Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our Next Book: Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

Hello everyone! In this CTB round we will be leaving exotic, adventurous Caribbean to visit erotic, cosmopolitan Paris.
“Lunch in Paris” is Elizabeth Bard’s memoir, the story of a young
American woman who fell in love not only with a man but with a whole
culture. Through learning to cooking French recipes, shopping in open
air markets and battling bad-tempered butchers she discovers the
beauty of a city and explores the secrets of the French psyche.
Speckled with sexy recipes and a passionate love story in the world’s
most romantic city, Lunch in Paris is sure to make your heart beat a
little faster:
Book excerpt:
The chocolate centre flows like dark lava onto the whiteness of the
plate. The last ounce of stress drains from my body…. I have
discovered the French version of Death by Chocolate”.
Elizabeth Bard is an American journalist based in Paris. Lunch in
Paris is her first book and has been a New York Times and international best seller.You can follow Elizabeth’s continuing
culinary adventures on her blog (, facebook and twitter pages:,

Elizabeth Bard has kindly agreed to judge this CTB round, so please send your submissions to me ( by FRIDAY MAY 27th.
Thank you! 
Johanna (

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Presenting the Next Three Cook the Books Picks

Deb, Jo and I have put our heads together to pick the next three CTB foodie book picks for our book club and wanted to announce them so that you can all scour your local bookstores, libraries, friend’s bookshelves and the Internet to get copies ahead of our club deadlines.
The very next round of Cook the Books will be hosted by Jo and she has picked Elizabeth Bard’s “Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes”. The deadline for this round is May 27, 2011. 
After that, we will have the following three books to read:
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  Round hosted by Rachel, The Crispy Cook. Entries due July 25, 2011.
CTB regular Girlichef suggested that we consider any of Allen’s novels (you can always leave a book recommendation as a comment on one of our posts), and so I got her first book, Garden Spells, to read and consider for CTB.  I was entranced by this debut novel about a caterer and gardener who has been handed down special powers from her family. When her estranged sister comes back home with a daughter in tow, this sets off a series of entwined events that change the little town of Bascomb, North Carolina in unexpected ways.  Looking forward to cooking up some things from the garden and featuring herbs during this round.
Next up will be: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg. Round hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. Entries due Sept. 26.
Deb says: “After her father’s death from cancer, getting back to her studies and life in Seattle didn’t feel right for grad student Molly Wizenburg. Instead she headed headed for Paris, ostensibly to do research on her dissertation, but there she found herself following her heart and and stomach and turning to a life of food and food writing. Starting the wildly popular blog “Orangette” as a way to record her thoughts, recipes and impressions, her descriptive writing and delicious recipes brought her countless international readers, a monthly column in Bon App├ętit, and even a passionate long-distance romance that turned into true love.
“A Homemade Life” is a collection of recipes and recollections, meals and memories, all illustrating the tremendous power of food as love–to get us through the hard times, help us remember the good times and bring us together in a way nothing else can.”
Then we will travel on to Greece to check out:
Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece, by Patricia Volonakis Davis. Round hosted by our own Greek food expert Jo of Food Junkie, Not Junk Food. Entries due Nov. 29, 2011.
Jo describes the book as follows:
“Ever wondered what life in Greece might be like for a non-Greek (before the crisis of course), what Greek men are all about and how can one survive in a foreign country? Well you’ll definitely find answers in our book pick: Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece, by Patricia Volonakis Davis. It is the story of Patricia herself who falls in love with Greek Gregori, follows him to Greece and tries to make her marriage work. In the meantime however she gives us vivid descriptions of Greek life, culture food and more.
Patricia Davis (, is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the non-partisan Harlot’s Sauce Radio e-magazine and podcast, as well as the president of Harper’s Davis Publishing.
So there you have it: three more delicious reads to savor through the rest of the year.  Happy Reading and Cooking!

Monday, April 4, 2011

We Have a Winner… for “An Embarrassment of Mangoes”

Thanks to all of your culinary and writing efforts, our wonderful author and judge Ann Vanderhoof had a difficult time in choosing a winner for this selection of Cook the Books, “An Embarrassment of Mangoes.”
Here’s what Ann had to say direct from the Receta!
Thank you so much for choosing An Embarrassment of Mangoes for your book club and, especially, for asking me to judge the entries. What a delicious opportunity for an author to get an intimate look at how readers respond to her book!
I got tremendous pleasure from reading all the entries, and seeing what the book inspired you to cook. But, hey, a winner must be picked, and Deb said it was up to me to set the criteria. I settled on two broad ones:
1. The writing had to capture something of the spirit of the book – whether that was the feeling of the Caribbean, or the hunger for escape, or the exploration of something different or new.
2. The entry had to make me hungry. For Caribbean food.
Fat lot of good this second one did me. All of you made me want to run immediately to my galley and cook. I loved the way you riffed on the meals in the book, and I wanted to taste everything. A couple of special mentions: Crispy Cook’s idea of using the lobster shells from Dingis’s Curried Lobster to make a base for Lobster Rice to accompany it was brilliant. I’m going to try it for sure (…next year; lobster is now out of season here). Ditto Kahakai Kitchen’s Pineapple Cream Cheese to go with my Papaya Banana Muffins. I could taste what a great pairing it would be. Foodycat’s Shark and Bake with Shadow Benny Sauce (and fried plantains on the side) was irresistible – how did she know that’s one of my favourites in food-obsessed Trinidad? (And my favourite place to eat it is Maracas Beach, not on Receta; frying bakes and fish and plantains in my tiny galley is a hot, challenging exercise.) And Can’tbelieveweate’s Lime and Coconut Pie…one look at that photo and I craved a piece. Maybe two.
But the winner is…Eliot’s Eats. I thought her Fish Taco Salad was a nifty spin on the classic fish taco, and mango salsa is a fabulous combo with fried fish. She’s right: Eating it al fresco, accompanied by a cold island beer, would be just the ticket – and I plan to try it in Receta’s cockpit (substituting a local fish like dorado for her tilapia, and a little sugar cane syrup for her agave nectar, which isn’t available in the Eastern Caribbean, where we are). That said, it was her lovely, evocative writing that tipped her into first place. I loved her use of dialogue and description (“And the stars. I wanted to lay out at night on watch and feel the vastness of space and sea envelop me”), and the way she used her adolescent reading to launch her story. She writes a mean photo caption, too.
When do we dare to make our crazy dreams a reality and when are we prepared to just let them lie dormant and die?” she asked. “Can we really ever afford to say, ‘We’re really too old to do that’?” It gave me great pleasure to know that my book inspired her not just to cook something with Caribbean flavor, but also to think about questions like those. Eliot, I want to be a customer at your garden shop/bookstore/pottery studio/food truck.
Thanks again for allowing me to participate in your club.
warm wishes,
aboard Receta, currently anchored in Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Congratulations Eliot of Eliot’s Eats!
We will be sending your coveted Cook the Books winner’s badge shortly to display proudly on your blog and will be adding you to the list of esteemed CTB winners on our sidebar.
Much thanks to the talented Ann Vanderhoof for writing such a wonderful escape for us and for taking the time (and internet access) to judge while on her current adventures!
Hey Cook the Booksters–stay tuned for a post from Rachel, The Crispy Cook with the next three books that we will be reading and cooking along to, after our current selection “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard, hosted by Johanna of Food Junkie Not Junk Food.