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. 


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


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.


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


Friday, November 4, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of Behind Her Lives by Briana Cole

Happy Aloha Friday! I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Behind Her Lives by Briana Cole

Publisher's Blurb:

From bestselling author Briana Cole, an enthrallingly suspenseful new story of secrets, sibling rivalry, and a woman searching for a missing sister who may not want to be found. For fans of multicultural psychological thrillers and edgy dramas by Shanora Williams, Kiki Swinson, Saundra, Wahida Clark, Ashley & JaQuavis, Victoria Christopher Murray, and Shelly Ellis.

“That’s not my sister.” Overwhelmed by shock and relief, those are the only words Deven can muster when she is called to identify the body of a suicide victim. A body she was informed was her sister, Kennedy. But as she stares at the lifeless stranger, she’s filled with questions: Who is this woman? Why was Deven listed as family? And most important, where is Kennedy? Her intuition tells her just one thing: this can’t be a total coincidence.

Desperate to put the pieces together, Deven launches her own investigation. Soon, she finds herself tangled in a web of secrets and lies so twisted that it blurs the lines between fact and fiction.  And between the sister she thought she knew and the one who seems to have many hidden, dangerous lives. But only Kennedy would have the answers to increasingly urgent questions. Just one possibility is clear: Kennedy isn’t missing. Maybe she just doesn’t want to be found. And maybe you can never truly know another person. Even your own sister.

Publisher: Dafina (October 25, 2022)
Paperback: 320 Pages

My Review:

Behind Her Lives starts out with Deven being visited by the police, who inform her that her younger sister, Kennedy has been found dead of an apparent overdose in her apartment. From the start, Deven wants to believe it isn't true--her sister didn't do drugs and is traveling to the Dominican Republic. Taken to the. police station to identify her, she insists that the body they have is not her sister despite all evidence to the contrary. Is she just in denial? The police certainly think so. Deven takes matters into her own hands and starts trying to find Kennedy, finding out that she may not know her sister as well as she thinks.

Behind Her Lives was a quick read, that drew me in immediately with the premise and the action as Deven investigates and tries to prove the police wrong. Told mostly from Deven's point of view with some of Kennedy's diary entries mixed in, it jumps back-and-forth between present day, to different times before Deven's world is shattered by the police visit. At times this made the book feel disjointed and it got a little confusing. There are lots of twists and turns, some of which I saw coming and some I didn't, and a plethora of secrets and lies are uncovered. Deven is not always likable and makes some questionable choices, but at the end of the day, I wanted to see her succeed and found myself turning the pages quickly to get resolution. If you like psychological thrillers, mysteries, and multicultural books with lots of action, you will likely enjoy this one. 


Author Notes: Briana Cole is an acclaimed author, motivational speaker, sex educator and actress. Her novels are known for exploring unconventional relationships and making readers question all expectations about love, lust, and monogamy. An Atlanta native, she graduated cum laude from Georgia Southern University and is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Her motto and ultimate drive toward success is a famous quote from Mae West: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” 

Connect with Briana online at, and on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter @BColeAuthor.


Note: A review copy of "Behind Her Lives" 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.

Tour Dates:

Monday, October 24thBook Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt

Monday, October 31st: Run Wright and @karen_runwrightreads

Monday, October 31st: @books_wine_and_sunshine 

Tuesday, November 1st@booksnbikram

Tuesday, November 1st: Jathan & Heather – excerpt

Wednesday, November 2nd@bearyintobooks

Wednesday, November 2nd: @beachesandreads

Thursday, November 3rd : @diveintoagoodbook

Thursday, November 

Friday, November 4th@bookish.kels 

Friday, November 4thKahakai Kitchen

Saturday, November 5th: @books.with.courtney

Sunday, November 6th: @readergirlie

Monday, November 7th@sometimesrobinreads on TikTok

Monday, November 7th@nina_the_bookworm

Tuesday, November 8th: @angiearoundwonderland 

Tuesday, November 8th: From the TBR Pile – review and excerpt

Wednesday, November 9th@brianas_best_reads 

Thursday, November 10th@blackbiracialandbookish 

Thursday, November 10th@erynereads 

Friday, November 11th@readdrinkandbemary 

Friday, November 11th5 Minutes for Books

TBD: Wednesday, November 2nd@bourgeoisiebookworm on TikTok 


Friday, October 21, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of An Open Door by Anne Leigh Parrish, Served with Three Favorite Recipes for Deviled Eggs

Happy Aloha Friday! I am happy to be today's stop on a new novel by Anne Leigh Parrish, An Open Door. Accompanying my review are links to three favorite deviled eggs recipes, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

It’s 1948 and the freedom granted women by the Second World War is gone. Edith Sloan, earning her doctorate, is told by her law student husband to cancel her academic plans. His bright future requires a certain kind of wife: one in the kitchen making dinner for important guests. Frustrated and defiant, Edith leaves him but returns when his begging letters become too much. Trapped by marriage and her husband’s ambition, Edith struggles to find her footing and the means to her own survival.

Paperback: 270 Pages

Publisher: Unsolicited Press (October 4, 2022)

My Review:

I have reviewed several books by Anne Leigh Parrish over the last few years; poetry, short stories, novellas and enjoy her character-driven stories. I don't always like or even relate always to her characters, but they are always interesting. An Open Door is set in 1948, about three years after WWII, and Edith Sloan is on a "break" from her marriage to husband Walter. Edith has been staying with her aunt in New York City while Walter is getting his law degree at Cambridge. Edith was getting her doctorate when Walter returned from the war and wanted her instead to be a housewife and support him and be the kind of wife a rising young lawyer needs to get ahead. Edith  likes the freedom of living with her aunt, working and reading as she pleases but eventually, after a brief affair, she returns to Walter full of guilt. When that life isn't enough for her, she gets involved in owning a bookstore, mostly financed by the husband of a couple in their social orbit. 

An Open Door is about being a woman in the time after the war when the men returned and woman were expected to give up jobs and independence and be cast back into the home. Edith fights against this and wants the ability to find her own place in life and it is interesting to watch her grow and find her place. It's a quiet little book but it kept me engaged. Although nothing is really buttoned up at the end, I have hope that Edith is able to carve out a fulfilling life. 


Author Notes: Anne Leigh Parrish lives in a forest in the South Sound Region of Washington State. She is the author of the moon won't be dared; a winter night; what nell dreams; maggie's ruse; the amendment; women within; by the wayside; what is found, what is lost; our love could light the world; and all the roads that lead from home. 

Find her online at


There is food to be found in An Open Door, but unfortunately I didn't write any of it down! It was a crazy week. I remember spaghetti, and tea sandwiches, nuts, and I believe a roast. For my bookish dish, I decided to make deviled eggs which is something that Edith orders from a local restaurant for her drinks and visit with her aunt, her aunts friend and her son. I always love good deviled eggs so here are three recipes that are perfect for drinks and appetizers any time. 

 Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs inspired by Good Housekeeping   

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with Capers and Dill Adapted from D'Lish Deviled Eggs by Kathy Casey 


 Curried Deviled Eggs By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen  

Note: A review copy of "An Open Door" 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.

Review Tour Schedule

Monday, October 3rd: @whatlizziereads
Monday, October 3rd: @spaceonthebookcase
Wednesday, October 5th: BookNAround
Thursday, October 6th: @thebphiles
Friday, October 7th: @abduliacoffeebookaddict23
Monday, October 10th: Girl Who Reads
Tuesday, October 11th: @mom_loves_reading
Wednesday, October 12th: @suzylew_bookreview
Thursday, October 13th: @fashionablyfifty
Friday, October 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, October 17th: @lindahamiltonwriter on TikTok
Tuesday, October 18th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, October 19th: @nurse_bookie
Wednesday, October 19th: Books, Cooks, Looks
Thursday, October 20th: @pickagoodbook
Thursday, October 20th: @tammyreads62
Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, October 25th: @cmtloveswineandbooks
Wednesday, October 26th: @wovenfromwords
Thursday, October 27th: Run Wright