Top 8 cookbooks of 2016

I recently used an old copy of Georgio Locatelli’s Made in Sicily and cooked the most delicious pasta dish and some pork meatballs.

It reminded me of how important it is not to be seduced by trends that promote change for the sake of change. Keeping it simple, using the best possible ingredients is likely to produce the best results. 

From this year’s selection, I liked the academic Food and Drink in Ireland edited by Elizabeth FitzPatrick and James Kelly (Royal Irish Academy €25) which shows where we have come from in terms of our eating traditions and habits. Useful for culinary students.

At the other extreme a coffee table book for the chocolate lover in your life is impressive. Pierre Hermé is said to be the world best pastry chef and his Chocolate (Flammarion €49) is a large format thing of beauty. 

Another speciality book, The Cultured Club by Dearbhla Reynolds (Gill Books €27.99), is encouraging for anyone interested in the health benefits of fermented foods.

I also loved Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour (Octopus €29) which is full of lively Eastern flavours.

There is plenty on offer from Irish chefs we see often on television. Rachel Allen, Catherine Fulvio, Kevin Dundon and Neven Maguire’s 2016 books will please their legions of fans, as well as Jamie Oliver with his Christmas Cookbook.

The Top 8 books below, all in hardback, should appeal to those who are looking for something different.

C’est Bon, Trish Deseine (Flammarion €25)

This cheerful book is typical of Trish Deseine’s excellent balance between imaginative and practical cooking. There is no showing off, no frills that are not worth the trouble. 

For special occasions fried duck with spiced butternut squash and apple purée can be followed by matcha green tea panna cotta. Banana and date tarte tatin makes a delicious winter pud.

Lovely pics, good layout. Suited to all levels.

Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cuisine, Estérelle Payany (Flammarion €39.90)

My vegetarian friend found this instructive and well put together with lovely photographs by Nathalie Carnet. I liked the treatment of pulses and various fresh vegetables with a chart of how to keep the diet well balanced. 

Lasagna is made from winter-root vegetables and spinach. For me, the desserts were less interesting. For new vegetarians.

Toast Hash Roast Mash, Dan Doherty (Mitchell Beazley €23.25)

Ideal for students, this has simple recipes, well presented with clear layout for the beginner. 

Eggs, leftover potatoes, rashers, green leafy vegetables are used tastily and typically — a delicious toasted squash recipe adds salami and feta cheese to good effect. For beginners who like to cook for themselves and others.

Belfast on a Plate, Joanna Braniff (The Studio Publishing Company £29)

This is a book more to buy for anyone planning a trip to Belfast than to use at home. For the serious cook, it has delicious recipes which are fanciful, precise and great to look at as well as eat. 

However, roast beef with chimichurri sauce, and hake with tomato, white bean and chorizo stew are easy. Great dessert ideas.

The Cardamom Trail, Chetna Makam (Mitchell Beazley €23.25)

Written by a Great British Bake Off semi-finalist, this book is full of mouthwatering ideas from her native India. 

Divided into sections of spices, we find cardamom and saffron used with mango in brioche buns, various pies in the fennel section using dried and fresh versions. For a level up from beginners with an adventurous spirit.

The Little Green Spoon, Indy Power (Ebury Press €18.99)

This Dublin-based blogger turned author is now on the celebrity circuit and not surprisingly, as she and her book are bright and cheerful with wholesome ingredients that are not too clunky. 

Studying nutrition and health coaching, she picked up tips to keep us on track and get the best nutritional value from the tasty food we eat. Quinoa sushi looks delicious. For beginners plus.

Simple, Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley €29)

I have always been a fan of this author for her good basics and sensible recipes that taste delicious. She writes well and gets the gastric juices going. 

Of the selection on this page, this is a carnivore’s delight with simple lamb chops given a parsley and anchovy relish and served with fennel, a leg of lamb roasted with spices, pork-roasted Bali style and vegetables given star treatment. All levels of skill.

As the Romans Do, Eleonora Galasso (Octopus €29)

When Italians cook, they express their emotions and passion. Food writer, blogger and workshop host, the author serves up street food, and, as much of Italian food is modest and interesting, plenty of recipes which are perfect for parties. 

Meringues with orange sauce will be delicious at Christmas. Relaxed recipes will suit all levels of skill.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Peas, please, for a quick and easy treat

South African wines to get you in that summer mood

The menu: The weekly guide to Irish food festivals

Michelle Darmody: Baking with apricots


Lifestyle

Hand of Fate: Have faith in the hand you are dealt

Sean O’Hagan returns to 'cosmopolitan' Cork

Nude dating show Naked Attraction will see singletons revealing a lot about themselves

'Everybody cheats on everybody': Technology and its impact on human behaviour

More From The Irish Examiner