Buying a cookbook this Christmas for your foodie friend this Christmas? Darina Allen shares her suggestions
I’ve been inundated with a whole new crop of cookbooks just in time for Christmas, something to tempt aspiring, experimental, and accomplished cooks. Every time I think I’ve reached ‘peak’ cookbook, along come some new temptations. So what has peaked my fancy…
Jamie has done it again. Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook is full of gorgeous photos of tempting foods and delicious recipes for edible gifts, party foods, and new ways to love leftovers. I loved his smoked salmon toasts and Boxing Day Quesadillas.
Do you know what ‘Hygge’ means? I had no idea until relatively recently when I noticed that it seemed to be popping up all over the place. Well apparently it means in essence — ‘living cosily’ — enjoying life’s simple pleasures with friends and family, creating a warm atmosphere, fire and candlelight…
It’s a Danish and Norwegian word that’s difficult to translate, it seems to be a feeling of comfortable wellbeing — savouring the moment. Several cookbooks have been published with Hygge in the title including a young Norwegian cook, Signe Johansen who sent me her book How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living. Nigel Slater described it as “uplifting heart-warming, life enriching. I wish I could have read this book years ago”. Signe is a woman after my own heart, in a recent interview in the Guardian, she told Dale Berning Sawa “everything tastes better with butter. It is generally my fat of choice when cooking. I make my own but I also buy some too — both salted and unsalted. I go through so much of it”.
Admirers of Michelin-starred chefs may be delighted to get a copy of The Five Seasons Kitchen by Pierre Gagnaire who was voted Best Chef in the World by his peers in 2016 and whose restaurants worldwide boast two or three Michelin stars each.
The recipes are surprisingly easy to reproduce, try this cream of pumpkin soup with coconut milk – it’s easy and super delicious. Use a Red Kuri or pumpkin butternut squash.
Gather by Gill Meller is a beautiful book that will excite your hunter gather friends — you may not be familiar with Gill’s name partly because he stayed behind the scenes at River Cottage with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall for years but is now head chef, has been for some time and is definitely a name to note — I love Gill’s simple food based on superb ingredients from seashore to woodland, orchard to garden, field to farm, moorland to harbour, the very best kind of honest cooking and gorgeous flavours.
I’ve chosen fried pheasant with quince and bay for you to try, there are beautiful food photographs also.
The British Table by Colman Andrews is also quite a production . The photos are by two of my most admired food photographers, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.
Many of the recipes from all four corners of the UK have been shared by some of my favourite chefs – Jeremy Lee, Mark Hix, Sally Clarke, Fergus Henderson It’s meticulously researched, beautifully written, and published by Abrams.
There are so many tempting recipes but try this cockle popcorn which Mark Hix freely admits he stole from his local fish merchants Samways who originally served them at a local festival.
Check out the English Market in Cork for a terrific selection of fish and shellfish but we also get a fantastic selection from Michael Kelly (kellyoysters.com), Carlingford Oyster Company (carlingfordoystercompany.ie) and Quinlans (kerryfish.com).
Rachel Allen has just published yet another gorgeous book, Recipes from my Mother, full of recipes from her mum and grandmother with a few of my mum’s favourites as well.
Whisky Soaked Raisin and Orange Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding
Rachel Allen’s Custard Creams
Signe Johansen’s Salmon Burgers
Pierre Gagnaire’s Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk
: You’ll find quince in greengrocers and at farmers markets. A bright canary yellow fruit resembling a slightly knobbly pear. Use to make homemade membrillo - quince cheese or quince jam, delicious for Christmas presents or adds cubes of quince to pork or lamb stews or tagines.
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