Tasting menu

Joe McNamee checks out some new cookery books

Marvellous Meals with Mince

Josceline Dimbleby; Quadrille, €14.00 

During a previous recession, Dimbleby, the first to write those small cookbooks sold at supermarket checkouts, was asked by Sainsburys for another.

She wrote Marvellous Meals with Mince, an homage to their best-selling product. The book was a bestseller, reprinted eight times between 1982 and 89 and a student-friendly classic.

In recession once more, republication was a no-brainer: minced meat is adaptable. Dimbleby is an award-winning food writer and was Sunday Telegraph food columnist for 15 years, so these recipes are above bog standard. The instruction for the burger is to char the outside and leave the inside pink and succulent — much as it should be, but illegal in Irish restaurants. There’s an inescapably ’70s feel to the book, but these are straightforward and tasty recipes covering pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish. Still student-friendly.

Easy

Bill Granger; Collins, €28.60

Successful Australian chef/ restaurateur Granger opened a London outlet, Granger and Co, in 2011 and Easy is his tenth cookbook. We get the usual “ordinary bloke” schtick, about “coming home after a long day and cooking for the family etc, etc” and Bill, no shrinking violet, does seem to spend a lot of time cooking in bare feet, flashing immaculate pearly whites for the camera but that’s all par for the course these days.

The book itself, however, is smartly constructed, each chapter devoted to a main ingredient and a series of recipes for each. They are thoughtful, even a little complex, which you often find with self-taught chefs who are less used to blindly following orders and tend to think that bit more. The recipes are rock-solid, from the simple to the showstoppers and even the vegetarian dishes are considered, no mere fillers. Pacific Rim Fusion meets Northern Hemisphere comfort.

Monica’s Kitchen

Monica Galetti; Quadrille; €28.60

She may be familiar to many from Masterchefs: The Professionals, but Galetti is no “Sleb Chef”. Michel Roux Jr writes a very moving introduction hinting at her early struggles in his kitchen at Le Gavroche before she eventually triumphed as an obviously beloved protégé.

Galetti is, in other words, a serious cook. She throws us a few bones to begin with, a muted yet elegant Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Crayfish Tails, a Mediterranean Puff Tart, straightforward but no simpler than it needs to be, but then begins to ramp things up, furrowed brow-time for aspiring domestic masterchefs. There’s no Jamie-style bish-bosh here: kitchen tweezers are required to check salmon for pin bones; the technique outlined for skinning and deseeding a pepper takes a steady hand and possible one or two practice runs. A real Masterchef.

Ard Bia Cookbook

Aoibheann MacNamara & Aoife Carrigy; Atrium, €39

Cookbook of the month: Atrium were happy to allow the Galway-based Ard Bia crew design and produce and the end result is an exquisite production in keeping with the publisher’s usual high standards. Refreshingly, there isn’t a single clear shot of any of the principals to be found throughout, each face hidden behind a piece of ware; the restaurant is very much the star here. Using several photographers could have been hazardous but the whole shebang is unified very nicely by Eimearjean McCormack’s illustrations and a coherent overall design.

The recipes, ‘decluttered’ for the homecook, are very straightforward and sound, a heartfelt emphasis on fresh and seasonal, regular and interesting little twists. However, the range is eclectic. Best trick is distilling the unique essence of Ard Bia’s oasis spirit onto the printed page.

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