Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Exotic and Unique White Dal Curry for Cook the Books April/May Pick: "Life From Scratch" by Sasha Martin

How is it June tomorrow?! Time management was not my friend this busy month, especially combined with a trip to Portland and extra work projects and things to get done before leaving and to catch up when I returned. So that's my poor excuse for my entry for Cook the Books April/May pick: Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin ducking in so late on the final deadline day. Luckily my friend and CTB co-host Debra of Eliot's Eats who picked this selection is a forgiving sort and my chosen dish, a White Dal Curry from the author' website was both quick-to-make (once securing a few key ingredients) and really delicious.

Life From Scratch was an interesting book for me. I found myself avoiding reading it for the first half-ish of the book because Sasha Martin's depiction of her childhood and the many adults who let her down during it--starting with her mother who essentially abandons her children to the foster care of friends, and combined with the suicide of her beloved brother--was a downer. Martin's writing won me over in the end, and the later part of the book as she finds her place in the adult world and begins cooking her way through the recipes of the world was more enjoyable--even as she worked through her fear of abandonment and other issues of her childhood. Forgiveness is in the title and I was impressed by Martin's capacity for it--although in my opinion, she takes on too much of the blame for some of the circumstances--especially with the relationship with the family-friends (Pierre and Patricia Dumont) who fostered her for her preteen and teen years. I'm not a parent, nor have I ever fostered a child so I am not truly qualified to judge, but I found myself almost angrier at them more than her mother at times, (particularly Patricia) for some of the actions they took and their inability to put Martin's needs in priority and to seek to understand her in a mature way as the adults who took on her care. Martin was able to forge and maintain an adult relationship with her mother but not the Dumonts, and I give her much credit for even trying with both.

As a food blogger myself, I really enjoyed reading about Martin's project to cook and blog recipes from each country of the world, once a week for 195 weeks and was surprised I was not familiar with her project or blog (Global Table Adventure) as cooking global flavors is something I love to do and is of great interest to me. Hearing about her successes and reading her descriptive food writing made this part of the book fly by and caused me to check out her blog for more of it. The entire memoir has about 30 recipes worked in throughout the chapters; many are family recipes and others are favorites from the project. 

When it came to making a dish, I had initially thought I would make the unusual to me, Genovese spaghetti with potatoes that her grandmother made growing up. Who doesn't have carb-on-carb *needs*? I was also called to the Samoan Chocolate & Orange Coconut Rice Pudding and the Zimbabwe Peanut Butter & Butternut Mash. In the end, I ended up visiting her blog to see if there was a recipe for the pasta/potato combination but ended up being drawn to a recipe for a White Dal Curry from Sri Lanka. I adore dal and make it often, but this one sounded really unique in its flavor combination and in just a few ingredients. In the book, Sasha has a motto of "cook global, shop local" which something I try to do as well, finding ingredients at local stores whenever possible versus ordering them from online. 

The curry used a few ingredients that I had seen before at my local Indian and Asian markets--curry leaves, pandan, and fenugreek seeds. I have cooked with curry leaves and fenugreek before but not pandan--but of course when you do something at the last minute, Murphy's Law ensures that you won't find everything you are looking for. I made a field trip to town and neither the Asian or Indian markets had pandan leaves, nor did the other Asian markets or grocery stores on the way back home that I tried. My mind was set on this curry and although I could have trekked farther into Downtown and its Chinatown area and probably eventually found my fresh or frozen pandan leaves, I decided to make due with one of two options. The woman at the Asian grocery sold me a tiny bottle of pandan extract with the unique, complex and sweet scent of pandan for $1.65 and the owner of the Indian market led me to bottles of Kewda water, an extract distilled from the flower of the pandanus plant for $4.99. The extract (a dark green) is used most often in sweets and desserts, while the kewda water is used to flavor both sweet dishes in North India and Pakistan and also meat dishes in Bangladesh and Pakistan and rice dishes in India. I felt like the Kweda water ended up being the best option for the curry. 

I couldn't find a good guide to how much of the kewda water to use in place of the 3 to 4 pandan leaves the recipe called for so I went with my gut after tasting it and used a scant tablespoon to start, and ended up adding a little extra for a full tablespoon by the end. I don't know if what I got was close to the flavor of Martin's dal but I found it delicious--the pandan was present, along with the curry leaves but without overpowering the other ingredients. I served it with the rice I had handy, a black rice grown in Thailand.

I've included the ingredients for Sasha's recipe below with my changes in red and the steps I used to make it.

White Dal Curry
Slightly Adapted from Sasha Martin via Global Table Adventure 
(Serves 4)

About 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric (I overshot this accidentally and used about 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp whole fenugreek
2 cups masoor dal (red lentils)
4 cups water (I used 1/2 water, 1/2 mild veggie broth)
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 pandan leaves (I used 1 Tbsp Kewda water)
5-8 curry leaves

1/4 cup to 15-oz coconut milk
sea salt and pepper to taste

Rinse dal well, picking through carefully to remove any foreign bits. Drain and set aside.

Add the oil to a medium-large pan and heat over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic and until onions are soft and just starting to brown. Add the turmeric and fenugreek seeds and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes (or as Martin says, "until the house smells of happiness").  Add the pandan leaves if available and the curry leaves and allow them to toast in the oil for a few minutes.

Add the dal, cinnamon stick and water/broth (at this point I added the Kewda water) and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir well so that the leaves and cinnamon stick are mixed in and under the dal to infuse. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and allow to simmer gently away until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if needed. (Note: Martin states that the longer you cook it the more flavors infuse and to cook it at least 45 minutes. She cooks her dal about 75 minutes.I find that makes the lentils too broken down for me, so I cooked mine about 50 minutes total.)

Before serving, add coconut milk as desired. I added about 1/2 a can. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired. Serve with rice or flat bread for dipping. Enjoy.

Notes/Results: My White Curry Dal may have been more yellow than white (for some reason I doubled the turmeric to 1 tsp) and not had the actual pandan leaves (this time) but it was quite delicious and different than the usual dals that I make. Pandan flavor is hard to describe--to me it is an aromatic blend of sweet floral, citrus and a little bit of nutty and piney herbal notes. I really loved the taste of this dal with the cinnamon and the pungent curry leaves. The dal thickens as it sits and I ended up adding the rest of the coconut milk before putting away the leftovers. You can add additional coconut milk or broth if you want a looser, more brothy dal. I plan to make this again when I can secure some pandan leaves and try the difference, but I'll also make it just like this again. I'm happy the book gave me a new favorite dal to enjoy. Thanks Debra!

The deadline for this Cook the Books round is right now, TODAY ;-) and Debra will be rounding up the delicious entries at the CTB site shortly after. If you missed out on this round and like books, food, and foodie books, consider joining us for June/July when Simona of briciole  will be hosting with Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing. Hope you join us!

I am linking this post up with Foodie Reads 2017as my fifth entry. You can check out the May Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

Since it's a soupish dish--especially when you add more coconut milk, I am linking up to Souper Sundays, hosted here at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday we feature delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches from friends around the blogosphere--please join in if you have any to share. Here's this week's post and linkup.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of the "Signs and Seasons" Cookbook by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber, with Chef John Okas, Served with a Recipe for Seared Scallops and Israeli Couscous

Happy Tuesday! On today's TLC Book Tour stop, I'm reviewing the unique new cookbook Signs and Seasons by Amy Zerner, Monte Farber, and Chef John Okas. Along with my review, I am cooking up one of the recipes from the book, Scallops and Israeli Couscous.

Publisher's Blurb:

Discover how to eat for your sign and nourish your soul in Signs and Seasons, the one-of-a-kind cookbook that pairs chef-driven seasonal recipes with deep insight into how astrology shapes our appetites, from iconic astrologer Monte Farber and artist Amy Zerner.

Food connects us to our families, history, culture, and to the natural world itself—to the seasons and the cycle of life. Just as our path around the sun—and through the Zodiac—dictates the seasons, the seasons dictate what will flourish, from the tender greens of early spring to late summer’s lush and impossible perfect tomatoes.

In Signs and Seasons, Farber and Zerner—along with chef John Okas—take home cooks through the four seasons and each of their astrological signs in over 95 tantalizing seasonal recipes that include starters; meat, seafood, and vegetarian mains; sides; and desserts for each sign.

Inspired by the cuisine of the Mediterranean, home of the Greco-Roman cultures that named the planets after their gods, Signs and Seasons teaches you how to:
·         Feed friends and loved ones based on their signs and the season
·         Deepen your understanding of Nature and the Universe
·         Discover how astrology shapes our personalities, tastes, and appetites

Whether exploring the “Twin nature” and “Mercurial spirit” of ramps (a spring delicacy well suited Geminis) in a recipe for Ramps al Olio or the historical association of saffron with Venus in the recipe for Roasted Corn Orecchiette, Signs and Seasons is the perfect guide for eating in a way that emphasizes both sensual nourishment and psychic satisfaction. Beautifully photographed in full color by Monte Farber and illustrated by Amy Zerner, Signs and Seasons is a one-of-a-kind source of inspiration for astrology enthusiasts and home chefs alike.

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: HarperElixir (May 2, 2017)

My Review:

I am not an expert in astrology--I read my horoscope and I do believe that I possess some definite characteristics of my Libra astrological sign. I also believe that there are various reasons that our bodies crave certain foods or do better when we eat or don't eat foods that effect our chemistry in certain ways. Too much wheat, dairy, and red wine are not friends to my allergies and asthma and I feel better eating certain beans, nuts, and produce than others. I am not sold on whether or not that is because of my body type, blood type, astrological sign, or just individual chemistry, but I am always interested in reading about what foods I "should" eat and why. I found the Signs and Seasons cookbook both entertaining and interesting to read, although it's not something I would have a tendency to follow too much--other than for entertainment purposes. It's a combination of astrology primer and cookbook focused on how to "feed your sign the food it craves" as well as feeding the signs of your friends and family.

I liked reading the explanations for why our signs may crave certain foods and how astrology is, at its core, an expression of life as an annual cyclical process. It makes sense to me that my sign, Libra--the only non human or animal sign is associated with fall and the harvest, its scales bring to mind the fall, when harvest crops were weighed and measured. The book is set up seasonally--with Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter recipes for the associated signs in that season and an introduction to each seasonal grouping of signs with color photos of many of the recipes to follow. Recipes are categorized by Starters, Salads, Pasta, Vegetarian, Seafood, Meat, Sides, and Desserts with a recipe for each of the three signs in that season in each category. Each recipe has an explanation/introduction about it and beautiful astrological drawings accompany the recipes. I thought the artwork surpassed the food photography in the book. There seemed something slightly dated about some of the photos and I would have also liked having them mixed into and accompanying the recipes rather than preceding them. 

I found the book a bit awkward to sort through when I was looking for a Libra recipe to make and although the book proposes that there is a rhythm in nature and that when the sun is in a certain sign, it also says that seasonally, all individuals regardless of their sign share in the characteristics and energy matrix of that season of the cycle--so not to get too hung up on picking a dish for every sign you are feeding. For example, I'm reviewing this book in early summer but my sign kicks off fall, so the bulk of the Libra recipes to chose from feel like fall recipes with foods that are not as readily available this time of year. I would have liked more variety in seasonal recipe options and ideas for my sign as I really wanted to try one of "my" Libra recipes when reviewing the book. My sign wants to be fed food it craves all year round! ;-) I eventually picked the least fall-seeming recipe for Libra and made a couple of small changes to make it feel more appropriate for summer weather and eating styles. I think this is ultimately OK because while the book does guide the reader to balance the menu and look for foods that each sign would like when hosting them, it leaves a lot open to interpretation and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. I do think a bigger selection of foods--maybe more shared or 'secondary' foods that more than one sign enjoys--would have been helpful. In any case, definitely read the introduction section and the section on How Each Sign Eats, Cooks and Entertains first, to guide you through the thought process and to learn interesting facts and background about the different signs.

The section of "How Each Sign Eats, Cooks and Entertains" was most interesting to me and I agreed with much, but not all of the information for my sign. Libra foods were listed as apples, walnuts, scallops, fennel, capers, pomegranate, broccoli, and oats. For me they got the apples, fennel, and capers totally right--these are foods I love and crave. I find walnuts, pomegranate, and oats less crave-worthy and I like broccoli, but it doesn't like me--unless it is pureed in a soup, it gives me terrible stomach cramps. Scallops are OK--I prefer fish, crab and shrimp to them and generally don't order or cook them much. The Herbs for Libra are vanilla and cinnamon--both big favorites of mine and I won't argue with the Personal Qualities: "artistic, refined, poised, intelligent, tactful." Hah! ;-) 

The book goes on to mention Libra's difficulties in deciding what to eat--totally true for me--I want all the food, and that eating is an art and Libras want what they eat to be "absolutely garden fresh and also look photo ready." Guilty--especially since I started food blogging. They also got right "simple meals with an elegant, gourmet flare" and not liking food too spicy or too bland--I like some spice but I want to taste my food more than feel the burn. I didn't agree as much with needing a partner to help make entertaining decisions or that my "indecision, vacillation, and a lack of sensible, consistent reference points will cause delays" when entertaining--I get my Libra indecision out in the beginning and it isn't something I let my guests see or something that delays me in feeding people on time. Still, overall it was a fairly accurate portrait of my personality and entertaining to read. 

All in all, I think Signs and Seasons is a unique and fun cookbook for astrology buffs, those who like to read more than recipes in their cookbooks, those who enjoying hosting and entertaining, and home cooks looking for something different for their cookbook collections. Although I was only able to cook one dish (made up of two recipes) from the book so far, it was quite good in flavor and simple to follow. The recipes were created by a chef and seem clearly written and accessible to someone with some basic cooking skills under their belts. The recipes don't have a lot of steps or difficult-to-find ingredients and I would say that while they lean to the healthier side of eating, there are also more decadent dishes mixed in. Vegetarians and fish eaters can get by with this book as there are a good amount of meat-free options in the over 95 recipes and there are meat and poultry options to please carnivores. 

Unless you have a heavy interest in astrology and/or entertaining and feeding people through their signs is something that really calls to you, Signs and Seasons may be better as a cookbook that you check out of the library to read and consider or use for an event or two. For me it's not a book that I will be pulling out a lot, but I do plan to share it with a (Virgo) foodie friend to jointly put together a dinner party for a small group. I think it will be fun to try and a good way to shake up the normal party routine this summer.

Author Notes:

Since 1988, AMY ZERNER, a U.S. National Endowment for the Arts award-winning fine artist, and her husband, author MONTE FARBER, have created what they call their family of “spiritual power tools,” including The Enchanted Tarot, Instant Tarot, Sun Sign Secrets, Karma Cards, Little Reminders: The Law of Attraction Deck, Chakra Meditation Kit, The Truth Fairy Pendulum Kit, The Soulmate Path and Quantum Affirmations. There are over two million copies of their works in print in sixteen languages. The couple lives in East Hampton, NY. They believe that adding love, light, and laughter to everything one cooks is essential to creating great meals and a great life.  More at
CHEF JOHN OKAS began his career in childhood, cooking alongside his Sicilian grandmother in their family kitchen. He has cooked at Paradox in Manhattan, Georgette’s in Easthampton, and the Captiva Inn in Florida. Under the pen name John Penza, he is the author of Sicilian-American Pasta and Sicilian Vegetarian Cooking. He currently lives in Bridgehampton, New York, where he is a personal chef and is also associated with the Highway Restaurant.

The Recipe:

After checking out my Libra choices: Butternut Soup with Roasted Pepitas, Waldorf Salad, Broccoli Rabe, Sausage, and White Beans with Penne, Butternut Squash Lasagna, Apple-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Apple Crumble, I selected the Seafood option and tried Scallops and Israeli Couscous. It still had a slight fall feel, but I decided to add some fresh lemon juice and fresh mint to put in some green color and brightness to make it feel a bit more like early summer. I also added capers--it said my sign preferred them but put kalamata olives in the recipe. I like olives, but I LOVE capers so I used my Libra balancing skills and used them both! My changes to the recipe are in red below.

Signs and Seasons says, "For this simple preparation, the scallops must be absolutely fresh. You may use sea scallops, but if you live near a bay, the dainty autumn wonders that are bay scallops --which are a quarter of the size of their deep-sea cousins--become available during the fall months. For its symmetry, the scallop shell is associated with Venus, ruler of Libra. Its link to Beauty can be seen in Renaissance art, where the goddess is depicted cutting through the waves on a scallop shell."  

Scallops and Israeli Couscous
Slightly Adapted from Signs and Seasons
(Serves 4 to 6)

For the Couscous:
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup Israeli couscous
12 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup slivered dried apricots
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
(I added 2 Tbsp capers)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
(I added 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint)

For the Scallops:
2 lbs scallops
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp (salt-free) lemon pepper
3/4 tsp seasoned salt (onion, garlic, or celery)(I used celery salt)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Make the couscous. Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepot set over high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients for the couscous and stir. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cover. After 4 or 5 minutes, stir. If all the liquid is absorbed, add a few tablespoons of water. Continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente or just short of al dente. Remove it from the heat, and let it sit, covered, while you prepare the scallops. It will cook further in its own sweet and savory steam.

Make the scallops. Add the scallops to a mixing bowl. Add 1 scant tablespoon of the olive oil, the lemon pepper, seasoned salt, and the cayenne, and toss gently to coat. 

Heat 1 to 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet until it is smoking hot. Carefully add a few of the scallops at a time, searing them in small batches. To keep the oil hot, do not overcrowd the pan.

Let the scallops sit without touching them for about 2 minutes. DO not stir the scallops, or they will give up liquid and poach instead of sear. After about 2 minutes, gently turn up the edge of one of the scallops. It should have a deep brown layer of caramelization. Gently flip the scallops, and sear for another 2 minutes or so until they are well-seared on both sides. Transfer to an oven sheet, allowing each scallop room to breathe. Repeat with the remaining oil and scallops until you have seared all the scallops. 

Fluff the couscous with a fork, and put a generous scoop in the center of each serving plate Surround with a circle of scallops.

Notes/Results: This recipe really turned out really well--it is delicious and goes together easily and quickly, but it also looks pretty impressive on the plate, making it good for weeknight entertaining. (Especially if your quests are Libras like me!) ;-) I think it would have been good as written, but I liked the changes I made to the couscous with the addition of the capers, lemon juice and fresh mint and I felt they made it fit better for serving in the spring/summer or for year-round eating. I love celery salt and I really liked the flavor it added to the scallops when combined with the lemon pepper and cayenne. The scallops (I bought mine frozen at Whole Foods since fresh are hard to get here) were nicely caramelized on the outside but tender within, and enjoying them with the couscous salad may have moved them up a few notches on my seafood favorites list. I would happily make this recipe again or pair the couscous with local fish or shrimp for another option.

I am linking up this cookbook review with Foodie Reads 2017 as my fourth entry. You can check out the May Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

I'm also linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Signs & Seasons" was provided to me by the publisher Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours. 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 TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Gingery Green Curry Miso Broth with Zucchini Noodles, Kitchen Tools Review & Giveway {#worksmarter #sharpenyourkitcheniq}

When my blogging friend, the amazing Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla was gathering a few bloggers together to test kitchen tools from KitchenIQ and create a recipe using them, I quickly signed up--especially hearing that one, an all-in-one ginger tool, might help me with my ginger problem. Yes, I have a ginger problem. I love the flavor of ginger and using it in my recipes but I REALLY hate messing with it--peeling it, grating it, and trying to do it quickly and efficiently without losing all of the wonderful ginger juice that fresh ginger puts out. I will confess that I often resort to those frozen ginger cubes or ginger in a tube--just to save myself the hassle. I was also looking forward to testing the spice grater and the zester as I love cooking with spices and between citrus, cheese, and chocolate, I find myself zesting often.

  The three KitchenIQ products we would be testing were:

Note: KitchenIQ has supplied these three products to me for free (and a set to giveaway to one U.S. reader below) in return for a fair and honest product test and review so I'll give you my thoughts on each of them--how easy they were to use, how well they worked, and (important to me) how easier they were to clean, care for and put away.

    The V-etched Better Zester:

    I have a microplane zester that I was given by and friend and that I use pretty much constantly so I wasn't sure that I needed a new one but the V-etched Better Zester lives up to the name, it is actually better than my microplane for a few reasons. It has a comfortable handle that is easy to grip--which I like as my old zester is one long strip of teeth/blades. This zester also has 300 tiny teeth that really catch the peel well, without the pith (as long as you don't press too hard). My main love and something I didn't realize I loved so much is the storage container on the back of the zester that not ony collect and measures whatever you are zesting, it has a tiny "squeegee" that removes the moist zest from the citrus from the back of the blade, making clean up a snap and giving you dry, sprinkle worthy citrus zest. Love it! I also tested it with Parmigiano-Reggiano and bittersweet chocolate and it was equally handy for grating, measuring, and cleaning up afterward. Sorry old zester, you have been replaced! 

    The Grate Ginger Tool:

    As I mentioned, this was the tool I was most interested in trying and I was not disappointed. Everything you need to work with ginger is together in one hand-size tool. This one took its first test with the back-of-the-package instructions handy to review as I went through the different steps to peel, juice, grate and slice a piece of fresh ginger. Probably everyone knows the best way to peel ginger is with a spoon but the hard green plastic spoon that is attached is equally as effective in in removing the skin as a regular spoon. Juicing and grating sort of happen together and this was my favorite part about the tool--you simply grate your peeled ginger, remove the grater tray and use the grater cover to press the juice from the pulp--with no waste. You can then use the juice--or reserve it for other recipes and use the finely grated ginger. There is also the magic "squeegee" that runs along the underside of the blade as you pull it out and cleans the ginger from the grater making it easy to clean. I tried the slicer and it works pretty well with the blade slicing fairly easily through the tough ginger root. I usually slice my ginger thicker than this blade does, but I don't see that as a problem for most recipes and it in fact might be better for some. Out of the three tools, this one has the most pieces and I realize I am going to have to be careful not to lose the clear blade cover and forget to put the spoon back in ;-) but it does clean and go back together pretty easily. I did not try it with the other aromatics it was recommend to be used for like garlic and daikon, but I am sure I will soon. Another win--I would buy this one for myself or as a gift.

    The V-etched Spice Grater:

    I have an electric spice grinder that I seldom use because I hate dragging it out of the cupboard, cleaning any leftover spices that I didn't clean well the last time and plugging it in, then repeating the whole process. So I either tend to use my spices whole--as in my chai tea blend or I resort to quickly grabbing my jarred powdered spices. This grater is easy and fast to grab, has tiny sharp teeth for hard spices, and makes quick work of cinnamon, nutmeg, and one of my favorite spices, star anise. There is a tray to catch the grated spices so you can easily measure them for your dishes. I saw on the package that you can grate nuts (walnuts and pecans are shown) and I am looking forward to trying that. The blade and tray are easily rinsed and wiped clean and it is a lot more convenient than dragging my grinder down on a regular basis for hard spices. Sometimes a bit of the spice I was grating flew loose, or I found that I lose a little more of the spice at the very end than I do with an electronic grinder, but the consistent fine powder I got and the ease of using it outweigh that in my opinion. A great tool for any spice-loving cook.


    I have a very small and too-full-of-stuff kitchen so as much as I love them, I try to limit my kitchen tools to those that I use regularly, have more than one purpose, and really work. All three of these KitchenIQ tools pass the taste and I will be using them all often--plus they are just fun to use and to look at with their bright colors and shapes. An honest thumbs up to all three of these tools from me.

    Be sure to check out the giveaway below for a chance to win your own set.

    Besides testing the tools, we were asked to come up with a recipe that allowed us to showcase the tools in action. I had several things in mind but in the end, it was a craving for a brothy and flavorful bowl of zucchini noodles that came to mind. I wanted something quick and easy but with a good mix of flavors and my own touch, so I enhanced prepared green curry paste and white miso with grated ginger and ginger juice from The Great Ginger Tool, added a kiss of star anise to add complexity with the V-etched Spice Grater, and finished it with lime juice and perfect zest from the V-etched Better Zester

    This is a light lunch dish that goes together quickly and is about the flavor of the broth so I kept to spiralized zucchini noodles but you could of course use any quick cooking noodle and add other veggies and/or tofu or another protein to bulk it up however you like. 

    Gingery Green Curry Miso Broth with Zucchini Noodles
    By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
    (Serves 2)

    1 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
    2 green onions, chopped
    1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
    2 Tbsp Thai Green Curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
    1 Tbsp ginger juice (optional)
    4 cups good veggie broth
    1 cup water
    1/2 tsp star anise
    2 medium zucchini, spiralized into a fettuccine noodle size, or rice noodles, or noodles of choice
    2 Tbsp white miso paste
    2 tbsp fresh lime juice
    1/2 Tbsp lime zest
    salt and pepper to taste
    fresh lime zest and sesame seeds to garnish

    Heat oil in a medium sauce pan and add green onions, grated ginger, and green curry paste. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add ginger juice if using (I recommend), veggie broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup about 10 minutes to meld flavors.

    Add zucchini noodles and let cook for 3-4 minutes until just tender. Place the miso paste into a small bowl and ladle in a cup of the hot broth. Whisk thoroughly with a fork until miso paste is dissolved into the broth, then add broth back into the soup. Add lime juice and 1/2 Tbsp of the zest. Taste for seasoning and add additional lime juice and salt and pepper as desired.  

    Divide into two large bowls. Garnish with additional lime zest and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

    Notes/Results: This is a simple dish that really packs in the Asian-inspired flavors and totally hit the spot for my ginger, green curry, and miso cravings--why should I have to choose just one? The lime juice and zest keep it bright and the star anise is there--subtle in the background--but making you wonder why this broth is so darn good. I won't lie, I ate both servings myself because I didn't want to stop eating it. ;-) I will happily make this again using my fun new tools. 

    I'm linking up this tasty soup to Souper Sundays, hosted here at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday we feature delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches from friends around the blogosphere--please join in if you have any to share. Here's this week's post and linkup  

    ***KitchenIQ Tools Giveaway!***
    Note: KitchenIQ is generously providing a Three-Tool Prize Package to one lucky U.S. resident (in the 48 contiguous states--sorry!) Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and notified here as well as email and have 48 hours to respond or the next winner will be chosen. We cannot be held responsible for items lost in the mail.

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    Sunday, May 28, 2017

    Creamy Carrot Soup with Dill and Mustard for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

    So Memorial Day Weekend, especially when it is warm, hazy and pretty humid, may not seem like the time for carrot soup, but I always say that like Hawaii, soup has no real season and since this one is full of local carrots and dill, I think it works. (Especially when enjoyed in air-conditioning!) ;-)

    Carrot soups can be boring, but the dill and a shot of Dijon mustard work well in this simple soup from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and give it great flavor. It's from Hugh's River Cottage site and uses a dollop of crème fraîche on top. I used a bit of non-dairy yogurt for a vegan soup but found a handful of 'Sweet & Beets' veggie chips also make a great topping for a creamy, pureed soup.

    River Cottage says, "Carrot and coriander soup is a ubiquitous dish with good reason, as it s very tasty. You certainly could use coriander here. However, the clean freshness of dill is lovely with the sweetness of carrots."

    Carrot Soup with Dill and Mustard
    (Serves 4)

    2 Tbsp olive oil
    1 onion, peeled and sliced
    1 celery stick, sliced
    500g (about 1 lb) carrots, peeled and sliced
    800ml (about 4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture
    15-20g bunch of dill (about 1/2 to 3/4-ish cup)
    1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
    2 heaped tbsp crème fraîche, optional 
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and carrots. Once they start to sizzle, reduce the heat, cover the pan and sweat the veg, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

    Meanwhile, cut the top quarter off the bunch of dill and set aside for serving. Discard the stalks from the remaining dill, then roughly chop the frondy leaves. Add the chopped dill to the soup and simmer for another 2 minutes only. Add the mustard, then purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pan and season well with salt and pepper.

    Reheat if necessary. Serve the soup in warmed bowls, topped with the crème fraîche (or yogurt--non-dairy or otherwise). Finish with the remaining dill and a good grinding of pepper. (And/or a handful of veggie chips!)

    Notes/Results: I am not sure why I was craving carrot soup this weekend. Maybe it was the bright orange of a clump of locally-grown carrots, but this one really hit the spot. The dill and mustard give it an extra dimension of flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the carrots and keeps it from being a one-note soup. Since there are not a lot of ingredients, I recommend a good veggie or non-chicken stock base instead of water. I would happily make this again.

    I'm linking this soup up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Escape to River Cottage--recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage books or website. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

    We have a few delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

    Debra of Eliot's Eats shared a salad bowl made from her Two Sheet Pan-Roasted Trifecta Vegetables and said, "Trying to get enough veggies into your diet?  Here’s a simple and easy and quick way that will keep you in healthy colorful vegetables all week.The colors of this recipe prompted the title “trifecta.”  Not only is it a beautiful dish, it’s also a win-win! ... You can toss these veggies with brown rice or quinoa and add a bit of tahini dressing for a delicious meal."

    Claudia of Honey From Rock made Hugh's Warm Leek and White Bean Salad and said, "This recipe for warm leek and white bean salad with mustard dressing was delicious and a perfect first course along with some fresh baked bread. ... It looked like iceberg lettuce in the book photo, though he didn't specify, so I went looking for some organic iceberg, which is not all that easy, due to it's being out of favor at the moment.  I also added a bit of color in the form of small sweet red pepper and cherry tomato. The mustard dressing was great. A perfectly delicious combination of flavors."

    Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog offered up her 7 Best Memorial Day Salads for BBQs and said, "Memorial Day and BBQ's seem to go hand in hand. I've rounded up eight of my best salad suggestions for the occasion that will work for your vegetarian, vegan , and gluten free friends. Whether you are the host or the guest, you may be making a salad to serve or to bring. I love all of these whole food salads. They are easy to make, beautiful to serve, tasty and nutritious."

    Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

    Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

    (If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

    If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

    To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

    • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

    On your entry post (on your blog):
    • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
    • you are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

    Have a great Memorial Day weekend and a happy, healthy week!