Category: Cookery Books
I only knew of James Beard as the name behind the annual food awards but one glance at the opinionated, erudite and
I wish I could be the kind of person who says that I’ve no interest in kitchen gadgets (and mean it) but that would be a total and absolute lie. My 10-year old immersion blender was recently replaced after it got a little overworked from Little Missy’s weening dinners and, faced with the idea of no blended soups, homemade mayo or lump-free gravy (it happens to everyone, y’know) I came out in a cold sweat and headed straight to the shops. The bread machine, which I picked up from Gumtree for a tenner two years ago, is in constant use. This weeks’ breads? Little Missy’s favourite cheese and mustard loaf for lunchtime soups and a breakfast one, flecked with shreds of marmalade, for toasting. Gumtree was also the source of my slow cooker, which I picked up at the start of the summer. Another €10 so, I figured after a bit of heming and hawing, nothing venture, nothing gain.
Some might say that it is too late for Christmas shopping but, as the Little Brother informed me this morning, there’s loads of time yet. Which would be fine if he wasn’t supposed to be buying for me – my family does Kris Kringle so that you only have to buy for one person – and most of the things I want are online. My fault for not telling him in time, apparently! Oh well…if there are any similarly challenged little brothers out there, they might find this list useful. Here are, in no particular order, a selection of review books that I’ve enjoyed this year. You can also find a few more in the Cooking the Books index.
Ever since the sunshine soaked warmth of Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons I’ve been a fan of Diana Henry’s food writing. Her follow ups – Roast Figs, Sugar Snow (warming dishes from colder climes, perfect for this kind of weather) and the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Cook Smart (the sausages chapter is a constant go-to) – have kept me cooking over the last few years.
Kitchen arrived at the cottage just before a recent weekend where I was the kind of unwell that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I picked up Kitchen – carefully, I didn’t want to drop the hot chocolate, and it is a Big Book – and it was the perfect antidote to a few miserable days. I reveled in Nigella’s exuberant and extensive descriptions of Cheesy Chilli, Guinness Gingerbread and Marmalade Pudding Cake. Never mind the comfort eating: this is comfort reading at its very best.
I’ve been a Domini Kemp fan since she and her sister, Peaches, opened the first Itsabagel in Dublin’s Epicurean Food Hall. I fell in love with the Mountaineer bagel at first bite and Itsabagel became a regular port of call as well as the unanimous office choice when I was picking up lunch for everyone. I loved her first 2002 cookbook, Real Food, Real Fast, especially the sweet side of things: the Sticky Toffee Pudding makes masses and is a well-tried-and-tested large crowd dessert, the gooey Pistachio and Chocolate Biscuits never linger long and White Chocolate Berries is a great bring-along-dessert for dinner at a friend’s house.
Since the first Leon cookbook arrived at the cottage, it hasn’t been allowed to leave the kitchen. Crammed with whole food ideas and healthy, seasonal dishes, all the food is tempting and very, very tasty. The Indian Parsnip Soup is one of those recipes that is in constant rotation, Little Missy loves the Sweet Potato Falafel and there’s always a stash of smoked fish in the fridge for a Magic Mackerel salad.