Cookies from the Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy


Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy

A very handsome book

Ard Bia at Nimmo’s is a small grey stone building, settled stolidly by Galway’s Spanish Arch.  So far, so unprepossessing. But step inside that jaunty red door and you arrive in a rambling, welcoming space of light and warmth. I’ve always loved the juxtaposition, particularly on a miserable day, between the impassive outside and the bustling but relaxed atmosphere of the cafe/restaurant.

The Ard Bia Cookbook does something similar. There’s no food on the cover, no colourful line up of the people working there; instead it’s a more ambiguous portrait of a staff member, holding a large flower-filled vase where his/her face should be.  More pictures in a similar vein are scattered throughout the book (my favourite is the man lying on the ground, clad only in an apron and surrounded by old china plates) and they’re an ideal example of owner Aoibheann Mac Namara’s quirky aesthetic that runs through the Ard Bia decor and food.

Written by Mac Namara with food journalist Aoife Carrigy, this showcases not only the recipes of Ard Bia but also the suppliers who are named throughout and listed at the back, including Murphy’s Ice Cream, Galway Free Range Eggs and Burren Smokehouse.

The cookbook is a snapshot of day at Ard Bia, from breakfast (Burren Brunch, Granola) to after dinner treats (Lemon Posset, Winterberry and Ginger Pudding), with a chunk devoted to pantry recipes and information. You can choose to recreate an Ard Bia lunchtime in your own kitchen with Masoor Dahl (recommended, even if you have to substitute split yellow peas for the lentils) and Minted Yoghurt or Patrick’s chorizo- and anchovy-flecked big meaty burgers or delve into the pantry section: check out Rose Salt and Fruit Butters, hot pepper dip Muhumara or tips on foraging and preserving.

This is a very handsome book, dotted with beautiful illustrations by Eimearjean McCormack, the faceless portraits and photos that capture Ard Bia in all it’s red teapot-ed, china cupped glory. For fans of the place, it will be a joy; for others, a lovely introduction.

Must try: Smoked Paprika and Orange Oil, Buttermilk and Poppy Seed Pancakes,  Juniper-Cured Sea Trout with Bergamot Barley Risotto

Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann MacNamara and Aoife Carrigy is published by Atrium. Thanks to the publishers for the review copy.

Cookies from the Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy

Cookies: good with a glass of milk

Ard Bia Cookies
Some people make playdough, which – despite all the salt – kids will invariably try to eat. I prefer to make proper cookie dough and have a chance of enjoying something nice at the end of the process. This makes a very simple cookie – flavouring suggestions in the book include 150g chocolate chips or 100g flaked almonds, added before the dry ingredients. 

350g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
250g butter, at room temperature
70g caster sugar
125g brown sugar
2 eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

Whisk or sift the flour and baking powder together.

Using a hand mixer (or wooden spoon and muscles of steel) cream the butter in a large bowl, adding the sugars and beating well. One at a time, drop in the eggs, mixing well, then add the vanilla seeds. Mix in the flour and baking powder.

On top of some clingfilm, shape the dough into two rolls – I made mine about 4cm in diameter. Wrap in the clingfilm and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

When you’re ready to cook the cookies, preheat the oven to 170°C (fanbake 170°C). Grease three baking trays, unwrap the dough and slice into 1cm circles. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire tray and eat with a glass of milk.

Makes 30-36 small cookies.

Adapted from the Ard Bia Cookbook.

Related stories
Foodtalk: Dairy with Aoibheann Mac Namara and Kieran Murphy


Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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6 Responses

  1. Kristin says:

    Were you reading my mind when you wrote this? Our write-ups are eerily similar! I also name checked the rose salt and Patrick’s burgers. Great minds and all that, right? Or at least just the same taste in food. 😉

  2. Caroline says:

    I didn’t realise you had a review to go live today as well! This was supposed to go up earlier in the week but it just didn’t happen. I’d definitely recommend the dahl as well. Loved the flavours.

  3. anne murphy says:

    i made Niamhs Mam’s chicken carrot and sweet potato stew the i found the receipt in the EBS magazine the picture of the stew in the magizine looks light brown in coloue, my stew turned out orange in colour
    i followed the receipt exactly
    can you tell me what went wrong, as my stew looks disgusting while the stew in the magazine looks delicious,
    thank you

    • Caroline says:

      The best thing to do, Anne, is to get in contact directly with Ard Bia – their email address is Hopefully, despite what it looked like, it tasted good. The things I cook never look like the pictures in books either!

  4. Ellen Townson says:

    My copy just arrived by post and I can hardly wait to put my little man to bed tonight and glue myself to the pages. I took a quick flip through, and it seems the flavor combinations are amazing!Thanks for your post- I might never have found this book otherwise on my side of the pond. 🙂

    • Caroline says:

      Hope you enjoyed reading it. The spicing in the Masoor Dahl (p84) isn’t too much for smallies and can be ramped up for those older members of the family who appreciate chillis!

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