Sunday, May 31, 2020

Julia Child's (Hot or Cold) Cream of Cucumber Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Although soup has no season for me, I usually wait until it's very warm and humid in Hawaii before making a handful of cold soups to work in with my usual hot soups. It's just a balmy low-80s with a breeze this weekend, but I had a few cucumbers and a hankering for cold cucumber soup.

I wanted to try the Cream of Cucumber Soup  from Julia Child that relies mostly on farina (cream of wheat) for thickening but the cream of wheat I found in my local grocery stores was over $7.00 for a large box that I doubted I'd use up. Instead I grabbed a small box of Cream of Rice that was under $4.00. Cream of rice is a good gluten-free option that works just as well. I made a couple of other small changes to the recipe, noted in red below. 

Cream of Cucumber Soup
Slightly Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2 by Julia Child via
(About 6 Servings)

1 1/2 lb cucumbers, about 3 large
1/2 cup minced shallots
3 Tbsp butter
6 cups light stock (I used vegan non-chicken stock), plus extra for thinning if needed
1 1/2 tsp wine vinegar (I used tarragon Vinegar)
3/4 tsp dried tarragon
(I added 1/2 tsp dill)
4 Tbsp farina (cream of wheat) breakfast cereal (I used cream of rice cereal)
salt and white pepper to taste
1 cup minced fresh herbs like dill, tarragon or parsley

Peel cucumbers. Cut 18-24 paper-thin slices and reserve in a bowl for later. Cut the rest of the cucumber into 1/2-inch chunks; you should have about 4 1/2 cups

Cook the shallots slowly in the butter for several minutes until tender but not browned. Add the cucumber chunks, broth, vinegar, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then stir in the farina. Simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes. Puree in a blender and then return the soup to the pan. Thin out with more broth if needed, and season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Just before serving, beat in 1/2 cup of the sour cream. Ladle soup into bowls and place a dollop of the leftover sour cream on top of each. Float slices of cucumber on top of the sour cream and decorate with a sprinkling of herbs. 

Deb's Note: If you are planning on eating the soup cold, let it cool down to about room temp, then stir in the sour cream and chill in fridge at least 4 hours before serving.

Notes/Results: I know cold soup, cucumbers and cold soup with cucumbers are not everyone's favorite cup of soup ;-) but this one is really delicious--crisp, refreshing, the flavor of the herbs (tarragon and the dill I added) come through nicely. it's creamy and rich but the sour cream and vinegar give it a bright pop of acidity. On The daily Meal where I found the recipe, they said it was equally good cold and hot and when I tried the warm soup, it was good. There is just something about cucumbers and cold that go together though so that's the way I'll enjoy it. It's going to work with me with egg salad sandwiches this week and I'd happily make it again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are still doing Needs Must cooking from Julia Child and our 19 other featured chefs.

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

Simona of briciole shared Carrot, Radish and Turnip Salad with Microgreens and said, "I buy carrots, radishes and salad turnips by the bunch, then, once I get home, I cut off the greens from all of them and use those in other dishes. I admit I am still learning to appreciate carrot tops: they have a rather strong grassy flavor that I must dilute with other greens. ... One great characteristic of carrots, radishes and salad turnips is that they last a few days, unlike their greens, which wilt fairly quickly. This is particularly important for me as I am the only root vegetable eater in the household, which explains why the recipe is for one. Of course, it can be easily multiplied to nourish all the people around your table."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Chicken Gnocchi Soup and says, "This is knockoff recipe from an Olive Garden soup but with modifications to reduce the calorie count. Honestly, we haven't eaten at an Olive Garden restaurant in over 10 years but I did remember liking the rich and creamy Chicken Gnocchi soup. This wasn't arduous to prepare but if I'd taken the slow cooker option, well now you are really talking hands off time. The slow cooker option gives you more reading time during the cooking phase. No worries, it was completely worth it."

Thank you to Simona and Tina for joining me this 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 your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week and stay safe!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Spinach-Brown Rice Casserole From The New Moosewood Cookbook for Cook the Books April/May Pick: Hippie Food

It's the day before May ends and the day before entries for Cook the Books (the best virtual foodie book club) are due. Even being this round's host, I am still cruising in right under the wire with my entry for Hippie Food: How Back-to-the Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat by Jonathan Kauffman

If you read my announcement post (here) you'll know the reason I picked this book is because after being skeptical of so-called hippie food and vegetarian food growing up (due to scary vegan neighbors and baby-sitting clients), I began going through meat-free phases at various points in my life and eventually pretty much stopped eating meat and poultry several years ago. I found that so-called hippie food appeals to me, I feel better when I eat it and ingredients that were once foreign--tofu, seitan, brown rice, nutritional yeast, etc. appeal to me now. I also get very geeky about learning where food and trends originate so the aspect and the history appealed to me. 

I geeked out over this book and enjoyed it immensely finding it engaging, interesting, and entertaining. It's a pretty deep dive into the natural foods movement and I can see where that could become wearying for some, but I took my time with the book, reading it over almost the full two months and was happy the time I spent with it. I loved learning the back stories of some of the classic food books and cookbooks I have collected over the years--the Tassajara Bread Baking Book, the More-With-Less Cookbook, Diet For a Small Planet, Natural Foods Cookbook, The Time Life Foods of the World, The Vegetarian Epicure and more. Being a retail and restaurant operator at heart, his stories about the natural foods store and cafes were interesting to me and I was happy to hear from some of the natural foods icons he interviewed. Overall, I liked the balance of food, history and politics and would happily read more from Jonathan Kauffman. 

For my book-inspired dish, I was torn between pulling out The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Love (her Love Soup cookbook is my soup "bible) or my copy of The New Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen (I own almost all of the Moosewood cookbooks). Both of these classics were covered well in Chapter 6: Vegetarian on the Curry Trail and I wanted find a recipe that captured the spirit and nostalgia of the book. I finally decided on The New Moosewood Cookbook and started looking a casseroles, inspired by a quote about the Riverside Cafe: "Like so many counterculture cooks, especially in the early 1970s, most of the main dishes the Riv cooks invented were casseroles: grains and pulses layered with vegetables and almost always topped with cheese ... not fancy but always wholesome." That to me says hippie food, a big brown rice casserole with veggies and cheese. When I saw the Spinach-Rice Casserole and saw it contained sunflower seeds in addition to the brown rice spinach and cheese, I knew it was hippie enough, ;-)

Molly Katzen says, "The original version contained 4 eggs. This one has only 2 and they're optional. Also you can experiment by replacing some or all of the spinach with other greens: mustard, kale, collard, etc."

Spinach-Brown Rice Casserole
Slightly Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen
(Yield About 6 Servings)

2 cups uncooked brown rice (long or short grain)
1 Tbsp butter or margarine--or olive oil
2 cups minced onions
2 lbs fresh spinach, stemmed and finely chopped (I used frozen spinach)
1 tsp salt or to taste
4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I omitted)
1/4 tsp cayenne
black pepper to taste
optional 1 to 2 tsp prepared mustard (I omitted)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 beaten eggs (optional) (I used)
1 cup lowfat milk (optional) (I used almond milk)
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated cheddar (optional) (I used cheddar and mozzarella)

Place the rice in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups water. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower to the slowest possible simmer. Cook, covered and undisturbed, for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a medium-sized bowl, and fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

Heat the butter, margarine or oil in a deep skillet. Add onion and saute 5 to 8 minutes--until soft. Add spinach, salt, and garlic, and cook about 5 minutes more over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add this to the rice, along with the seasonings and half the sunflower seeds. Mix well. 

Purely Optional: Beat together eggs and milk and stir this into the spinach-rice mixture, along with the grated cheese.

Spread into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the remaining sunflower seeds and dust with paprika. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes--until heated through and lightly browned on top.

Notes/Results: This was better than I thought it would be and took me back to rich and spinach casseroles of my youth--although I grew up on white rice. It has a very retro vibe. I would heartily recommend using the egg, milk and cheese (or vegan equivalents if you don't do eggs and dairy) because it adds moisture and of course... cheese. ;-) I scaled down the recipe a bit to fit in my smaller casserole and toaster oven and it took about 25 minutes to cook. I also used frozen spinach, well-drained and the liquid pressed out, to save time as well as cooked my brown rice in my rice cooker ahead of time. Tasty, nostalgic and I think it fits the book well. I'd happily make it again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event that was held at Beth Fish Reads, but is now being hosted with Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see this week's post here.

I'm also linking up this post to this month's Foodies Read. You can check out May's Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

Entries are due by tomorrow and I'll be doing the roundup on the Cook the Books site soon after. If you missed this round and you like food and books and foodie books, join us for June/July when my fellow Hawaii-based co-host Claudia of Honey from Rock is hosting the novel Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lemon Mini-Cakes with Lemon Glaze & Baked Eggs with Shallots for #TheJaneAustenSocietyParty

Today is the publishing day or book birthday for the wonderful The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner and I am very happy to be joining in on the #TheJaneAustenSocietyParty -- a virtual gathering of some of my favorite bloggers and hosted by The Book Club Cookbook. (Here's all of the party details!)

We bloggers received an Advanced Readers Copy of the book and were tasked with reading the novel and coming up with a dish inspired by it. Because I couldn't decide between a sweet or savory dish, I made two, Lemon Mini-Cakes with Lemon Glaze and Baked Eggs with Shallots.

Let's start with the book. Here's the Publisher's Blurb:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people―a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others―could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

St. Martin's Press (May 26, 2020)
320 pages

If I had to pick one word to describe The Jane Austen Society, it would be charming. It's sweet, engaging and a loving tribute to my favorite author. Being a big historical fiction fan already, the setting in Chawton, Hampshire from 1932 to 1947 was a draw as well. Although the book starts in 1932 before WWII begins, most of it takes place in the aftermath of the war in 1945 and 1946. The war has left its impact on the small town and the five main characters of the novel. There is Adam, a farm laborer who gave up schooling when both brothers were killed in The Great War, Mimi, an American film star, Dr. Benjamin Gray,  the widowed town physician, Adeline, former teacher and young war widow who also lost her unborn child, Evie, a promising young student who must become a house servant when her father is injured in an accident, and Francis, wealthy descendant of the Austin family and a spinster shut off from much of society. What draws this group of dissimilar people together is a love of Jane Austen and they decide to form The Jane Austen Society to protect the final home of the author in Chawton.

I think if you are an Austen fan at any level, you can't help but like this book, and if you are not a fan or familiar with Austen's work, this book will make you want to be. You can feel the passion the author has for Austen radiate from every page and I love how each character describes how they came to love Jane Austen over the course of the book. And having read and reread (and in the case of Pride and Prejudice reread at least once a year) Austen's books I love how accurately Jenner describes why so many of us do:

"Part of the comfort they derived from rereading was the satisfaction of knowing there would be closure--of feeling, each time, an inexplicable anxiety over whether the main characters would find love and happiness, while all the while knowing, on some different parallel interior track, that it was all going to work out in the end. Of being one step ahead of the characters and one step behind Austen on every single reading."

I am currently rereading all of Austen's books for an online buddy read starting with Sense and Sensibility and covering a chapter a day, and I love the discussions we are having and hearing people's' impressions whether they have read a book twenty times or are reading it for the first time. Along with the books, we are reading adaptations and other Austen-related books and I am recommending this book to all of them. Lest I scare you away with my Janeite fanaticism, I feel like it's an enjoyable book regardless. There's romance and friendship, small town doings, history, and a general feeling of hope in the pages. It's a delight! My only complaint is that it ended too soon--much like I feel when I read Jane Austen's books, I wanted much more time with these characters.


Let's talk food now... I actually thought there might be more food in the book than there was but there was food mentioned including crops of wheat and barley, toast and tea, champagne, a garden of courgettes, wax beans and beets to be pickled and preserved for winter, tea and sugar buns, apples and squash, oranges, a party with silver platters piled high with sugar plums and rum balls and warm mince pies, coffee and walnut cake and Victoria sponge filled with preserves, glazed lemon cake, tiny glasses of sherry and and a wedding breakfast. Enough food ideas to inspire me to make two different dishes.

Life is short so let's start with dessert first. I had a plethora of lemons at my house, was really craving lemon dessert and there was mention of glazed lemon cake in the book when some of the characters are discussing how they came to Jane Austen's work, and so I decided that Lemon Mini-Cakes with Lemon Glaze (doesn't that sound fancier than cupcakes?) would be a fairly easy endeavor even for a mostly non-baker. I found a few of easy lemon cupcake recipes online and went with the basics of them, making  few small modifications based on what I had on hand. 

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze 
Cobbled together from a few recipes
(Makes about 15 Cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter (I used salted & omitted any additional salt)
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 lemons)
about 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from two lemons)
1/4 cup almond milk or milk of choice (what I had on hand) 
lemon glaze (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tin with liners and set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter and mix in sugar with a hand mixer for about 30 seconds, until mixture becomes thick and yellow. Add the eggs one at at time, beating after each addition and then beat in the vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture and milk to the bowl, alternating between them--starting and ending with the flour. Be careful not too mix too long and overmix. 

Divide the batter among liners, filling each about 2/3 full (I used a scant standard ice cream scoop (disher) of batter). Bake for 12-16 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Mine took about 13 minutes.) Make sure to cool cakes completely before glazing them. 


Lemon Glaze Icing 
Adapted Slightly from
(Makes About 1/2 Cup of Icing)

1 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar) + more as needed
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsps freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp milk (I used almond milk) + more if needed

In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and milk and stir until smooth. If glaze seems too thick, thin with additional milk, if it seems too thin, add more powdered sugar until it is the consistency you like. Spoon generously over completely cooled cupcakes.

Notes/Results: I think lemon is my favorite cake flavor and these are such tasty little cakes. Nothing fancy but tender and moist and a good match of sweet and tart, just like I like. I took a mini-cake out of the liner and plated it with some fresh blueberries to fancy it up a little bit for the photo. I could just eat the glaze out of the bowl with a spoon (OK, maybe I actually did!)  ;-) 

Part of the reason for me also making a savory dish was that Judy at The Book Club Cookbook sent a little surprise a few weeks ago in the form of two of their fabulous Book, Song & TV Seasoning Blends and I wanted to incorporate at least one of them into a dish. The two I received this time were Shallot's Web (Air-Dried Shallots) and Satay'in Alive (an Indonesian seasoning blend). I decided to use my shallots and make use of my previously gifted (you can see what else Austen-ish that I did with it here) bottle of Dried and Prejudice Seasoned Salt (a mix of sea salt, demerara sugar, paprika, garlic, onion, mustard, Mexican oregano, celery seed, black pepper and cinnamon) in an egg dish. Although there's not a mention of eggs in the book, there is a wedding breakfast and I thought some tasty baked eggs with toast (cut into thin "soldiers") for dipping would be great for a breakfast. So here we have Baked Eggs with Shallots that incorporated my blends.

Baked Eggs with Shallots
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 1)

1/2 Tbsp air-dried shallots (I used and recommend Shallot's Web), reconstituted
butter for greasing ramekin
1/2 tsp sprig fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp white cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
1 sprinkle Dried and Prejudice Seasoned Salt or other favorite seasoning blend
freshly ground black pepper
To Serve: toasted bread cut into thin strips (soldiers)

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees F. Put the dried shallots into a small bowl and pouring to-the-boil water over them and let sit about 3 minutes, until softened, then drain. 

Rub the inside of a ramekin with butter and sprinkle in rehydrated shallots, thyme leaves. and white cheddar cheese. Carefully crack eggs into the ramekin and sprinkle Dried and Prejudice Seasoning Blend and freshly ground black pepper on top of the eggs.

Carefully place ramekin in oven (using a small pan is helpful) and bake until the yolk is set to your liking (if you like runny yolks like me--about 12-14 minutes up to about 19-20 minutes for hard-cooked yolks.) Remove ramekin from the oven and serve immediately with toast soldiers. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Whenever I make baked eggs I think "why don't I make baked eggs more often? " These were really good. I was surprised at how much flavor the shallots added and the Dried and Prejudice Seasoned Salt adds a touch of sweet and savory to the mix that worked well with the other ingredients. I'm not sure it needed the fresh thyme but I wanted a bit of color in there and I liked the flavors all together. Dipping the strips of buttered sourdough toast in, I was perfectly happy and content with my light breakfast for dinner. I will definitely make these eggs again. 

A big THANK YOU to St. Martin's Press (Instagram @stmartinspress), Natalie Jenner (Instagram @authornataliejenner / Twitter @nataliemjenner) and The Book Club Cookbook (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest)

Don't forget to check out the party page here to see what my fellow bloggers came up with and how they liked the book!

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event that was held at Beth Fish Reads, but is now being hosted with Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see this week's post here.

Note: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of author Natalie Jenner, publisher St. Martin's Press and The Book Club Cookbook. I received a complimentary book and two seasoning blends for the purpose of a fair review, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. No additional compensation for this post was provided.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mexican Street Corn, Hominy & New Potato Chowder for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Although I eat all kinds of soup all year long, there is something about the Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer that makes me think: "CHOWDER, CHOWDER, CHOWDER!" I can eat chowder all of the time--especially corn chowder and this Mexican Street Corn, Hominy & New Potato Chowder has been leaving in my head ever since my friend Barb sent me a jar of Everything But the Elote Seasoning from Trader Joe's.

Ideally this soup would be made with fresh corn off the cob but I am impatient and the grocery store corn just wasn't looking that good. Still wanting to make the soup, I used frozen corn but took the extra step of thawing it out, patting it dry, and cooking it in a pan over high heat to give it a bit of a char. I did the same with a can of hominy. The result gave the corn and chowder a slight smokiness and I ended up with a soup full of flavor.

Mexican Street Corn & New Potato Chowder
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 to 8 Servings)

About 4 cups frozen corn (thawed & well drained) or equivalent fresh corn still on the cob
1 (28 oz) can hominy, rinsed and well drained
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 to 2 jalapenos, diced
1 can minced mild green chiles 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried cilantro
1 Tbsp Trader Joe's Everything But the Elote Seasoning*
1 1/2 lbs baby red and gold potatoes, cut in half or quarters depending on the size
1 can creamed corn (optional)
5 cups broth (I used non-chicken broth)
1 can coconut milk or about 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk of choice
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 cup cold water
2 Tbsp lime juice, or to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
To Serve: green onions, cheddar cheese, cotija cheese (or feta), chopped cilantro, lime wedges, etc.

Grilling the corn and/or hominy is an extra step but worth it for the roasty flavor it adds to the soup. If using fresh corn, grill it in a grill pan or on a grill, turning it until all sides are lightly charred. If using frozen corn, thaw completely, drain well and pat dry and cook over high heat in a non-stick pan, turning as needed to get both sides to lightly char, do the same with the hominy if using. Set aside.  

Heat butter in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, red pepper and jalapeno and cook about 10 minutes, until veggies are softened and veggies translucent. Stir in the canned green chiles, garlic, dried oregano and cilantro, and Everything But the Elote Seasoning and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Add the potatoes, creamed corn and broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are mostly cooked through. Add the coconut milk and the corn and hominy that was set aside. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water, stirring until completely blended. Simmer soup about 10 minutes, until thickened. Stir in lime juice, taste and add salt, pepper and adjust any other seasonings as desired. Serve with cheddar cheese and cotija cheese, chopped green onion and cilantro and lime wedges as desired. Enjoy!

*If you don't have the Everything But the Elote Seasoning you mix together chipotle seasoning, grated parmesan cheese, chile pepper, dried cilnatro and cumin together and use that for a similar flavor.   

Notes/Results: This chowder was really delicious--lots of flavor and pretty reminiscent of Mexican Street Corn and just slightly spicy (you can add more heat if desired). I think that the pan roasting the thawed frozen corn worked really well to make it seem more like fresh corn and I liked the flavor it added. The chowder is creamy and satisfying but the lime juice keeps it from being too rich. Soup in general and chowder especially are very free form and you can play with the ingredients to fit what you have or like. I happen to like this one very much and I will happily make it again. 

Let's see what awaits in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week:

Debra of Eliot's Eats shared Black Beans with Garlic and Chipotle based on a book review and said, "Since Cinco de Mayo was coming up and there was lots of good food found in the New Moon portion of the book, I decided to focus on that. We always celebrate the holiday here with a Southwest feast and with the book ending with two of these (when Deena returns to her roots and with the seder that she makes), that’s where I headed for inspiration. I pulled out my Santa Fe Cooking School Cookbook for guidance. ... I can certainly see this being whipped up in the New Moon kitchen by Rain or Casey. (The rest of our Cinco de Mayo feast consisted of these black beans on the side, along with homemade tamales with a NM chile sauce, and rice. More about the rest of the meal later.)"

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I made a Green Goddess Tuna Sandwich inspired by the same book as Debra. I used Ina Garten's Green Goddess Dressing (which is delicious) and even more so when it dresses tuna with herb and celery leaf salad on a buttered and toasted English muffin.

Thank you to Debra for joining me this 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 your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week and stay well!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Resurrecting Rain" by Patricia Averbach, Served with a Recipe for a Green Goddess Tuna Salad Sandwich

Aloha! It's almost the end of a long busy week and I am very excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Resurrecting Rain, a new novel by Patricia Averbach. Accompanying my review is a Green Goddess Tuna Salad Sandwich inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Deena’s house is being auctioned off at sheriff’s sale and her marriage is falling apart. As her carefully constructed life unravels, her thoughts return to the New Moon Commune outside Santa Fe where she was born, and to Rain, the lesbian mother she had abandoned at fourteen. No one, not even her husband and children, know about New Moon or that she sat Shiva for Rain in exchange for living in her Orthodox grandmother’s house in an upscale suburb of Cleveland.

Deena’s story unfolds with empathy and wit as a cascade of disasters leaves this middle aged librarian unmoored from her home and family, penniless and alone on the streets of Sarasota, Florida. The novel is populated with deftly drawn characters full of their own secrets and surprises–from Deena’s blue haired freegan daughter who refuses to tell her parents where she lives, to the octogenarian TV writer who believes that crows are the reincarnated souls of Jews lost in the Holocaust. Deena loses her house, but will she find a home? Maybe the crows know.

Resurrecting Rain explores the unanticipated consequences of the choices that we make, the bonds and boundaries of love and the cost of our infatuation with materialism. At its heart the novel is a tale of loss and redemption, a reevaluation of our material culture and an appreciation for the blessing of friends and family. It demonstrates that sometimes you have to lose everything before you find yourself.

Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Golden Antelope Press (February 3, 2020)

My Review:

When I finished Resurrecting Rain, my first thought was "Wow! So many things happen in just 324 pages! How will I begin to describe it in a review?" I'm going to do my best without giving everything away. Deena is a woman whose life begins falling apart from the very start of the book when a really bad investment made by her husband has their house being sold at auction and her carefully constructed life imploding. Her daughter is away at college and distances herself further from the family, her son, a high school swimming star in his senior year sees his prospects dissolving and her husband completely withdraws, shell-shocked and depressed by the guilt of the havoc he has brought on the family. Forced to move to a tiny apartment both Deena a librarian and her husband a pharmacist have their jobs and life begins to move on in a very different way. of course. If that were the only thing that happened it would be an interesting character story of the impact of a financial crisis on a family, but Deena makes some bad decisions of her own that send her careening out of control. I don't want to recount all of them but there is an affair that had me screaming at her in my head (I tend to do that with characters that do dumb things) and that takes her situation from bad to worse. She truly epitomizes the saying "if it weren't for bad luck, she'd have no luck at all." But it is when she hits rock bottom and is separated from her family and alone in Florida that I began to really like her and root for her to make it out of the mess. Deena has been keeping secrets her whole life about her childhood in a commune in New Mexico with her mother and her terrible trade of that life for a "normal" one growing up with her grandmother, and her downward spiral has her longing to search out her past. With everything that happens you might think the book is bogged down in melodrama and while there is an abundance of drama, Patricia Averbach keeps a touch of dark and sly humor and a sense of adventure running throughout the story that moves it along. I sped through the pages, especially the final third of the book, wanting to know what would happen and I quite enjoyed the ride as Deena tries to resolve her past and find herself. A unique book and the author's second novel, I look forward to reading more from her. 


Author Notes: Patricia Averbach, a Cleveland native, is the former director of the Chautauqua Writers’ Center in Chautauqua, New York. Averbach’s second novel, Resurrecting Rain, the contemporary story of a woman who loses her house but finds her home, was released by Golden Antelope Press in 2020.

Her first novel, Painting Bridges, was described in a Cleveland Plain Dealer review as “introspective, intelligent and moving.” Her poetry chapbook, Missing Persons, received the London based Lumen/Camden award in 2013 and was selected by the Times of London Literary Supplement (Nov. 2014) as one of the best short collections of the year.

Previous work includes a memoir about her early career as Anzia Yezierska’s sixteen year old literary assistant and an article about the Jewish community in a virtual world called, Second Life. Her work has appeared in Lilith Magazine, Margie, The Muse, and The Blue Angel Review

Connect with Patricia on her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Food Inspiration: There is quite a bit of food in Resurrecting Rain. When the novel starts Deena loses her house and is forced to down-size but still cooks and eats like she did before.Once her luck changes even more, she finds herself trying to make ends meet and often food insecure, then we go from that to the food of her childhood in  New Mexico, so the food runs the gamut. Mentions included crantinis of vodka and cranberry juice, tacos, salad with cherry tomatoes, a meal to tempt her husband of lobster bisque, honey bourbon salmon, asparagus risotto, and limoncello mousse, Pinot Grigio, leftover lasagna, cupcakes, coffee and biscotti, organic broccoli, tofu, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, matcha, powered donuts, cappuccino, paprikash, with dumplings and with chicken livers, dobos torte, Chinese food, pita chips, gyros and falafel, sautéed mushrooms, pecans, red beans and rice, stuffed peppers, cracker, hummus and cheese, mushroom soup, spaetzle, Russian tea biscuits, Mandelbrot, herring, gefilte fish, hardboiled eggs and chopped liver, bread with butter, pizza, fettuccine drenched in butter, cream and melted cheese, green tea, burgers and fries, brownies, dry cereal, canned soup, buttered toast, Starbucks Komodo Dragon Blend coffee, rice and oatmeal, frozen burritos, strawberry yogurt, grapefruit, eggs, Spaghetti-Os, apple and sliced processed cheese, oranges, a bagel, muffins, sugar cookie dipped in chocolate, vanilla wafer, sweet corn and fry bread rolled in sugar, strawberries and cream, vodka and orange juice, French toast, died chicken, eggs, bacon and biscuits, pastries, instant oatmeal, hot waffles,grits and sausage gravy, sopapillas with honey, three bean chili, golden cornbread, pancakes, salsa and guacamole, apple cakes with honey, challah, matzo ball soup, chili rellenos, and enchiladas.

While the southwest and Mexican food was a temptation and the limoncello mousse had me drooling, I ultimately went with a tuna sandwich. When Deena is close to running out of funds and food in Florida she is eating tuna sandwiches and fruit from a brown paper bag outside. By a Whole Foods, she wishes her meal was curried chicken or sushi with sesame seaweed salad. I thought, maybe if it wasa good tuna sandwich, it would make it make it a more desirable lunch. I had seen this recipe for a Green Goddess Tuna Salad Sandwich in Bon Appetit and liked everything about it from the herby dressing to the Toasted English Muffin so I decided to recreate it. I did swap the Green Goddess dressing in the recipe with Ina Garten's, no real reason other than using her recipe made it fit into I Heart Cooking Clubs so I could join in this week. I think any Green Goddess dressing would be lovely.

Basil Green Goddess Dressing
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten via
(Makes about 2 cups of dressing)

1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
1 cup chopped basil leaves (18 to 20 leaves) (I used mostly basil but mixed in tarragon & parsley) 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: I dressed two cans of good drained oil-packed tuna with about 1/2 cup of the salad dressing. I don't like my salad too "gloppy" but you can use whatever proportion you like. Use the leftover dressing on veggies, salad or dip boiled shrimp into it (my favorite). 

To make the sandwich: toast a sourdough English muffin or bread of choice and lightly butter. Make a salad of whatever greens and leftover herbs you have (and celery leaves too if you have them. Place the herb salad on top of one side of the English muffin, then add a scoop of the tuna salad. Top with the other muffin half and enjoy!

Notes/Results: The Green Goddess dressing is delicious--complex, herby, savory and creamy and it really elevates the canned tuna and makes it seem luxurious. I did mix in tarragon and parsley that I had on hand to the basil Ina called for and I liked the change. I also think the anchovy is completely necessary as it adds a layer on umami to the flavor.  With the toasted and  buttery English muffin (good call Bon Apetit!) and the herb salad, this little sandwich made me very happy served with a crunchy Honeycrisp apple. I am looking forward to using up the rest of my dressing and I will happily make this sandwich again.

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs for another week of Needs Must cooking.

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event that was held at Beth Fish Reads, but is now being hosted with Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see last week's post here.

Finally I am adding this salad to the Souper Sundays linkup here at Kahakai Kitchen where each you can post soups, salads and sandwiches. Here's the link to this week's post if you'd like to join in.

Note: A review copy of "Resurrecting Rain" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.