cake, cookery books, cooking, desserts, new book, party, recipes, tiramisu, treat, writing


I am so happy to announce that my new book, Tiramisu Recipes from Italian Friends and Family, has been published. This is my fourth book, but in a sense it’s my first book in a new genre, the non-fiction one, so it feels like a new experience all together.

In my previous blog I mentioned some of the challenges I faced writing a cookery book, but there have been more, of which I will talk about in future blogs. But for now, I want to focus on all the people that have helped to make it happen.

The first ones I need to acknowledge are the people who have actually contributed the recipes for these lovely desserts. There are twenty-five delicious tiramisus that feature in my book, and you can take a look at the photos here.

Below are the names of my friends and family who have shared their tiramisu recipes, and without them, the book would not exist. I have of course, included myself in the list 🙂

Giulia Beyman, Anna Maria Serra, Monica Loi, Cristina Garau, Dalia Portas, Laura Puddu, Rita Puddu, Claudia Peduzzi, Manuela Paric’, Ferruccio Munzittu, Mariangela Panu, Rita Dessì, Martina Munzittu, Maria Grazia Munzittu, Maria Antonietta Munzittu, Tiziana Munzittu, Sofia Rossiter, Severa Soddu, Brunella Formentini.

Having written fiction before, I had never handled images and text together, so I needed some help with that. And there I found Janet Tallon, a very talented designer who was able to create a great looking cookery book, a fantastic book cover and an enticing tiramisu party invitation. She deserves a big thank you.

One of the biggest challenges for me, when I was writing the quantities of the ingredients, was the measurement conversion. As if it weren’t bad enough to convert from metric to imperial, I discovered the American cups. This deserves a blog post in itself. Suffice it to say, for now, that I was lucky enough to find a very nice and knowledgeable food blogger, Jean, who was extremely helpful and gave me some great advice on converting my metric measurements to US cups. So a massive thank you goes to Jean.

The index at the end of the book was done by my lovely friend and brilliant author Joanne Phillips, she’s a professional indexer, so I couldn’t get any luckier than that!

The final challenge was the creation of the ebook. I had formatted my own fiction ebooks before, but doing one for a book with photos was a different matter. I wanted an ebook that looked as professional as the printed version, and unless I spent hours on a course learning how to do it, it wasn’t going to happen. I discovered that one of my Facebook friends, Serena Zonca, did just this sort of thing professionally, so I asked her to take care of the digital edition of Tiramisu Recipes, and she did a fantastic job.

There have also been friends behind the scenes that have tried and tested some of the tiramisu recipes. And this is a massive contribution for me, because I wanted to see how easy they were to ‘execute’, and if they tasted as good to them as they tasted to me!

What can I say? I feel really lucky to have had such a supportive team around me. I think you should all raise a virtual glass with me, or in this case, with a tiramisu, a cup of espresso coffee is definitely more suited.

cookery books, cooking, recipes


It’s been a little quiet on my blog lately. The reason for this is that I have been busy trying to write some cookery books. Cookery books? you might ask. Yes.

If you have read A Deal with a Stranger or The Broken Heart Refuge 1, you might have noticed that the protagonists of these stories are slightly obsessed with cooking and eating. That is no big deal, they’re Italian, and it’s quite natural for Italians to have a passion for food.

I had been thinking for a long time about writing a cookery book. But I wanted to write it as a collection of recipes from friends and family from Italy, rather than my own recipes. First of all because I don’t have that many recipes myself, I am no chef. And second because I have a huge family and many, many friends who CAN cook.

So I started this huge project which involved asking members of my family and friends in Italy for their recipes and collecting them. Not only that, I also asked them to take photos of their dish while they prepared it. At the moment I’m writing three books, one on tiramisu, one on risotto and one on pasta sauce recipes. The first book, the one on tiramisu recipes, should be published in July.

Now you know why I haven’t been so active on my blog lately.

The writing of these books has presented some challenges, which I thought I could share with you in my next articles. The first one been a purely organizational one.

My husband is an IT Project Manager and when I discussed with him what I was doing, that is, coordinating about 50 Italian people, to give me recipes and photos for three cookery books, he just looked at me with an expression that said “bonkers”. And bonkers it’s been.

The following hiccups have been experienced during the collection of recipes.

  1. Not reading the instructions on how to submit a recipe, hence recipes that come in various formats, or with dosages done by ‘eye’.
  2. People sending just photos and not recipes, saying “I’ll tell you the recipe on Skype.”
  3.  People sending just the recipe without the photos.
  4. People sending photos in such low resolution that you can barely see what’s in it.
  5. People saying they will do two recipes for you and then telling you, past the deadline, they don’t have the time.
  6. Deadline. What is such a word? People send the recipe only after you remind them several times. If they send it at all.

Anyway, the reality is, I can’t be too harsh with my friends and family, after all they’re all doing me a favour in sharing their recipes, and let’s face it, I’m not a model of great time-keeping myself. I was the last one to type my own recipes and take my photos!

Still, despite all the above, the books are proceeding well and I’m hoping to have all three books published by the end of 2014.

My mum is quite disappointed that she’ll have to wait a little longer to read The Broken Heart Refuge 2. Occasionally, when I’m on the phone to her in Italy and we talk about these books I can hear a note of sadness in her voice. Lately she asked “Was there a need to write these books? Surely everybody knows how to cook pasta?”


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life as an expat, life in the UK, living abroad


On the occasion of her thirtieth birthday, my favourite crime fiction author, Stefania Mattana, has asked me to write a guest post about my impressions as an Italian expat in the UK. She’s hosting various authors on her blog at the moment, doing a series of interviews and articles on different topics.

As many of you know, I am Italian but I have lived in the UK for twenty years. So I came up with my list of twenty observations from twenty years in the UK. To be honest, it didn’t take me twenty years to notice all of these, some of them only took twenty days, some twenty weeks, some a bit longer. They’re meant to serve as a comparison with life in Italy. If you’re curious to see what they are, pop over to Stefania’s blog now.


image courtesy of imgfave

children, lying


Pinocchio is a wonderful character. I like him because he’s mischievous, but at the same time, he has a good heart. It’s such a pity that his nose has to grow every time he tells a lie. Now that is a fascinating fact for my four-year old daughter, Sofia. We were reading Pinocchio’s book a few days ago, and we happened to have this conversation:

M: why does Pinocchio’s nose grow?
S: because he told a lie.
M: what lie did he tell?
S: he said “lie”.
In that moment I realized.
M: what is a lie?
Sofia smiled as if I’d asked a stupid question.
I thought it was important to explain what a lie was, after all Pinocchio’s nose size depended on it.
M: what colour is your pyjama?
S: it’s white.
M: now, if I said that your pyjama was yellow, that would be a lie.
S: but it’s not yellow! It’s white!
M: what did you have to eat for dinner tonight?
S: pasta.
M: if I said you had chips for dinner, that would be a lie.
S: can I have chips for dinner tomorrow?
No, it wasn’t really working. I had to try something else.
M: Yesterday I found some cereal stuck between the cushions in the sofa. Who put that there?
Sofia looked up. I bet she was going to blame one of her cuddly toys. But she raised her hand.
S: I did it!
My jaw dropped. I had to find something more serious.
M: I noticed that someone has scribbled on the kitchen wall with some pens. Who could that be?
Offence punishable with no chocolate or treats. Surely no child would admit to that.
S: Sofia did it!
I shook my head in disbelief.

My daughter is incapable of lying. Not because she’s a virtuous girl (see cereals stuck in sofa and scribbled walls), but because she doesn’t understand the concept yet. So this must be true for most young children?

It makes me wonder, how, why and when we learn to lie. Because even if we try not to, somehow we do it, we lie even to ourselves at times, don’t you think?

mystery, websites, Wordpress


Do strange things happen to you, occasionally?
Last week, my website experienced a series of unexplained glitches. I think that everyone who works in an office, or runs a website, blog, or simply uses computers, sooner or later will come across some issues. That is part of life.

Between Monday and Friday last week, that is only five days, the following happened to my website:

1)      My newsletter sign up fields disappeared.
At first I thought I messed it up myself, because I had changed some of the wording in the sign up description. I couldn’t believe it. All those people queuing to sign up to my newsletter… what were they going to do now? So I emailed the techie guy who helps me with this kind of thing.
Three hours later, he emails me back asking if I had solved the problem by myself. I went to look again at my website and the sign up fields were there again. I hadn’t done anything. Basically it had broken and fixed itself.

2)      The cover of my new book, The Broken Heart Refuge 1, had disappeared from my website.
Considering that this is my latest book, I was kind of annoyed that it should just vanish; it was there on the 2nd of January, so why should it suddenly go two days later?
Well, it turned out, after some careful investigation – I put my Marlowe hat on, just to stay in character with my series – that this book cover is only visible on Google Chrome and Internet Explorer latest version. It doesn’t affect the other book covers, but only this one. You try and explain that to me!

3)      Still staying on the theme of book covers, I also found out that my first book A Deal with a Stranger, was displaying the English book cover on my Italian book page. I am sure that I never loaded on that page the English book cover, the Italian stuff goes on the Italian pages and the English stuff goes on the English pages. Why on earth would I have two flags up there, otherwise?

I wondered how these things came about. As you know, I have a four-year old daughter, Sofia. She is attracted to computers, gadgets, and things with buttons. She owns two toy-laptops (thanks to her generous uncles/aunts) and even her own tablet (thanks to grandma/grandpa). Her latest tablet is a dream: it’s colourful, it’s got fairies and princesses, you can do everything on it, videos, photos, drawing and games. I am jealous, because I don’t have such a cool toy. My laptop is boring, it’s black with a hint of red around it. That’s as much colour as it gets. The most exciting video I’ve watched on it is of a guy in a dark suit talking about marketing. Despite all of this, Sofia is attracted to my laptop. When I’m not looking, she’s in there like a shot, at my keyboard. I always lock it, but she bashes it and presses all the buttons until she eventually crashes the thing and I have to restart it. If I forget to lock my laptop (God forbid!), the instant I’m throwing the spaghetti into the boiling water, for example, she manages to move all the icons on my desktop and activate commands I didn’t even know existed.

So, I was thinking, could she have done that to my website, last week?  Mmhhh… Sofia doesn’t have the login and password to start with. Second, she knows the letters of the alphabet, but cannot read or write; navigating the commands of a WordPress website may be beyond her reach. OK then, who is responsible? Since we are talking about disappearances (fields from newsletters, invisible book covers), and here at home we have other things that vanish, namely socks from the washing machine and teaspoons from cutlery drawers, could it be that there is a single, how shall we call it, entity, involved?

But, do strange things happen to you too, occasionally?


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