Category: Read

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Sarah Raven’s Complete Christmas

Sarah Raven's Complete ChristmasIf you need any excuse to get into the Christmas spirit, pick up a copy of Sarah Raven’s sparky and seasonal Complete Christmas. I’m already a fan of her comprehensive Garden Cookbook and this is very much in a similar vein, with a big emphasis on using the garden as a resource for creative decorations, food and homemade presents.

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Leon: Ingredients and Recipes

Leon's Indian Parsnip SoupWorking my way through Leon: Ingredients and Recipes, Allegra McEvedy’s fantastic cookbook from the London-based restaurant chain at the moment. As there was a big bunch of lovely dirty parsnips sitting around from the last Mallow Farmers’ Market – like carrots, they always keep better when they still have some soil on them, even in my newly warm kitchen (the Husband recently got the stove working, just in time for winter) – I couldn’t resist trying out her recipe for Indian Parsnip Soup. I followed it (almost) to the letter, even down to adding a drizzle of honey, a scattering of sumac (finally getting a use for that packet hanging around in the spice box) to each serving, with a wedge of lemon on the side to accentuate the flavours and it was, without a doubt, superb. Review to follow, when I get through the rest of the book, but you can read some of her writing and recipes in this series of extracts from the book on the Guardian website.Extract from Leon: Ingredients and Recipes – Part OneExtract from Leon: Ingredients and Recipes – Part TwoExtract from Leon: Ingredients and Recipes – Part ThreeExtract from Leon: Ingredients and Recipes – Part Four

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Cornucopia at Home by Eleanor Heffernan and the Cornucopia team

Cornucopia at HomeDuring my first couple of years in Dublin, I worked on Great Denmark Street, just off the top of O’Connell Street. At that stage, there weren’t many lunch-friendly places around the northside so, if catching up with friends for lunch, the usual thing was to meet outside Trinity (cue Caroline legging it down O’Connell Street, over O’Connell Bridge and up Westmoreland Street at the rate of knots at 12.55pm) and go from there. One of my favourite places to go with the Tax Advisor – if we could grab a seat – was Cornucopia on Wicklow Street. We would fill up on warming winter soups, my favourite Spanakopita or hearty quiches, always with a big debate over which salads to choose. After a feed there, the Tax Consultant used to be terribly impressed at the fact that he didn’t get hungry all afternoon long.

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Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop

With the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony taking place today, enigmatic China is at the center of attention. Fuchsia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper uses food and cooking to successfully delve beneath the surface.

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sharksfin.jpg Chef and cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop’s memoir of her time cooking and eating in China is an enthralling read. In 1994, at a time when China was still very closed off from the outside world, this young Englishwoman moved to Chengdu, in the Sichuan province. Ostensibly, Fuchsia was there to study the Chinese policy on ethnic minorities but food was a strong motivating factor – as she filled out her application form, it was with the Chinese sugarplums of chilli bean sauce, Sichuan pepper and frilly pig’s kidneys dancing in her head. Despite Fuchsia’s early disorientation, she plunged into life in Chengdu, learning the language and finding her way through the bold and interesting flavours of Sichuan food. Before long, she was taking lessons at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine and was subsequently invited to join a three-month professional chef’s training course – an unprecedented invitation for a Westerner.

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Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking

Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking What do you read while travelling in France? A stack of novels, a French phrase book – and Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. My holidays normally involve dragging at least one cookbook of the country about with me, often with a relevant Lonely Planet World Food guide. World Food France is out of print, unfortunately, but I grabbed the last copy of the ED book at work as I ran out the door on the last day.

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A Table in the Tarn by Orlando Murrin

A Table in the Tarn by Orlando MurrinOpen any page in A Table in the Tarn and you’re likely to be seduced. I got stuck in the Deserts, Petits Four and Chocolates chapter, with recipes for Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet, Home-Made Vanilla Marshmallows and Cocoa-Nib Florentines but, once I tore myself away from the sweet things, there was much more to recommend this memoir-style cookbook.

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The Book of Sweet Things by Seán and Kieran Murphy

The Book of Sweet Things by Seán and Kieran Murphy It was only a matter of time before Kieran Murphy’s entertaining Ice Cream Ireland made it to the printed page. The Book of Sweet Things, written by Kieran and his brother/business partner Seán, tells the story of how two Americans got into the ice cream business in Dingle a few years ago. Now Murphys’ Ice Cream is sold from two shops – one in Dingle and the other in Killarney – and their distinctive blue and white containers are stocked in delis and foodstores throughout Ireland. I got my first taste of their wares by picking up a tub of vanilla (or fanaile) in Morton’s of Ranelagh; now, fortunately, I’m never too far from a freezer-full of varieties at work in Urru.