COOKBOOK CONFIDENTIAL – from my kitchen to yours

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Hi there,

Today it is my genuine pleasure to share a review of The Nutmeg Trail by Eleanor Ford.

The Nutmeg Trail

The Nutmeg Trail is a captivating culinary exploration of spice. Eleanor Ford shows in her chapters how centuries of spice trading changed the world’s cuisine.

The book follows the ancient trade route through the spice islands to India and Europe.

Following the ancient spice trail, the book showcases the different elements of spices. Chapters and recipes are divided by spice. The chapters are filled with surprising and interesting facts about the role spices have had in uniting and separating nations.

I am always on the lookout for a novel chicken recipe, and I have a great enthusiasm for dates and almonds. So, I decided to make Venetian Chicken with Almond Milk & Dates.


Recipe by ELEANOR FORD Course: DinnerCuisine: VenetianDifficulty: Time Consuming


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 8 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (I used skinless, bone in-in

  • 1 tablespoon 1 plain flour

  • 3 tablespoons 3 olive oil

  • 2 small 2 onions

  • 2 ounces 2 ginger, peeled and finely chopped (I used ginger paste)

  • 4 cloves 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used garlic paste)

  • 1 teaspoon 1 ground cinnamon (I used Vietnamese Cinnamon)

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 ground coriander

  • pinch pinch ground cloves

  • 2 leaves 2 bay leaves (I used fresh bay leaves)

  • 1 and 1/2 cups 1 and 1/2 unsweetened almond milk

  • 2 tablesppons 2 verjuice (I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar)

  • pinch pinch saffron strands

  • 2 tablespoons 2 date syrup

  • 4 4 medjool dates, stoned and quartered

  • 2 tablespoons 2 toasted almond flakes

  • handful handful cilantro leaves (I omitted)


  • Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Set a large casserole pan over a medium-high heat, and when hot, pour in the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and brown to a deep golden on all sides. Remove to a plate, leaving the oil behind.
  • Add the onion to the pan and cook to soften but not colour. Stire in the ginger, garlic, spices and bay leaves and cook a few minutes until fragrant. Return the chicken to the pan in a single layer.
  • Pour in the almond milk and verjuice, scrunch in the strands of saffron and add the date syrup and dates. Season with salt. Bring to a bubble, then lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. The chicken should be tender and falling from the bone.
  • Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and turn up the heat. Bubble the sauce until it has reduced and thickened. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve the chicken in the sauce, scattered with almond and coriander, alongside rice or polenta.


  • This is a rather long list of ingredients but once you have the ingredients assembled, the cooking process is easy and goes quickly

This is a fascinating cookbook. And, if you are a person who enjoys history as well as cooking, this cookbook deserves a spot on your bookshelf.

I am thinking of starting a cookbook club. The rough idea would be that we would all read the same cookbook. Each one of us would write a review and cook one of the recipes. I plan on using cookbook titles that are available from the public library so that there will not be any expense involved – just fun!

Please let me know in the comments section if participating in this cookbook project would be something that appeals to you. I am looking forward to a lot of YES answers.

27 responses to “COOKBOOK CONFIDENTIAL – from my kitchen to yours”

  1. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles.!/supermegawoman!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    Looks like a great cookbook, especially since I love cooking with spices. Yes, I’m interested in a cookbook club. Would be fun.

    • Hello Rita, that would be wonderful. I will get back to you once I get organized. Wishing you and Tom a 2023 filled with many reasons to smile.

  2. Sounds like a fascinating cookbook. The chicken looks very flavourful with all the wonderful spices.

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen – I'm a writer, cook, gardener, photographer, poet, quilter, and accomplished daydreamer. I'm also a wife, mother, grandmother, sister. cousin, aunt, and friend, no particular order on any given day. I've been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter and columnist, radio news writer, and magazine contributor, and poet and short-story writer as the spirit moves. Now, I turn my attention to my cookbook, the blog, and a cooking column "Memorable Meals," which runs in our county newspaper. Besides my family, I love dogs, cats, good coffee, chocolate, and my never-dwindling pile of books I intend to read. Our family ran a small Vermont Inn for 18 years, with our focus on local, organic ingredients. I cook from scratch, and try not to use anything that has ingredients I cannot pronounce! After many years of daily serving up local delicacies, cooking classes, and catering, we are now only open for special events, and the odd cooking class. We also host musicians and artists, having helped produce a musical festival and other musical events for nearly 20 years. Many incredible artists have found a place at our table. Wonderful experiences, we will treasure always. My family and friends are my practice subjects. With a family that includes nut, peanut, tree fruit, and vegetable allergies, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, vegetarians, vegans, heart conscious, and a couple of picky eaters, there has to be a few quick tricks in the book to keep everyone fed and happy! Personally, I do not eat red meat or most full-fat dairy (usually) for health reasons, making the occasional exception at Thanksgiving and Christmas or our anniversary if the duck is locally raised. I do eat fish and seafood, so I try to come up with alternatives and substitutions when available. I serve local organic eggs and cheeses to my family who can tolerate dairy (My husband recently had a heart attack, and I need to watch my own cholesterol so I am careful, but have been known to let a little piece of really good cheese accidentally fall on my plate!). I believe strongly that eating in a way that is good for our planet is also good for our bodies, and I try to educated myself about our food sources! I cook by the seasons and draw on inspiration from the strong and talented women in my family who came before me, as well as the youth in the family who look at the world with fresh eyes. Food links us all, whether sharing a meal, cooking it together, or writing about it for others to enjoy. I love taking an old recipe and giving it a modern spin, especially if I can make it a littler healthier and use foods that are kinder to the Earth and to our bodies. I believe strongly in sustainable, delicious eating of whole foods, and the wonderful flavors we have at our fingertips! And finally, I love conversing with all the talented cooks and chefs out there who dot the globe! It's a wonderful, world full of culinary pen pals, and I cherish them all! XXXOOO Dorothy
    Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen says:

    Count me in baby!
    The book sounds really good, I’ll look for it, and the dish you chose I am definitely going to try for my husband because it is full of spice!

  4. ajeanneinthekitchen – I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for over 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.
    ajeanneinthekitchen says:

    Sounds fun. I am going to order this book. As you all know, I like to cook, just a little bit. 🙂

  5. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats – NY, NY – Private chef, cookbook author, food journalist and translator. I love traveling and love to find out more about food wherever I go.
    Ronit says:

    The book sounds fascinating, as is the recipe. Thanks for recommending. 🙂

  6. Yum! I don’t think I’ve ever met a spice I didn’t like. The Venetian chicken with almond milk and dates sounds delicious. My hubby would lose his mind if I got another cookbook, but I’m looking forward to all the great flavors to come!

  7. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    Jenna says:

    This sounds like a fascinating book!

  8. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
    D. Wallace Peach says:

    I always wanted to take a cooking class that covered herbs and spices, since the only one I use is garlic. Garlic on everything, Bernadette. Lol. That recipe sounds unique, and I’m intrigued. I wouldn’t partake in a cooking club, but I definitely like to try recommended recipes. I have a few favorites from your blog! Happy Cooking.

      • D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
        D. Wallace Peach says:

        Happy to oblige. 🙂

  9. Awakening Wonders – Everyday life is filled with wondrous things and embraceable moments, but only if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened. I invite you to join me as I share passionate life adventures and ramblings that awaken my spirit. I look forward to awakening your senses to the simple, joyous wonders that are all around us. I feel that we are destined to become soulful adventurers!
    Awakening Wonders says:

    Nutmeg – such a special spice and the recipe oh, so yummy!

  10. Hi Bernadette, this recipe looks lovely. I like spicy food from time to time. I will join the book club if the books will be available on as ebooks. Don’t worry if that doesn’t work for you.

  11. Retirement Reflections – Vancouver Island, BC – Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.
    Retirement Reflections says:

    Hi, Bernadette – The Nutmeg Trail sounds like a wonderful book. Chicken with Almond Milk and Dates sounds like a super interesting dish!
    I am interested in your Cookbook Club – sounds like lots of fun!

  12. I love a book that combines history and culture or stories with the recipes, so this sounds like my kind of book.

  13. I knew I was not the only one who curls up nightly with a cookbook! I would welcome the chance to join you and other food enthusiasts cooking unfamiliar dishes and comparing notes. “Always room for another cookbook,” I whisper to my husband.

    • Hello Judy and welcome. It is always wonderful to meet a kindred spirit. I will Email you tomorrow with all the specific information. Hugs, Bernadette

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