Category: Cookery Books

Cookbooks for Christmas 0

Cookbooks for Christmas 2012

When all the baking and cooking and running around is done, finding a stack of cookbooks under the tree is one of my favourite things about Christmas. It’s also one of the few times of the year that I have time enough to read through an entire cookbook at one sitting, eating my way through a box of truffles or plate of cheese in conjunction with bookmarking future feasts for the New Year. Here are a few ideas for your own Christmas list, or that of a food lover that you know. It might be a little too late for guaranteed Christmas delivery if you order online so it might be time for a trip to the shops. That said, one year my Little Brother ordered all my presents online a few days before the big day. “Loads of time left for Christmas shopping, Caroline, loads of time,” he said as he clicked and ordered – and had them actually delivered on time. That’s not to be recommended though.   The a-new-project-for-the-new-year cookbooks: Bread Revolution by Duncan Glendinning (Murdoch Books) & Patrick Ryan, Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley) A new year, a new start – and some new skills. Patrick Ryan...

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Making the base for the Lemon Slice from The Cake Cafe Bake Book 4

The Cake Café Bake Book by Michelle Darmody – and some Lemon Slices

Michelle Darmody’s idea of a café is simple: there’s good coffee, tempting baking cooling on the counter and an uncomplicated menu using good quality Irish ingredients. The crockery is mismatched, there are piles of well-used cookbooks on the shelves and the iced cookies are quirky and irresistible. Having been a fan of Michelle’s previous establishment, the Curved Street Café, I was thrilled when the Cake Café opened in 2006. Just down the road from where I lived in Rathmines, it was tucked behind the Daintree paper shop on Camden Street, and Saturday morning brunch (homebaked beans on toast!) was a regular treat when we lived in Dublin. There was often an element of theatre about the place too, it being highly entertaining to watch as loving couples, fresh from negotiating their way through Daintree, tensely ‘discussed’ their wedding stationary needs over cups of tea and carrot cake. Michelle has always been ahead of the curve: she’s been namechecking suppliers since she opened, using free-range eggs and butter in her baking from the start, and the Daintree Buildings are a delightfully 21st-century sustainable eco-rain-water-flush-toilet-type space. When she thought about writing a cookbook, she decided to strike out on her own and went through Fundit to raise enough money to...

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Dark Chocolate and Orange Cookies from Sophie Kooks by Sophie Morris 0

Dark Chocolate and Orange Cookies from Sophie Kooks by Sophie Morris

If there’s one thing that Sophie Morris should be able to do well, it’s cookies. She’s built a successful business on a brilliantly simple product and Kooky Dough is exactly what it says: a roll of raw dough, ready to pop into the oven. I like it because it’s made with the kind of real ingredients – butter, eggs, proper chocolate – that I put into the dough if I made it at home. It’s even wrapped in enough greaseproof paper to line the baking tin. Easy to use and fun for kids of all ages: I’m particularly thinking here of the Student Sister who often packed rolls of her own cookie dough to take back to college on Sunday nights. I’ve also seen Sophie, together with her business partner, Graham, working the crowds and putting in long hours at events like Bloom. Route to success? 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. And now Sophie’s gone off and written a cookbook, presumably in the extra five minutes she has available each day. It’s a smart and stylish number, arranged seasonally, with eight recipes for each month of the year. It’s not all sweet either.  Bargain chicken thighs get a couple of outings (Crispy Caramelised Chicken Thighs, Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cannellini...

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Meatloaf with Cashel Blue cheese 4

Marvellous Meals with Mince by Josceline Dimbleby: Meatloaf with Blue Cheese

Minced meat used only come in one colour. It was a dun grey-brown, boiled in water, speckled with some slippery onion pieces and large lumps of carrot. Once it was cooked through – you’d be able to smell it as far as the bedrooms – it was seasoned with a stock cube, thickened with Bisto and served up for dinner. That mince wasn’t what I would consider appetising now, but it was still the most-loved meal of my childhood. Times have changed. Now mince comes from more than just the half of bullock that elbowed everything else out of the vast freezer that my mother owned then. You can easily buy pork and lamb minced, pick up some chicken and turkey mince or even – and this would definitely have been a step too far in the Irish countryside of the eighties – mince your own fish. We lived in a small town; pasta only arrived there around 1991. Exotica like spaghetti bolognese and pesto didn’t cross my lips until I arrived in university. All varieties of mince – inexpensive, easy to freeze, quick to defrost – are a frequent feature of dinnertime. I regularly make my own burgers and meatballs, play around with...

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Ard Bia Cookbook by Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy 6

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

  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,...

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Ard Bia Cookbook from Ard Bia Galway, Ireland 0

Foodtalk: Dairy with Aoibheann Mac Namara and Kieran Murphy

Reading the stylish and useful Ard Bia Cookbook reminded me of meeting Aoibheann Mac Namara back in 2008. I was interviewing her for the Foodtalk series of documentaries for Newstalk: her son Oni – the book is dedicated to him – was just a tiny baby and I remember her breastfeeding him while we were setting up the recording. That night my producer and I enjoyed a superb meal at Ard Bia and afterwards I wrote this introduction to her piece in the programme. Programme 5 MP3: Dairy Kevin Thornton and Caroline Hennessy explore all things creamy. Guests: Aoibheann Mac Namara, Ard Bia, Galway and Kieran Murphy from Murphy’s Ice Cream, Dingle. Aoibheann Mac Namara intro Walk through the Spanish Arch on Galway’s quayside and the old stone building that houses Ard Bia is before you. Long and low with red-framed windows and door bright against the grey stone, it sits with its back to the water, hunched up against all the damp Galway climate has to throw at it. Once inside, you are cocooned from the elements, your soul soothed by a seasonal menu that travels – like its owner, Aoibheann McNamara – from Ireland to India, with visits to the Middle East and onwards...

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Rhubarb, Strawberry and Lemon Jam 2

Cook This Now by Melissa Clark: Rhubarb, Strawberry and Lemon Jam

At this time of year there are certain days – damp and cold and dreary days – that make you wonder if summer will ever come. That’s when you want some of this Rhubarb, Strawberry and Lemon Jam, flecked with candied pieces of fruit, on your breakfast toast. Or dolloped on top of yoghurt. Or even, ahem, eaten straight from the spoon. Rhubarb has been on stream for a while now but, after pouncing on my first Irish strawberry last week, I couldn’t resist this recipe from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now. The book is well named: I’ve had to go off and do exactly that with several of her recipes already (Grilled Sausages and Celeriac Salad with Hazelnuts is especially good) and there are a whole heap left to try as I work my way, chapter by chapter, through the months of the year. Crispy Brown Butter Mushrooms are on the menu for a stash of fresh fungi from Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, Melissa has got me looking at pot roasting in a whole new light (Pot Roasted Lamb with Meyer Lemon) and I’m going to have to talk to my local butcher about getting beef short ribs for her Chilli Coconut...

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Gimme The Recipe by Shelia Kiely 2

Gimmie the Recipe by Shelia Kiely and Butcher’s Sausage Hotpot

With six school-going children in her house, Cork woman Shelia Kiely has plenty of experience in figuring out what food will keep a family happy. She’s not short of, as she mentions in the dedication, testers, helpers – or critics. And children can be merciless. Any recipes that have survived their oh-so-cautious consideration are definitely worth checking out: dishes like Pork Chops in Creamy Honey and Mustard Sauce, Spaghetti with Pesto, Bacon and Broccoli or Moroccan Meatballs are sure to become family favourites. From dinners to DIY takeaways, baking to dinner parties, there are options here to keep everyone happy. Leftovers get used up in a way that guarantees kids won’t recognise that the dish has already graced the dining table – beef stew becomes a Cornish Pasty, tired pasta gets revitalised into a quick baked dish. Pizza comes in three guises: with a proper yeast base, a quick scone base and even the cheat’s option, using ready made pitta bread, looks appetising. There are even simple menus for confirmation/communion/christening gatherings, along with cookalong schedules for events like the Christmas dinner. With lots of ideas, none of them too complex, Gimmie the Recipe is a handy book for anyone who’s despairingly...

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