Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Hanna Who Fell from the Sky" by Christopher Meades, Served with a Recipe for (Non-Dairy) Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream (+ A Book Giveaway!)

I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, a new novel by Christopher Meades. I'm pairing my book review with a recipe for vegan Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream--perfect if it's humid and warm and not at all fall-like where you live too. There's also a giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

From highly acclaimed, award-winning author Christopher Meades comes a magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl’s struggle for liberation 

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets Daniel, an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. Then her mother tells her a secret—one that could grant Hanna the freedom she’s known only in her dreams. As her world unravels around her, Hanna must decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Park Row Books (September 26, 2017)

My Review:

Hanna Who Fell from the Sky drew me in with its subject matter--a young girl who has spent her life in a polygamous sect, who is about to turn eighteen and will be the fifth wife of her father's friend who is more than twice her age. I am fascinated by cults and Hanna's community of Clearhaven has all of the markings of one. The families are all polygamists, the community is remote, insulated and lead by Brother Paul, a prophet who "The Creator" speaks to/through. Young girls are married off to much older men, and young men are winnowed out and sent away in order to make the numbers work for the older men to have multiple wives. There are nineteen in Hanna's family and she's the eldest and the caretaker of her siblings--especially her younger sister who has a twisted spine. Hanna is a great character--smart, strong, beautiful, and loving so the "creep" factor is pretty high with all men in the community who would like to have her as one of their wives. When her Brother Paul blessed pairing is announced ten days before the wedding will take place, Hanna is resigned to her fate and role but then she meets Daniel, nineteen, and back in the Clearhaven community with his family, and she begins to question what she has been led to believe.

The book is unique as it's not just a coming-of-age story, but it has a strong core of magical realism woven in. I like magical realism, unless it gets to be too much "woo-woo" and I have mixed feelings about it here. In much of the book it seemed more of a background element--part of a story or secret about Hanna's past and with the author's  descriptive writing, I felt that it enhanced the storytelling and made the book different and special. Towards the end of the book, it leaned more into the woo-woo side and I felt it overtook the story briefly and thus took away a bit from it. Still, I was very much into Hanna's fate and that of the other characters, and the book kept me absorbed in finding out what would happen. Just know that if you aren't a fan of magical realism, you may struggle with it at times here. Christopher Meades's notes at the end of the book tell the tale of how he took a short story he created on a whim and then years later slowly re-wrote it after suffering a traumatic brain injury and three years of terrible concussion symptoms. He spent an hour a day (all he could bear) reworking the novella into this book and feels that Hanna's story helped him stay sane and get well again. His afterward touched me much like Hanna Who Fell from the Sky did and I look forward to reading more from him. 

(If you have a U.S. mailing address, stop enter for a chance to win a copy of this book at the end of the post.)


Author Notes: Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including The Last Hiccup, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Connect with Christopher via his website, Facebook & Twitter 


Food Inspiration:

Hanna's family is quite poor so there is not a lot of great food inspiration in Hanna Who Fell from the Sky, but there is food and drink mentioned including  moonshine, stew, barley and string beans, a birthday cake that was more like pumpkin bread or a date loaf with frosting, the smell of tea leaves and oranges, a salad made of spinach, strawberries, almonds, and cucumbers, wild berries, homemade wine from grapes, sandwiches, orange juice, bread rolls and fruit, a soup/stew of tomatoes and lentils, sweet bread and the town marketplace that's full of fruit, vegetables, spices and grains. There were meat shanks, taffy, oats, honey, homemade puddings and yogurt, roast, turkey, juice, tea and an assortment of cookies after church, porridge, ice pops, cabbage, bread, milk, a bakery window full of pastries and cakes and a restaurant dinner with chicken in sauce, assorted green vegetables, and potato triangles with herbs. 

Since most of the food was basic and usually lacking for a large family of nineteen, I decided to go with the ice cream that Hanna and her mother Kara have at the village marketplace since it is a treat they rarely get. In the scene, Kara chooses vanilla with toffee flakes and Hanna picks strawberry--both in a cup. I decided to make a strawberry ice cream, going with a vegan recipe I had pinned from The Kitchn that is made with coconut milk and has strawberry sauce streamed in as it is processing in the ice cream maker. I don't usually add corn starch to my vegan ice creams (or in my homemade ice creams in general) but since it is supposed to make it creamier, I wanted to give it a try. 

I kept the recipe pretty much as written--other than adding vanilla paste instead of a vanilla bean and at the recipe author's suggestion, saving out some of the fresh strawberry sauce to swirl in once the ice cream is finished, right before freezing to make it more vibrant.  

Vegan Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream
From The
(Serves 4)

2 (15-oz) cans full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup agave nectar or sweetener of choice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, split (I used vanilla paste)
1 pint (2 cups) strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 cup natural cane sugar 

Shake the cans of coconut milk thoroughly before opening to combine the liquid and solids.Reserve 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and set it aside. Combine the remaining coconut milk, agave, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat until all of the ingredients are combined smoothly and the mixture is uniformly warmed, about 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the reserved 1/2 cup coconut milk with the cornstarch until smooth and well-combined. Stir it into the warm coconut milk base. Scrape the vanilla bean into the mixture and slip in the pod as well--or add vanilla extract or paste. Cook mixture over medium heat until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes. Do not to allow the mixture to boil.

Remove mixture from the heat, discard the vanilla bean pod, and pour the coconut base into a separate bowl. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 to 5 hours as you need the base to be very cold before you process it in the ice cream machine.

While the base is cooling, make the strawberry sauce: Mash the quartered strawberries down in a medium saucepan and sprinkle in the sugar. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the berries start to lose their shape and become juicy. Remove berries from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and cool on the counter for 30 minutes. Once slightly cool, blend in a food processor or blender, or with an immersion blender, for just a few seconds until a thick sauce forms. Set aside or place in fridge to finish cooling.

Following the manufacturer's instructions, churn the coconut ice cream base in your ice cream machine. When it has thickened to a soft-serve ice cream consistency, slowly ladle all but about 1/4 cup of the strawberry sauce into the ice cream maker as it runs so the sauce gets incorporated into the ice cream base. Spread the ice cream into a large loaf pan, drizzle on the reserved strawberry sauce and swirl it into the ice cream.

Cover with plastic wrap and and freeze for a few hours (or overnight) until the ice cream has firmed up completely. Serve and enjoy!

Notes/Results:  Creamy and full of fresh strawberry flavor, this is a tasty strawberry ice cream. I will say that the coconut flavor does come through--which I like because I think it pairs well with the strawberries, but my coconut-hating brother would probably not like it at all. So be warned you likely can't sneak this one without someone figuring out it's coconut milk. Texture-wise it's a bit more dense than my normal dairy-free ice cream but there was not that much of a difference. I may try it without the cornstarch next time. I also need to work on my swirling technique and do it in between the layers of ice cream in the loaf pan instead of on top because when I scooped, my swirls ended up more inside the scoops than outside--so not as visually dynamic. I had about 2 1/2 cups of fresh strawberries so I kept some out of the ice cream and served it on top which I think looks pretty and it tasted great too. Very refreshing on a humid day, I would make this again.

I am sharing this book and food pairing with Novel Foods #31, an event celebrating food inspired by the written word and hosted by my friend Simona at Briciole. This deadline for this round of Novel Food ends Thursday, March 23rd.

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 "Hanna Who Fell From the Sky" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via 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.

***Book Giveaway***
The publisher is generously providing a copy of Hanna Who Fell From the Sky to give away (U.S. addresses only, sorry) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite flavor of ice cream or telling me why you'd like to win a copy of "Hanna Who Fell From the Sky."

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or Publisher Park Row Books/Harlequin Books (@HarlequinBooks)
and/or ChristopherMeades (@ChrisMeades). (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow these accounts.)

Deadline for entry is midnight (EST) on Friday, October 6th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Apple Jam on Bread with Cheese for Cook the Books August/September Pick: "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm the host of this round of Cook the Books, a virtual foodie blogging book club where we read a foodie book and head to the kitchen to make a dish inspired by our reading. After seeing an online discussion on just how much food was in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was determined to reread this childhood classic and I chose it for August/September to share with my CTB friends. (See my announcement post here.)

Farmer Boy was never my favorite of the Little House books--something I attribute to having more of an affection for Laura and the Ingalls family than the boyhood of Laura's husband-to-be, Almanzo Wilder. It turns out that there are hidden charms in Farmer Boy, published in 1933 and taking place over a year in Almanzo's life as a young boy, about to turn nine. What isn't hidden is the food, Almanzo is a growing farm boy and loves to eat-A LOT. I'd even go as far as to call him (or his character in his wife's mind) a bit of a foodie with his appreciation of foods and flavors. I enjoyed this reread both for the food and because I appreciated the story more, hearing about life on the farm in upstate New York for the Wilder family. There is plenty of work for Almanzo and his brother and sisters but there is fun mixed in as well and although definitely a children's book, it is a classic bit of Americana that makes a nice escape. I have a feeling I'll be revisiting the other Little House books at some point for the sweet nostalgia.

The book is full of food descriptions and countless dishes like a lunch-pail with bread and butter with sausage, apples and apple turnovers, and pantry shelves stacked with big yellow cheeses, loaves of fresh-baked bread to spread with butter and jam, maple sugar, cakes and pies (pumpkin, vinegar, mince, custard, raisin, berry and especially apple pie with cheese), all manner of preserved goods--jams and jellies (crab apple, plum, strawberry, grape...), pickled cucumbers, beets, green tomatoes and spicy watermelon pickle, apple core vinegar, and dried corn and apples. There are baked beans, lots of meat--turkey, chicken, ham, roast pig and goose, spareribs, roast beef, roast pork with applesauce, sausages and pork-pickle (yikes!). There were baked beans, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes, creamed carrots, crackling cornbread, mealy boiled potatoes with brown ham-gravy, mashed turnips, stewed yellow pumpkin, Almanzo's favorite apples 'n' onions, oatmeal and stacked pancakes, bird's nest pudding, doughnuts, ice cream, buttermilk and cookies, egg-nog, hot rye 'n' injun bread, baked-potato, fried parsnips, and cranberry jelly. Whew! I don't even know if I got it all!

For my book inspired dish I was first inspired by apples which were featured frequently and especially since I dislike pumpkin--so apple is my favorite fall flavor. I was craving the apple pie with cheese, but I don't bake and certainly didn't need a pie. I thought about making watermelon pickles or trying the vinegar from apple cores, but I didn't leave myself much time for pickling or fermenting. I do love jam and used up the last of my homemade chia jam and a jar of strawberry preserves--but those apples and that pie with cheese kept sticking in my head. 

Finally I put my some of my inspirations together and decided to make a recipe for Caramel-Apple Jam that I had pinned from Bon Appetit to try last year & didn't. I thought that taking the apple jam and putting it on thick slices of good fresh bread (in this case sourdough) then pairing it with a good sharp cheddar cheese (Tillamook--I'm an Oregon girl at heart) would give me the illusion of eating apple pie with cheese like Almanzo, but without having to bake. Sometimes I am a genius. ;-)

Caramel Apple Jam
Slightly Adapted from Alison Roman via

1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
3 lb apples (preferably of mixed variety), peeled, cored, cut into 3/4” chunks (I used HoneyCrisp, Fuji, and Gala apples)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (optional) (I used 1 heaping tsp vanilla paste)

(I added 2 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Bring sugar and 3 tablespoons water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Add apples and vanilla bean (if using) and stir to coat. Some of the caramel will seize, but that’s okay because it’s just going to melt down again.

If you are feeling saucy and want to add spices like cinnamon sticks, ground clove, or fresh grated ginger, this would be a good time. Reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally to help the apples cook evenly and dissolve any pieces of caramel.

Continue to cook until apples are translucent and softened (some apples will hold their shape, but should still be softened), and most of the liquid has evaporated, 20–25 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir to combine. I like to break up any stubborn pieces of apple with a wooden spoon, but you can keep yours super chunky if you’re into that sort of thing. Discard vanilla bean and store apple jam in a glass jar or container in the fridge for up to one month.

Notes/Results: So pretty much just scooped out of the jar, or pan if you don't get that far, ;-) this apple jam is really delicious. Put it on soft, fresh sourdough bread with a bit of good butter spread on it, and it is even better. Pair those apple jam-topped bread slices with good, sharp cheddar cheese and it is sublime. Sweet apples and cheesy goodness with that bite from the sourdough bread to round things out--so good. I left the jam pretty chunky because the pieces of soft apple make me happy. I did think about melting thin slices of cheese on top of the bread with jam, but I liked taking bites of the solid cheese alternating with the thick bread and jam and think it wouldn't have been the same if it was melted. 

I ended up eating my photo props for dinner (it's pretty much an open-faced sandwich) and I was plenty full--but I think you could have a piece (or two) for a snack or dessert, or even call it breakfast. I stirred some of the jam into yogurt this morning and it was fabulous. I imagine it will go great on a peanut butter (or this homemade pecan-miso butter) sandwich, on top of oatmeal, on pancakes of waffles, or anywhere else you want to put it. I have a feeling I will be making more of this jam soon. 

I am slipping in a few days before the deadline on Saturday, September 30th, so if you missed this round and love food, books, and foodie books, join us for October/November when we will be The Patriarch by Martin Walker, a France-set foodie mystery, hosted by Claudia of Honey From Rock. I'll be rounding up the entries for this round on the Cook the Books site, a few days after the deadline.

I am linking this post up as my seventh entry for Foodie Reads 2017. You can check out the September 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.

Finally, since it's on bread as an open-faced sandwich, I am also linking up to Souper Sundays, hosted right 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.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Potato & Collard Greens Soup with Maple-Cornmeal Dumplings for Food 'n Flix September: To Kill a Mockingbird and for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's Food 'n Flix time again and for September the pick is the classic film To Kill A Mockingbird, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (See her announcement post here.)

Although I read Harper Lee's amazing book in junior high and have watched the movie a couple of times before, it has been many years since I had seen it. I wanted to go back and reread the book this month too, but that just didn't happen so I had to content myself with watching the movie, grabbing the DVD from the library. I actually watched the film and decided what to make at the beginning of the month but it has taken me until the end of the month to make and post my movie inspired dish.

If you are not familiar with the story, it takes place in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s where Jean Louise Finch (she goes by Scout) lives with her brother Jem and widowed father Atticus--an attorney. Atticus is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman and as ensuing racism and bigotry in their small southern town are intensified by the trial, Scout and Jem are exposed to it. That's just the short version, but I assume most people at least know the story--even if they haven't read the book or seen the film. It's a wonderful classic film and it won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and a Best Actor Oscar for Gregory Peck.

Food-wise, there is not a ton of food shown, but there was certainly enough for inspiration, including a mention of a soft teacake with frosting, collard greens, hickory nuts, biscuits, cornbread, breakfasts with coffee & milk, a roast dinner with potatoes and gravy, peas, and molasses 'syrup' poured over everything by a schoolmate of Jem and Scout's, and a glorious ham Halloween costume.

For my movie-inspired dish, I wanted to turn the collard greens that popped up in mentions and on the table into a homey soup--along with some good partners for greens, potatoes and black-eyed peas. I though about making biscuits to go with it, but I am not much of a baker. I happened to see a few collard greens recipes that were topped with cornmeal dumplings--which I though would be fun to add to a soup and easier to make than the biscuits--or even the cornbread shown in the film. One recipe had maple syrup in the cornmeal dumplings and I thought that would be a fun nod to the sweetness of the 'syrup' (although it was actually molasses) that Scout's schoolmate poured over his entire dinner. The dumplings turned out not to be a win in terms of texture (see my notes below) but the soup was really delicious. ;-)

Potato & Collard Greens Soup with Maple-Cornmeal Dumplings
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 8 Servings)

2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chipped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp smoked chili pepper (I used Aleppo pepper)
2 cups black-eyed peas--frozen (defrosted) or canned (I used frozen)
8 cups good veggie stock (homemade or low-sodium)
4 to 5 small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
1 large bunch of collard greens, washed, large center stems removed & chopped into bite-sized pieces
Maple-Cornmeal Dumplings (recipe below)
sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Dumplings:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour* see note below
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup of broth from the soup  (I ended up using about 1/2 cup to moisten batter enough)
Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook until the veggies begin to soften and onions start to turn translucent--about 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, dried parsley, smoked paprika, celery salt, and smoked chili pepper and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. 

Add the black eyed peas and stir well, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and collard greens and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and season with sea salt and pepper. 

Meanwhile, make the dumplings by combining the cornmeal, flour, spices and maple syrup in a bowl. Stir in the 1/4 cup of the soup liquid into the dry ingredients until just combined--forming a thick batter. (I needed double the amount of the soup broth.)

Carefully drop the dumplings into the simmering soup. Cover the pot and simmer for 20-25 minutes until dumplings are cooked through. Do not stir soup as it will break up the dumplings. Instead, gently shake the pot occasionally as dumplings cook.

Once dumplings are cooked, gently ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve. Enjoy!

Dumpling Note: My dumplings look pretty good and although the flavor was good, they were not great texture-wise, ending up way too dense and hard. I used this recipe from Paula Deen as a base but I omitted the onion and added in spices and maple syrup. I think the biggest challenge was the flour I used as I didn't realize I was out of all-purpose flour (I don't use much flour) and rather than go to the store, I used the rice flour I had on hand. I probably should have altered the amount or done more reading on substitutions. Anyway, I looked at the reviews online after and it seems people were pretty mixed on the dumpling texture and whether they worked or not--so try at your own risk. I am fully willing to say it was operator error in my case. ;-)

Notes/Results: I already mentioned my dumpling issues above but the soup was really fantastic--full of delicious flavor and texture and it's a healthy vegan soup to boot. I used smoky paprika and Aleppo pepper to get a smoky profile--although you could certainly toss in some ham or smoked ham hocks, sausage, or smoked turkey if you eat meat. I bought the frozen black-eyed peas and liked the texture better than canned and I loved the fact that I didn't have to pre-soak them and cook them for age. I'd use them again because it seems like when I buy the bags of dried black-eyed peas from the grocery store, they are usually stale and take forever to cook. Hearty, satisfying, and good, I would happily make the soup again--just maybe not the dumplings. ;-)

The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is Saturday, September 30th and Debra will be rounding up the dishes on her blog soon after. If you can't make it this month and you like food, movies, and foodie movies, join us for Food 'n Flix in October when we will be watching (the 2016) Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, hosted by Coffee and Casseroles.  

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

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is here with Tostados with Cashew Crema and Avocado Coleslaw. She says, "I found a neglected avocado hidden in the corner of the fridge.  It had been there so long I was grateful to rescue any flesh but it wasn't enough enough for a guacamole.  I had seen a recipe for coleslaw with avocado mayo recently (while browsing magazines in the newsagents) so I turned it into a simple small coleslaw.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor celebrated her husband's birthday with a delicious meal of crab cakes, cheese grits, and a salad and says, "As always, the birthday person plans the dinner the menu.  We are both a fan of crab cakes so this was the indulgence. They are rich and you shouldn't have them too often. The cheese grits are a specialty of Doug's and he has them on the table in 5 minutes. Lots of cheddar, ooey gooey melty cheese grits. For an accompaniment I made a Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Waldorf Kale Salad with an Apple and Honey Citrus Dressing. She said, "This beautiful kale Waldorf super salad brings together apples and honey just in time for Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year! On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which begins Wednesday evening through Friday evening, it is traditional to dip apples in honey to welcome in a sweet new year. In addition, we keep our menus on the sweet side serving sweet kugels, sweet potato tzimmis, apple cakes, etc. This year I decided to serve a salad recipe for our celebration dinner that incorporates our holiday theme. I've added chopped apples, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries,  grated carrots, and celery to curly fall kale and dressed it with my slightly sweet apple and honey citrus dressing."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I also made sandwiches of Bagels with Two Shmears for a recent book review. I knew I would love the Smoked Trout Shmear as it has all my favorite ingredients but the Harissa-Mint Shmear was a happy surprise. Full of great flavor--with a hit of heat paired with the cooling labne and mint, I am also using it on veggie sandwiches.

I also tried Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fried Halloumi Salad for a virtual Potluck in honor of my friend Kim. It's a Greek-style salad that is made even better with the chewy "squeaky cheese" fried halloumi on top.  So good!

Mahalo to everyone who joined me at Souper Sundays 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 happy, healthy week!

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Fried Halloumi Salad for My Friend

Some weeks are tougher than others. This week has been one of those weeks. Lots of issues and work deadlines and some 'life stuff,' combined with everything that is going on in the world. My heart goes out to the people of Mexico, Puerto Rico and everywhere else so horrifically impacted by earthquake and hurricanes. Years ago I spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico for work and still have former coworkers and friends there and seeing the devastation is heart-wrenching. Then there is all the recent health care news and the stupid Twitter battle being waged with Korea that may result in an H-Bomb being 'tested' in the Pacific Ocean--not great news when you live on an island there. 

It's also hard when a good friend is grieving and it hits close to home. The wonderful Kim of Stirring the Pot, my friend of many years and co-host at I Heart Cooking Clubs lost her mom last week and that makes me sad for her. My mom passed away two years ago and so I know at least some of what she is feeling and I wish I could give her a big hug and offer some better form of comfort than were words. Since I can't do that in person, like many of her other blogging friends, we are dedicating this week's IHCC Potluck to Kim and sending her our love, along with some virtual food for comfort, in honor of her mom who was a big supporter of Kim's cooking and blogging.

You may not think a salad is the right food for solace, but this one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has fried cheese (halloumi) on top of a Greek-style salad and I know Kim is a fan of those flavors and ingredients. Her mom was quite the green thumb and herb gardener so I think she'd approve. Cheese, especially fried cheese, is always welcome and I hope the capers I tossed in are too. Most especially it was made with plenty of love.

Fried Halloumi Salad 
Slightly Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
(Serves 4)

For the dressing:
1 tsp honey

juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of sea salt
3 Tbsp canola or olive oil

For the salad:
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup kalamata or other black olives, pitted
large handful of mint leaves, coarsely shredded
large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves

(I added 1 heaping Tbsp of capers)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
large pinch of smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
2 Tbsp canola or olive oil

First, make the dressing. Stir together the honey, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt until well combined, then whisk in the oil. 

In a large bowl, toss together the onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, mint, and parsley. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, paprika, and some salt and pepper. Moisten the halloumi slices slightly with water, if necessary, then press them into the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the halloumi slices over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden and slightly soft inside.

Toss the salad vegetables with the dressing, turning them over with your hands to make sure everything is lightly coated. 

Divide the salad among 4 plates, put 2 pieces of the hot halloumi on each one, and serve immediately.

Notes/Results: This is a simple salad but full of fresh flavor from the fresh herbs and the from dressing--which is slightly sweet with a little kick from the crushed red pepper flakes. The halloumi is the perfect touch with it's chewy, melty goodness and I especially liked the hint of smoked paprika in the coating. I would happily make it again.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Club and this one is in honor of Kim. Sending her much healing love as she goes through this difficult time.  

And I am linking this salad up to Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen--where every Sunday, we feature soups, salads, and sandwiches from across the blogosphere. You can find the details for joining in here-on this week's post.