant, Town in Kaimuki on Oahu. 

You can find the recipe for these refreshing treats here at girlichef

If you are a fan of tasty frozen treats on a stick, Heather has them featured every Wednesday throughout the summer! You can link up your own ice pops, popsicles and paletas there too. (You can also find this fun event on Twitter at #SummerOfThePopsicle
Check it out!

Summer of the Popsicle 2