Friday Five things: Recipe Books

Like I say on the home page, I’ve always adored cookbooks. I can remember every page of my first ever book, giant sized and full of funny-face ‘pizzas’ made on bread rolls, and gingerbread men. The thing with food blogs, and Pinterest, and social media in general, is that the best recipe books have had to adapt to a changing market place – these books are not sellable for their content alone, anyone can google and get 5000 recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Now, it has to be about more than the recipe – books curate sounds, smells and tastes onto the printed page, tell a story about the writer and what food means in her life. And for someone like me, who thinks about food the majority of the time, this is ideal – to get to know another cook, another food culture or place. All cook books were not created equal, but similarly, different books obviously cater (lol) to different needs. Dare I mention that coming up to Christmas, this may serve as a handy guide for the foodie (reluctant or otherwise) in your life. Let me know in the comments which books you treasure, or those you’ve put in your letter to Santi. Have a lovely weekend…

1. The Desert Island Book

If I never had another cookery book or recipe in my life, I would persist contentedly with the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book. This sizeable tome contains just about everything you’d ever think to make, and in classic Ballymaloe style is both clear and fairly foolproof. Mine is covered in random globs of potato gratin, and coffee cake batter, which I suppose is a good sign!

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2. For the young hip thing

I wrote before about how much I loved Wahaca, which I visited for the first time this summer. However, I already knew that Thomisina Miers (the proprietress) was on to something good, as I bought her book for my sisters birthday (classic self-gifting). We’ve cooked lots from this book, firm favourites being the Chicken sweetcorn soup, the Mexican wedding cookies, and the Lime and Ricotta cake, as well as the divine pork pibil recipe.

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3. For the cook who has all the usual suspects

I was given a gift of this book by wonderful friends, and already it is a firm favourite. This is my favourite type of cook book is that you could read as a novel – the photography is beautiful, the written extremely evocative, and the subject matter terribly interesting. For anyone even mildly interested in world affairs, Jerusalem has always been an enigma of a city, with layer upon layer of religious, historical and cultural importance. Here, we discover how this has impacted on the cuisine and food culture of the city. A definite recommendation.

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4. For the baker

The Hummingbird books are the ones I always turn to when I am feel like making something sweet – they contain all the usual suspects, but also have some really interesting ideas such as lavender cupcakes, or guinness and chocolate pound cake. Also, I would sell limbs for their rocky road – containing over a kilo of chocolate, you’d better believe it is addictive. You’ve been warned 😛

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5. The Newcomer

I was given a copy of this book at a most wonderful event for Irish food bloggers in Dublin Cookery School, and already I’ve tried out a few of the recipes to great success. Written by Lynda Booth who runs DCS, and inspired by her travels and experiences in kitchens around the world, this book runs the gamut from simple sponge cakes to traditional naan bread, to fresh pasta. Interspersed with lovely photographs and engaging stories about meeting different masters of cuisine, it could definitely be a good choice for your favourite foodie.

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