Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A review of "My Sister's Bones" by Nuala Ellwood, Served with a Recipe for Muhammara (Spicy Red Pepper Dip)

Today I'm happy to be on the TLC Book Tour for My Sister's Bones, a compelling and suspenseful psychological thriller by Nuala Ellwood. I love a good thriller and this one hits all my buttons. Along with my review, I am serving it up with a recipe inspired by my reading:  Muhammara, a spicy red pepper dip that originated in Aleppo, Syria. 


Publisher's Blurb:

In the vein of Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Renée Knight’s Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 11, 2017)

My Review:

The unreliable female narrator is a common thing in novels the last few years and some books do it much better than others; My Sister's Bones is one of those books. Kate Rafter has been a decorated journalist and war reporter for the past fifteen years, covering war-torn Syria and suffering from PSTD from an incident involving a Syrian boy, that we slowly learn more about throughout the book. She has come home to Herne Bay, a seaside town in Kent, England to finalize her mother's affairs after her death. Kate was not informed in time to make the funeral, something she blames on her estranged and alcoholic sister, Sally. While staying at her mother's house, Kate hears and sees a little boy in the yard of the house next door who looks like he is in trouble or being abused. The woman next door, an refugee from Iraq, says she has no children and no one, especially the police, and since Kate has hallucinations and flashbacks, we are not sure if we believe her--in fact she doubts herself. 

I really enjoyed this book--the pacing and twists and turns. I had my suspicions of some of what was happening midway through but the author had me guessing my theories all the way along and there were still surprises at the end. Kate was great character, flawed for sure but someone to root for even with her issues. In addition to the psychological scars from her work, Kate had a rough childhood with an alcoholic and abusive father. It is their childhood that initially drew Kate and Sally apart as they each had different relationships and experiences with their father and mother. Sally is a tough character to like, her alcoholism has cost her in many ways, not the least, her relationship with her teenage daughter, who left home and is out of contact with her. There are some triggers here for abuse, domestic violence, the terrors of war, etc. but nothing is glorified and it is handled well. Author Nuala Ellwod is the daughter of an award-winning journalist and it is his and other journalists' experiences with PSTD that inspired her to make it the theme of her book. The 400-ish pages flew by and I finished the book in a couple of sittings--not wanting to put it down until the mystery was solved. This book runs deeper than other suspense and psychological thriller with it's content and skillful writing. I'm amazed that it's a debut book and look forward to reading more from this talented author.


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Author Notes: Nuala Ellwood is the daughter of an award-winning journalist. Inspired by her father’s and other journalists’ experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder, she gained Arts Council Funding for her research into the topic and ultimately made it the main theme of My Sister’s Bones, her debut psychological thriller.
 
Find out more about Nuala at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.
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Food Inspiration:

There is not a lot of food inspiration to be found in the book but there are some mentions like, milk, butter, eggs and bacon, wine, beer, cake with lemon icing and buttercream filling, fish and chips, jammy doughnuts, coked chicken, salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, and dressing ingredients, seeded bread, coffee and a sandwich filled with orange stringy cheese, vegetable soup, hot tea, sandwiches and shortbread, tea and biscuits, cocoa, toast, lasagna, and egg and chips.

Since most of the food did not associate with happy memories, I had a bit of trouble deciding on a book-inspired dish. I ended up thinking about Syrian food since Kate spent so much time there and wanted people to understand the people and the conditions. I think food is a gateway to learning about people, customs and places that may be different from what we are used to. I was happy to find muhammara, a spicy red pepper dip that I enjoy and that originated in Syria and uses Aleppo peeper since I recently found it locally and bought a bottle.


I chose a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from his website and took some liberties with the preparation, mainly making it faster and easier to make for a busy weeknight. My changes to the recipe are in red below.


Ottolenghi says, "This classic Levantine dip can be made in a food processor, but it will lose some of its lovely texture; I'd use a pestle and mortar, if you can. Muhammara keeps well and even improves after a day in the fridge; just don't serve it fridge-cold. Serves four as a dip."

Muhammara
Slightly Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi at Ottolenghi.co.uk
(Makes about 2 Cups)

3 red bell peppers (I used fire-roasted peppers from the deli case)
2 oz fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dried Aleppo chili flakes (I used about 3/4 Tbsp)
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 oz walnuts, finely chopped by hand
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
salt


To Prepare Peppers: Heat the oven to 400 F. Put the peppers on a tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and the skin is blackened--or roast them over the flame on a gas stove. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling-film and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and seeds.

Pat the peppers dry, and place in a mortar. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, chili and garlic. Work this with a pestle until well combined, but not so much that the peppers no longer have a noticeable texture. Stir through the walnuts, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and the olive oil. Add more pomegranate molasses and salt to taste – you want the flavors to be pretty intense. (Deb says, "I was lazy and used the food processor. I put the bread crumbs, walnuts and garlic in and processed until walnuts were finely chopped and bread finely crumbed, then added the roasted red peppers and other ingredients and pulsed until not to smooth--leaving some pepper pieces.)


Spoon the dip into a shallow bowl, using the back of a spoon to give it a wavy texture, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve at room temperature.


Notes/Results: I've had muhammara before, I made it too, although apparently I've never posted it. ;-) But, this one was extra tasty--even though I did the cheat's version of buying roasted red pepper from the deli and using the food processor, instead of the recommended mortar and pestle. (There are days for that and there are days to do it the easy way and today was definitely a need-to-do-it-easy kind of day.) I attribute it to the Aleppo pepper which has a sweet and almost tangy heat to it. You feel it at the back of your throat and the end. The pomegranate molasses also adds good flavor. I toasted a whole wheat naan bread as the store didn't have good pita, but this dip would also be good with baguette slices, vegetables, or crackers. It would also make a nice sandwich spread. I will happily make it again.


I am linking this Ottolenghi recipe up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week is Potluck week--our chance to make any recipe from our current IHCC chef or any of the past IHCC featured chefs.  


I'm also linking it 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 "My Sister's Bones" was provided to me by the publisher Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp and Mushrooms for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Last week when I was looking for spicy soup recipes I saw this Thai-inspired hot and sour soup from Nigella Lawson on Food Network and decided to make it. It's nicely spicy and not too heavy, making it perfect for summer eating.


Since I didn't have the Tom Yam hot and sour paste, I used a mixture of red curry and tamarind paste to get the sour notes. I also added some coconut milk because I love it in a Thai-flavored broth. 


Shrimp and Mushroom Hot and Sour Soup 
Adapted from Nigella Lawson via FoodNetwork.com
(Serves 4)

6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaping Tbsp Tom Yam hot and sour paste (I used 1 Tbsp red curry paste + 1/2 Tbsp tamarind paste)
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass, bottom inner part only, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 to 3 small jalapenos, finely chopped (I used two)
1 tsp sugar
(I added 1 cup coconut milk)
1 1/2 cups straw or button mushrooms, sliced
1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
5 1-inch pieces scallions, sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped 

In a medium saucepan, heat stock, tom yam paste, lime leaves, lemon grass, lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, and sugar. Once it has come to a boil, add mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and scallions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes allowing the shrimp to cook but still be tender. Taste and check for seasoning.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately. Place extra cilantro on the table for people to add more. 

 
Notes/Results: This soup has a nice blend of spicy, sweet, sour, and savory and with the shrimp and mushrooms, it satisfies without being heavy. I think adding coconut milk is a big plus--it makes the broth rich and creamy. You can of course adjust the spice level--I used two peppers--one seeded and one not and with my red curry/tamarind paste mix, I  found it medium in spice--which is what I like. You can also add additional lime juice, which I did. This soup would also be good as all mushroom and veggie, with some tofu, or chicken if you eat meat or poultry. I would happily make it again.


I am linking this up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is Potluck week--our chance to make any recipe from our current IHCC chef or any of the past IHCC featured chefs.  
 
We have some delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made Pasta Salad with Olives and Veggies and said, "Sometimes you need an easy go-to recipe to serve on those hot hot hot summer nights when you just don't feel like doing any real cooking. Pasta (gluten free of course) salad seems to be that recipe for me. This Mediterranean style salad is flavorful, fragrant and can be made in advance. We enjoy it paired with  cold soup  or cheese and ( GF) crackers."

 
Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen shared a summer soup and said, "Zucchini, Broad Beans, Peas and Mint Soup - all the fresh green ingredients have been grown in my garden plot and were picked at the weekend. I know its warm, so why on earth would I make soup? I just fancied something light and its been a while since I made a zucchini soup. I have to admit, I did not enjoy it as much on the day it was made, preferring it a day or two later when the flavours improved, still it made for a lovely summer soup, one to eat with a spoon from a bowl or from an mug if you want to sit in the garden and slurp, watching the bees sneaking in and out of nasturtium flowers."

 
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared two salads she enjoyed, Taziki's Signature Pasta Salad and a Cobb Salad and said, "This salad was packed with chicken, tomatoes, feta and a ton of pasta.  Honestly, it was so much pasta I couldn't finish it.  I probably wouldn't get it again but that doesn't mean I don't like it. Next we have a Cobb Salad.  Ok, I know (as does everyone who can read the ingredients list) that a Cobb salad is not usually healthy.  Too much blue cheese and definitely too much bacon!  But it was a late lunch again and this appealed.  See how large?  This is the lunch portion, the smaller portion.  No way could I eat a larger salad, I didn't quite finish this one."

 
Mahalo to everyone who joined me 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, July 21, 2017

Char-Grilled Baby Lettuce with Asparagus & Feta, Served with Grilled Opah

I am always happy to find a good quick recipe to get on the table at the end of a long week. This easy grill-pan recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of Char-Grilled Baby Lettuce with Asparagus & Feta, could easily be a meal on its own for me but I had some local opah (moon fish) fillets and some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used up so I put it all together for a tasty and not-too-heavy dinner, that I was able to cook in one pot for the asparagus and one grill pan.


Hugh's recipe calls for goat cheese and we have lovely local goat cheeses that I buy often, but tonight I happened to have leftover mild sheep milk feta in the fridge so I used that instead. The asparagus, baby romaine, cherry tomatoes, and opah are all local. 

 
Hugh says, "Char-grilling is usually associated with meat, but it works wonders with vegetables, too, caramelizing their natural sugars and leaving them tender and deliciously bittersweet. I like to use a firm goat's cheese here, such as Woolsery English Goat, but any firm, not-too-pungent cheese would work well, or go for good old Parmesan."

Char-Grilled Baby Lettuce with Asparagus & Feta
Slightly Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall TheGuardian.com
(Serves 4)

About 1 lb asparagus
4 little gem or other baby lettuces
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

salt and freshly ground black pepper
around 3 oz firm, not-too-strong goat's cheese, or cheese of choice


Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and drop the spears into the boiling water. Blanch for a minute or two (depending on thickness), until al dente, then drain.
 
Meanwhile, cut the lettuces in half down the middle, leaving them joined at the root end. Put in a large bowl with the drained asparagus, add two tablespoons of olive oil, season generously and toss to coat, working the oil and seasoning into the lettuces a little with your hands.
 
Heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add the lettuce halves cut-side down, cook for two minutes until golden brown and wilted on the base, then turn over and cook for a minute or two more. Transfer to a large, warmed serving platter.
 
Now add the asparagus to the pan and cook for about four minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and patched with brown. Arrange on the platter with the lettuce.
 
Thinly slice the cheese (or, if it's particularly crumbly, crumble it) and arrange over the griddled veg. Trickle with a little more oil and serve at once. Add some bread and this makes a great starter, but it's also a delicious side dish.


Notes/Results: This was such a good dinner! It was quick and easy to make--a pot for blanching the asparagus--needed in this case as the local asparagus was quite thick, and one grill pan for the lettuce, then the asparagus, and then the opah. I kept the opah simple--just salt, pepper, and a tiny sprinkle of smoked paprika grilled to perfection and served with lemon. It worked well with the sweet cherry tomatoes and the baby lettuce-asparagus mix. The grilling brings out the sweetness of the baby lettuce and gives it and the asparagus so much good flavor--complemented by the slightly salty but mild feta that gets nicely softened by the warm vegetables. I will happily make this again. 


I'm linking this recipe up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Get to Grilling! You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

I'm also linking it 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.


Happy Weekend!
 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Another Man's Ground" by Claire Booth, Served with a Recipe for Pecan Delight Ice Cream Pie

Happy Tuesday! I'm happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for Another Man's Ground by Claire Booth, the second book in a Branson, Missouri-set mystery series. Along with my review, I am sharing a recipe for a sinful Pecan Delight Ice Cream Pie, inspired by my reading. 


Publisher's Blurb:

It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledgling political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.

But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.

In Another Man’s Ground, her next novel featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, acclaimed author Claire Booth delivers a taut, witty mystery that will grip readers from the opening pages to the breathless conclusion.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 11, 2017)

My Review:

Last year I reviewed The Branson Beauty, the first book in the series and really liked the main character Sheriff Hank Worth and the Branson Missouri setting, and so I was excited to read Another Man's Ground which takes up shortly after the first book left off. (Note: It is possible to read this book without reading the first book as the author provides an update and the basic back story, but I would recommend reading The Branson Beauty first--it's good, you'll enjoy it, and you'll get to know most of the key players and supporting characters.) In this book, Hank goes to investigate a report of tree bark theft (it's slippery elm that was bringing the owner good money as it was sold to be processed as an herbal supplement) but the investigation takes a turn when a body is discovered on the neighboring property, and the body of a child is discovered soon after. As if the investigations aren't complicated enough, Hank is fighting a recent nemesis for his role of Sheriff--although he was appointed to the role, the coming election will determine whether he keeps his job. If Hank doesn't win, it could be difficult for him to stay in Branson where he and his surgeon wife and kids have come back to live with his recently widowed father-in-law.

Hank is a great character--he is steady, an overall good guy with a great sense of humor, a talented lawman and good boss, husband and father. I like that the two main women in his life, his wife Maggie and his Deputy Sheila are strong women. The supporting characters, especially Hank's team are well-written--even though we don't get to spend much time with many of them. Claire Booth does a good job with writing the cases and the investigations--they seem real and there are enough twists to keep it interesting. I never quite have everything figured out, which I value in a mystery. Although there is a lot going on in the book between the police work for the different cases and Hank's foray into the political arena, it never feels like too much and the pacing is good, especially as the action and tension ramp up to the conclusion. If you like good mysteries, police procedurals, and small town settings, this is a series you will enjoy. I look forward to the third book.   

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Author Notes: Claire Booth spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, much of it covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways.
 
For more about Claire, her books, and some of the true crimes she’s covered, please visit www.clairebooth.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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Food Inspiration:

There is not a focus on food in these books, but there is food to be found--examples include: mentions of sassafras and ginseng, coffee, lasagna, green beans and vegetables, tri-tip steak, granola bars, a luncheon with dry chicken and limp salad, iced tea, soda, a peanut butter sandwich, a Ruben sandwich, bacon, cereal, biscuits and gravy, homemade raisin bread, tossed salad, ham and cheese sandwich, chocolate chip cookies and grape soda, pork chops, cookies, carnitas, chile verde, beef jerky, a Sonic burger, candy bar wrappers, a Snickers bar, iced raspberry Danish, protein bars, and lemonade. 


For my review of the first book, The Branson Beauty, I made a vegan version of the Pecan Delight candies that Hank loves. I was going to go another direction for this book but I kept coming back to those candies and thinking about how I could do something different with the ingredients. I thought about a milkshake or ice cream but then I thought about a Pecan Delight Ice Cream Pie


When I was growing up, I used to melt ice cream and stir in sprinkles and put it in a pie plate--calling it ice cream pie. This is a few steps up from that with a Pecan Sandie cookie shortbread crust, chocolate ice cream, caramel, toasted pecans and chocolate drizzle. Rather than make a large pie, I made 4 small pies in my mini tart pans.  


Pecan Delight Ice Cream Pie
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 Individual Tarts or 1 9-inch Pie)

Crust:
1 1/2 cups of Pecan Sandies cookie crumbs (about 14 cookies
2 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

Filling & Garnish:
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and separated for filling & garnish
5 cups chocolate ice cream, softened enough to be stir-able
1/3 cup caramel ice cream sauce + extra for garnish
1 cup whipped cream
chocolate sauce or melted chocolate to drizzle

To Make Crust: In a small bowl, mix together Pecan Sandies crumbs, sugar and salt and add the melted butter. Stir to combine well. Press mixture evenly into (lightly greased) pie tin or mini tart tins--making sure the bottom and sides are covered with a thin layer of the cookie mixture and chill for 1 hour before using.

To Make Filling: Reserve about 20 or so of the best-looking pecan halves for garnish and chop the rest. Put the softened ice cream into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the chopped pecans and caramel until well mixed. 

To Assemble Pie: Spread the topping evenly on the chilled crust. Freeze pie for 2 to 3 hours before serving. When read to serve, top pie with whipped cream and reserved pecans and drizzle with the caramel sauce and chocolate sauce or melted chocolate if desired. Enjoy!


Notes/Results: I am not going to claim that this is the prettiest pie, but it is decadent and delicious between the Pecan Sandies in crust, the caramel topping, chocolate ice cream, pecans and chocolate drizzle. I should have been a bit more patient with my crusts and pressed them down so that they were thinner--so I could have fit more ice cream in them, but overall, I am pretty happy with the flavors in this and how it turned out. They are pretty rich--I could only eat half of one but I am happy to keep the rest in the freezer and pull them out when a craving strikes. I would happily make them again--especially the crust which was delectable.


I'm 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 Man's Ground" was provided to me by the publisher Minotaur Books and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Asian-Style Cucumber Soup: Cool and Refreshing for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

I eat warm soups year-round, even in the hotter, more humid days of summer. Still, it's nice to enjoy a flavorful cold soup when it's too hot to do much cooking or want to spend much time in the kitchen.


This Asian-Style Cucumber Soup from Mark Bittman is perfect for summer eating. It simple, has fresh flavors, and a kick of spicy heat from the chili pepper. I made a few small changes to the recipe--making it a vegan soup, upping the rice vinegar a bit, and topping it with sesame seeds and chili oil. My changes are in red below.


Asian-Style Cucumber Soup
From Mark Bittman, via TheNewYorkTimes.com
(Serves 4)

2 medium cucumbers
3 Tbsp soy sauce (I used low-sodium tamari)
2 Tbsp  rice or white wine vinegar (I added an extra Tbsp)
1 small chili, stemmed, seeded and minced, or 1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
2 tsp sugar (I used agave)
3 cups chicken stock, chilled (I used low sodium-no-chicken veggie broth)
1/2 cup minced scallions, both white and green parts
1 cup chopped watercress or arugula (optional)
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, mint, Thai basil or a combination
(I used all three) 

Peel cucumbers, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Slice cucumbers as thinly as possible (a mandoline is ideal for this). Mix them in a bowl with soy sauce, vinegar, chili and sugar, then refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Add stock, scallions, watercress or arugula if you like, and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. (I added another tablespoon of rice vinegar.) Just before serving, garnish with herb or herbs of your choice. (I added a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a few drops of chili oil.)


Notes/Results: This is such a tasty and refreshing soup. I liked it even more than I thought I would. The balance of flavors wit the savory, sweet and acidity works well and the peppery bite of the watercress and the cooling flavor of the herbs is nice. There is a slight kick at the end from the chili, but I liked enhancing it with the chili oil for just a bit more heat. Even if you are leery of or not crazy about cold soups, if you like Asian-flavored cucumber salads and herbs, this one would be a good one to try. It would make a nice starter for some grilled fish or a dinner of sushi. I will happily make it again.


I'm linking this soup up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is our Monthly Ingredient Challenge: Just for Kicks--Spicy Dishes. You can see what spicy dishes everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 


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


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared this lovely Minted Quinoa Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh) and said, "Summer has officially arrived and fresh seasonal vegetable salads are a welcome addition at any gathering. I especially love tabouli ( tabbouleh) made with lots of fresh parsley and fresh mint. ... The vegan and gluten free salad was light, rich in summer vegetables, and tastefully dressed. It's a nice diversion from the
traditional
lettuce and tomato salad."


Here at Kahakai Kitchen I made two delicious open-faced toasts this week, full of mood-enhancing dopamines: Avocado Toast with Sriracha-Garlic Mayo and Banana and Almond Butter with Dark Chocolate Drizzle. Either of these are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or for a sammie snack. 


Mahalo to Judee for joining me 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!