Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Spinach Artichoke Risotto for Cook the Books April/May Selection: Lessons in Chemistry

Hi Friends, it's been a while. Lots of life changes, some good (I got a new job and out of some toxicity) and some bad (I lost my fur baby Max, the best cat ever, and got bronchitis and COVID again and have some lingering breathing junk) and I'm still not doing a whole lot of cooking. I missed our last round of Cook the Books, even though I read the book and I really didn't want to miss this one, so I am coming in right at the wire with my dish for the fabulous, lives-up-to-its-hype novel, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. 

I think you might have to have been living under a big not-reading rock this past year to not hear about this book and see the many gushy reviews about it. It's been on my radar for a while now and this was the push I needed to read it.


Here's the blurb:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show 
Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.  

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, 
Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel: Garmus, Bonnie: 9780385547345: Amazon.com:  Books

My Thoughts: Although I bought a hard copy of the book, I ended up using an Audible credit and listened to most of the book. It was delightful, the narrator captured the characters well and I enjoyed spending time with them. I really loved this novel, it's a charming and smartly written book and a debut novel which is hard to believe, it's so good! I loved Elizabeth Zott, she is just quirky enough of a character to be endearing without overdoing it. Intelligent, strong, funny, and dealing with so much struggle and sexism while making her way as a chemist and a woman in the 1950-60s. The supporting characters were fun--my absolute favorite was Six-Thirty. I could keep talking about the book, it will go down as one of my favorites for the year, but it's been a long day and really, you should just go read it (or listen to it) if you haven't already. I am also in half excitement, and half fear that Apple TV+ will be doing the series but the end of the audiobook was an interview with the author and she seems to think it's in good hands, so, fingers crossed... 



With Elizabeth Zott and her cooking show, there was food in the book. Dishes like baked spaghetti Bolognese, chicken pot pie, broccoli and mushroom casserole, vinegar, and brownies. I know there were more mentions but it was hard to keep track with the audiobook. 

I took inspiration from a spinach casserole Elizabeth made. I was thinking spinach and rice but rather than something baked in the oven, my thoughts turned to risotto which I love to make (the zen of stirring) and to eat. Given the fact that I am working remotely from home, but still remain super busy and not wanting to spend a lot of time or dirty up many dishes, I decided to add a little pre-made magic to my homemade risotto dinner and so I bought a container of parmesan spinach artichoke dip from the deli and also added a can of halved artichoke hearts and pre-shredded cheese. (OK, so I was having a dip craving too!) I'd like to think Elizabeth would understand the shortcuts, even if she wouldn't have approved them!  


Spinach Artichoke Risotto
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen  
(Serves 4-ish


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tsp salt
1 cup dry white wine, room temperature
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or non-chicken stock, warmed 
1 (8 oz) container prepared spinach artichoke dip or homemade
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into bite-size wedges 
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or other favorite cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan + more to top 
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon juice or to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat add the butter, shallots and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly. Add the rice and salt and stir with a wooden spoon to coat all the kernels with oil. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes, or until the rice is sizzling. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it is almost completely absorbed. Now begin adding the chicken broth, one cup at a time, stirring frequently between additions. 

After the first cup is almost entirely absorbed, add the next cup. Continue in this way until the rice is cooked through and you have a creamy risotto, about 20 minutes in all. (The risotto should be slightly loose, not dry; it should run off your spoon. If it gets too dry, add a bit more broth.) Gently stir in the prepared spinach dip, artichoke hearts, cheeses and black pepper and warm through. Taste and add lemon juice, salt and more black pepper as need. Serve and enjoy.

Notes/Results: Oh yeah, this was tasty comfort food and other than the stirring time, quick and easy to put together. The dip blended right into the risotto and the extra cheese didn't hurt. If you wanted more protein, some chicken would be nic but I was more than satisfied with it as written. I will happily make this again. 



So, yes, the deadline for this round of Cook the Books is today, but if you want to join in the next one, Simona of Briciole will be hosting our June/July pick, Food Americana by David Page (May 2021).
 

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson, Served with a Recipe for Carrot-Pineapple Cupcakes

I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for the buzz-worthy new novel The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Carrot Pineapple Cupcakes with Apricot Cream Frosting that fits the essence of the book. 

Publisher's Blurb:

From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring and redemptive novel set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.

1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.

Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.


                                                    Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 7, 2023) 
                                                                            Hardcover: 384 pages


My Review: 

I had a feeling I was going to enjoy The House of Eve from the start--historical fiction is my jam. I had to keep reminding myself not to order it from my monthly book club subscription because I had signed up for the tour--especially hard when publishing got delayed for the very good reason that it was picked for Reese Witherspoon's book club and it started generating lots of buzz. It's great when a book gets a lot of hype, and ends up deserving it. Sadeqa Johnson has written a compelling story about strong young black women and the hardships and choices they faced in the 1950s. 

Teenage Ruby doesn't have an easy life, left to live with her aunt when her uncaring mother's boyfriend focuses his attention on her. She is studying hard to gain a scholarship and be the first one in her family to attend college when she meets a young Jewish boy and their hidden relationship results in pregnancy. Eleanor is attending Howard University when she meets William, studying to be a doctor and from one of the upper crust black families in Washington DC. They are in love, but his mother doesn't approve and isn't happy when pregnancy speeds up their marriage plans. Their stories are told in different ways, Ruby's in first person and Eleanor's in third person, which I wasn't sure was going to work, but it did. Both of their stories and how they dealt with their circumstances were engrossing and I found myself quickly caught up in their plights. 

The House of Eve is not a light read, but it's a good and ultimately hopeful one. I appreciated the author's afterword about how she came to write the novel and the lack of information compiled and published on unwed black women. She noted, "I'm drawn to writing historical fiction because I feel charged to tell the truth about American history, whether grim or happy." Sadeqa Johnson is a talent and her storytelling has me moving her novel, Yellow Wife, up to the top of my TBR pile.   

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Author Notes: Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of four novels, including Yellow Wife. Her accolades include the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the USA Best Book Award for Best Fiction. She is a Kimbilio Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and a Tall Poppy Writer. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children. To learn more, visit SadeqaJohnson.net.

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There were food mentions throughout the book such as scrapple, okra, and fried fish, tuna salad, chocolate-covered pretzels, ice cream and candy, chicken soup with matzoh balls, pastrami sandwiches, spaghetti, seafood salad, wilted spinach, cocktail shrimp, cheese and Ritz crackers, stew, avocado with vegetables, sweet tea, biscuits, crab cakes and sunny-side-up eggs, and poundcake, pies and baked goods.

When William is seeking forgiveness from Eleanor, he brings her a big piece of carrot cake from the bakery. It made me crave a good carrot cake, and so I decided to showcase these carrot cupcakes I made back in 2009. They lean to the healthy as they are from a spa cookbook, but they are delicious--the pineapple and applesauce make them very moist. 


Carrot-Pineapple Cake with Apricot Cream Frosting
Adapted from Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta
(Makes one 8-inch cakes or 12 cupcakes)

The book says, "Most carrot cakes deliver healthy ingredients with loads of fat. In this very simple, moist cake, applesauce is substituted for the usual oil, and crushed pineapple adds moistness and flavor. The cake is delicious even without the creamy frosting--try serving it lightly dusted with powdered sugar, alongside a citrus salad or fresh pineapple."  

2 eggs
zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups grated carrots
1 1/4 cups drained crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened

Apricot Cream Frosting:
6 dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 oz Neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush an 8-inch pan with oil. 

Beat the eggs with the orange zest and sugar until thick. Stir in the applesauce and the vanilla. Sift the flours, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture, then fold in the carrots, pineapple, and coconut.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting, soak the apricots in hot water until they are very soft. Drain thoroughly. With a hand mixer, whip the Neufchatel until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar and the 1/4 tsp vanilla, fold in the apricots. Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooked cake, and cut into thin wedges to serve. 

Note: The cookbook suggests variations such as adding 1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked and drained to batter, sprinkling the chopped apricots over the cake instead of mixing them in the frosting, adding chopped pecans to the batter, or making it as a loaf cake or cupcakes.


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Note: A review copy of "The House of Eve" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

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


Book Review Tour Stops:

Friday, March 3rd@bookmom22
Friday, March 3rd: IG: @mamabookwormreads  and TT: @mamabookwormreads 
Friday, March 3rd@addictedtobooks86
Saturday, March 4th@stephreadsalot on TikTok 
Monday, March 6th@notinjersey – REVIEW
Monday, March 6th@storytimewithshelbs on TikTok 
Wednesday, March 8th@subakka.bookstuff – REVIEW
Wednesday, March 8th@lindahamiltonwriter on TikTok – REVIEW
Thursday, March 9thRun Wright and @karen_runwrightreads – REVIEW
Thursday, March 9th@bookdragon217 – REVIEW
Friday, March 10th5 Minutes for Books – REVIEW
Friday, March 10thKahakai Kitchen – REVIEW
Monday, March 13 thHelen’s Book Blog – REVIEW
Tuesday, March 14th: Books Cooks Looks – REVIEW
Wednesday, March 15th: @rachellelovesbooks – REVIEW
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Scampi Pasta for Cook the Books Dec/Jan Selection: Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman

Even when I host the selection for Cook the Books, our bi-monthly virtual foodie book club, I still manage to be the last entry in! 

I selected the novel, Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman, for our because it had been hanging out on my Kindle TBR pile for ages and I thought the story of a friendship between two women, several decades apart in age, would be light and charming.


 Here's the blurb from the publisher:

An unlikely friendship between two stubborn, lonely souls anchors this big-hearted book and dares us all to ask for more. 

When her life falls apart on the eve of her 40th birthday, Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily's tongue is as sharp as her mind, but she's fed up with pretty much everything. 

Having no patience for Kate's choices in life or love, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book...of sorts. Thought for Food: an unintentionally funny 1950s cookbook high on enthusiasm, featuring menus for anything life can throw at the "easily dismayed," such as: 

  • Breakfast with a Hangover 

  • Tea for a Crotchety Aunt 

  • Dinner for a Charming Stranger

As she and Cecily break out of their ruts, Kate will learn far more than recipes. 

I will say that it took  me a while to get into the book. I found both Kate and Cecily to be annoying in different ways, but eventually both characters grew on me and I found myself rooting for Kate and understanding and liking Cecily. Although she was brusque and domineering, she had Kate's best interests at heart and pushed her toward better and happier life choices.

The cookbook snippets and menu titles were probably my favorite thing about the book. I would love to have a copy of Thought for Food: A Cookbook for Entertaining Occasions by Esther Shavin on my shelves. I just wish there had be some recipes included. 

Overall, once I got into the book, I enjoyed this story and friendship. It made me smile and it made me tear up. I am happy that it finally made it out of the bottomless pit of my TBR. 

There was plenty of food inspiration in the book, between the dishes Kate cooked and ideas in the cookbook. Ultimately, I wanted pasta and was at first going to make a carbonara. Then, although I should take points off because Kate cooked it as part of a meal for her useless boyfriend Nick, I got intrigued by the fried scampi that was part of "Dinner for the Man You Hope to Marry." I decided to just combine the scampi (non-fried) with buttery, garlicky noodles for one. I call it "A Quick But Indulgent Dinner When You are Tired as Hell."  Yes, I did throw it in a blow (bright yellow/gold to sorta match the cover of the book) and eat it on my couch with chopsticks because sometimes noodles eaten with chopsticks are just more fun. 

Quick and Easy Scampi Pasta for One (or Two If You Must)
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

About 1/2 lb pasta--I like linguine, dried or fresh
tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarsely-minced garlic
1/2 lb jumbo or colossal shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen easy peel extra jumbo 16-20)
sea salt  and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup white wine or chicken stock
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in water (salted like the sea) and according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, melt butter in a saucepan over medium high heat with the olive oil and add in the garlic and shrimp. Season with salt and  black pepper to taste. Stir continuously, turning shrimp until it just turns pink, about 2-3 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp

Pour in the white wine or chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Stir in lemon juice and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to coat with the butter. 

Top with parsley and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy immediately. 

Notes/Results: Butter, garlic, noodles, shrimp... need I say more? You could add capers or crushed red pepper flakes if you are inclined and up the amount of cheese (I didn't realize I was almost out). Excuse the bad photos, I came home from work tired as hell, tossed it together and ate it on the couch with chopsticks while I binge-watched the first four episodes of Poker Face on the Peacock channel which I think is going to be a new favorite. Like Columbo only with Natasha Lyonne.   

As this round is over, I will be rounding up the entries at the Cook the Books site in the next few days. If you missed this round and like food and books and foodie books, please join us for our February/March selection, The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan, hosted by my fellow Hawaii blogger, Claudia of Honey From Rock.

 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of Cinderella and the Duke by Lydia Drake, Served with Recipes for Two Sweet & Tart Lemon "Puddings"

I'm excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Cinderella and the Duke by Lydia Drake. Accompanying my review of this Regency romance are links to two sweet and tart lemon desserts. 

Publisher's Blurb:

Miss Julia Beaumont has exactly one night to find herself a husband…

The Weatherford Ball is the last chance Julia Beaumont has to escape the clutches of her horrid stepmother. Any potential husband will do–rich, poor, even a reasonably well-groomed walrus. But all of Julia’s matrimonial chances are completely obliterated…thanks to the actions of an infuriating and utterly rakish duke.

Gregory Carter, Duke of Ashworth, would never risk his cherished bachelorhood by flirting with marriage-starved debutantes. But one look at the luscious and refreshingly clever Julia, and he simply can’t resist a stolen kiss–scandal be damned. Then just as things start getting deliciously interesting, the lady flees…leaving only a slipper behind.

And it must have been one dandy of a kiss. Because now Julia has proposed to him. After all, the lady needs a husband, and this roguish duke will certainly do. It’s simply a matter of making him the perfect scandalous offer…

Publisher: Entangled: Amara (December 27, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

My Review:

Cinderella and the Duke was a cute Regency romance and fairytale retelling but I feel slightly mislead. I signed up for the book tour after reading a description that said, "The clock strikes midnight with Lydia Drake's sparkling new Regency series that blends Pride and Prejudice and Cinderella in one romantic romp." So, as I am reading through the book, I can't figure out how this story has Pride and Prejudice in its blend components and I go back to Amazon, and there is NOTHING there that mentions P&P. I start thinking maybe I was crazy (always a possibility) and then I finally find the blurb on the book description on Litsy. Anyway, I might not have signed up if I had known it was only a Cinderella-ish story (there's an evil stepmother and a left-behind shoe), but the book was engaging enough and the heroine charming enough that I enjoyed it. It's a debut for author Lydia Drake and I liked the humor, especially the wit and banter back and forth between Julia and Gregory. As often in romance and historical romance, there are misunderstandings that could have easily been cleared up with some communication and a few plot points that seemed a bit forced but overall, if you like Regency romances with a fair about of spice and fairytale vibes, you should enjoy it. 

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Author Notes: Lydia Drake is a reader of all things romance and a drinker of all the tea. A New Jersey resident, her favorite activities include taking the train to New York City, scouring used bookstores, spending time with her family, and wrangling her hyperactive cockapoo puppy. She loves talking romance with her fans.

Connect with Lydia on Instagram: @the_lydia_drake

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For food inspiration, there's not a lot--mainly tea and pastries, picnics and pastries, and a bowl of stew and a beer at an inn. For an old-fashioned-ish English dessert, I would recommend either one of the lemon desserts below from Nigel Slater.  The combination of tart and sweet reminds me of the personality of the main character too!





Note: A review copy of "Cinderella and the Duke" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

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


Book Tour Review Stops:

Monday, January 2ndLaura’s Reviews  and @laurasreviews_1
Monday, January 2ndRomantic Reads and Such
Wednesday, January 4th@daniereads87
Thursday, January 5th@ladywithaquill
Thursday, January 5thBooks, Cooks, Looks
Friday, January 6th@sarahs.bookstack
Monday, January 9thFrom the TBR Pile
Wednesday, January 11th@infinite.readlist
Wednesday, January 11th@plottrysts
Wednesday, January 11thBecky on Books
Thursday, January 12thKahakai Kitchen
Friday, January 13thStranded in Chaos
Tuesday, January 17th: @1bookmore and One Book More 
Tuesday, January 17thJathan & Heather
Wednesday, January 18th@temmathomas
Thursday, January 19thSatisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Friday, January 20th@sarahs.bookish.reviews 

 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Simple (and Edible) Pasta E Fagioli and Pesto Bread for Cook the Books October/November Selection: Cooking with Fernet Branca

Yes, I am a day late for our Cook the Books October/November Selection: Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson and hosted by Simona of briciole. I could give you plenty of excuses but it's mostly work, life and just not spending much time in the kitchen. Also, and I'll address this later--the food inspiration wasn't strong in this book, so I finally made something that I was craving, Pasta e Fagioli and Bread with Pesto to dip into it. 


Publisher's Blurb:

Gerald Samper, an effete English snob, has his own private hilltop in Tuscany where he whiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions––including ice cream made with garlic and the bitter, herb-based liqueur known as Fernet Branca. But Gerald’s idyll is about to be shattered by the arrival of Marta, on the run from a crime-riddled former Soviet republic, as a series of misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and more disastrous proximity . . .


My Thoughts:

This was quite the quirky book and one that would not have been on my radar without Simona and Cook the Books. At times very funny, at times a little annoying (mainly Gerald, but occasionally Marta) and never once did it make me crave food--which I guess was the satirical point of it. At least I am hoping that the many recipes using otter and cat were a joke. I think you have to be a fan of farce, especially British farce and humor to fully appreciate it. Gerald, a British biography writer, is such a priss and Marta, a Eastern European composer so very down to earth, yet mysterious, and these neighbors don't get a long, or think much of each other. Gerald is always perfecting crazy recipes with the above mentioned ingredients, and there is copious amounts of Fernet Branca, an herby liqueur that I have never tried, but that Gerald and Marta seem to think each other drinks to excess. There are Italian directors and British boy bands and lots of misunderstandings and adventures. Overall, an amusing romp, it kept me reading it to see what would happen, but I probably wouldn't revisit it or look for the two other books featuring Gerald. 


As stated before, not a lot of craveable food was in the pages with the exception of some Florentine cookies and a dish of cold eggplant with pesto that sounded delicious. Gerald seems to try to come up with the most obscure and disgusting dishes he could work on "perfecting."

For my bookish dish, I had some leftover Thanksgiving turkey legs and I wanted a soup with pasta and beans--so of course pasta e fagioli, and then I put the pesto from the eggplant dish onto some French bread with a little dusting of parmesan. Simple (and edible, thank you) comfort food. 

Simple Turkey Pasta e Fagioli
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4 to 6)  

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 large onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each dried oregano and dried basil + two bay leaves
6 cups vegetable stock + extra if desired 
1 can diced tomatoes + juice
2 cups cooked or canned beans (I used borlotti from the import section of my local grocery store)
the meat from one large cooked turkey drumstick, finely chopped, optional
1 heaping cup elbow macaroni or other small pasta 

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Put the oil in a large, soup pot over medium heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it softens and starts to turn brown, about 15 minutes. 
Add the garlic and dried herbs and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the stock and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring every now and then, about 20 minutes. 

Add the  beans, turkey meat if using, and the pasta, and adjust the heat once again so the mixture simmers. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference with salt and pepper. Serve, garnished with pesto bread slices on top. 

Notes/Results: Just a simple, homey and meaty soup that hit the spot for a week spent with a stuffy nose. For the pesto bread, I just toasted French bread slices and spread them with store-bought pesto and then sprinkled finely grated parmesan cheese on top. There are very tasty dipped into the soup. I would make both again.



So, yes, the deadline for this round of Cook the Books was yesterday, but if you want to join in the next one, I will be hosting our December/January round with the novel, Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicki Zimmerman here at Kahakai Kitchen.
 

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of Imperfect Angel by Christi Barth, Served with Greek-Style Orzo Salad

Happy Aloha Friday! I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for a new paranormal romance, Imperfect Angel by Christi Barth. Accompanying my review is a link to a recipe for Greek-Style Orzo Salad inspired by the reading. 

Publisher's Blurb:

Three days ago, all Maisy Norgate had was a stack of bills, about a gazillion jobs, and her sunny-as-hell outlook. Now, thanks to an uncle she never knew about, she’s inherited an ornate skeleton key with absolutely no idea what it’s for–or why she has it. Which is exactly when a ridiculously handsome guy claiming to be an angel shows up at her door and all hell breaks loose…

Nephilim Rhys Boyce cannot believe that Maisy is the new Keeper of the Key. Why would anyone bequeath this warm, bubbly redhead the key to Hell? And to make matters worse, she’s given the key to the first person who asked for it. A demon. Yep, Maisy is determined to make his job–not to mention some seriously inconvenient temptation–as hard as possible.

First a half angel with a very human chip on his shoulder must find a way to convince Maisy that angels and demons do exist. Then Rhys will have to break the really bad news…that she might have accidentally ended the world.




My Review:

If you looked up peppy and optimistic in the dictionary, you would likely find Maisy Norgate's picture there. In spite of the fact she lost her parents at a young age and is currently doing multiple odd jobs when she really wants to be an artist doesn't get her down. When she gets an inheritance from an uncle she ever knew she had and it turns out to be an old ornate key, she promptly gives it away as she has no use for it and that's a mistake. Her uncle was the last "Keeper of the Key" and now that responsibility of keeping the gates of Hell locked and the demons inside has fallen to her. Rhys Boyce is Nephilim, a half human, half angel warrior and a grumpy, pessimistic one at that.  He and his friends and partners Gideon and Zavier are freelance warriors and tasked with protecting Maisy during her transition to Keeper with some pretty serious consequences if they can't get the key back and get her transitioned in two weeks. 

I was looking for something light and fun and Imperfect Angel was that--a paranormal romance with some snark thrown in was a great escape from some other reads I had going. It has some spice and steam, angels and demons and some definite steam and spice. Maisy and Rhys are a likable pair, complete opposites in personality and lots of snarky banter. Gideon and Zavier and Maisy's best friend and roommate Liss are entertaining too. There are no big surprises here but it is an engaging, endearing and quick read. This is my first book from the author and I hope that she returns with another story set in this world. 

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Author Notes: USA Today bestselling author Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Aisle Bound series.

Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world. 

Connect with her at christibarth.com

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There was some food inspiration in the book. Maisy works a coffee shop and decorates the cupcakes, cookies and other pastries and there are beers and cocktails. Phish Food ice cream is Rhys's favorite and Maisy cooks him a dinner of Greek turkey meatballs with lemon orzo and tzatziki.  Since I love Greek food, I am linking up this Greek-Style Orzo Salad, adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. You can find the link to the recipe here.

Note: A review copy of "Imperfect Angel" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

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


Reviews:

Wednesday, November 2nd: Romantic Reads and Such
Wednesday, November 2nd@books.with.courtney
Wednesday, November 2nd: @booksandcoffeemx
Thursday, November 3rd: From the TBR Pile
Friday, November 4th: temmathomas
Monday, November 7th: @readaholicdeb
Tuesday, November 8th: @transportedlfl
Wednesday, November 9th: @nerdy_book_lover_1987
Wednesday, November 9thStranded in Chaos
Saturday, November 12th: @thealissadecimalsystem
Monday, November 14th: @randi_reads 
Tuesday, November 15th: @beastreader and Cheryl’s Book Nook 
Wednesday, November 16th: @shopcoffeekids
Wednesday, November 16th@books_n_yogapants
Thursday, November 17th: @biblio.jojo
Thursday, November 17th: @books_wine_and_sunshine
Friday, November 18th: @whatkarinareads
Friday, November 18th: Kahakai Kitchen