Category: Read


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Piri Piri Starfish by Tessa Kiros

Inviting recipes Could Portugal be the new Spain? Reading Tessa Kiros’ Piri Piri Starfish and its references to petisco (tapas, Portuguese-style), chourico (substitute chorizo), port instead of sherry and salt cod (in Portugal – bacalhau, in Spain – bacalao) you could be forgiven for thinking things are moving that direction. This, the follow up to Kiros’ acclaimed parent-and-child-orientated Apples for Jam, is a more straightforward cookbook. As with Apples…, colour is very important, although the chapters are laid out in a more clear-cut way – Essential Recipes, Petisco Plates, Starters and Soups, Mains and Side Plates, Deserts and Cakes – than that book’s rainbow bright colour-coded sections. Here the tone is more grown up, with lots of muted blues and greys, beautifully designed page titles and a thick white and blue ribbon for marking your way through the book.


Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas by Craig Priebe with Dianne Jacob

A new way of cooking pizzaI love experimenting with and learning different cooking techniques, especially if they involve playing with yeast. No Knead Bread? Yes please! Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Made that. Sourdough from my own starter? Still bubbling quietly away in the fridge. But grilled or barbequed pizza? Not yet – that was until I got my hands on a copy of Craig Priebe’s Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas. Craig developed his grilling technique, using a barbeque, when he ran his own pizza restaurant in Atlanta and this book explains it in detail. When we did the pizza day in Ballymaloe, Darina cooked one of her creations on the barbeque outside the demo theatre door but, more fascinated by the wood-fired oven, I didn’t hang around in the rain, instead directing my attentions indoors so I never got to investigate the barbequed pizza properly.

By Request: Irish Tea Brack from the McDonnell’s Good Food Cookbooks 8

By Request: Irish Tea Brack from the McDonnell’s Good Food Cookbooks

Since I first wrote about the McDonnell’s Good Food Cookbooks I have had several emails asking for recipes that people remember from their childhood or enjoyed years ago but have since lost. The latest request, from Renee who wants to make the cake for a family occasion, is for the Tea Brack recipe from the first cookbook. This is one of our family favourites, a much used recipe, but – as I well remember from frustrated occasions searching for it – annoyingly filed under the name Irish Tea Brack in the Irish Tea Time Favourites chapter, just across the page from Gingerbread.