Limerick is Val O’Connor’s hometown and she showcases its food to perfection on her Limerick Food Trails.
Early one Saturday morning in November I met herself and a collection of fellow food tourists at Cornstore at Home for a little pre-tour tasting – think Limerick vs Cork via two platters of breakfast meats, one from Caroline Rigney of Curraghcase Meats, the other from Kanturk butcher Sir Jack McCarthy.
Old school Irish publisher Gill & Mac has been taking cookbook production up a notch in the last few years and both of these hardbook books are lovely to look at as well as to cook from.
If every small town in Ireland had a Dream Deli selling fabulous brunch dishes like Fruit Tabbouleh, Weekend Waffles and Welsh Rarebit, we’d all eat out a lot more. Perhaps it’s best that this doesn’t happen – because instead you can have the fun of cooking your way through Lilly’s book, which includes (my favourite!) inventive devilled egg variations like beetroot and fennel, spiced coriander, wasabi and sesame seed. There are great salads (Mango and Shredded Chicken with Garam Masala Yoghurt, Quinoa with Pistachio and Pomegranate) and an assemble-on-the-spot Sicilian Wedding Cake that could set a new trend. lillyhiggins.ie
Anyone remember this booklet? Stork – yes, the Unilever margarine brand – has always been brilliant at putting together the kind of recipe collection that people return to again and again.
So many of us grew up baking and cooking our way through the Paula Daly series of McDonnell’s Good Food Cookbooks in the Seventies and Eighties. As far as I remember, you had to collect a certain amount of tokens from the marg packets – imagine opening the messy envelopes in Stork HQ! – and send them off with some money (probably that vintage thing, a postal order) to get the books.
Shuush…you may not realise it but Christmas is coming. Or, like me, you may have small people in the house.
It took until June this year until I managed to distract them away from singing Christmas carols; now we’re back in full flow with Frosty the *blinking* Snowman. Sigh.
Still, with all this early concentration on the season in question – we had our first Christmas dinner two weeks ago before the Little Sister headed back to life in Aus – I’m hoping to get well ahead with my preparations. No allowing the Little Brother to order my cookbook presents on 21 December. He’s based in Austin, Texas for the moment.
In 2007 I did the 12-week cookery course at Ballymaloe. I only had to come down the road for it; many of my classmates had travelled much further, coming from England, Spain, Sweden, Australia and America to study in this internationally known Irish cookery school. It was an intense, hard-working, food-filled transition time for me, a hiatus between full-time work in Dublin and freelancing from a country cottage.
It was also pure luxury, three months spent immersed in a kitchen. We cooked all morning, ate the results for lunch, watched demos in the afternoons and – hungry again – queued eagerly to devour what had been produced. Just as well there was some time spent hoovering the demo room, carrying buckets of scraps to the hens (two of the students’ chores) and walking to the pub (not such a chore!) to balance it all out.
Imagine walking into a room and seeing your cookbook collection walking around. Look! Over there, that delicately beautiful Indian woman just has to be Madhur Jaffrey. Is that Stephanie Alexander standing at the back...