Friday, August 5, 2022

August/September Selection: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

When the CTB hosts were trying to choose the next four books last winter, I was at a loss.   As I read book reviews and peruse through bookstores, I see lots of books that I want to recommend for Cook the Books.  Then, when I'm on the spot and it's down to the wire, I can't think of anything.   

In October 2021, I was able to see original illustrations from the Dali edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at our local art museum.   (In 1969, Dali illustrated this beloved children's book with colorful, playful surrealistic images.) 

I grabbed a copy of this edition at the exhibit and set about reading it.  (It dawned on me that I had never read the entire tale of Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, et al.)  I enjoyed my afternoon reading with a cup of tea at hand.

It's been a while since CTB has hosted a children's book or YA book.   (In 2012, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in 2013 it was The Hunger Games, and in 2017 we selected Farmer Boy.)  It was time for another one.

Pick up any edition you want of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  

The surrealism one or the classic.

The deadline for contributing your post is Wednesday, September 31, 2022.

Leave a comment below with a link to your post and/or email me at

Anyone can participate in Cook the Books: just pick up a copy of the selection from your local bookstore or library, take inspiration from your reading, then cook and post the inspired dish.   If after you read you need more inspiration, check out this Alice in Wonderland Party.

We look forward to having you read and cook along.  New participants are always welcome. (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.

Thanks for going down this rabbit hole with me.

Eliot's Eats

Monday, August 1, 2022

A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisine - The Round-up

Well, here we are, the end of July and into August already!  Hopefully everyone is well and enjoying their summer, or winter for you Aussies.

Anthony Bourdain provided us with inspiration aplenty, and off the beaten track adventures for sure.  Some of those journeys I wouldn't have taken if paid for it.  Of course, he was :). Tony didn't seem to have any particular itinerary, and it was sometimes difficult to tell if he had just arrived in a country, or was referring in the book to an earlier visit.  I had all the while a sadness, learning of his life outcome, which was  unknown to me when first going into this.

I'll re-cap all the entries in the order they were received, not missing anyone I hope.  Be sure to let me know if you got left out.  I hope you will all enjoy your visits to these posts with their thoughts and meals.

First in was Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam and her truly adventurous dish from Vietnam, a country Tony seemed to enjoy the most.  She made Much Nhoi Thit or Vietnamese Stuffed Squid and capped it off with a cup of delicious Cà Phê Trứng - Vietnamese Egg Coffee for dessert. 

Cam said: "In the end, it is his passion for Vietnam that inspired me into the kitchen. He writes, "I’ve gone goofy on Vietnam, fallen hopelessly, helplessly in love with the place".....  I appreciated A Cook's Tour with every fiber of my being. I loved how he weaved food, culture, politics, and history into his narrative."

Next up was Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm who brought us a very tasty dish of Korean Fried Chicken.  She says "I made a couple of other adaptations to Bourdain's recipe in order to utilize ingredients that I had on hand and save myself a trip to the store." That refers to this recipe which utilizes a blanching and freezing technique.  

Wendy tells us: "I wavered between loving this book and hating it. Bourdain was very extreme in all things. Knowing, as we do now, of his mental health issues I made allowances for his bi-polar actions, words and writings. There was, of course, tons and tons of food inspiration...."

Then Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures came in with a Mushroom, Greens and Fried Egg Sandwich.  She says: "My inspiration came from the mention of a dish early in the book when Mr. Bourdain was bar-hopping in Spain....  I wasn’t immediately taken by this book, but it did grow on me.  Mr. Bourdain traveled the world, often eating things I wouldn’t try in a million years, but also mentioning favorite foods from the states or England that were a little less scary.

It was interesting reading about the places traveled and the experiences behind the camera while filming A Cook's Tour (a show that I haven't watched, but now I may have to find some old episodes after reading the book!)"

Next in was Debra from Eliot's Eats, with Moroccan Potato Salad and Banh Mi sandwiches, both of which sound truly tempting.  Interested to try that Banh Mi!

She says, "I have had a crush on Anthony Bourdain since No Reservations. Then there was The Taste. Then, there was his judging stints on Top Chef.  I paid big bucks to not only hear him speak, but to stand in line to meet him (and get books signed) in 2010....  I thought he was a beautiful man and I used to joke with The Hubs that he was the only man I would ever leave him for.  I now have all of his books."  A true fan!  Her review a tribute, laced with sorrow for the outcome to his life, shared by most all of us. 

Tina from Squirrel Head Manor arrived next with a very yummy looking Tomato and Eggplant Tien
which recipe I immediately sent to my brother who is dealing with an abundance of eggplants.  

She remarked that "Anthony Bourdain is the bad boy of the kitchen chefs. He could be obnoxious, crude and yet entertaining. The chapter called where food comes from was a bit gory. Did I ever feel bad for that pig and apparently, so did Bourdain.... The chapter titled back to the beach where he and his brother returned to a family home was excellent. They rented motor scooters, they went to small bistros, they enjoyed stinky cheese and baguettes, Bordeaux reds and oysters."  A chapter which inspired her recipe choice. 

Claudia, of Honey from Rock, (moi) came in with a tasty meal of Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze, inspired by Anthony's event near the end of the book at the famous, and outrageously expensive French Laundry Restaurant, with due thanks to Thomas Keller and his cookbook of the same name.

Bourdain's travel memoir certainly had its moments with humor, inspiring food, harrowing adventure, grossness and some repetition.  Overall, I enjoyed the journey, though his trip could possibly have used an itinerary and more planning.  Silly to complain of the cold and long for the sun when you decide to travel in winter.  Of course, when traveling, in spite of the best laid plans, we often encounter the unexpected and accidental.  He was looking for danger and certainly got it in Cambodia.

Simona of Bricole arrived just under the wire bringing her dish of Roasted Tromboncino Squash with Tomatoes.  A beautiful preparation of fresh vegetables.  As far as inspiration, Simona says: One theme Bourdain touches on several times, particularly when he describes his time in Vietnam, is the great flavor of dishes made with fresh ingredients and consumed immediately. Here we are in full agreement. My visits to farmers' markets are the most important inspiration in the kitchen. Summer produce is a rich source of ideas. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the first Tromboncino squash of the season and rushed to buy it.

"At times, Bourdain writes with deep sensitivity and shares insights in what he saw and experienced, like his observations of Vietnamese people or his homage to the many Mexican immigrants who work in restaurants in NYC. The book comes alive in those moments and made me wish it contained a lot more... What made this a hard book for me to read are his tirades (for example, against vegetarians and non-smokers)."

And, slipping even further under the wire came Deb, my fellow Hawaiian blogger, of Kahakai Kitchen.  She brought us some Thai inspired, flavorful and nourishing Tofu Tom Kha Soup

Deb said she was happy to revisit Bourdain's stellar food writing. Although he is rough around the edges, his love and respect for food and food traditions and his ability to make even the dubious to downright nasty sound anywhere from possibly edible to downright delicious are unmatched... I really think you can't go wrong with any of Bourdain's books or shows, as sad as they are to read and watch with him gone. The world truly lost a talent and I appreciated getting him back for a bit with this book. "

As it turns out, someone did get overlooked after all, many thanks to Simona who noticed Cathy's post on Facebook.  So, here is the PS edit with her contribution, a devilishly delicious looking Lobster Imperial. Visit her at Delaware Girl Eats for the full scoop.

She had this to say: "Having been a great follower of Bourdain's tv adventures and knowing how things ended up for him, I struggled reading this book. His voice came through so clearly in his words that they were painful at many parts to read. But he had a tremendous sense of place, whether it was the vibe, the people or the food. He made them all come alive.

Thanks you everyone for participating and making this event a real tribute to the memory of Anthony Bourdain.  

Next on our Cook the Books schedule will be for August/September and we will be reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats.  I hope you will join us.  
What we do here is read the current selection, get inspired by it to create a dish and then post about it.  Don't forget to comment here, or let the host know via email when your contribution is live! 

Saturday, June 4, 2022

June/July Selection: A Cook's tour - Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

We at Cook the Books Club are going on A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain.  I am pretty much looking forward to this trip along with Tony, and the rest of you, into some extreme adventures with food and travel.  Though, I must admit feeling a bit leery, as he is said to be pretty outrageous.  One of us recently admitted to living under a rock, and I agreed to dwelling in a similar place, having never heard of or seen video or film of or read books by either Stanley Tucci or Anthony Bourdain.   So, coming out from under the rock, I picked this book after reading a few reviews, because it sounded fun, entertaining and even informative.  Basically like something I wanted to read!

Bourdain shows himself to be one of the country's best food writers. His opinions are as strong as his language, and his tastes as infectious as his joy." -Sam Sifton, New York Times Book Review

The only thing "gonzo gastronome" and internationally bestselling author Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling. Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?," Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.

From Publisher's Weekly:
"...  Chef Anthony Bourdain, author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential ... writes with humor and intelligence, describing meals of boudin noir and Vietnamese hot vin lon ("essentially a soft-boiled duck embryo") and 'fessing up to a few nights of over-indulgence ("I felt like I'd awakened under a collapsed building," he writes of a night in San Sebastian hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar). Goat's head soup, lemongrass tripe, and pork-blood cake all make appearances, as does less exotic fare, such as French fries and Mars bars (deep fried, but still). In between meals, Bourdain lets his readers in on the surprises and fears of a well-fed American voyaging to far-off, frugal places, where every part of an animal that can be eaten must be eaten, and the need to preserve food has fueled culinary innovation for centuries. He also reminds his audience of the connections between food and land and human toil, which, in these sterilized days of pre-wrapped sausages, is all too easy to forget."

What we do here at Cook the Books Club is to read a bi-monthly book selection, get inspired to cook something from it, post that inspiration and then voila, join in.  Deadline for contributing your post for this current selection is Sunday, July 31, 2022. New participants are always welcome. (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.)


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Taste: My Life Through Food, The Roundup

How did June get here so soon?! It's time for our roundup of our April/May Selection: Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

Mahalo friends for joining me in this read that seemed to well-liked by most of our group! I'll be recapping the entries in the order I received them, or as closely as possible.

First in was Cathy of Delaware Girl Eats who loves that "Tucci, actor, writer and all-around engaging screen personality, is a food obsessive like me, and his depictions made for very entertaining reading. He writes just like he speaks on film, and one can just hear his voice as the sentences roll off the page." She was inspired by Tucci's prose on Ragu, saying "Especially captivating are Tucci’s depictions of meals enjoyed by him over the years. Of Ragu, he says, “Ragu is eaten with fresh pasta, the reason being that the richness of the sauce needs a pasta of suitable shape and texture to absorb it properly.” Rather than make Tucci's recipe, Cathy made her grandmother's Abruzzo’s Pasta Alla Chitarra with Lamb Ragu, saying "Although in the book Tucci goes on to provide his family’s “famous” Ragu recipe, I’ve chosen to focus instead on grandmother’s take on the traditional sauce, and to provide her tutorial for the pasta chitarra as well. Enjoy!"

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm LOVED the book saying, "This memoir had me laughing out loud from the first page. I so enjoyed getting to know Stanley Tucci and really, really want to join him for dinner, drinks and conversation." Wendy chose a cocktail for her dish, his Perfect Negroni Up, saying, "Food inspiration comes easily while reading this memoir but, just in case you don't get bowled over by Stanley's food descriptions, there are numerous recipes interspersed throughout, starting with the cocktail that I am sharing with you today. ... As for the cocktail?  I did think it was pretty perfect. Of course, I love Campari and have an affinity for bitter."

Camilla of Culinary Cam enjoyed the book finding that "Tucci writes with candor and a wry humor in this intersection of food and life." Camilla added her own flair to that so popular zucchini pasta dish, making it a Tre Colori Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano and saying, "Okay, his wasn't a three-colored pasta, but it's what I had. ... My recipe is slightly adapted, but still amazing. I will definitely be making this again as summer is approaching and that always brings a glut of zucchini!"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor said, "As soon as I started reading Taste it was clear there would be much food inspiration. Tucci had a way of describing his childhood which evoked so many memories of my own. The benefits of growing up in an Italian neighborhood were immense and I loved every bit of it.This book is humorous, engaging and sad in parts." For her inspiration Tina found that "There are many recipes included in this book and you'll be hungry as you read about his foodie experiences. ...So many wonderful recipes - here is the first one, Classic Carbonara."

Claudia of Honey From Rock said, "What an enjoyable read! And especially for us book foodies, with so many suggestions, memorable meals, recipes encountered in his full and sometimes even tragic life. I felt as though I had met and come to know the man, with his sense of humor, conversations on whatever was happening, and sometimes rather dogmatic views, as per the one on NOT EVER cutting your spaghetti. And, not combining the wrong pasta and sauce. I'm sure I do that on a regular basis. Occasionally even cut my spaghetti. OMG!'  For her dish she said, "There was absolutely so much inspiration here, every other page at least. What most appealed however, was a meal he's enjoyed a number of times at Lo Scoglio on the Amalfi coast. Spaghetti con Zucchini alla Nerano. I mean the way he raved, and the very simplicity of the dish itself.  Basically zucchini, basil, olive oil, salt, spaghetti and Parmigiana-Reggiano. And, of course, the secret ingredient, a dollop of butter, ferreted out by Stanley in the restaurant's kitchen."

Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures felt that, "If I were to rate this book on the beginning (Mr Tucci's childhood) and the end (his battle with cancer), I would probably give it 4.5 stars. But then there's the middle bit. Parts were compelling, parts found Mr. Tucci's waxing on a bit, and parts had me full out rolling my eyes over the poor me celebrity bit. Regardless, it was an enjoyable read overall (especially his childhood.). There are several recipes added throughout, which also makes this a great foodie read!" For her dish, Amy made Tucci's Traditional 3-Ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo and said, "I was most intrigued by Mr. Tucci’s explanation of alfredo. Well, according to Mr Tucci, the American, cream-based version that is our favorite is apparently an abomination. A true alfredo is 3 ingredients only: pasta, butter, and parmesan. Say what?!? ... The verdict: it was good, but overall, we’d prefer the cream-based alfredo or the cheater parmesan noodles instead!"

Marg of The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader joined us this month and enjoyed the audiobook, saying, "From the opening paragraphs of this book, this was a delightful audio experience. Even now that I have the book sitting here, I can hear Tucci's voice as I flick through the pages and read various paragraphs." Her inspiration? "When I was thinking about which recipe to share for this post, there really was one that jumped at me and that was Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano. There were two main reasons for this. One is the the way that Tucci waxed lyrically about it in both the book and in his TV series.  The second reason is that I love cooking with zucchini, or more precisely chopping zucchini. When I am chopping zucchini I feel as though I have some knife skills which is definitely not true."

Debra of Eliot's Eats said, "Reading Taste is like having your own personal conversations with Tucci.  His tales are honest, homey, and unpretentious (even when he’s talking about dining with Marcello Mostroianni or attending George Clooney’s wedding)." Debra was going to make a frittata but said she, "wanted something a little different to celebrate Taste" and so she made his Spaghetti with Lentils. She states, "I really like this recipe and it is a pretty easy one to prep. I used a full carrot and a full stalk of celery (although they were small ones). I also used the full recipe of marinara—just dumped it all in. A little parmesan and  basil to garnish and dinner was served. I’m sharing this with some vegetarian friends."

Ruth of @ruth44north (her Instagram account) joins us this round saying, "Thank you ladies for the inspiration! I discovered your blog recently ( why have I just found you !?!?) and happened to have Taste on my night table. You don’t have to ask me twice to recreate the amazing Timpano served in Big Night for which I’ve been drooling for a trusted recipe for over 30 years. Very worth the bit of prep; I halved the recipe since we are a two person household and it came out beautifully in a deep Lodge dutch oven dish. The key was giving the ragu time enough to develop; didn’t hurt that we still had garden tomatoes and sauce from last summer. Prepping ingredients a day ahead made the actual assembly fairly painless. while the Timpano baked it gave me time to revisit the honest, touching and delicious words of Mr. Tucci while relaxing in the hammock (Me, not Stanley Tucci. It also helped calm my nerves that were all a flutter with anxiety about whether I was going to be able to get the Timpano safely out of the pan) We of course had to watch the film again - it’s the recipe that keeps on giving!! Graci Mille Stanley Tucci and Cook the Books!!!"

Simona of briciole liked that, "The book included a couple of interesting sections, one pertaining the history of the highly enjoyable movie Big Night (1996), in which Tucci played the younger brother, Secondo. I didn't know that he had written the screenplay. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it." For her dish Simona made a Strawberry, Fava Bean, Fennel and Radish Salad, saying, "Reading the book in the run-up to the 16th anniversary of my little blog, made me think of all the recipes I have created for it. I decided to select a recipe from the early years and update it based on my current eating habits. The recipe I chose comes from a July 2008 post and features seasonal ingredients quite representative of Italian cuisine. The salad also happens to include the colors of the Italian flag (called tricolore): white, red and green (bianco, rosso e verde)."

Finally, in a move that might get me kicked out of Cook the Books, at Kahakai Kitchen, I ordered rather than cooked my dish. A blogging/cooking slump, compounded with a case of COVID that hit my asthma and has me hitting the energy wall every early afternoon, made the thought of cooking this weekend unbearable. I adored the book--both reading and listening to Stanley and ended up bringing in one of my favorite dishes Mushroom Risotto from a local cafe. Tucci mentions it as part of a quarantine menu and risotto in general a few times in the book. I didn't even have the energy to plate it, but I enjoyed it for two meals (on the couch of course!). I did include some mushroom risotto recipes that I did actually make in my post.  

Wow! Every Cook the Books round I think of how wonderful it would be to be able to taste everyone's book-inspired dishes, and I think this roundup is one of the most delicious. Thank you all for joining me!

I believe I posted all of the entries received from the comments and/or those sent by email, but if I missed anyone, please let me know. 

I will now turn things over to my fellow Hawaii Blogger, Claudia of Honey From Rock for our June/July selection, Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines.    

Happy Reading and Eating!

Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

Sunday, April 10, 2022

April/May Selection: Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

I just watched Stanley Tucci's third TikTok video ever where he shows the Saturday lunch he was serving for a visit from his parents and daughter. It reinforces why I like him so much--he is a celebrity that I truly think would be fun to hang out with. It also served as a reminder that we are nine days into the month and I hadn't posted the announcement for our Cook the Books April/May selection, Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci.

From the Publisher:

Named a Notable Book of 2021 by NPR and The Washington Post From award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci comes an intimate and charming memoir of life in and out of the kitchen. 

Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them. 

Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last. 

Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.  

I am looking forward to reading (and listening as I bought the audiobook) to Stanley's memoir with all of you and to see what delicious dishes it inspires us to make.

The deadline for contributing your post is Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

Leave a comment below with a link to your post and/or email me at

Anyone can participate in Cook the Books: just pick up a copy of the selection from your local bookstore or library, take inspiration from your reading, then cook and post the inspired dish. 

We look forward to having you read and cook along with us in this selection period and beyond. New participants are always welcome. (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.


Deb, Kahakai Kitchen