Food, wine, travel, music
The Cake Café Bake Book by Michelle Darmody.
The most original design of a cookbook of the year, most surprising is the lack of photographs – not one – and yet with its zany graphics and unusual layout there is plenty of colour, We really don’t need to see what Granny Nora’s Porter Cake looks like. Or butter cream icings, chocolate ganache or lemon and caraway biscuits. There’s a dairy-free sponge, a chocolate gateau, banana bread and carrot cake – all firm favourites of regular customers of the popular café. In A5 format, it will make a great stocking filler for young wannabe bakers who will benefit from handy tips throughout.
Published in paperback by Michelle Darmody and The Cake Café €15.95.
Salt Sugar Smoke – how to preserve fruit, vegetables, meat and fish by Diana Henry
Jam, but not as you know it. Once again the dynamic Diana Henry has come up with updated versions of classical favourites from jam (scarlet pepper and chilli) to potted meats (pork rillettes, duck confit) to purple pickled eggs (beetroot gives the colour and chillies some zing for a delicious winter salad). Polish honey vodka sounds like just the thing for inner heat, and when rhubarb comes back into season I’ll be the first to try the rhubarb schnapps. Nothing will go to waste next year. A gorgeous book for foodies.
Published in hardback by Mitchell Beazley €28.50
Polpo A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts) by Russell Norman
Hidden amidst far too many overpriced tourist spots, it’s not easy to find good restaurants in Venice. A perk of this recipe book is a decent listing. Anyone who has put on weight on an Italian holiday will join me in opening page 51 for the fried stuffed olives. Life isn’t too short to stuff an olive. Focaccia is made first with half of the flour, the rest added after proving. An interesting tip. Recipes are not challenging, and the appetizing photographs in simple layout gets the digestive juices going. A beautifully produced book for anyone who likes Italian food. Polpo the London restaurant might be worth a visit too.
Published by Bloomsbury in hardback €30
Sophie Kooks Quick and Easy Feelgood Food by Sophie Morris
This co-founder of Kooky Dough surprisingly turned down investment on Dragon’s Den and soon after got a distribution deal with Tesco. Divided by calendar months, her recipes are savoury and sweet, so for December we find a stew of sausages and lentils, cranberry and coconut Florentines (the biscuit of the moment), Christmas cupcakes, steak, frittata, duck, and Guard’s Pudding – a steamed mixture of breadcrumbs, butter, eggs and jam. A new take on classic recipes that will appeal to younger readers.
Published by Gill & McMillan in hardback €22.99
Cake by Rachel Allen
I can’t count the number of people who quote Rachel Allen’s recipes, either because they think they are overloaded with cream and sugar, or because they have had 100% success with following her recipes. Cake won’t disappoint them. To appease those who outwardly rage, but furtively make the richest of them, there is a healthy section. Chocolate, rum and almond cake, sugar free banana bread, tahini honey cake, gluten and diary free pecan brownies will surely help. Lots of recipes for all ages with no baking skills needed.
Published by Collins in hardback €35
Recipes from The English Market by Michelle Horgan
One of Cork’s most visited tourist sites, the English market has come into its own. Great produce served by cheery stallholders are worth celebrating, through favourite recipes and the occasional story. Recipes for the most part are traditional with the occasional foray into kangaroo, ostrich and quail. It will appeal mostly to older Corkonians who will appreciate the nostalgia of the old photographs sprinkled throughout.
Published by Cork University Press in hardback €29
The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden
A legend in her own lifetime, Claudia Roden seems to go on forever. Her recipes have always been practical with an appreciation of local ingredients and respect for traditions. She tells us how to crush garlic a few ways, how to prepare artichokes and squid, the difference between the different types of Spanish sausages and salamis. Foods are written about with affection, wonderment and enthusiasm, and anyone who has spent time in Spain will appreciate this informative book which has delicious traditional recipes. The nougat ice-cream is simple and a treat. Lots of good reading here.
Published by Michael Joseph €30
The Macnean Restaurant Cookbook by Neven Maguire
This latest from the celebrity chef shows off the style and flair typical of Neven Maguire’s restaurant in Co Cavan. It doesn’t mean that the recipes are particularly difficult, but they are presented with squiggles, dots and foams which stylist Sharon Hearne-Smith and photographer Joanne Murphy captured beautifully. A dessert plate he calls The Orchard includes a pot of apple pannacotta with dots of apple jelly on the side, a glazed apple tart, a pot of apple crumble and an apple parfait, amounting to Apple Heaven. A lovely book for food enthusiasts prepared to put time and effort into special dishes.
Published by Gill & Macmillan in hardback €24.99
Eat Like an Italian by Catherine Fulvio
‘Eat Like an Italian — Recipes for the Good Life’ has some delicious pasta dishes which are good for reheating or eating cold for lunches deskside. The most important tip in cooking pasta is not to overcook it.Take it off the heat before it loses its bite and toss in its sauce or cool with water. My best tip to avoid sticking is to cook it in plenty of boiling water with salt. Catherine quotes her in-law whose rule is: 2,4, 400 — 2 teaspoons of salt, with 4 litres of boiling water and 400g of pasta. Make sure the pasta is coated in olive oil or an oily sauce to keep it moist, ready for lunch next day. Plenty of easy recipes here to relax with.
Published by Gill & McMillan in hardback €19.99