Spring means St Patrick’s day – an excuse for an excess of Irish-ness, of varying degrees of authenticity. Unlike a foam Leprachaun’s hat, Deliciously Irish by Nuala Cullen is actually Irish; a cookbook celebrating the best of Irish produce, with both traditional and more modern dishes featured.
It’s a lovely book, printed on thick, semi-gloss paper with superb photography not only of the dishes (not every dish is photographed), but also with plenty of pictures of the Irish landscape. There are seven chapters: starters, soups, mains, salads and sides, desserts, baking, and preserves. Among the 101 recipes, dishes that look particularly interesting include oysters with spicy pork patties, baked eggs with spinach, crab soup with saffron, lovage soup, spring lamb cutlets in pastry, Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, spiced beef, venison pasties, beef and mushroom pie with Guinness, colcannon, gratin of parsnips and pears, barm brack and soda bread with onion. As this list illustrates, the selection of recipes is less focussed on tradition, and more highlighting the best of Irish produce. For those who are looking for a book that has more historical approach to Irish food, it’s probably worth looking out something else, but for inspiration or as a present, why not have a look at this book celebrating the best of modern Ireland.
Deliciously Irish is published by Pavilion cover price £20
A guest review from Sus at Rough Measures
Natasha MacAller is based in London, LA and New Zealand. She is a former professional ballerina whose culinary experience includes teaching at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, and Divertimenti in London. Vanilla Table is her latest collection of recipes from herself and over 30 other chefs.
Vanilla Table is a generous book of over 200 pages, with photography from Manja Wachsmuth. It starts with a full page containing the basics of vanilla, a low down of its forms, from pods to powder. Providing American, metric and imperial measurements. Photos of every recipe help the reader gain an understanding of the end result. There is a good selection of gluten free and vegetarian recipes throughout the book.
There are 9 chapters starting at starter plates, and working up to vanilla pantry. There are plenty of recipes perfect for a party – devilish eggs with vanilla candied bacon, anyone? Vanilla and cacao nib crusted fois gras, goat’s cheese and vanilla ravioli and caramelised pineapple carrot cake are my favourites.
The book contains easy to follow instructions, making them desirable to even the novice cook. Where a recipe is slightly more complicated, there are easy to understand diagrams of how to execute the dish.
Vanilla Table is a great addition to one’s collection. Recipes to keep coming back to over and over again.
Vanilla Table is published by Jacqui Small, cover price £25
A guest review by my friend Lynn
The slightly worthy title of this new American recipe book doesn’t entirely don’t do it justice. There are plenty of intriguing recipes and attractive photos here to tempt vegans and everyone else. Organised by main ingredients, it covers beans and legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, beancurd and tempeh, and a whole section devoted to seitan (gluten mock meat), including two recipes for the seitan itself.
There are lots of great ideas for rather luxurious breakfast dishes along with some unusual suggestions for sandwiches, snacks and substantial dinners. The Maple Dijon tempeh fingers and the Blackened Mexican tofu caught my eye but there’s plenty more to explore. Whilst the recipes themselves are not particularly fussy, some ingredients may require a little effort to source – but presumably that’s half of the fun.
The Great Vegan Protein Book is published by Fair Winds Press. Cover price £14.99
Many thanks to the publishers for review copies and to my guest reviewers.