About Coochinando

Welcome to my Southern Italian food blog Coochinando (the English phonetic spelling to pronounce correctly the Italian word cucinando, which means cooking).

Watch this short video to find out more about Coochinando and the story behind it. I hope you are going to feel inspired, get cooking soon and share the love!

Coochinando in the press

I was featured in the Catholic Herald and I am a contributor for the Huffington Post

Below you can take a look at what I have published so far:


Coochinando was shortlisted as one of the 8 finalists of the UK Blog Awards!

Coochinando is a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2017
Onwards and upwards!

Coochinando: what does it even mean?

Coochinando? What? It’s been torture trying to think of a title for the blog. Coochinando is the English phonetic spelling to pronounce correctly the Italian word cucinando, which means cooking.

Mariacristina posing for coochinanado with her puff pastry filled with salmon
Say… coochinando!

As my life is indeed a lot about cooking – learnt in southern Italy, and brought to London – I felt this title would be a suitable way to sum up the blog!

Mariacristina making a pasta dish for George
It’s all about cooking and making happy those close to my heart. How soppy, I know…!

What is Coochinando about?

Mariacristina learning from her mummy how to prepare impasto madre...
Mariacristina learning from her mummy how to prepare impasto madre…

Coochinando is about giving something back to those who helped my husband George get through his illness.

“How?” I hear you say. By sharing 150 family recipes, which I am planning to collect and publish in a book to raise funds for two charities – Anthony Nolan and Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research) – that have done a huge amount to help save his life.

How can YOU help?

When the book is out, support my project and buy one copy or 1000:-) to help me raise funds to support the fight against blood cancers.

Meanwhile… you can:

  • Subscribe to email updates and ask your friends and family to do the same (make sure you activate your subscription via the link in the confirmation email you will receive):

  • Like Coochinando’s Facebook page: the more the merrier to spread the word
  • Test the recipes and share them with your friends and family
  • Spread the word about my project when talking to your networks
  • Leave comments on the recipes I gradually post on the blog, on Coochinando’s FB page or Instagram’s account.
  • If cooking is not your cup of tea, you can consider signing up to Anthony Nolan register (aged 16-30) or DKMS’ (30+) and become a potential life saver.

What is the story behind Coochinando?

Back in October 2013 my husband George relapsed with leukaemia. After five wonderful, healthy years since his first diagnosis in 2005, it felt like the world had fallen apart. Because the illness had after all proved itself resistant to the first lot of treatment, this time around the only hope to cure him was a bone marrow transplant, once he was in remission. You can check out George’s inspiring blog, if you want to learn more about his perspective on life during and since his illness.

George holding a little cake made by Mariacristina
Despite all the struggles, always there to show me love with food 😀

Unfortunately, the first line of treatment required to get him into remission did not work and he had to opt for a clinical trial, which, after gruelling treatment, worked! These trials happen thanks to research done and funded by charities such as Bloodwise. Once George was in remission, Anthony Nolan had found a great donor for him, which resulted in a successful transplant.

Nearly two years down the line, my gorgeous husband is slowly recovering and enjoying life.

He regularly volunteers and campaigns to make sure that charities like Anthony Nolan and Bloodwise receive as much support as possible to keep helping thousands of other people affected by blood cancer.

George happily chopping almonds.
Campaigning and volunteering, but not just for charities…

Coochinando and the book I am going to publish (as soon as I find suitable publishing options) are my way to say thank you and to give something back to these two fabulous charities. I am not sure how much I am going to be able to raise, but, working in the charity sector, I can assure you that every little makes a big difference.

Home-made cooking and post-transplant recovery

During George’s illness and recovery, cooking played a big part in keeping me strong and focused, as well as able to make sure George would be spoilt and fed the most amazing food: the very least after all he was going through. Between being in isolation at first, and then having a very weak immune system, the number of things he could eat were limited and restaurants and public spaces were off limits.

George eating pudding made by Mariacristina
Road to recovery. Looking after George with food made with love
Lewis, George and Andrea in the garden with food
Road to recovery. Super friends Andrea and Lewis came over for a Sunday meal to spend time with us. Smiles all around!

So guess what? I made sure we would have romantic dates, Sunday lunches and barbecues with friends at home during the first critical three months after his transplant. Hand-made pasta and pizza, nutritious and tasty meals that were every bit as good as those offered in restaurants. Definitely flattering myself now…

Mariacristina chatting on skype with mum Mariolina and daddy Salvatore
Italian cooking: always a family business, even when miles away!

Whatever he would fancy, I would make. I even made him an home made McChicken sandwich to satisfy a craving! The things you do for love… Apart from this little exception, we had lots and lots of Italian home-made food, lots of friends over and day by day he has gained strength, his immune system continues to grow and the days of restricted diets are history!

Mariacristina and Wilma holding a tray with zepole di San Giuseppe
Zeppole di San Giuseppe: perfect pudding for hungry bellies
Marco cannot wait to put his paws on the home made ricotta and funghi ravioli
Marco cannot wait to put his paws on the homemade ricotta and funghi ravioli

The meaning of cooking

Cooking is life: a way to take care of and spoil those I love, and to switch off from the noise of heavy daily thoughts or simply everyday stress. When I start worrying about things or negative thoughts cross my mind, I get cooking and all of a sudden I feel in control again.

dish with slice of lasagne
This can fix any issue…
Dish with home made potato gnocchi, served after involtini di melanzane
My favourite colours…Wonder why.
Torta nutellotta on display with ferrero rocher on top
No cake is more luxurious than me.
Italian recipe for ciambellone al limone made by Mariacristina
Very hard to resist when it’s there in front of you…

But above all, cooking is about celebrating some of the many joys of life: delicious, home-made food that brings people together and strengthens bonds.

Daddy and me
An endless love…
Toasting to life with George and cousins Mario and Maria
A feast cooked to celebrate life with my cousins
Smiling with uncle Eddie hiolding two plates with lasagne
Always happy smiles when mummy’s lasagne is on the table!

Who is this blog for?

Anyone who is…

  • In love with Italian food
  • Keen to use some traditional and authentic Italian recipes used by over two generations
  • Just starting to approach cooking, or a confident cook, or anywhere in between
  • Excited about spoiling and seeing big smiles on the faces of those you adore after they had a mouthful of the food you cooked for them
  • A believer in the benefits of a healthy Mediterranean diet
  • Passionate about fresh and simple ingredients
Basil goodness for coochinando
The goodness of simple and fresh ingredients

Ultimately, this blog is for anyone who is willing to give it a go. Because you don’t need to attend expensive cooking training courses or to be able to afford expensive ingredients to make healthy and tasty food. All you need is some time, patience, a willingness to try, determination (there is nothing you cannot do) and the confidence to know that whatever is made with love can only taste like heaven! Get it wrong once? We all do sometimes… Try again and never lose confidence!

22 thoughts on “About Coochinando

  1. Jess 6th January 2016 / 2:51pm

    This all looks amazing!! Can’t wait for your updates 🙂

    • Mariacristina 6th January 2016 / 3:21pm

      Grazie Jess! I hope you are going to let me know when you try one these recipes:-D Keep an eye on the blog this week, there will be two new yummi recipes…! One sweet and one savoury….

  2. Nicola 29th January 2016 / 6:14pm

    Hi Mariacristina, I’m so so so keen on “Pizza con la scarola”. My ex-wife cooked it for me in a wonderful manner. Since then (15 years ago) I have no longer eaten such a delikatessen. Please, could you give me your recipe for an original neapolitan “Pizza ca’ scarol”? No fake, please! My best regards from Naples. Nicola.

    • Mariacristina 29th January 2016 / 6:23pm

      No problem at all:-) I made it when I was back in Naples in December and I will publish it next week:-D I have the recipe with raisins….not sure how your ex wife used to make it but I use the very old version!

  3. Gillian 29th January 2016 / 10:06pm

    Fabulous idea. My husband had his transplant in 2010 and is in 100% health. Good luck

    • Mariacristina 29th January 2016 / 10:11pm

      Thank you Gillian! I am so pleased to hear that your husband is doing well. It is always so good to hear about positive stories. I hope you will check the blog every now and then and maybe try a recipe:-)

  4. Becky Bailie-Martin 30th January 2016 / 9:21am

    What a lovely idea. I have shared it on Facebook, pinned it and will tell all I know who love Italian food. I’m not a great cook but I can at least try!

    George is an amazing man and I can see you are just the same. Good luck with raising awareness and money.

    PS I’m signed up to Anthony Nolan too ☺️

    • Mariacristina 30th January 2016 / 1:49pm

      Thank you so much for your support Becky in spreading the word about the blog! It is always good to get positive feedback at the beginning of a a new project, so I rely a lot on people’s ideas and comments to do better something I really care about. 🙂 I am a very lucky girl to have George in my life, he is my inspiration and my strength, I am learning from him every day.
      I am little bit older so I signed up with Delete blood cancer but I try to support Anthony Nolan’s mission in other ways. I am sure you will be great at making some of the dishes I share on the blog, just remember: it is about determination and love. But give me a shout if you get stuck with any steps of the recipe you will be making. xx

  5. Mirella 5th February 2016 / 9:54am

    Hi Mariacristina, I hope that we (I and my husband) can help you. You are a great and wonderfull person. Kisses

    • Mariacristina 5th February 2016 / 5:13pm

      Mirellaaaaaaaaa so good to hear from you and welcome to my world….coochinando:-D I am so touched you took a look at the blog and subscribed to email updates. It really means the world to me. I hope you are well and if you decide to test some of the recipes, or even if there is one in particular you would like to see on the blog, please let me know! Lots of love xx

    • Mariacristina 8th February 2016 / 10:38pm

      Thank you so much for sharing our story. We hope it is going to help many people who are going through a transplant. We are both here for anyone who would like to chat to us.

  6. nigelgriffiths 9th February 2016 / 9:33am

    Good morning,got to your page through Antony Nolan page.enjoyed reading your story,all resonated as I am just approaching third birthday,grateful for everyday now.you are so right about forgetting small stuff.if you or your husband ever want to chat about all this I am always available,I think those of us who have lived to tell the story should keep each other going

    • Mariacristina 10th February 2016 / 1:39pm

      Hi Nigel, thank you so much for taking a look at the blog and welcome to Coochinando! I am so happy to hear that things are going well. It is always good to know that more people out there are doing fine, it gives me strength and hope. We would both love to chat and I know that George is planning to get in touch soon. Take care until then and best wishes for your approaching birthday!

  7. Ro Smith 16th February 2016 / 5:53pm

    Great to meet you at the weekend Mariacristina and looking forward to trying some recipes. Good luck with the blog, the book and raising money for research 🙂

    • Mariacristina 17th February 2016 / 10:35pm

      Hi Ro, it was really good to spend some time with you all! I had a lovely time and I hope the rest of the weekend went well for you! Thank you for checking out Coochinando – do give me a shout if there are any steps in the recipes that are not particularly clear. I hope you are going to be inspired to try some dishes!:-D

  8. Jacquelyn Charlton 13th April 2016 / 9:54pm

    Hi Mariacristina,
    You probably won’t remember me but I remember you and your husband, I have been at social events for Andrea and have always felt enchanted by how beautiful you and George are. To me you two are the epitome of happiness and love. I am so pleased your story has a happy ending and I wish for you to have so many happy years ahead. Glad I can support your selfless work xx

    • Mariacristina 17th April 2016 / 11:19am

      Dear Jacquelyn, thank you so much for getting in touch and for such a beautiful message. George and I are touched and moved by your loving and supportive words. We feel so blessed to have the help and encouragement of so many friends like you who are by our side. I hope you are going to get a chance to sample some of the recipes:-) We both look forward to seeing you again soon:-D Take care. xx

  9. Supanya Lamsam 4th October 2016 / 11:33am

    Hi Mariacristina,
    I read the AN post about your husband meeting his donor and came across your blog through that. My daughter had a stem cell transplant 6 months ago and we also hope to have the privilege of meeting her donor one day : )
    I have subscribed to updates and look forward to seeing and supporting the published cookbook.

    best wishes to you both.
    PS my husband is Italian so we enjoy a lot of Italian cuisine. Planning to try out your involtini di melanzane alla Tim!!

    • Mariacristina 7th October 2016 / 11:48am

      Dear Supanya, thank you so much for such a lovely message. I always feel so happy when people find about Coochinando and take the time to get in touch. Time flies by and before you realise it, two years will be gone and you will be able to get in touch with your angel donor:-)
      I am excited to hear that your husband is Italian:-D I hope you will both like “Timvoltini”! Please do let me know how it goes and if you manage to take a picture or two, I would be delighted to see the final result and show them to Tim:-D Lots of love to you all. X

  10. Gareth Brisbane 19th March 2018 / 11:35am

    Hi MC! I had the enormous joy of working with you at AfriKids and will now have the joy of trying out your food.
    So pleased to see plenty of veggie stuff in there.

    • Mariacristina 19th March 2018 / 12:57pm

      Gareth! So happy to hear from you. Thank you for leaving a message on my blog and I am excited to know you are going to try some of the recipes! Do get in touch if you get stuck with any of them☺ I hope all is well with you. We should go out for a drink to catch up properly.

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