Thursday, February 26, 2015

Donna Hay's Deconstructed Tiramisu for Food 'N Flix February Movie: 'Lady and the Tramp'

We have gone to the dogs this month at Food 'N Flix with the 1955 Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp, hosted by Elizabeth of The Lawyer's Cookbook. In truth when it comes to Disney animated dog movies, I was always the bigger fan of 101 Dalmatians, but I have seen Lady and the Tramp many times over the years and I think it might have inspired a love for cocker spaniels in me as a child. I am going to assume that if you haven't seen the movie, you at least know the story but if not, you can read the plot here. A family-fun pick that still holds its charm after sixty years.

It's always fun to re-watch a classic for the food inspiration and there is food to be found in Lady and the Tramp, even beyond the romantic shared spaghetti and meatballs scene (although that one is very inspiring). As I watch each month's film, I always take notes--sometimes jotted on paper and sometimes captured electronically. 

Here's my Lady and the Tramp list below copied directly from the notes on my iPhone:

Coffee & donuts--Lady fed at breakfast 
Bones--Jock (maybe shortbread for Jock/ southern for Trusty?) 
Restaurants--Tramp: grill, French pastries, Tony's Italian: pizza/bones
Watermelon & chop suet*--Darling preg cravings (Note: that was meant to be chop suey--darned auto correct
Wiener schnitzel / corned beef--Tramp neighborhood meals
Spaghetti & meatballs dinner, breadsticks
Thai food?--Siamese cat twins

I had wanted to make a veg-friendly chop suey, one of Darling's pre-baby cravings, but then as usual I was late to the party and Heather at girlichef made a too-perfect-to-compete-with chop suey. ;-) So I put my thinking cap on and decided on a tiramisu--not in the film but what you might expect after a romantic Italian dinner, and it uses lady finger biscuits--in honor of Lady. 

When looking for a non-chocolate version (we are talking dogs that shouldn't be eating chocolate here), I came across Donna Hay's Deconstructed Tiramisu recipe and decided it was perfect because it also conjured up thoughts of the breakfast scene where Jim Dear pours a cup of milky-looking coffee into Lady's bowl and gives her a doughnut to daintily dunk into it. I can picture a romantic dunk and nibble dessert scene after dinner for Lady and Tramp. ;-) 

Here's a video demo of Donna making the recipe and you can find the recipe here too. If you aren't serving a favorite canine couple, I think that a small bowl of finely-grated dark chocolate is a nice addition.

Deconstructed Tiramisu
Adapted from Donna Hay via Fast, Fresh, Simple
(Serves 2--dogs or adults) ;-)

2 Tbsp espresso coffee
1 Tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
2 Tbsp coffee liqueur (I used
Kahlua Hazelnut)
1/4 cup (60g) mascarpone
1/4 cup (60ml) singe (pouring) cream
2 tsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 small sponge lady finger biscuits

(I added 2 Tbsp finely-grated dark chocolate--optional)

Place the espresso and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Simmer very slowly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, add the liqueur and chill.

Place the mascarpone, cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.

To serve, divide the coffee mixture between 2 small serving glasses. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into 2 separate small serving glasses. (Add a small bowl with grated ch0colate if desired.)

Place the glasses on serving plates and serve with the biscuits.

Notes/Results: I love this idea from Donna Hay--it totally calls to my lazy girl side--very low effort. To illustrate how truly low effort I was feeling today, I was working out of my satellite office (aka: my neighborhood coffeehouse) this morning and as I was leaving I asked them for a couple of shots in a to-go cup. A 5-minute trip home and I immediately put it into a pot and heated it with the sugar to make my coffee mixture to chill. It saved dragging out my stovetop espresso maker, grinding the coffee, heating it up, etc. ;-) Yep, lazy! And, it's much more fun to eat than tiramisu--dipping is always entertaining. Since each person gets their own, double-dipping is totally allowed. You can vary the flavor of coffee liqueur you use (I like hazelnut) or do a fun version for kids with drinking chocolate instead of the coffee and coffee liqueur. Child or adult, I think the grated chocolate addition is a nice touch. I will happily make this again. 

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--a chance to make any recipe from any of our previous IHCC chefs, so I am linking up Donna's dipping tiramisu there. You can see what everyone else made for Potluck by checking out the picture links on the post.

Despite my best intentions, I am flying in under the wire for this month's Food 'N Flix deadline which is today, Thursday, February 26th. Elizabeth will be rounding up the entries on her blog in the next couple of days so check out the Lady and the Tramp-inspired dishes everyone made. If you missed out this round and like food, films, and foodie films, join us for March with the John Wayne classic, The Quiet Man, hosted by Joanne at What's On the List?   


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Book Review & Recipe: "Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran" by Marion Grace Woolley with Creamy Pistachio & Feta Dip

Last week our TLC Book Tour stop of Scent of Butterflies gave us the culture and customs of Iran in the 1970s-1990s. This week we are back, but this time we head a couple of centuries earlier, to the 1850s of Northern Iran or Persia and the dark, lush historical novel Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran by Marion Grace Woolley. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a creamy and exotic Pistachio & Feta Dip inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

It begins with a rumour, an exciting whisper. Anything to break the tedium of the harem for the Shah’s eldest daughter. People speak of a man with a face so vile it would make a hangman faint, but a voice as sweet as an angel’s kiss. A master of illusion and stealth. A masked performer, known only as Vachon. For once, the truth will outshine the tales. 

On her eleventh birthday, Afsar’s uncle tries to molest her, and her father, the Shah, gifts her a circus. With the circus comes a man who will change everything. Inspired by Gaston LeRoux’s The Phantom of the Opera, Marion Grace Woolley takes us on forbidden adventures through a time that has been written out of history books.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Ghostwoods Books (February 14, 2015)

Afsar is the first daughter of the Shah, raised in luxury in the palace, she is indulged and adored. Whether or not this privilege and the unapologetic violence of the times nurtures the darkness inside her, it is clear she has a very cruel and sadistic side--even at the age of eleven. When the circus performer Vachon with his masked face and clever tricks appears to perform on her birthday, those proclivities are developed even further, the violence escalates, and Afsar's life begins to change. Those Rosy Hours of Mazandaran is an absorbing if not entirely comfortable read. It's made up of a cast of characters almost impossible to like. Any sympathy for Asfar's youth, loneliness, and lack of control for her future, or Vachon's disfigurement and the life he must have led, quickly dissipates due to the disturbing pleasure they take in killing. The story is told from Asfar's viewpoint and her lack of remorse for most of her actions is chilling but hard to look away from. Coupled with the author's ability to craft a visual feast for the senses when describing their world--the sounds, the colors, the aromas, flavors, and textures are fully brought to life--it makes for an enthralling and dark story. I had to keep turning the pages to see if Asfar and Vachon's love would redeem them or ultimately destroy them and those around them. This book may not be for everyone but if you like dark, exotic novels with a gothic feel and historical leaning, you will likely find it fascinating. 

Author Notes: Marion Grace Woolley is the author of three previous novels and a collection of short stories. In 2009, she was shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary for New Writers. She balances her creative impulses with a career in International Development; she has worked and traveled across Africa, Australia, Armenia, and a few other places beginning with ‘A’. She is an associate member of the Society of Authors, and is currently at work on her fifth novel. Follow Marion on Twitter @AuthorMGW

There is definitely a food presence in Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran--especially with life at the palace. Some inspiring mentions were the city market smells of fresh fish and crispy fried squid, saffron-spiked yogurt, and rice boiling in sweet milk, a breakfast of goat cheese, quince jam and sweet tea, refreshing cantaloupe juice, sesame halva, bowls of dried fruit and nuts (especially the ubiquitous handfuls of salted almonds everyone seemed to snack on), apples and honeyed dates, sweet 'baghlava (baklava) sprinkled with almonds and pistachio, dripping with honey,' sweet cardamom toffee, and vegetable ash (soup).

With all of the salted almonds being consumed, I originally thought I might do some sort of Persian-spiced nut blend to represent this book. Looking through my Middle Eastern cookbooks for inspiration, a recipe for Pistachio & Feta Dip in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour kept catching my eye. (BTW--Persiana is a gorgeous cookbook that I will be coming back to again and again I am sure.) Persiana author Ghayour says she stumbled across the spread in a butcher shop/cafe in a back alley of Istanbul and recreated it from taste and memory. So it's not a direct inspiration from the novel but the heart wants what the heart wants, and I think it captures the sumptuousness of the book and some of the flavors and ingredients of Persia.

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe--increasing the garlic and lemon and mostly de-seeding the chili. The author recommends serving with 'hunks of pillowy bread' which would have been wonderful had I not forgotten to buy some. I did have a bag of my newest chip obsession on hand--Primizie Thick-Cut Crispbreads--gourmet pita-like chips. I served the Simply Salted version with this dip although I find that I am most enamoured with the Smoked Dutch Gouda and Garlic flavor for eating out-of-hand. 

Pistachio & Feta Dip
Slightly Adapted from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour
(Serves 8 as Appetizer)

3 1/2 oz (100 g) shelled pistachios
generous 1/4 cup olive oil
10 1/2 oz (300 g) feta cheese
handful of dill, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
2 handfuls of cilantro, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove chopped (I used 2 cloves)
1 long red chili (of medium heat), seeded and roughly chopped
3 heaping Tbsp Greek yogurt
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (I used the juice of a whole lemon)
sea salt to taste

Blitz the pistachios and olive oil in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Add the other ingredients and process for about a minute or until the mixture has a nice, slightly coarse and rustic texture. Taste and season with a bit of sea salt if needed.

Top with a bit of additional feta and chopped pistachios and a sprinkle of smoked paprika if desired. Serve with bread, crackers, and veggies. 

Notes/Results: Salty, tangy, cheesy, herby, nutty, this is a fabulous dip, with a rich and elegant flavor and a little kick of spice at the end. It also works wonderfully as a sandwich spread--try it with tomato, red pepper and cucumber on pita. I may even try it with pasta, if it lasts that long. The ground nut texture gives it a pesto-like quality--although the feta and yogurt make it creamier than your average pesto. I like the pretty green color from the nuts and the herbs too. I will definitely make it again.

Note: A review copy of "Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran" was provided to me 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 this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vegan Avgolemono (Creamy Lemon-Rice Soup) for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Wanting to finish up the last of a bag of basmati rice, I made a large batch. The leftover rice got me thinking about Avogolemono Soup (or egg-lemon soup). I have a few versions on the blog already, including one with mini meatballs (from my meat-eating days), a vegetarian version, and Terry Hope Romero's vegan version that gets its creaminess from white beans. I have had another vegan version sitting in my magazine "to-make" stack, from Shape magazine (March 2014). This one comes from Gena of
and uses miso and tahini for the creaminess. 

Gena says, "I’ve searched for vegan avgolemono for a long time, and none of the recipes I’ve seen blown me away. I wanted something quick, simple, tart, and very much like the creamy soup I remember, sans egg (which is the traditional thickener). ...It’s tangy from the lemon, creamy from miso and tahini, and full of nutritious, grounding brown basmati rice. Who needs meat when you have vegetables and grains?"

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe using my previously cooked basmati rice and blending the nutritional yeast (and dill) into the soup rather than topping with it. My changes are noted in red below.  

Vegan Avgolemono (Creamy Lemony-Rice Soup)
Adapted from Gena of Choosing Raw via
(Serves 4)

2 small shallots, diced
1 cup diced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup brown rice (I used 2 cups cooked white basmati rice)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp miso
2 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 heaping Tbsp dried dill or 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (I used fresh)

Saute shallots, carrots, and garlic in oil until shallots are translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add broth, rice, and salt, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 30 to 35 minutes until rice is cooked through. (Note: Since I was using previously cooked rice and fresh dill, I cooked the veggies in the broth for about 15 minutes, then added my cooked basmati rice and about half of my dill and simmered it about 10 minutes more to heat everything through and blend flavors.)

Whisk together miso, tahini, and lemon juice. Add mixture to soup, whisking, until blended. Top with nutritional yeast and dill. (Note: I blended the miso, tahini, lemon juice and nutritional yeast in the blender before whisking it into the soup with the fresh dill.)

Notes/Results: I think that the recipe creator Gena is right, this soup is amazingly similar in both texture and taste to the non-veg version at my local Greek restaurant. Creamy and lightly tart and very good. I had wondered if either or both the miso and tahini would be noticeable in flavor but they truly were not--they only show up (in a good way) in the texture. The recipe calls for the nutritional yeast and dill to be added on top at the end but I felt like I would enjoy it more if they were mixed into the soup so that's what I did. (See the notes on the recipe above.) This soup is so aromatic with the shallots, garlic, lemon, dill and the basmati rice. I am a bit under the weather this weekend with a lingering sinus congestion and cough and it was just the thing I needed to feel better--I wish I made a double batch. ;-) I served it with corn and edamame bread from a local bakery. It would also be great with hummus and pita. I will make it again.  

Anthropologie FINALLY opened this month in Oahu. This could be very bad for my budget as I can get lost in their kitchenware for hours but I am usually limited to whatever I can pack into a suitcase and get safely back home. The bowl, plate and print cloth above are among my first purchases. Not the greatest pictures using them today--see above mention about feeling under the weather--so not in the mood for taking photos today. Ah, well... They deserve and will get better shots (and whiter/lighter backgrounds.) ;-) I had to buy these beauties as they match the color and look of a set of tea cups and saucers I have had for ages. Makes me happy! 

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

My pal Heather of girlichef is celebrating her 6-year blogging anniversary by remaking the dish on her first post, Manhattan Clam Chowder. Heather says, "The very first recipe I shared was for Manhattan Clam Chowder. I wrote a short, two sentence introduction proclaiming how much I loved soup. The sentiment holds true today, but I like to think I've come a long way since I those days in my tiny kitchen, snapping photos under artificial light with my little pink camera. ... This Manhattan Clam Chowder is laden with clams and chunks of potato nestled in a tomato-based broth with a hint of underlying heat, and a bit of smokiness lent by the addition of bacon." Happy Blogoversary Heather!

Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm is back this week with Tomato Chayote (aka Christophene) Soup. She says, "Chayote is a vegetable that has many different names even in English, depending on what country you are in. Most Americans and Mexicans call it chayote, Jamaicans cal it cho-cho, Africans and Caribbeans call it christopene and in New Orleans it is called mirliton. Whatever you call it, it is one of my favorite vegetables to include in soups. It is a member of the squash family and will absorb other flavors rapidly. This is a very brothy soup, perfect for those winter days when you are stuck inside with a bad cold and not a lot of energy for chewing."

Janet of The Taste Space shares this fresh and pretty Kale Fennel Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette. Janet says, "I used to eat a grapefruit every.single.morning. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I ate a grapefruit. Perhaps in Houston. Suffice it to say, it has been a while. I probably should have spent more time devouring citrus while in Texas because ripe and sweet grapefruits are delicious. Sometimes you are lucky to find them in Canada, too. In this case, I went with something more unique and added it to a kale salad. I also experimented with raw fennel, which was a touch bitter for me (especially paired with the grapefruit), so add that to taste.  A bit of coconut was reminiscent of the Caribbean. The flageolet beans, perfect for adding to salads, was a way for me to make this a complete meals instead of a side salad."

Thanks to Janet, Mireille and Heather for joining 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 sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pasta with Pesto Alla Trapanese {One-Photo Friday}

Some weeks call for a big bowl of pasta. If it's an especially busy week, it calls for a quick sauce that you can throw together while the pasta is cooking. This week the grocery store had 5 oz containers of good grated Pecorino Romano on sale for $1.99. Being both cheap and lazy when it suits me, I picked one up and found Diana Henry's Pesto Alla Trapanese in Crazy Water Pickled Lemons. I liked the use of tomatoes--both fresh Roma and sun-dried and the combination of basil and oregano in this Sicilian recipe. A drier, coarser pesto like this needs a sturdy pasta so I used cellentani (corkscrew pasta). Make a fast salad and dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes.   

Diana says that this Sicilian pesto "is from the Ristorante da Peppe in Trapani where they serve it with thin pasta twists called casareccia, but you can use any pasta shape." 

I made a few small changes to the recipe, noted below in red.

Pesto Alla Trapanese 
Adapted Slightly from Crazy Water Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry

4 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 slices sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped (I used 4 large cloves)
3 oz blanched almonds (I used 1 1/2 oz each slivered almonds & pine nuts)
a good handful of basil leaves
leaves from 4 sprigs oregano
salt and pepper
2 1/2 fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz grated pecorino cheese (+ extra to top)

Place all ingredients except olive oil and pecorino cheese into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse while adding the olive oil until combined but still coarse. (You can also make it using a mortar and pestle.)

Stir in pecorino, check the seasoning and serve with pasta.  

Notes/Results: Quick and simple with good, fresh flavors. The tomatoes give it a sweetness and a pop of acidity that I like. I only had about half of the blanched almonds needed so I added pine nuts and I increased the garlic too. This is a slightly wet pesto with the fresh tomatoes--I had reserved some of the cooking liquid to help mix it in but it wasn't needed. Since it isn't the most strongly-colored pesto, I garnished with extra pecorino, small oregano and basil leaves and sun-dried tomato. A nice change up from the usual pesto, I would make it again.

This post is linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Curds & Whey week--featuring Diana Henry dishes with yogurt, labneh, feta, ricotta, and other cheeses. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

{One-Photo Friday: Since I normally drag out my big camera and gear, take a bunch of photos of my recipes, and then spend time obsessing over them--I decided that for Fridays, I'll simplify by posting a recipe or something interesting and then just take (usually) one photo of it with my iPhone--no muss/no fuss.}  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Scent of Butterflies" by Dora Levy Mossanen, Served with Blood Orange & Rosewater Sorbet {Recipe}

The saying goes "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Or, as Soraya in Scent of Butterflies: A Novel of Betrayal by Dora Levy Mossanen, says, "I do not know what the stars have in store for me. What I know is that revenge must be extracted with calculated patience and complete emotional detachment." Today's TLC Book Tour stop takes us from Tehran to Beverly Hills, for a dark, rich, and exotic story of a woman pushed to the edge. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a dish inspired by the book, a dark, rich, and exotic Blood Orange & Rosewater Sorbet--a dish most definitely best served cold.

Publisher's Blurb:

Betrayal, forgiveness, identity and obsession churn against the tumultuous landscape of the Islamic revolution and seemingly perfect gardens of southern California in this compelling novel from bestselling author Dora Levy Mossanen.

Amidst a shattering betrayal and a country in turmoil, Soraya flees Iran to make a new life for herself in Los Angeles. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Southern California, as Soraya plots her revenge against the other woman, her best friend, Butterfly. What she discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had ever imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of events that leave the reader breathless.
A novel singed by the flavors of Tehran, imbued with the Iranian roots of Persepolis and the culture clash of Rooftops of Tehran, this is a striking, nuanced story of a woman caught between two worlds, from the bestselling author of HaremCourtesan, and The Last Romanov.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 7, 2014)

So, did I mention that Scent of Butterflies is a dark book? Dark and even quite morbid at times. Soraya's anger and grief are a living, breathing, pulsating wound. Her feelings are understandable--not only did her husband cheat on her, he did so with her best friend from childhood. She is bitterly betrayed by two of the most important people in her life and she takes it badly, very badly. She tells her husband she is going on a business trip for her photography (she needs his signed permission to leave Iran), then heads to Los Angeles where she uses money given to her by her grandmother to set up a new life for herself and begins plot her intricate web of revenge. So as not to spoil things, I don't want to get into the particulars of what she plans for her husband, or her friend Parvaneh ('Butterfly'), but it is (way) over the top. At times her actions seem unrealistic but the more that unfolds about Soraya's personality and her obsessive nature, her irrationality makes some sense. Soraya is a tough character--I had great sympathy for her plight but she is not at all likable, full of arrogance and entitlement. Still, she is fascinating, and as many times as I stopped to put the book down and go read something 'happy'--I found myself compelled to read on. There was a twist that I saw coming before it was revealed and the end was not completely satisfying for me, but it was certainly a wild journey getting there.

Author Mossanen created a lush and vividly drawn world for Soraya, her descriptions made the sights, sounds and smells come alive (not always a good thing in a few more morbid parts). I was particularly drawn to the descriptions of Soraya's life in Tehran before and after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and the fall of the Shah of Iran. I never considered what life would be like for a Jewish-Iranian woman in a Muslim world. Also very interesting to me was the corpse flower in the center of the mansion that Soraya moves into that becomes a focus in her revenge plots. The Amorphophallus titanum, or corpse flower, blooms infrequently (anywhere from 3 to even 7 or more years) and gets its name because it emits a strong and distinct odor described as like a decomposing animal, which is meant to attract beetles and flies for pollination. One of our local botanical gardens had one that bloomed a couple of years ago and I meant to go see it but never made it there. After reading more about this flower in the book, you can bet I will go and see it the next time that it blooms. I like novels that expose me to different cultures or teach me interesting things and this book did both.

I am not entirely sure how to categorize Scent of Butterflies--I suppose I would say that it is women's fiction, part historical fiction, with a strong dose of psychological thriller thrown in. If you don't mind a story on the darker side of love, friendship and human emotion, you will likely find it fascinating.

Author Notes: Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine. At the onset of the Islamic revolution, she and her family moved to the United States. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. 

Dora is the bestselling author of the acclaimed novels Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov. She is a frequent contributor to numerous media outlets including the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal. She has been featured on KCRW, The Politics of Culture, Voice of Russia, Radio Iran and numerous other radio and television programs. She is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ choice award and was accepted as contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Dora Levy Mossanen’s novels have been translated into numerous languages world-wide.

Although frequently mentioned, food isn't a huge part of the book. Soraya is so focused on her revenge plotting, so far away from her family and friends, she lives on cereal and milk, cottage cheese and fruit, her stomach unable to take more elaborate foods. Much of the food mentioned is from Soraya's memories of Iran, like Noruz--the Iranian New Year--when her family's house was filled with dishes like flat breads, rosewater pastries, mint and coriander-spiced whitefish, and lamb stuffed with fruit and nuts and aromatic rice. The housekeeper and chauffeur Soraya hires in Los Angeles try and set the table with the traditional seven dishes for her Noruz, laying out sweet wheat pudding, hyacinth, garlic, dried Lotus fruit, vinegar, red apple, and sprouts but in a fit of pique, she yanks the tablecloth off and destroys it. Finally there are the dishes Soraya's mother made kebabs and lamb shank and herb stew, and mentions of exotic pastries and cookies, and many different kinds of tea. 

I decided to make a rosewater sorbet for my dish representing Scent of Butterflies because Butterfly is given a sorbet of rosewater with diced apples when she makes a fake suicide attempt, and then when the truth comes tumbling out at the end, Soraya wants to give her husband Aziz a glass of rosewater sorbet and longs to bring a spark of life back to his eyes. With Soyra's potentially-murderous revenge plans and coming across a bin of on-sale blood oranges in the grocery store, I decided that a dark crimson Blood Orange & Rosewater Sorbet would be very fitting.   

I have an under-used bottle of orange blossom water in my pantry next to the rosewater and I wanted to incorporate it into the mix to add a little complexity. The 'art' of fruit sorbets is finding the right mix of fruit and sugar--not too sweet and a bit bright and tangy, and the only way to get that is by tasting. How much sugar and lemon juice you use is dependent on the sweetness level of your fruit and your personal taste. You also want to be careful with your flower essences--using enough so that the flavor comes through but not so much that you feel like you are licking the inside of a perfume bottle. Start with smaller amounts, taste again after the liquid cools and sets, and add more if needed. The following amounts worked well for me as I don't like things too sweet.
Blood Orange & Rosewater Sorbet
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes About 1 Heaping Pint)

2 1/2 cups blood orange juice (I squeezed about 3 1/4 lbs blood oranges)
2/3 cup finely granulated sugar, or to taste
3 oz rosewater, or to taste
2 oz orange blossom water, or to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
1-2 Tbsp vodka, optional (for a less-icy sorbet)

Place the sugar, rosewater and orange blossom water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until liquid is reduced and a thin syrup has formed. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. 

Add the cooled syrup to the blood orange juice and squeeze in lemon juice to taste. If you want a smoother. less-icy texture to your sorbet, add 1 to 2 tablespoons vodka or a (complementary) flavored liqueur to the juice mixture. Chill mixture in refrigerator--at least a few hours or overnight.

Place in ice cream machine and process according to machine instructions. Let firm up for an hour or so in the freezer and serve. The vodka or other alcohol is optional--it does keep things less icy solid after freezing but if you don't use it and have leftover sorbet, let it thaw for 20-30 minutes before serving.   

(Note: If you don't have an ice cream machine, you can place the mixture in a freezer container and freeze for a few hours, stirring periodically to break up any ice crystals that may form.)

Notes/Results: Gorgeous vibrant color, refreshing, exotic flavor. I love this sorbet. I was afraid I might have added too much rosewater and orange blossom water but it turned out to be a good amount--the flavors were there in the background but still allowed the blood orange to come through. A cool and sumptuous treat and a great way to highlight the beauty of blood oranges. I will make this again.

Note: A review copy of "Scent of Butterflies" was provided to me 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 this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here. 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chickpea, Leek, and Bread Soup with Harissa Yogurt for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Do you have trigger words that jump out at you when you look at recipes online, in cookbooks or magazines? Certain ingredients that stand out in the recipe index, name, or description that make you take a closer look. On my short list--beyond the very obvious soup of course--there is chocolate (and any pairing of it with sea salt and/or caramel), tarragon, fried egg, avocado, and four ingredients that happen to be in this week's soup recipe--chickpeas, leek, cumin, and harissa. Which is why it is surprising that this recipe for Chickpea, Bread, and Leek Soup with Harissa and Yogurt from the April 2010 issue of Cooking Light, took me so long to make. I had it in a stack of recipes to try and just came back across it the other day and it immediately jumped to the top of the list.

Cooking Light says, "This hearty Middle Eastern-inspired soup is based on a favorite at Garden State Cart (a Portland, Oregon food cart). Look for harissa--a fiery North African condiment incorporating chile peppers, tomatoes, and paprika--in tubes and cans at ethnic grocery stores and specialty shops."

I made a couple of small changes to the recipe--namely increasing the chickpeas and garlic, reducing the sodium, and choosing to add the bread portion to a couple of the servings via the fun of sourdough bread bowls--because isn't a great soup made even greater by a bread bowl?! My changes are noted in red below.

Chickpea, Leek, and Bread Soup with Harissa Yogurt
Adapted from Ivy Manning, Cooking Light April 2010
(Serves 6

4 large leeks (about 2 1/2 lbs)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 tsp ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, minced (I used six cloves worth)
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained (I used 3 13.4-oz boxes of no-salt added beans)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 1/2 cups cubed day-old bread (about 6 oz)
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
6 tsp harissa

Remove roots, outer leaves, and tops from leeks, leaving white and light green parts of each leek. Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add cumin and garlic; cook for 1 minute. 

Add chicken broth and chickpeas; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in parsley. Place about 2/3 cup bread in each of 6 bowls; ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup over each serving. 

Combine 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt and 6 teaspoons harissa in a small bowl. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture. 

Nutritional Information: Per Serving: Calories: 334,  Fat: 7.6g, Saturated fat: 1.1g, Protein: 11.8g, Carbs: 57g, Fiber: 6.7g, Cholesterol: 2.5mg, Iron: 6mg,  Sodium: 805mg, Calcium: 226mg

Notes/Results: A relatively quick soup to make with not a lot of ingredients but plenty of flavor. The sweetness of the leeks with the nuttiness of the chickpeas first, then the heat from the spicy harissa yogurt kicks in--a fantastic combination. (And BTW harissa yogurt is a very good thing--I will be making it a lot I think for soups, salads, veggies and fish.) The chickpeas and the bread--whether in chunks, or with the soup served in a bread bowl, help make it very satisfying. A pretty wonderful soup all around except for the sodium content which is pretty high. I reduced it a bit by using homemade almost-no-salt veggie broth in place of the chicken stock and using no-salt chickpeas too. With the extra garlic and the cumin, there was still plenty of flavor. I will make it again.  

Janet of The Taste Space is here with me today in the Souper Sundays kitchen, sharing this golden-hued Coconut Cabbage and Lentil Soup with Cilantro. Janet says, "The coconut-infused broth is silky smooth with spicy hints of sriracha and ginger, balanced by the lime juice and cilantro and packed with good-for-you veggies like sweet potato and cabbage. Oh, and there are red lentils in there to make this a complete meal. The cabbage was fun because they were inadvertently like noodles with their long strands. Dig in!"

Thanks to Janet for joining 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 sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sweet Spiced Freekeh with Chickpeas, Tomato Sauce, Yogurt and Buttery Almonds {One Photo Friday}

It's Mystery Box Madness Challenge week at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we make a dish from Diana Henry or any former IHCC chef that must include at least three mystery ingredients out of a list of ten. I had cooked Diana Henry recipes for the past MBM challenges but when freekeh was added to the  list, I immediately went to my Ottolenghi books since I knew he had a few freekeh recipes I wanted to try. (Freekeh, if you aren't familiar, is a green wheat that is roasted and has a similar texture to bulgur wheat.

I quickly found a recipe in Jerusalem that in itself included three of the ten mystery box ingredients listed below: carrots, freekeh of course, and almonds. Ottolenghi mentions that it can be served with yogurt or tomato sauce--I thought 'why not both?'--which added two more of the mystery ingredients to the mix. The only challenge left? Well, the recipe I was planning to cook was Poached Chicken with Sweet Spiced Freekeh and I don't eat meat or poultry. No matter. I do eat chickpeas and thought they would make a fabulous substitute adding some protein and extra fiber to the freekeh. 

 February's Mystery Box Madness Ingredients:

*Freekeh or Bulgur Wheat
Sausage (any kind)
Basil (fresh, dry, any kind)

Since the recipe practices the technique of poaching meat or poultry in broth and then using that broth to cook grains, I just omitted the broth-making steps, transferred the cinnamon and carrots from the poaching broth to the freekeh, and used my own garlic veggie stock. Since I changed the ingredients and method quite a bit, I am writing out the recipe below with my changes. You can take a look at the original recipe on Ottolenghi's website here. I also made a Tomato Sauce recipe from Jerusalem (the one used in Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce) and listed that recipe below.

Sweet Spiced Freekeh
Adapted Heavily From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi 
(Serves 2 Very Generously)

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into slices
1 large onions
1 Tbsp olive oil

2 long cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

1 cups cracked freekeh 
about 1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley 

To  Serve: Greek Yogurt and Tomato Sauce: See recipe below. 

Slice onion and carrot very thinly and place in a medium saucepan with the olive oil. Fry over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onion turns golden brown and soft. Add spices and cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Add freekeh, chickpeas and veggie broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Stir gently, remove from heat and let sit covered for another 20 minutes.

Remove the leaves from the parsley bunch and chop coarsely. Add it to the cooked freekeh, mixing it in with a fork. Taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

When ready to serve, place butter, sliced almonds and a little salt into a small frying pan and fry until golden brown--being careful not to burn almonds. Spoon freekeh mixture into dishes or onto one platter. Top with a scoop each of Greek Yogurt and Tomato Sauce. Garnish the with buttered almonds and serve. 


Tomato Sauce
Adapted Slightly From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp superfine sugar
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add spices and onion and cook for 8-10 minutes, until onion is completely soft. Add white wine and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, chile, garlic, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until very thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. (Note: I wanted a smoother sauce so I used the immersion blender to blend up the tomatoes and onions.) 

OK, I am going to have to re-name One Photo Friday since I snuck in another shot once again. This dish was too pretty not to see another view. ;-) 
Maybe Two Photo Friday, or iPhone Photo-Friday???

Notes/Results: I ended up extremely pleased with this dish--such great flavors and so satisfying. Warning--buttery almonds are majorly addicting--beware! But they are so worth it. The combination of the freekeh with the beans and sweet carrots with the slightly spicy warm tomato sauce, cooling Greek yogurt and crunchy, buttery almonds is fabulous. As mentioned, the carrots and cinnamon were originally in the poaching broth for the chicken that the freekeh is cooked in--but I am glad I included them in cooking of the freekeh for their sweeter notes. The original recipe also included allspice in the freekeh. I am just not a big fan of the flavor so I subbed in ground cumin instead. If you eat chicken, try Ottolenghi's original recipe--I am sure it is fabulous. If you want a vegan dish, leave off the yogurt and toast the almonds in oil or non-dairy margarine and you are all set. But for me, I loved how my changes made this dish turn out and I would definitely make it again.   

You can see what mystery ingredients, recipes and chefs other participants chose for February's Mystery Box Madness Challenge by checking out the picture links on the post at the IHCC website.

{One Photo Friday: Since I normally drag out my big camera and gear, take a bunch of photos of my recipes, and then spend time obsessing over them--I decided that for Fridays, I'll simplify by posting a recipe or something interesting and then just take (usually) one photo of it with my iPhone--no muss/no fuss.} 

Happy Aloha Friday!