A Recipe for Disaster – a cookbook, travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series

A Recipe For Disaster

A Recipe for Disaster is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com .

It’s also the entertaining journey of an Englishman struggling with the ups and downs of living in rural Italy. After giving up a successful career in television, Stephen found himself dragged back into a world he had happily given up when his neighbour, Lia, persuaded him to listen to her Big Idea – making a TV cookery series. But Lia speaks no English.

 And Stephen’s partner, Tam, can’t cook. So, much against Stephen’s better judgement, the three of them embarked on a six-part series set among the rolling hills of the little-known, but spectacularly beautiful, Italian region of Le Marche. In the Cookucina TV series Lia teaches Tam to cook alla Marchigiana, while Tam translates. A Recipe for Disaster follows their many encounters with the real Italy – a world away from the picture-book ideal of summer holidays in Tuscany.

As the team try to construct a professional series with no funding they come to rely on the generosity of the Marchigiana people, while attempting to overcome the constant difficulties thrown up by those whose stubborn adherence to their age-old way of life is rooted in their beloved fields and woods. A Recipe for Disaster is a goldmine of simple yet delicious recipes, while peeling back the veneer of television professionalism and opening the door to a world of Italian surprise and delight.

A Recipe for Disaster comes with unique access to Cookucina, the final six-part TV series, so you can see for yourself how the team cracked their problems and (just about) held it all together in a blistering heatwave. Experience this contradictory world of vendettas and kind hearts through the laughter and frustrations of Stephen and the team, as you follow A Recipe for Disaster slowly coming to its surprising fruition.

Purchase Links:

iBooks http://bit.ly/iRecDis

Kindle http://bit.ly/KdleRecipe

Paperback http://bit.ly/RecDis

Goodreads http://bit.ly/GoodRec

Smashwords  http://bit.ly/SmaRec

Trailer for Cookucina – https://youtu.be/rh_wHv1o1Lg

Stephen Phelps

Educated at Oxford University, I began working with BBC Radio, moving to BBC TV where I launched Watchdog and produced the investigative legal series Rough Justice. In Hong Kong for BBC World Service Television I oversaw the start of BBC World. I then spent twelve years running my own TV production company, Just Television, specialising in investigative programmes in the field of law, justice and policing. In particular, Trial and Error for Channel 4 which exposed and investigated major miscarriages of justice, winning the Royal Television Society’s inaugural Specialist Journalism Award in 1999. Recently I have been working as a consultant for Aljazeera English on major documentary projects.

In 2002 I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Writing credits include many plays for BBC Radio, my most recent being a drama documentary for the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Books: The Tizard Mission published by Westholme Publishing in the United States, tells the extraordinary story of how Britain’s top scientists travelled in secret to America in the autumn of 1940 to give away all their wartime secrets to secure US support in WWII. A Recipe for Disaster is a book about living in Italy while trying to make a TV cookery series, Cookucina (now available on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.

I have several other books and three screenplays in development.

Social Media Links 

Twitter:         @StephenP_Writer

Faceboook:   https://www.facebook.com/stanley.tinker

Instagram:    stephenp_writer

Medium:        https://medium.com/@stephenphelps

Web:                www.cookucina.com

Trailer for Cookucina:   https://youtu.be/rh_wHv1o1Lg

REVIEW:

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I began reading “A Recipe for Disaster”.  Was it a cookbook?  A travel or food commentary?   It was a bit of both, really.

I had no idea how much work went into producing even the simplest TV / video segment.  Stephen as director (D), recounts the ups and downs (or should I say (the different degrees of how excessively hot it can get) of filming in different locations around the Italian countryside.  His description of different Italian towns, country settings, local foods, lovable characters and the odd overprotective dog thrown in makes for a highly entertaining and educational read.  I learned so much about Italian history and, well, at this point, just want to pack up and move there (hey, we have earthquakes here on Vancouver Island as well).

The author had me smiling and laughing at some of the unusual situations they found themselves in.  His use of word pictures made me feel that I was right there watching it all.  I haven’t seen the video series yet but am keen to do so.

The recipes were very simple to prepare as Lia (a chef) is teaching Tam (who is learning to cook) how to cook traditional Italian dishes.  The only drawback was that the recipes were written for a European audience (I would imagine). In North America we don’t use the metric system for cooking (we use  Imperial measurements such as cups and tablespoons) and these would have to be converted.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves cooking, Italy and a good laugh!

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Book review: Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis

About Dishing Up the Dirt

Hardcover:  304 pages
Publisher:  Harper Wave (March 14, 2017)

Andrea Bemis, the creator of the popular farm-to-table blog Dishing Up the Dirt builds on her success with this beautiful, simple, seasonally driven cookbook, featuring more than 100 inventive and delicious whole-foods recipes and dozens of color photographs.

For Andrea Bemis, who owns and runs a six-acre organic farm with her husband outside of Portland, Oregon, dinners are inspired by what is grown in the soil and picked by hand. In Dishing Up the Dirt, Andrea offers 100 authentic farm-to-table recipes, arranged by season, including:

Spring: Honey Roasted Strawberry Muffins, Lamb Lettuce Wraps with Mint Yogurt Sauce, Spring Harvest Pizza with Mint & Pea Pesto, Kohlrabi and Chickpea Salad

Summer: Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Biscuits, Roasted Ratatouille Toast, Kohlrabi Fritters with Garlic Herb Cashew Cream Sauce, Farmers Market Burgers with Mustard Greens Pesto

Fall: Farm Girl Veggie Bowls, Butternut Molasses Muffins, Early Autumn Moroccan Stew, Collard Green Slaw with Bacon Gremolata

Winter: Rutabaga Home Fries with Smokey Cashew Sauce, Hoisin Glazed Brussels Sprouts, Country Girl Old Fashioned Cocktails, Tumbleweed Farm Winter Panzanella

Andrea’s recipes focus on using whole, locally-sourced foods incorporating the philosophy of eating as close to the land as possible. While many recipes are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian, many others include elemental ingredients like bread, cheese, eggs, meat, and sweeteners, which are incorporated in new and inventive ways.

In short essays throughout the book, Andrea also presents an honest glimpse of life on Tumbleweed Farm – the real life of a farmer, not the shabby-chic fantasy often portrayed – offering fascinating and frequently entertaining details about where the food on our dinner tables comes from. With stunning food photography as well as intimate portraits of farm life, Dishing Up the Dirt allows anyone to be a seasonal foodie and an armchair farmer.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Andrea Bemis

Andrea is the writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind the food blog DishingUp TheDirt.com. Her recipes and Tumbleweed Farm have been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Well and Good NYC, and Eating Well Magazine. She lives on her farm in Oregon with her husband and dog.

Connect with Andrea on Instagram and Facebook.

REVIEW:

I’ve just finished reading through Andrea’s cookbook and can’t remember the last time I enjoyed reading a cookbook this much.

It was really interesting to read about what led Andrea and her husband, Taylor to where they are now as organic farmers on their six-acre farm in rural Oregon.  Andrea had never farmed or gardened (and she admits that hadn’t been much of a cook either) but the first two years of their married life together consisted of working on a sixty-acre organic vegetable farm in Massachusetts.  She began experimenting with new vegetables she had never seen before.  She grew to love her work in the kitchen.  She began sharing her recipes on a blog which “suddenly, had begun to attract a readership that extended beyond my parents”.

I carefully read through all the recipes in the book, eager to find something that I hadn’t seen before.  I began bookmarking the recipes that I am dying to try.  Here is a (preliminary ) list that caught my attention: (watch that drooling now…)

  • Honey Roasted Strawberry Muffins
  • Chicken & chickpea pesto summer salad
  • Brussel sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, lemon & parmesan
  • Honey & Cardamom whipped sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash kale salad with maple-bourbon dressing
  • Sweet potato tart with hazelnut oat crust

Many of the recipes are gluten-free or sweetened by honey.  I didn’t realize that you could grill scallions and romaine lettuce.  Some of the unusual flavour combinations are intriguing.

I really enjoyed the  photographs of “their life on their farm” as well as the different dishes featured in this book.  Their informative website contains background information as well as recipes for many different vegetables.  As a former farm girl, I will live vicariously through this book.

Book spotlight: Italian Street Food: Recipes From Italy’s Bars and Hidden Laneways by Paola Bacchia

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Italian Street Food: Recipes From Italy’s Bars and Hidden Laneways by Paola Bacchia
Category:  Adult Nonfiction, 274 pages
Genre:  Cookbook
Publisher:  Smith Street
Release date:  October 2016
Tour dates:  Oct 3 to 21, 2016
Content Rating:  PG

Book Description:

(I’ve seen this book and it is gorgeous!)

Italy’s classic recipes are well known the world over, but few are aware of the dishes that reign on the flourishing Italian street-food scene. Hidden behind the town squares, away from the touristy restaurants, and down back streets are little-known gems offering up some of Italy’s tastiest and best-kept secret dishes that the locals prize.

ITALIAN STREET FOOD is not just another Italian cookbook; it delves into truly authentic Italian fare—the kind of secret recipes that are passed down through generations. Learn how to make authentic polpettine, arancini, stuffed cuttlefish, cannolis, and fritters, and perfect your gelato-making skills with original flavors such as lemon and basil or affogato and aperol. With beautiful stories and stunning photography throughout, ITALIAN STREET FOOD delivers an authentic, lesser known take on a much loved cuisine.

Buy the book:  Rizzoli  ~  Amazon

Paola Bacchia

Meet the Author:

Paola Bacchia is one of Australia’s most popular Italian food bloggers. On her blog, Italy on My Mind, she shares family memories and their connections to food. It won awards for best food blog in 2013 and 2015 from ITALY Magazine. Paola returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food, its traditions, and innovations.

Connect to the author: Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Oct 3 –   Working Mommy Journal – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 3 –   Freda’s Voice – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 4 –   Monica Cesarato – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 4 –   Olio by Marilyn – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 4 –   Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 5 –   Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 5 –   StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 6 –   Cooking in Venice – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 6 –   Essentially Italian – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 –   A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 –   Il Mio Tesoro – book spotlight
Oct 10 – Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine – book spotlight
Oct 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 – T’s Stuff – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 – Italophilia – book spotlight
Oct 13 – A Holland Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 14 – Words And Peace – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 17 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 18 – Blooming with Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 19 – Heidi’s Wanderings – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 20 – Take It Personel-ly – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 21 – Walking With Nora – book spotlight / giveaway

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Book review: Going Against the Grain – Italian Style! A Gluten-Free Life Guide and Recipe Book for Staying Healthy and Eating Amazingly by Nuccia Ardagna

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About the book:  This two-part book is a vital adjunct to any home attempting to be gluten-free. The first part guides you through early diagnosis and is an essential guide for any beginner diagnosed with celiac disease or some form of gluten sensitivity. You will learn how to identify symptoms of the disease, how celiac disease is diagnosed, and the consequences if left untreated. It will help you to understand how to read labels and how to manage your gluten-free home in a shared environment. It outlines practical advice for parents of children with celiac disease as well as tips for eating out and dealing with social settings such as special occasions or when traveling. Honorary foreword provided by renowned Dr. Peter HR Green, MD – Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.
 

Growing up authentically Sicilian, Nuccia Ardagna thought that getting rid of gluten meant giving up her favorite traditional foods, but that could not be further from the truth! Nuccia combines her passion for eating amazingly Italian with her new dietary needs to bring you scrumptious, traditional Italian (and Sicilian) recipes. From simple, classic appetizers to decadent desserts you thought you could never enjoy, every recipe is easy-to-follow and offers beautiful full-color pictures throughout. You can feel confident about entertaining guests and family with these mouth-watering recipes. You can eat healthier, feel better, and truly enjoy living gluten-free while never having to sacrifice great taste! In this book, Nuccia not only shares her personal story with celiac disease but also the recipes she grew up with at home and uses to entertain guests. Look for the bonus section at the end of the book along with a section dedicated to her favorite links and resources.

We hope you enjoy the book and find it helpful in your journey.

23072Meet the Author:  Nuccia Ardagna loves to travel to the place of her roots: SICILIA! Being Sicilian, she grew up with mamma, nonna and all her zie learning all the tricks of the trade and creating DELICIOUS Italian food from scratch. When diagnosed with celiac disease she was forced to learn new habits and, now, after trial and error and experimenting, wants to share her exquisite culinary creations with you. She IS a true Italian to the core.

Connect with Nuccia:  Website  ~  Twitter

Buy the book:   Amazon

Review:

I looked forward to reading this cookbook by Nuccia because I am gluten intolerant and am always looking for new ways to improve my diet.
She begins with her own story about how she was diagnosed with celiac’s disease and the measures both she and her family took to adjust to a new lifestyle that would help her feel better and heal. There is a section entitled “what is celiac disease?, what are the symptoms?, can celiac disease lead to other health problems and when will I start to feel better?”

She outlines how to read food labels, how to avoid cross-contamination, and how to travel and keep to your diet. There is a section on other names for wheat and/or other forms of grains that must be avoided which I found to be extremely useful. For those who suffer from celiac disease, it also contains a chapter on how to avoid cross-contamination when dining out.

Part 2 of this book contains the different Italian recipes that anyone who cannot tolerate gluten can add to their repetoire. I liked the way the different recipes were on different coloured pages. There were plenty of photographs of both the individual recipes as well as Nuccia and her family.

As a visual artist the only (not really important) issue I had with the book was that the photo editing rendered some of the photos to be very dark with a very high contrast. I personally prefer photographs of food to be “true-to-life” so that I can compare what I make with what the recipe should look like.

The resource section is a valuable source of links to websites related to the different organizations, travel resources, and food and restaurants that all sell gluten-free products.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Italian food and wants to enjoy gluten-free cooking.

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