Tagged: irish

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An old favourite: McDonnell’s Good Food cookbooks and Sausage Plait

An exercise in nostalgia One of the big advantages of being settled back in Dublin, with book shelves once again, is having all my old cookbooks to pore over and rediscover. Although I did manage to build up a fair collection in New Zealand, it couldn’t really compare to my beloved older stacks of books by Nigel Slater, Darina Allen, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson and my ancient copies of the Paula Daly-written McDonnell’s Cook Books. The first and second books in this series, bought from saving up the tokens on Stork Margarine packets, were two of the first cookbooks owned by my mother.

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Gingerbread for tea: Sticky Gingerbread

Sticky Gingerbread As I finished up at work on Friday, I suddenly, as I looked out into the showery evening, got a yearning for gingerbread. No fancy stuff, I just wanted a damp and aromatically spicy loaf, the sort of teabread that would go perfectly with a cup of tea on a weather-swept Saturday. When I was younger, this kind of longing would be easily satisfied with a squashed loaf in a packet that said “Jamaica Gingerbread” but now, with a well-stocked baking cupboard, spur-of-the-moment cooking decisions aren’t too much of a problem.

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Irish mussels: Mussels with Garlic and Tomatoes

Mussels with Garlic and Tomatoes Although the huge green-lipped New Zealand monsters nearly put me off mussels for life – too big and way too chewy! – last week I tried cooking Irish mussels for the first time. Coming home from work one evening I nipped in to a local shop called Donnybrook Fair to pick up some essential supper supplies. Walking past the seafood counter down the back, a big sack of navy-shelled mussels caught my eye, along with the price – €2.99 a kilo. Instantly, all thoughts of cheese on toast went out the window as I got a kilo of the mussels, picking up a length of crusty French bread and a bottle of sauvignon blanc en route to the checkout.

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Moneystown’s Real Food for Real People ****

A simple and well laid-out book As charity cookbooks go, Real Food for Real People is a real gem. The book is part of a fundraising drive for Moneystown National School’s building fund and was produced and published by the Parents’ Committee in this County Wicklow village. But, even though Real Food for Real People was evidentially done on a shoestring, the design quality still shines out. Illustrated mainly with children’s drawings and photos, and scattered with quotations from, amongst others, Shakespeare and Lenin, it is a simple and well laid-out book.

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An Irish weekend away: Terryglass, Co Tipperary

Our Limekiln cottage at Tir na Fiuise After making Nic‘s Buttermilk Pancakes twice in the last ten days, I just have to sing their praises here. They take minutes to put together, don’t involve getting out the weighing scales (just use the cup measurements), are easy to cook, and – if you’re on a weekend away – the dry ingredients sit happily together in a zip-locked baggie until you choose to combine them with the buttermilk, butter and egg. Most importantly, they turn out delectable, light, fluffy, American-style thick pancakes without having to resort to a mix. We ate them this morning with oodles of fragrant organic maple syrup from Nenagh’s wonderful Country Choice deli, grilled rashers of bacon and, in my case, a little extra butter to further lubricate the sweet/savoury combination taste combination.

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My new (brightly coloured!) bowls

Pink bowlsEquipped with one very large mixing bowl (also useful as a basin!) and a scattering of much smaller ones, I was in the market for a medium sized bowl or bowls. When the Boyfriend and I were in Avoca Handweavers a few weeks ago, queuing for our late lunch, I did some wandering around all the gorgeous goods on display. Piles of enticing cookbooks, soft and richly coloured blankets and throws, sparkling jewellery, jars of jams and jellies, sweet-smelling breads – all laid out to entice browsers and shoppers alike.

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A whole new world – potato cooking: Tartiflette

Tartiflette cooked in a cast iron frying pan After so many years of steering clear of potato dishes or any recipes involving even a hint of the spud, it’s now like a whole new world has opened to me. I’m still not a fan of the floury potato, much loved in Ireland, but I have been experimenting with waxy new potatoes in dishes like Frittata. Well, at least it’s a step on from the tinned potatoes I tried in New Zealand that first got me interested in the tuber.

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Full on Irish: Creative Contemporary Cooking by Kevin Dundon **

A beautifully put together book Undoubtedly creative and definitely contemporary, Kevin Dundon’s Full on Irish is a book that is easy to admire yet, as a collection of recipes, it is not entirely successful. Too much fussing over presentation, as with the beautifully and immaculately layered Smoked Salmon Cake with Chive Cream Cheese, is a huge turn off for me. I want to be able to look at the pictures and think “I can do that” rather than “it’s too complicated for me.” Maybe it is to do with my style of cooking, which is all about landing dishes on the table and letting people help themselves, rather than delicately plating up little morsels of food, but I find it very difficult to get excited about cookbooks that devote a paragraph to telling me how to arrange the dish before presenting it.