Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Little Bit Random--But Restorative, Simple Miso Soup with Chickpeas and Pasta for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed that I took an unscheduled break the past few weeks. Unfortunately asthma got the better of me and without going into a lot of details, I ended up in the hospital, then building my strength at a rehabilitation center, then home this past Wednesday where I am finishing my recovery and things are getting better every day. Although I may be a bit slow to fully jump back into blogging, I made a soup today and thought I would put up a Souper Sundays post.  

This Simple Miso Soup with Chickpeas and Pasta is a bit random and not at all traditional, but it captures the vegan version of a chicken soup I was after--good for the breathing and the soul and it is made with ingredients from my pantry and veggie drawer and is quick to throw together when you are not feeling like spending much time in the kitchen. You can of course sub in your favorite veggies and proteins, swap out the Italian couscous for noodles, or rice noodles, or rice--but below is what I did.

Simple Miso Soup with Chickpeas and Pasta
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes About 4 Servings)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed (I used Dorot Gardens frozen)
3 to 4 tsp ginger, crushed (I used Dorot Gardens frozen)
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp celery salt
6 cups good veggie stock (I used low sodium Not-Chicken bouillon)
1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup Israeli couscous or pasta or grain of choice
3 heaping Tbsp white miso paste
tamari or soy sauce or salt to taste
chili oil to serve, optional

Heat olive in a large soup pot or heavy bottomed pot. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until veggies are softened and onions translucent. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, and celery salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add veggie stock and chickpeas and bring to a boil.  

Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 15 minutes, or until veggies are almost cooked. Increase heat to a boil and add couscous or pasta and cook according to package instructions. 

Place the miso into a small bowl and stir a ladle of the broth into it, whisking well until fully incorporated. Reduce soup heat to low, then add miso-broth mixture to the soup. Taste and season with tamari, soy sauce or salt--some miso brands are saltier than others--so taste and add the salt to your liking. 

Serve in bowls with chili oil if desired. Enjoy. 

Notes/Results: Simple. comforting, and hit the spot. The beans and pasta make it satisfying but you could add tofu, or for a non-veg version, add your favorite protein. I like the prominent ginger-garlic and miso flavor combination. I would happily make it again.

Recapping the last Souper Sunday entries before my unscheduled break!

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made some Warming Vegetable Soup for the unique occasion of snow in North Florida the first week of January and said, "Talking about warming food, here is a vat of vegetable soup I made while the Korma was bubbling.  When I cut the veggies for the Korma I sliced a bit extra and tossed them in a pot for soup.  We brought this to work today to help warm our bones."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Roasted Fennel, Shallot, and String Bean Salad and said, "Roasted Fennel , shallot and string bean salad is one of my favorite warm salads to serve to company. It is flavorful, kind of exotic, and makes a lovely presentation. It is perfect for your gluten free guest, your vegan guest, your nut free guest or your dairy free guest. Now a days, its seems like everyone has eating restrictions, and we need to find healthy tasty recipes that work for everyone.

Thanks to Tina and Judee for joining me a few weeks ago--I look forward to seeing your new dishes linked up soon. ;-)

About Souper Sundays:

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 Souper Sunday'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. Also please see below for what to do on the post you link up to be included.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Ina's Asian Grilled Salmon, Served with Green Salad with Peanut Dressing & Brown Rice

Ina Garten isn't exactly known for her healthy recipes--in fact, I am often concerned for her and Jeffrey's heart health. But, she does have some healthier recipes worked into all the butter and cheese-laden ones, and even those can be tweaked a bit more to lighten them up. I have head great luck with her salmon recipes and having one nice piece of New Zealand King Salmon in my freezer, I decided to try her Asian Grilled Salmon.

I cut the marinade recipe down to a third and used low-sodium tamari (a gluten-free variation of soy sauce).  I also cooked my salmon on my grill pan on the stove. To go with it, I took the peanutty dressing from Ina's Crunchy Noodle Salad and put it on a green salad. I have nothing against noodles, in fact, I'm sure I will eat pasta this weekend but tonight I wanted a green salad so I combined it with leaf lettuce, red pepper, cucumber, green onion and cilantro. With a side of brown jasmine rice, it made a healthy but satisfying dinner. Because the salmon is so rich, I halved my fillet so I have leftovers for tomorrow.

Asian Grilled Salmon
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten via
(Serves  6)

1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds)
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp good soy sauce (I used low-sodium Tamari)
6 Tbsp good olive oil (I reduced by half)
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking. (I used my grill pan but followed the same cooking process.)

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. 

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits. 

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. 


I made a sort of a full batch of Ina's dressing (to use on salads and grain bowls this week) but I lessened the amount of oil and adjusted the other ingredients a bit. It lightens the fat and calories and I like a more tart contrast to the peanut butter. I think it keeps to the spirit of the original dressing but fits my tastes better.

Peanutty Asian Salad Dressing
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten, via
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1//3 cup macadamia nut oil)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (I used 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar)
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari)
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl until blended and smooth.

Drizzle on or toss into salad. Store remaining dressing in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Notes/Results: The salmon was delicious--moist ad full of flavor. I did have to laugh at Ina's note to use "good soy sauce" on the salmon--is there bad soy sauce?! Maybe she has soy sauce made from the tears of Buddhist monks? ;-) I keep low sodium tamari in the house--to me it tastes the same and it lowers the sodium and is gluten free. I also really liked the dressing, good peanut flavor but lessening the oil and upping the rice wine vinegar brightened up the flavor and reduced the fat. I am excited to make a rice bowl with the leftovers and drizzle it with the peanut dressing. This is my third hit with Ina's salmon recipes after the salmon tacos and the salmon Nicoise platter and I would happily make it again.

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this weeks theme is Lighten It Up!--healthier Ina Garten recipes. 

Happy Aloha Friday

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Book Review and a Recipe: "Another One Bites the Crust" by Ellie Alexander, Served with a "Grown-Up Grilled Cheese" Sandwich

It's 2018 and I am happy to start the year off deliciously by reviewing Another One Bites the Crust, a new entry in the Bakeshop Mystery series by Ellie Alexander. These foodie cozy mysteries never fail to charm me and make me hungry and this seventh book is no exception. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, a delectable sandwich concoction from the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

Torte—the beloved small-town bakeshop run by Jules Capshaw—is set to hit the stage. But who would have guessed that murder would makes a surprise appearance?

It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama—and his just desserts—but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets—before the curtain drops on someone else. . .

St. Martin's Paperbacks (January 2, 2018)
316 Pages 

My Review:

The Bakeshop Mysteries have become one of my favorite cozy series--I love the characters and the Ashland, Oregon setting. It's such a great town and I love how Ellie Alexander brings it to life. Without giving spoilers if you haven't read the previous six books, I can tell you that in Another One Bites the Crust, we are starting the busy season as the Shakespeare Festival is kicking off and also at Torte--the bakeshop run by Jules and her mother, Helen. The festival's flamboyant artistic director, Lance, has become a close friend and Jules is concerned when he seems out of sorts and it only gets worse when the lead actor of Anthony and Cleopatra ends up dead and Lance is the chief suspect. Of course Jules is going to help him and she finds herself caught up in another mystery, while expanding the bakery and other 'life stuff' (no spoilers) ;-) she is involved in. 

The usual cast of characters is in play--Torte's college-age staff, Helen and the Professor, Ashland's head of police, Thomas (deputy and Jules's old boyfriend), plus there is a new doughnut-loving investigator called in on the case from the 'big city' of Medford, who we may see more of. The food descriptions don't stop--something I love in a foodie cozy and I like the cooking and baking details and tips that the author works in. The pacing and how the mystery unfolded is good--I like that Jules has a fairly level head most of the time and although it wouldn't be a cozy if she didn't take some risks in the name of mystery solving, I don't find myself 'yelling' at her in my head as much as the leads in other cozies. I also was happy that Jules's estranged husband Carlos was not a big factor in this book. I like Jules best when she is independent and not focused on romantic tangles. 

Although you could read this book without reading the first six as Alexander does a great job in layering in the backstory, I wouldn't recommend it. You get more of the details and the evolution of the characters by reading the series in order and you get to taste Torte's and Jules's creations vicariously by reading them--just don't do it on an empty stomach. (Here's my blog review of the first five books.) Although I am reading an advanced reader's copy e-book and have not officially confirmed it, there are usually some of Jules's sweet and savory recipes at the end of each book and plenty of food inspiration along the way. Another One Bites the Crust is a fun way to start 2018 and a great book to curl up with a cup of tea and a muffin and enjoy--or, if it's lunch time or late night and you have a hankering for savory comfort food, read below for my take on Jules's Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.


Author Notes: Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the popular Bakeshop Mysteries and the new Sloane Krause Mysteries.

Connect with Ellie on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram 


Food Inspiration:

There is no shortage of food inspiration in these books but here's just a small example from the sweet--lemon tarts, coconut cream pie, cowboy cookies, fig tarts, carrot cake, pastry treats  from Shakespearean days for an event like clotted cream, trifle, puddings, tarts and royal marchpans (marzipan sculptures), French macarons in all manner of flavors, chocolate-covered strawberries, cinnamon pecan muffins, apple turnovers, bread pudding, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, and fresh raspberry jelly-filled doughnuts. There are savory dishes like chicken tortilla soup and bean and cheese sandwich wraps on homemade tortillas, salsa and guacamole, paninis, roast beef and cheddar cheese sandwiches, and French Onion and Cheeseburger soups. There's also plenty of tea, coffee and coffee drinks like a vanilla rose latte and a jelly doughnut latte. That's just a small sampling and why I am always drooling reading these books.

For my book inspired dish, it was a grilled cheese sandwich of fontina cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes with the unique addition of honey on the bread that caught my eye and wouldn't leave my head. Even though in many places it isn't the season for fresh tomatoes and basil, in our mild climate I have access to local tomatoes and herbs most of the year so I grabbed the cheese, a couple of local Roma tomatoes and a big bunch of basil (pesto will occur later) along with a small wedge of fontina cheese from the gourmet section of my local grocery store. 

For the honey, I went not-so-local, wanting to try the New Zealand Manuka Honey I received in a kit from Melora. It's debuting at Costco stores here, Arizona and Orange County. I will be doing a review post on it later (I'll just tell you now that it's non-GMO, wild harvested and Fair Trade and really yummy) but I couldn't resist using it for this sandwich.

From Another One Bites the Crust, Jules says:

"I scanned the shelves in the fridge and decided on a grown-up grilled cheese with fontina, basil, tomatoes, and honey on thick-sliced Parmesan bread. I warmed butter in a skillet and spread it on both sides of the fresh bread. Then I cut thin slices of fontina and layered in basil leaves and tomatoes. Once the sandwiches had been stacked, I drizzled a touch of honey on the top and placed the first one in the sizzling skillet. 

The lemon tea soothed my nerves as I flipped the first sandwich and drizzled honey on the other side of the bread. Fontina is an Italian cheese made from cow's milk. And not just any cows. The most exquisite fontina is produced in the summer months when the cows are moved to higher elevations to dine on rich alpine grasses. It's a wonderful melting cheese with a creamy texture and woodsy aroma."

Jules  tells Thomas she's calling the sandwich a grown-up grilled cheese:

"Thomas bit into the sandwich and closed his eyes. He tilted his head to the ceiling then looked at me. 'I'm calling it the best thing I've ever tasted.'"

Notes Results: For my sandwich, I followed Jules's instructions above, only I did not have her Parmesan bread, using some fresh bakery sourdough instead. The result was still delicious--one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have eaten. The combination of the savory ingredients, set off by the sweet honey is delicious and the cheese perfectly melty. Honey might seem odd on a grilled cheese, but just the small drizzle on the bread really works. I served my sandwich with my favorite dill pickle Kettle Chips because why not work a bit of sour into the mix too? I will definitely make this sandwich again.

I have to link up this delicious sandwich 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.

Another One Bites the Crust is my first foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the January 2018 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 "Another One Bites the Crust" was provided to me by the publisher. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.