Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Salmon Nicoise Platter for Cook the Books October/November Pick: "The Patriarch" by Martin Walker

It's the day before Thanksgiving and you might be hanging out in your kitchen prepping for tomorrow. Since you likely have your menu down already, rather than posting a Turkey Day-related dish or side dish, I recommend making Ina Garten's Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad to munch on while you are cooking or to recover from any shopping you do on Friday. It hits the balance of being hearty and satisfying, but is still light enough to cure any over-indulging that may have occurred. It's also my dish for this round of our virtual foodie book club, Cook the Books, where our October/November selection is The Patriarch by Martin Walker, hosted by Claudia of Honey From Rock.

The Patriarch is the tenth book (in a series of twelve so far) of a popular mystery series set in the Dordogne region of southwestern France. The main character serves as Chief of Police of a small town called St. Denise. Benoit Courreges--called Bruno--is 40-ish, a former soldier and very into food and cooking in between and around solving crime in his town and region. In this book they mystery involves the supposed murder of a guest at a birthday party for one of Bruno's childhood heroes, a former World War II flyer known as "the Patriarch." Although the death is at first written off as an accident, Bruno has his suspicions that the death of this longtime friend of the Patriarch was not accidental and there seems to be some collusion and cover up going on within the Patriarch's family and involving the dead man's Soviet ties. There is also a subplot of a local woman 'hoarding' wild deer on her property, along with relationship challenges for Bruno to deal with.

It took me a long while to start and get into The Patriarch, probably because I have a "thing" about not reading series books out of order and with this being the tenth book, there was no way I was going to fit the previous books into my reading schedule. I like to have the characters' back stories and nuances and to see relationships unfold--especially when there are many characters to keep track of, as there often are in police procedural mysteries. Add to that the complexity of understanding the hierarchy and roles of the French police and justice systems--there is some explanation of the roles in the book but I still found it a bit confusing to keep track of who was who and who did what. Once I did get clicking along in the story, I enjoyed it and I can see why my co-host Claudia likes these books and Bruno. The food descriptions are good and made me long for a trip to the French countryside. It's hard to resist a man who cooks as well as Bruno appears to and although he has his flaws, he is a character that is both interesting and likable. The other characters are not as deeply drawn or explored in this single book and the ending was a bit too abrupt for me--I wanted more details, motivations of different characters, and a longer wrap-up, especially given I had the perpetrator pegged from the beginning of the book. But overall, I did like the book and would look to going back to the start of the series if I can work them in and my library has them available. 

Food Inspiration:

There is quite a lot of food to be found in The Patriarch--Bruno is a foodie, cook, maker of homemade pâté and jams, hunter, and wine connoisseur--among other things and food descriptions heavily pepper the book--my favorite part of reading it. Mentions included lamb with Monbazillac wine, rosemary and mint, smoked trout with horseradish and cream, Rillettes de Canard (duck pâté), roast chicken, petits pois (peas) with carrots, crème brûlée, lasagna, omelette, smoked salmon, foie gras, flammkuchen (a pizza-like tart from Alsace), tomato-basil and lettuce and chives salads, croissants and coffee, pickled mushrooms, cream of mushroom, cold vegetable and carrot-ginger soups, homemade raspberry jam, fish pie with mashed potatoes and cheese, pavlova with hazelnut meringue, citron presse, steak frites, pizza, wild boar with herbs, baked potatoes, bread, venison, enchaud de porc with Pommes de Terre Sarladaises (potatoes with garlic and duck fat) shaved truffles, and a picnic spread of a whole salmon, ham, salads, cheese, lobster tails and claws. 

Reading about a lunch Bruno attends, "It's a simple lunch, salade Nicoise, bread, cheese, and fruit." (sounds pretty perfect to me) I was soon craving a Nicoise salad. It's one of my favorite composed salads (here's an Indian-inspired ahi version I made and loved) and I love the grilled ahi tuna Nicoise that Nordstrom Cafe serves. I was going to go with an Ina Garten recipe that included grilled tuna and a potato salad on the plate but then I saw her Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter and knew I wanted to make it. Towards the end of the book, a whole salmon makes an appearance and Bruno seems to be open to adaptations to classic foods if they taste good, so it seemed like a good choice.

Ina's recipe feeds twelve but I cut down the recipe to feed 3 or 4--giving me enough for leftovers. In addition to the salmon fillet (I splurged on a piece of extra oily and delicious New Zealand King Salmon), I grabbed an ahi fillet (not shown) to cook the next day and change up my leftovers. Since I was working with just one salmon fillet, I pan-seared it instead of roasting. I love the blackened crust the marinade gives--which when cooked right and not over-cooked, yields a buttery moist interior. So delicious. 

Salmon Nicoise Platter
Very Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten via
(Serves 12)

4 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 lbs skin-on fresh salmon fillets
3 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds haricots verts, stems removed
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (6 small tomatoes) (I used cherry tomatoes)
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2
1 bunch watercress or arugula (I used arugula)
1/2 pound large green olives, pitted
1 can anchovies, optional (I omitted & used anchovy-stuffed green olives)

1/4 cup champagne vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil (I used mac nut oil)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.(If using--I pan-seared and cooked my salmon)

For the marinade, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the salmon on a sheet pan that has been covered in aluminum foil, and drizzle the marinade over the salmon. Allow the salmon to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in thick slices and set aside.

Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and break into large pieces. (Note: I marinated the salmon as directed then cooked it in a pan on the stove with a bit of mac nut oil, searing the outside and cooking it until not quite cooked through.)

Blanch the haricots verts in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and set aside.

For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Set aside.

Arrange the salmon, potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes, eggs, watercress, olives and anchovies, if used, on a large flat platter. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the fish and vegetables and serve the rest in a pitcher on the side.

Notes/Results: This salad is delicious--simple but full of color, flavor and texture and it is visually stunning--always a bonus. Ina's marinade went well with the salmon--giving it a nice lemony flavor. There's a bit of prep involved with putting together this salad but it is not hard and things (like the hard boiled eggs) can be prepared ahead of time. Ina recommends pairing this platter with a Chardonnay but I like a crisper, fruity wine with the oily fish and served it with a crisp Pinot Gris. I did buy baguette to serve with the salad  but I forgot about it for the pictures. Also, since the entire salad wasn't going to be consumed in one sitting, I didn't drizzle the vinaigrette over the platter, just served it on the side to pour over the individual plates. I was happy with the way this turned out and would happily make it again.

The deadline for this round is on Thursday, November 30th and Claudia will be rounding up the entries on the CTB site soon after. If you missed this round and love food, books, and foodie books, join us for  when we will be Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Crystal King, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats.

And I'm linking it up a bunch of places: ;-)

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs our theme is A Table To Be Thankful For--Ina Garten dishes that we would be happy and thankful to have on any table. Check out the picture links on the post to see what everyone made. 

And it's my eleventh entry for Foodie Reads 2017. You can check out the November Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.
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.

Finally, it's a salad so I am 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, November 19, 2017

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili (With Homemade Soy Chorizo Crumbles) for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

With last week's kitchen experiments in using jackfruit in a vegan version of a classic Chicken Noodle Soup being a success, I was inspired this week to make a veg-friendly, yet still meaty and full-of-flavor bowl of chili. I wanted a ground meat texture and lots of flavor, so I decided to make my own tofu chorizo crumbles. With three different beans, tomatoes and lots of spices and love, (plus some delicious toppings) it made for one of the best bowls of chili--either meat-ful or meat-free--that I've eaten.

The chili itself if vegan, but I used leftover real cheese and labne (yogurt cheese) so it makes the entire dish with toppings vegetarian. You could of course use vegan versions of the cheese and sour cream/yogurt cheese or omit them. 

You have to plan ahead for the soy chorizo crumbles--freezing the tofu overnight, then rinsing and draining/pressing out all of the water gives it a chewier, meat-like texture and all of the spices give it the flavor of chorizo. I froze my tofu Friday night, thawed, rinsed and pressed it on Saturday and cooked it up on Sunday. It's more time than actual effort involved, and you could shorten that timeline up by thawing and cooking it on the same day. A tofu press helps but you can squeeze out a lot of the liquid with your fingers so it isn't necessary. 

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili with Homemade Soy Chorizo
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6 to 8)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 to 2 jalapenos, seeds and membrane removed, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 jar Goya Tomato Sofrito, optional (I used it to pop up the flavor)
2 1/2 Tbsp chili powders of choice. I used 1 Tbsp chili powder & 1 chipotle chile powder & 1/2 Aleppo chile powder
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 (28 oz) can or box crushed roasted tomatoes with liquid
1 (28 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with liquid
1 can or 2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can or 2 cups kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can or 2 cups cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup veggie stock
Homemade Soy Chorizo Crumbles (see recipe below)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat and add onion, bell pepper, and jalapenos, cooking about 10 minutes until onion softens and begins to turn golden. Add garlic and saute another minute or two. Add sofrito cooking base and spices ingredients through the liquid smoke and cook for several minutes, until spices are fragrant. 

Add tomatoes and their liquid, the beans and the veggie stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add additional stock or water if chili gets too thick. 

(I sauteed my chorizo crumbles ahead of time but you can make them while the soup cooks--see recipe and process below.) Stir in the finished chorizo crumbles and cook for another 10 minutes so they absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, black pepper and chili powder if desired.

Serve hot, garnished with toppings of choice such as cheese or vegan cheese, sour cream or cashew cream, chopped green onions, these homemade lime pickled onions, pickled jalapenos, and hot sauce. 

Note: For my Homemade Soy Chorizo Crumbles, I used this technique to make the tofu ground meat and added seasonings found in chorizo sausage. Again, plan on giving yourself at least a day to freeze and thaw the tofu before making the crumbles.

Homemade Soy Chorizo Crumbles
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 cups)

1 (1 lb) block of extra-form organic tofu
3 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp white vinegar
! Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp roasted garlic powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 Tbsp ancho chili powder or chili powder of choice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper 

A least a day before freeze tofu in package overnight. Defrost and pour out liquid. Rinse tofu thoroughly several times.  Using a tofu press, or lots of paper towels and your hands, squeeze as much liquid from the tofu as you can. (See more detailed steps of how to do this here.) Crumble tofu into small pieces. 

Heat canola oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add tofu crumbles and all other ingredients, mix well and cook over medium--until the tofu gets brown and crispy--stirring and breaking up any larger pieces. Drain on paper towels and set aside to use in chili or other dishes.

Notes/Results: OK, this chili is really good. Not just vegetarian chili good, but any chili good. My "soup clients"--carnivore friends that have me make double batches of my weekly soups for them to buy LOVED it and said "Just the right amount of smokiness. As hearty as a meaty chili but feels so much better knowing it's veg." and they called it the best chili they every had. I won't go quite that far but the flavors really popped--especially with all the toppings and the meaty texture was great. A healthy, satisfying chili that won't have you missing the meat--but is heart-healthier, I would happily make it again.

We have some good friends and tasty dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look at what got linked up this week! 

A warm Souper Sundays welcome to Amber of The Hungry Mountaineer who joins up this week with Kerala Style Coconut Vegetable Soup inspired by her travels to that region. She says, "If you are at a bar in India, order a crap beer cocktail and get a free mocktail for your spouse? Seriously? Maybe the lady of the relationship needs alcohol also after peeing in a hole in the ground and missing her flight!Or maybe she just needs some tasty Kerala style coconut based vegetable stew. This soup is amazing!!! Just like all the delicious coconut filled food of the southern tip of India."

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen is here with Preserved Lemon Coriander Orzo Salad and said, "I have to say, it was okay, but it did not work quite as well as the piquancy of the Preserved Lemons did not cling onto the Orzo Pasta so well. I won't grumble though, it filled a little hole in my belly. The best part for me was the fragrant coriander, but then I do like coriander very much."

Linda of shared Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup and said, "Would you like a bowl of sweet potato and carrot soup?  It is delicious and a great way to get your servings of vegetables. This is a quick and easy to soup to make and it freezes well in smaller portions. Regular visitors know I use freezer bags that store flat and take up a lot less space to freeze portions of soup.  This soup keeps its lovely orange colour, even when frozen.  It thaws quickly on the counter and then pours into a mug or bowl."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought "Fish Chowder to Warm Your Bones" and said, "Easy as can be and it made a great dinner. I had made a baguette earlier in the day just to go with this chowder, splendid combination and definitely comfort food. Next time we may make it a seafood chowder and toss in some bay scallops."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I'm sharing a slaw that went along with Ina Garten's Salmon Tacos with Cabbage-Cucumber Slaw and Mashed Avocado. We are calling the slaw a salad and the tacos a sandwich--but whatever you call it, the combination of flavors was delicious and it was an easy and healthy dinner.

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 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, November 17, 2017

Ina's Roasted (Or Pan-Seared) Salmon Tacos with Cabbage-Cucumber Slaw & Mashed Avocado

I was craving tacos and salmon and Ina Garten has a recipe the combines both and sounded great for an easy Friday night dinner. I made a few small changes to the recipe, including reducing the quantities and pan-searing the salmon as I didn't want to bother with turning on the oven for a couple of pieces of fish.

Roasted Salmon Tacos
Slightly Adapted from Cooking For Jeffrey by Ina Garten &
(Serves 6)

Ingredients for the slaw:
3/4 lb green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1/2 seedless cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed & very thinly sliced
1/4 cup good white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp minced fresh dill 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Ingredients for the salmon
olive oil, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 lbs center-cut fresh salmon fillet, skin removed
2 tsp chipotle chile powder (I used a chipotle-garlic spice blend)
1 tsp grated lime zest 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 ripe Hass avocados, seeded and peeled
3/4 tsp Sriracha


At least an hour before you plan to serve the tacos, toss the cabbage, cucumber, vinegar, dill, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cabbage to marinate. 

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush a baking dish with olive oil and place the salmon in it. Mix the chile powder, lime zest, and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with 1 Tbsp of the lime juice and sprinkle with the chipotle seasoning mixture. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until the salmon is just cooked through. (Note: I followed Ina's steps for seasoning the fish but pan fried mine in a bit of mac nut oil in a hot pan--searing the salmon on all sides and cooking it until just cooked through.)

Wrap the tortillas in 2 foil packets and place them in the oven with the salmon. (I toasted mine over my gas grill) Roughly mash the avocados with the remaining 2 Tbsp of lime juice, the Sriracha, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  

To serve, lay 2 warm tortillas on each of 6 plates. Place a dollop of the avocado mixture on one side of each tortilla, then some large chunks of salmon, and finally, some of the slaw. Fold the tortillas in half over the filling (they will be messy!) and serve warm.

Notes/Results: I was intrigued by Ina's combination of the different components but it all worked together amazingly well for some really good salmon tacos. I liked the slaw as I am a big dill fan (you could sub in cilantro or another herb if you aren't) and the touch of sriracha in the guacamole--it wasn't too spicy but there was a nice warmth in the back of my throat. They are pretty messy, so have forks and napkins handy--but they are worth a little mess. I think this is one of the healthier Ina recipes I have cooked/come across, so not only are these tacos the way to her husband Jeffrey's heart (our IHCC theme for the week), I think more recipes and dinners like this would be good for Jeffrey's heart health too! ;-) It all goes together quickly once you have your slaw chilled and tastes great and so I would happily make this recipe again.  

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are cooking The Way to Jeffrey's Heart this week--Ina's recipes that her husband Jeffery loves--which I think pretty much means any Ina recipe! You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.  

Since this recipe features slaw--a salad, and tacos are sandwich-like, I am linking to Souper Sundays here at Kahakai Kitchen. Every Sunday, I round up delicious soups, salads & sandwiches that are linked up on that week's post. You can see the details of how to join in on this week's post.

 Happy Aloha Friday!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Hiddensee" by Gregory Maguire, Served with a Recipe for Mulled Hard Cider (Glühmost) and Pear Toast with Pomegranate & Toasted Walnuts

Someone reminded me that it was just under six weeks to Christmas. Yikes! Today's stop on the TLC Book Tour of Hiddensee, (the new fantasy book by Greogry Maguire that brings the story of the toy maker that carved the Nutcracker to life) has some obvious ties to the holidays--like the famous Nutcracker Ballet that is a tradition for so many. I'm pairing today's book review with a snack (afternoon please--there is alcohol!) of Mulled Hard Cider (Glühmost) and Pear Toast with Pomegranate and Toasted Walnuts--two dishes that would be more than welcome at the holiday table.

Publisher's Blurb:

From the author of the beloved #1 New York Times bestseller Wicked, the magical story of a toymaker, a nutcracker, and a legend remade . . .

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists’ colony– a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .

Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann– the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann’s mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults– a fascination with death and the afterlife– and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 31, 2017)

My Review: 

I jumped on this tour when I saw that Gregory Maguire was adapting the story of the Nutcracker both because of the story subject and because I hadn't picked up a Maguire book in a few years. I was a big fan of Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and I liked Mirror Mirror and Lost, but although I own them, I just never got around to reading his other works--something I intend to do one of these days.

Hiddensee is similar to the other books in that it is a secondary character that takes the lead and the bulk of the storytelling. In this case, rather than focusing on the Nutcracker, or even Klara, it is the toy maker, Herr Drosselmeier who presents the Nutcracker to Klara on Christmas Eve. Hiddensee leans to the darker side, as Maguire stories tend to do and takes us to the forbidding deep woods where the young Dirk was a foundling, raised by a woodcutter and his wife. It's not a happy childhood, nor is how he leaves it and goes out into the world, but his story is for the most part interesting (a few chapters dragged a bit for me), as is how the Nutcracker came to be and how he ended up as a gift to a young girl.

If you go into Hiddensee expecting lots of dancers and sugar plum fairies or even much of a Christmas story, you will be disappointed but if you enjoy a quirky, slightly dark story that aligns with Grimm's Fairy Tales and Germanic folklore you will likely get caught up in Dirk Drosselmeier's journey. Although it didn't win my heart as much as Wicked or Ugly Stepsister, I think it is a worthy addition to my Maguire collection. (And I do have to say that I love both the paper jacket--which is gorgeous and the printed book underneath--which is creepy/cool--check out the last picture of the post for a glimpse.)  


Author Notes: Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly StepsisterLostMirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes WickedSon of a WitchA Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
Find out more about Maguire at his website and follow him on Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

There was a good amount of food in Hiddensee and it provided plenty of inspiration with things like mushrooms, ale, bread, chicken, sausage, stew, potatoes, lots of bread and cheese, red apples, figs, venison, carrots in honey, noodle pudding, sweet cakes,  pastries with gooseberry jam, wurst with soft yellow cheese, veal stew, potato dumplings, strudel, onions, shelled beans, strawberries, sauerbraten, black cherry conserve, bread dumplings, headcheese, pomegranates and walnuts, schnapps, gingerbread, fesenjan (Iranian stew), baklava, raspberry pastry, pork and apples, pickled onions, sliced apples in honey, veal with lemons and carrots, and thin-shaven potato in vinegar, boiled sweets,steamy aromatic cider, chicken and olive soup, pear toast and biscuits with honey icing, cabbage with fennel seed and caraway, soup, fish, whipped eggnog and pfeffernusse.

For my book-inspired dish, I decided to combine a few things. First "a cup of cider, aromatic and steamy" is given to Drosselmeier sounded so good that I decided to make a mulled hard cider. Then young Klara imagines a café where on the menu is "...chicken and olive soup. Also some pears on toast. And what else. Some biscuits with honey icing." I thought it would be fun to do the pears on toast but add some pomegranates and walnuts to it--as both play a role in the story and to use labne (yogurt cheese) as a base and drizzle it with honey. Together with the mulled hard cider, it makes a nice snack to enjoy with a good book.

There were a few different recipes online for Mulled Hard Cider (I learned it is called Glühmost and is more popular in South Germany and Austria, consumed in the winter months as a changed from mulled wine). The recipe that I liked best is from a blog called The Kitchen Maus where the blogger used to (she's been on maternity leave since last year) has a passion for making authentic German recipes. She has a good write up on it that I encourage you to read. I kept her recipe ingredients mostly the same--just making a few small changes to her quantities to my tastes and noted in red below. 

Mulled Hard Cider (Glühmost)
Slightly Adapted from Diony at
(Serves about 4)

4 cups (or two 16oz cans) of Dry Hard Cider (I used 3 12-oz bottles Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Hard Cider)
4 slices of lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves (optional--I omitted)
2 star anise
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled
(I added 1 cup apple cider) (optional)
honey to taste (I used 2 Tbsp)
1/3 cup of Orange Juice (optional)

Place all ingredients except for orange juice into a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium-high heat--being careful not to boil--so the alcohol remains. Reduce heat to low and let cider steep about 20 minutes. add the orange juice a few minutes before it's finished and allow it to warm up.

Pour the cider through a sieve and discard solids. Serve hot, garnishing with extra lemon slices, apple slices, star anise and/or cinnamon sticks as desired. 

Pear Toast with Pomegranate & Walnuts
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 as a snack)

2 pieces thickly-sliced good bread (I used cranberry-walnut bread)
3 Tbsp labne, yogurt, ricotta or cream cheese (I used labne)
1 ripe pear of choice
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp walnuts, toasted & chopped
2 Tbsp pomegranate arils/seeds

Toast bread until lightly browned. Let cool for a few minutes and spread with labne (or yogurt, ricotta, cream cheese...)

Core and thinly slice pear and brush the slices with lemon juice. Layer pear slices on top of toast and drizzle with the honey.

Sprinkle tops of toast with chopped toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds and serve. 

Notes/Results: I may have to swap out my hot mulled apple cider tea for Glühmost. With the hard cider, it reminds me a bit of a warm apple shandy. Comforting and delicious with the cinnamon, star anise, ginger and lemon. Since the hard cider available to me is fairly sweet and I used both apple cider and orange juice, I reduced the amount of honey and it was a good level of sweetness for me. The pair toast was delicious--a nice alternative to my usual savory avocado toast--but not too sweet due to the fruit and tang of the labne. I will definitely make both of these again.

I'm sharing this post with 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 "Hiddensee" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, 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.