Thursday, July 31, 2014

Salad of Fennel, Edamame, Arugula & Parmesan with Crispy Croutons and Cheesy Tarragon Dressing

I like salads but I find it hard to get too excited about most of them. This Salad of Fennel, Edamame, Arugula and Parmesan with Crispy Croutons and Cheesy Tarragon Dressing is one to get excited about. So many flavors and textures. I slightly adapted a Nigel Slater online recipe--swapping the broad (fava) beans out for the more plentiful in Hawaii edamame, slightly reducing the oil in the dressing, and since I didn't have tarragon vinegar, making my own with champagne vinegar and dried tarragon. The dressing contains a raw egg yolk--I left it in as I had good quality local eggs and like to live on the edge. ;-) But you could always omit it if you prefer.   

Salad of Fennel, Edamame, Arugula and Parmesan with Crispy Croutons and Cheesy Tarragon Dressing
Adapted from Nigel Slater via
(Serves 2) 

400g (14 oz) broad beans in their pods (I used edamame)
1 Tbsp tarragon vinegar (I used champagne vinegar + 1 tsp dried tarragon)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
100ml (3.3 oz) olive oil (I reduced to 2 oz)
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan
a block of Parmesan for shaving
2 tsp lemon juice
2 thick slices of white bread
oil for frying the bread
1 medium fennel bulb
4 double-handfuls of small, hot salad leaves, such as rocket and watercress

(I garnished with some of the fennel fronds)

Pod the beans and boil them in lightly salted water for 4 or 5 minutes till tender. They shouldn't need skinning.

Make the dressing by whisking the vinegar, mustard, egg yolk and oil together with a little salt and black pepper then beating in the grated cheese. Squeeze in the lemon juice, stir, then set aside for a few minutes.

Cut the bread into small squares and fry in shallow oil till golden on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper.

Slice the fennel thinly. Toss it with the leaves and drained beans in the dressing. Pile the salad on to 2 plates, shave pieces of Parmesan over with a vegetable peeler. I usually do at least 8 per salad, depending on my dexterity with the peeler. 

Tip the hot croutons over the salad and eat straightaway while crunchy.

Notes/Results: A keeper salad and dressing recipe for sure. The flavors work well together--the salty creaminess of the Parmesan in the dressing is perfect with the peppery arugula and the light licorice taste of the fennel. The edamame and warm crispy croutons add good contrast to the crispy greens and fennel. Very satisfying. This is a nice starter salad--easy to prepare but elegant, or a perfect as a side with some grilled fish. I confess to eating most of both portions as my dinner and being very happy about it. I will make this again. 

This Nigel Slater dish is linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's Serving Up Salads theme. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links of the post.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Watermelon & Mint Chia Tea Fresca for Food 'N Flix July Pick: "Like Water for Chocolate"

Like Water for Chocolate--both the book and the film inspired by it, hold a fond place in my foodie heart. Set in Mexico in the early 1900's, it's the story of Tita, who as the youngest daughter in her well-to-do family, is forced by tradition to spend her life unmarried and taking care of her aging and dominant mother while her heart longs for Pedro, her one true love. Pedro marries Tita's eldest sister Rosaura and a heartbroken Tita spends her days in the kitchen where she cooks dishes that contain all of her suppressed emotions and that have an often life-changing effect on those who eat them. 

I chose the novel as a Cook the Books selection back in 2010 and was happy to have the movie be our July Food 'N Flix pick, selected and hosted by Elizabeth at The Law Student’s Cookbook. I love a little magical realism that sparks the imagination and in this case, certainly the appetite.

There is plenty of food inspiration in the story with dishes like Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, Cream Fritters, and Christmas Rolls. For my film-inspired dish, I decided to combine a few different ideas from the movie into a refreshing summer beverage--starting with the watermelon from a steamy and sultry summer night when the family is sleeping outdoors and Pedro and Tita sneak away for a brief tryst. It turns out that in addition to smashing hearts, mean Mama Elena is a champion watermelon smasher, expertly breaking the melon into large perfect wedges. There was a large glass jar of what looked like watermelon agua fresca on the table in the scene. It looked wonderfully refreshing and became the base of my drink. As a baby, Tita was nourished in the kitchen with teas and gruel by her beloved Nacha, the family's cook, so I wanted to include tea in my fresca. Watermelon and mint pair well together and mint leaves are what a guilty Tita recommends to Rosaura when she complains that her flatulence and bad breath are keeping Pedro away from her. (As if her personality wasn't enough!) On warm days, I drink a lot of iced teas, usually with chia seeds mixed in and since they are in the mint family and are native to Mexico and Latin America, they seemed like a good fit.  

The result, my Watermelon & Mint Chia Tea Fresca is sweet, slightly tart, refreshing, and perfect for quenching the summer heat or maybe some fiery unrequited passion. ;-) And, I am certainly not judging if you want to slip some rum or tequila into the mix

Watermelon & Mint Chia Tea Fresca
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves about 6
4 cups brewed mint or melon mint tea, brewed  strongly for ice tea (Note: I used DAVIDsTEA Watermelon Mint Herbal Tea)
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
4 heaping cups cubed chilled watermelon (seedless or most seeds removed)
4 tablespoons lime juice

2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves or to taste
2 Tbsp agave nectar or to taste
2 cups ice + extra ice for serving
extra sprigs of mint, watermelon cubes and/or lime slices to garnish

Brew your tea strongly enough to retain its flavor as an iced tea (usually double the amount of tea per water is a good guide). Stir chia seeds thoroughly into slightly cooled brewed tea and chill mixture in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  

Combine watermelon, lime juice, mint, agave and ice in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into serving pitcher and add chilled tea/chia mixture, stirring well until thoroughly mixed. 

To serve: Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with fresh mint and/or skewers of watermelon and lime as desired.

Notes/Results: An excellent summer sipper--so cooling with the juicy watermelon and  burst of mint. You can adjust the amounts of the mint, lime and agave based on the sweetness and mint level of the tea you use. I bought a bag of DAVIDsTEA Watermelon Mint herbal tea while doing a training gig for the company in Toronto (they do mail order and there are U.S. stores in Chicago, Boston, New York and San Francisco). Fabulous people, wonderful teas. (And although I was paid for my work I wasn't paid to say that or to spend my consulting fee on tea!) This particular herbal blend smells a bit like a watermelon Jolly Rancher and has a light melon taste with the mint kicking lightly in at the end. You could also use a green tea or a plain peppermint tea and again, adjust things to get it to your taste. The blended watermelon and ice, along with the chia seeds make this slightly thick--which I like, and the chia seeds add extra fats and nutrients but you could certainly omit them if you are not a fan. Healthy and tasty, I may be drinking this all summer long. 

The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is (today) July 29th and Elizabeth will be rounding up all of the entries on her blog soon. If you missed this round and love food, films and foodie films, join us for August when we will be viewing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tomato Chowder with Mollet Eggs for Cook the Books: The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I first became aware of Jacques Pépin watching reruns of him on PBS, particularly enjoying the shows where he teamed up with Julia Child. There seemed to be such a fondness and respect between the two of them. Respectful is a good word to describe Pépin, along with classy, kind, charming and dashing. I was given a paperback copy of The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin several years ago from a foodie friend and loved this memoir and learning about his story. Coming across my copy a few months ago, I was inspired to read it again and to make it my pick for this round of Cook the Books

My second reading confirmed two things--I adore Pépin even more, and that this book is one of my favorite all-time foodie memoirs. Beginning with Pépin's youth in France working in his mother's kitchens during the war, his restaurant apprenticeships at a young age in Paris and his move to the United States in 1959, it's the tale of how his amazing career grew. It is fabulous storytelling about the early years of foodie television and celebrities mixing in with the happy and sad moments of his personal life. What an amazing close-to-80 years this man has had--writing over 20 cookbooks and hosting or co-hosting 13 different cooking shows over the years, but remaining humble and always retaining his passion for teaching and sharing food with others. The Apprentice is good reading for anyone and pure nirvana for foodies.

When it comes to food inspiration, the book is of course chock full of it with Jacques' memories, along with a couple of dozen of his favorite recipes throughout the book. I was set on making the Les Oeufs Jeannette (Eggs Jeannette), a dish of stuffed eggs created by his maman but then I stumbled across his Tomato Chowder with Mollet Eggs recipe online and became somewhat obsessed by this simple tomato soup topped with a crouton, cheese, and most importantly a gorgeous soft-cooked egg. Poetry in my mind. Put a runny-yolked egg on most anything and I am a happy girl--and I liked the description of how the eggs were cooked. It might not seem like a summery dish but I eat soup all year round and the recipe does call for sweet cherry tomatoes--so perfect and abundant this time of year, and fresh spring onions. This is a truly gorgeous bowl of soup that eats like a meal. 

Jacques says, "A French favorite, mollet (moll-ay) eggs are similar to poached eggs in texture, with runny yolks and soft whites. The eggs are cooked in their shells in barely boiling water for about 6 minutes, then thoroughly cooled and carefully shelled. This basic tomato soup, topped with the eggs and large croutons made from country-style bread, can be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock or water."

Tomato Chowder with Mollet Eggs
From Essential Pépin via KQED
(Serves 4) 

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
6 scallions, trimmed (leaving some green) and chopped (3/4 cup)
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups homemade chicken stock or low-salt chicken broth (I used veggie broth)
12 oz cherry tomatoes
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage
1 15-oz can plum tomatoes 

4 slices country-style bread, preferably stale, for croutons
2 tsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove
4 large eggs

1/2 cup grated Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel saucepan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion, scallions, carrot, and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top of the mixture, stir thoroughly, and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring. Mix in the stock.

Meanwhile, process the cherry tomatoes in a food processor until coarsely chopped. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups.) Add the cherry tomatoes to the soup, along with the salt, pepper, thyme, and sage. Process the can of plum tomatoes for 5 seconds, and add to the soup. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes. (Note: I pureed about 1/3 of the cooked soup in a blender then added it back into the pot.) 

Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes: 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Brush the bread slices with the olive oil and arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Rub one side of the croutons with the garlic clove, and set them aside. (Note: I pan-toasted my bread instead before rubbing them with garlic)

Using a thumbtack or pushpin, make a hole in the rounded end of each egg. Gently lower the eggs into a pan containing enough boiling water to cover them and cook for about 6 minutes in barely boiling water. Drain the hot water from the pan and shake the pan to crack the shells of the eggs on all sides. Fill the pan with ice and water and set the eggs aside to cool completely.

When the eggs are cool, peel them carefully (so as not to damage the yolks, which are still runny) under cool running water. Keep the eggs in cold water until just before serving. (The eggs can be cooked up to a few hours ahead and refrigerated in the cold water.)

At serving time, drain the cold water from the eggs and replace it with hot tap water. Let stand for 5 minutes, so the eggs are lukewarm inside. 

Bring the soup to a strong boil, and ladle it into four bowls. Place an egg in the center of each bowl, and wait for a couple of minutes for the eggs to warm in the center. Place a crouton in each bowl and serve, sprinkled with the cheese. 

Notes/Results: I LOVED this soup--such good flavor--sweet and savory but really set off by the toppings--as my favorite soups usually are. ;-) I recommend making extra croutons as they are crispy, garlicky and perfect for dipping into the tomatoy-eggy broth and the caved-aged Gruyere that melts into it all. The soft-cooked eggs are amazing but they completely stressed me out. I am sure that Jacques' nimble fingers have no problem peeling them and keeping them in one piece but I felt more like Lennie in Of Mice and Men 'petting' a soft bunny and trying hard not to crush it. ;-) I had to include the photos of my first egg casualty on the collage--that came from my shaking the pan to crack the shells on all sides per the recipe. I swear I did it gently but one egg just imploded (lucky I made 5 total). So, I stopped shaking the pan and after cooling the eggs, started carefully peeling them. They were tricky little buggers--not at all willing to give up their shells easily. I ended up with two that looked pretty good, the others were a bit rough looking so I suggest you make a few extra--just in case you are serving this to company. Still, despite my egg challenges, once they hit the soup and are sliced open, the creamy yolk released, I was a happy camper and who cares how they look?! A wonderful soup--both classy and homey and relaxing, reminiscent of Pépin himself. I will make it again (and own that egg perfection next time).

The deadline for this round of Cook the Books is this Thursday, July 31st and I'll be posting the round up shortly afterward on the CTB site. If you missed joining in on this one, the lovely Debra of Eliot's Eats will be hosting our August / September round and taking us to Italy for A Thousand Days in Venice, by Marlena De Blasi. 

Friends await in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

My pal Rachel, The Crispy Cook has a Pépin-inspired dish this week, her Jacques' Venison Revenge Ragout. She says, "... I decided to create something with venison, in reference to the most harrowing incident related in the book: Pepin's nighttime car accident with a deer that left him with a broken back, two broken hips, a broken leg, cracked pelvis and a left arm that was so badly fractured that his surgeon considered amputating it. What an ordeal! But Pepin doesn't dwell on that incident, and segues into his subsequent experiences in teaching cooking classes, working with corporate clients and writing cookbooks. But I feel Jacques should have his revenge against that kamikaze deer with a venison dish, so I pulled some venison stew meat that we had in the freezer care of Dan's hunting cousin and put together a delicately seasoned venison stew."

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm shares this creamy Celeriac Parsnip Soup and says, "Both celeriac and parsnip are used a lot in European cuisine, but non existent in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Even here in America, they are under used. I like both of these vegetables a lot. If you grate celery root, you can make a delicious slaw with it, as long as you have a dressing that has some vinegar in it to soften it. It also makes a great mash when combined with potatoes. Parsnip puree is absolutely delicious. Just boil until very soft and puree. Virtually no additional seasoning will be necessary because of the natural sweetness. Here is a delicious soup with these two under used vegetables." 

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food brings a crunchy Celery, Carrot, Cashew Nut Salad and says, "This no-fuss three-ingredient, dressing ingredient not included, side-dish salad is easy to prepare (no stir-frying required) and if you are thinking of making more and storing in the fridge, the good news is, it also keeps well (~ two days) in the fridge. For a non-spicy dressing, omit the chili "sauce" in this dressing. Personally, I prefer sesame oil as one of the components in a dressing for Asian-style salads or side-dishes; while using extra-virgin olive oil or flax oil for Mediterranean-style bean-based salads".

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made this wonderful Vegan Caprese Salad Appetizer and says, "Looking for a vegan appetizer or supersalad? This one is perfect. Just one look at this incredible creation and you will understand why you it tastes amazing even without the traditional cheese that we usually find in a Caprese salad. This is my vegan version of a tomato and Mozzarella Caprese salad appetizer. I substituted avocado for the sliced mozzarella. I served this salad appetizer at a party  a few weeks ago. Believe me when I tell you that here was not a morsel left. Believe me when I tell you that nobody missed the cheese."

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 sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mushroom and Spinach Korma: Meat-Free, Spice-Filled, Creamy Comfort Food

I love a good Indian curry and a milder creamy korma atop a bed of fragrant basmati rice makes for perfect comfort food. This Nigel Slater Mushroom and Spinach Korma is a great meat-free dish because the mushrooms, nuts and creamy sauce make it satisfying enough to please meat eaters. 

Nigel says, "This recipe is a good example of how garlic is used as a backnote to other aromatics and spices. This is a voluptuous vegetable supper, and less trouble than it might first appear."  

I made a few changes--noted in red below--mostly based on what I had on hand (cashews instead of hazelnuts, no creme fraiche) and added extra spices to get the bolder flavors I was looking for.  

Mushroom and Spinach Korma
Adapted from Real Food by Nigel Slater
(Serves 2-3) (4 with rice)

50 g (1.75 oz) butter
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
a knob of ginger, about the size of your thumb, peeled and grated
1 tsp ground cumin (I used 2 tsp)
15 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder (I used about 3/4 tsp)
(I added 1 tsp of garam masala)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
650 g (about 1 1/2 lbs) assorted mushrooms
50 g (1.75 oz) hazelnuts, toasted (I used toasted cashews)
350 g (about 3/4 lb) leaf spinach, tough stems removed
50 g (1.75 oz) golden raisins
150 g (5.25 oz) thick natural yogurt
150 g (5.25 oz) creme fraiche (I omitted and used all Greek yogurt, thinned with a bit of milk)
2 Tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

Melt the butter in a deep pan, add onions, garlic and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden. It is essential not to burn the butter, so add a little oil if it appears to be darkening. Add the spices and bay leaves and continue frying, stirring regularly, for two or three minutes to cook the spices. Meanwhile, cut the larger mushrooms into big pieces, although you can leave oyster mushrooms whole. Add the mushrooms to the pot. Cook the mixture for a few minutes till the mushrooms soften, then stir in 225 ml (about a cup) water and the nuts. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes, covered with a lid. 

Meanwhile, wash the spinach and put, still thoroughly wet, into a saucepan--it will cook in its own steam. Cook for two minutes, shaking occasionally, till wilted. Drain and squeeze out water. Stir the spinach and golden raisins into the curry, simmer for a couple of minutes, then mix the yogurt and creme fraiche together and stir them into the mushrooms, bringing almost to the boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When the korma is thoroughly hot, but not quite boiling (it may curdle if it boils), stir in the chopped coriander and serve.  

Notes/Results: Creamy and full of flavor, this is a satisfying and voluptuous (to quote Nigel) dish. The combination of mushrooms (I used cremini, button, shiitake, and oyster) give it a good variation of meaty textures with bites of crunchy toasted cashew and the plump raisins adding their sweetness to the mix. The silky sauce is delicious with the basmati rice. I liked the extra cumin, chili powder and the garam masala I added to the recipe--it gave it a bolder, slightly smokier flavor and didn't make it too 'cardamomy' for my tastes. This dish takes a bit of prep but actually goes together pretty quickly and is well worth it. I would make it again.

The theme is Off the Spice Rack this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and this dish fits right in. You can see what spice-filled dishes everyone made by checking out the picture links.

Happy Aloha Friday!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Book Tour Stops Here: "Don't Try to Find Me" by Holly Brown with a Berry, Peach & Greens Chia Smoothie

Imagine the very worst happening--your teenage daughter has disappeared and it looks as though she has run away. You are tormenting yourself for every decision you made, every action taken or not taken that could have provoked her leaving, and what you could have done to have prevented it. Then the social media campaign designed to bring her home takes over--your dirty laundry is aired and the secrets you keep carefully hidden are slowly exposed. You are judged and presumed guilty of being a bad mother and maybe even being a suspect in the disappearance. Don't Try to Find Me a novel by Holly Brown weaves an interesting back story around an event that could be pulled from the headlines or an episode of Dateline. 

Publisher's Blurb:

"Don’t try to find me.

Though the message on the kitchen whiteboard is in fourteen-year-old Marley’s handwriting, her mother, Rachel, knows there has to be some other explanation. Marley would never run away. 

I’ll be okay.

Marley’s quiet. Innocent. Sheltered. Growing up in Northern California with all the privilege Rachel never had, what does Marley know about taking care of herself? About being okay? Rachel might not know her daughter at all. But she does know that she needs to find Marley before someone else does. Someone dangerous. 

I’ll be better.

The police have limited resources devoted to runaways. If Rachel and her husband, Paul, want their daughter back, they’ll have to find her themselves. Paul turns to Facebook and Twitter and launches But Marley isn’t the only one with something to hide. Paul’s social media campaign generates national attention, and the public scrutiny could expose Rachel’s darkest secrets. When she blows a television interview, the dirty speculation begins. 

I love you.

The blogosphere is convinced Rachel is hiding something. It’s not what they think; Rachel would never hurt Marley. Not intentionally, anyway. But when it’s discovered that Rachel lied to the police, the devoted mother becomes the prime suspect in Marley’s disappearance.

Is Marley out there, somewhere, watching it all happen . . . or is the truth something far worse?"

Hardcover: 368 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow (July 8, 2014)

I went into this book thinking it was going to be a mystery but from the start we find out from Marley what happened to her. So the story becomes more about uncovering the secrets and reasons that led to her leaving her family for B., the 'boyfriend' she meets online. I would classify it as a family drama/psychological thriller, high on the drama.  The story, told in daily increments, alternates between Marley's perspective--written in her journal pages, and Rachel's thoughts. There are glimpses to the past from both Marley and Rachel that help build the story. I liked the back and forth narrative and felt that both voices rang true but I did find it hard to completely attach to the characters--both frustrated me--especially Rachel, being the adult, and her significant lack of backbone and maturity. The impact of social media on the family was interesting. We are a quick-to-judge society, our lives becoming more transparent with every Facebook post or Tweet, something Rachel especially becomes painfully aware of as the campaign her husband initiates to bring their daughter home quickly spins out of control. Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist and it shows in her writing and her digging deeply into the 'whys' behind her character's actions--although I am not sure this book ends up being a plug for therapy--maybe more a cautionary tale. Brown doles out these pieces of information in a way that kept me interested and the suspense building. Although not quite what I was expecting, Don't Try to Find Me kept me awake and turning pages on a very long flight returning from a business trip despite being exhausted--a mark of a successfully-written drama in my book.

Author Notes: Holly Brown lives with her husband and toddler daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s a practicing marriage and family therapist. Her blog, Bonding Time, is featured on

Food is mentioned in the book but more as sustenance than in a foodie way--appropriate for the story. The food was pretty basic--fried chicken, yogurt, sandwiches, dishes that Marley cooks for B. before the 'honeymoon' stage of their relationship wanes like lasagna, chicken Marsala and meatloaf. In the end for my usual dish inspired by my reading, I went for a simple and healthy smoothie. In a happier moment, Rachel and her husband Paul are making the family breakfast with Rachel cooking the French toast and Paul manning the blender--whirling like a propeller. I chose to omit the French toast for my breakfast and make a drinkable breakfast. 

I am a big fan of peach and berry smoothies for their sweetness, but I also like to give my fruit smoothies a boost of nutrition so baby spinach leaves and chia seeds join the party. Sure the color isn't as pretty but it tastes great and gets another serving of greens into my day. ;-)

Berry, Peach & Greens Chia Smoothie
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Servings)

1 cup peach slices, fresh or frozen*
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen*
1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen*
1 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2-3 drops of vanilla stevia or sweetener of choice
1 cup fruit juice, coconut water or milk alternative of choice (+ extra if needed)

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Add extra water or juice if needed to make it to your desired consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy! 

*Make a least one of the fruits listed is frozen to make it cold and creamy.

Notes/Results: A quick and easy smoothie perfect for sipping on the go or while checking email. I like the little bit of vanilla sweetness from the vanilla stevia drops I use but you can use whatever sweetener you have on hand or omit it. When I am not taking photos of it I sometimes omit the blueberries and add mango or pineapple instead (and put it in an opaque cup and ignore the murky brown color.) ;-) 

Note: A review copy of "Don't Try to Find Me" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the stops for the rest of the TLC Book Tours and Reviews here.  


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Artichoke Soup with Fresh Mint: Tangy Green Goodness for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This is a quick and easy soup from Giada. Perfect to toss together and enjoy. Giada has it made as a hot soup, but I think it also does well when chilled on a warm summer day.  

Giada says, "This is a light fresh-tasting vegetarian/vegan soup with bright, clean flavors. The artichokes add texture and a lemony taste, while spinach brings its vibrant color. A little bit of mint at the end ties this all together and adds a refreshing note."

Artichoke Soup with Fresh Mint
Adapted from Giada's Feel Good Food by Giada De Laurentiis
(Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (12 oz) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup (packed) fresh spinach leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (I used 2 Tbsp)
1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. cook the vegetables until just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the artichokes and broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the artichokes are tender, about 12 minutes.

In a blender, puree the soup, 1 cup at a time, until very smooth, adding the spinach and mint with the last cup. Return the puree to the saucepan. Mix in the remaining 1/4 tsp salt, to taste. Reheat as needed over low heat, thinning with water if too thick. 

Ladle the soup into bowls. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over each bowl of soup before serving.

Nutrition Info (Per Serving): Calories: 134, Protein: 4g, Carbs: 15g, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 5g, Total Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Sodium: 279 mg

Notes/Results: I love the lightly tangy flavor of this green soup from the artichoke hearts and the lemon. It has a great velvety texture--creamy without the cream. I added an extra tablespoon of the mint as I like the coolness it adds. This one goes together easily and is fast to get on the table, making it a great starter for a light spring or summer meal. I liked it even better chilled overnight in the fridge and served cold. I would make it again. 

This soup is being linked up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week--any dish from Nigel Slater or any of our former IHCC chefs. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 

We have some good friends and fabulous salads waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, so let's take a look.

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm shares this colorful Fennel Grapefruit Salad with Beets and says, "Surprisingly, this is the second recipe I've done using similar ingredients. I actually made this salad a few weeks ago and then when putting together a dynamic Recipe Index for this blog where you can now easily search for recipes by either course or culture, I discovered I had a similar salad also using beets, fennel and a grapefruit vinaigrette. However, this version is a classier, more gourmet version and this vinaigrette has a different flavor profile, so I decided to post it anyway."

It's a healthy Dried Mulberries, Cucumber, Carrot Achar Pickle/Salad from Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food. She says, "Though Achar can refer to Indian pickles, it is also a popular pickle/condiment in Malaysia and Singapore. I grew up with the authentic Peranakan version that is usually made with cucumbers, carrots, pineapples mixed in with spice paste (rempah), shallots, ground peanuts in a vinegar-sugar based dressing. However today I am making the easier version that allows you to have a taste of Achar without the use of rempah - meaning, you do not need to grind or pound any paste. Hopefully the switch-up of ingredients from traditional Achar will also inspire you to have your own light bulb moment."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog is here with crunchy Asian Peanut Slaw and says, "If you are looking for a salad to bring to party or serve at your next gathering, this could be a good replacement or addition to your traditional BBQ  salads. It's gluten free, grain free, vegan and has a wonderful flavor that everyone seemed to love. In addition, it looked beautiful and inviting. There was not one morsel left in the large bowl that my friend brought to the party! After one bite, I began to take pictures and am sharing the recipe because it was such a big hit with everyone.I loved the crunchiness of the peanuts and the Asian spices."

Sue of Couscous & Consciousness shares this sumptuous Chorizo & Calamari Salad with Black Olives and Pomegranate and says, "On a stormy night a couple of weeks ago a friend and I ventured out to dinner at The Boat Shed, an iconic Nelson restaurant, perched on the edge of the harbour. One dish that really delighted us both, and which has been on my mind ever since, was a zingy squid, chorizo and chilli salad.  It reminded me a little of a seafood, fennel and lime salad from Ottolenghi The Cookbook that I'd had bookmarked for ages. Since it's Pot Luck week this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, it seemed like a good time to spend a little time with Ottolenghi and conjure up my own version of this salad, which is a little bit Ottolenghi and a little bit Boat Shed."

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!