There was so much to choose from in the way of good cookbooks this year, I decided to keep this round-up all about the Irish authors… plus Ottolenghi of course. And I figure that if you are here reading The Honest Project, you are already a fan of cooking, reading or both, so fingers crossed this is just the post you’ve been looking for.
It’s a great time to be a home cook. The back-to-basics trend and focus on simplicity that we are seeing in cook books this year is very welcome. And whether an author is an award-winning chef or a home cook, if they are good at food and make recipes that people love, well then there’s a place for their recipes in kitchens around the country and that I like. All of these books are available to buy in The Book Centre in Kilkenny. This isn’t a sponsored post… rather I love book stores and I particularly love this one. And I really hope that people keep buying books!!
So, whether you are on the hunt for beautiful pictures, or fool-proof recipes for everyday cooking, scroll on for my round-up of some of my favourite cookbooks published this year. PS: all of these would make for great Christmas gifts.
Home Economics for Life by Neven Maguire
This is Neven’s latest book and what can I say but that I think this may be his best book yet. This is quite incredible given the number of books he has under his belt. This is the perfect book for seasoned cooks and new cooks alike. It’s filled with classic recipes that every home cook should have in their apron pocket. And not only does it have recipes, it has step-by-step pictures to accompany them. From the perfect soup formula to how to cook crispy roast potatoes to a classic chocolate cake, these are the recipes you think you should know, but sometimes a back-to-basics refresher is just what’s needed. I am a big fan of Neven. With him there is no such thing as food snobbery and he is a big supporter of food in Ireland. This is a great gift and a book that would do well in any kitchen.
Meals in Minutes by Donal Skehan
How could I do a list like this without including Donal Skehan’s new book “Meals in Minutes”. Over the years I’ve tried lots of his online recipes and they are pretty much always hassle-free and easy to execute. I follow him on Instagram and I’m a big fan of his LA stories, especially the ones with his dog, Max. His new book is all about getting food on the table in no time at all. And who doesn’t need this… at least some of the time. From one pot meals to six ingredient meals. From grocery store suppers to meals that are on the table in less than a half an hour, this is uncomplicated cooking at its best. It’s helpful and I think that even the busiest of us would be hard pressed not to find this book the answer to our time woes in the kitchen.
Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth
The first time I read this book was in a friend’s house and I sat down with it and a cup of coffee… and no conversation was had for a good hour. This book is a joy to flick through even if you never cook from a recipe, it makes for a pretty great coffee table book. Of course, not trying the recipes would do this book a massive disserve. The food is, as you would expect, rather wonderful. I’ve cooked from Ottolenghi books before, always loving the end result but finding that the recipes are long on ingredients and steps. But this book as the name suggests, is for the more hassle-free style, lazy cooks among us. I mean who doesn’t need an “easier than you think” recipe for beetroot, caraway and goat’s cheese bread. Or what about a “short on time” curried egg and cauliflower salad? And one of my favourites, a “lazy” Puy Lentil and Aubergine Stew. While not a “vegetarian” book, this book is the perfect book for vegetarians.
Vegan’ish by Holly White
As a vegetarian, who eats plant based food a lot of the time, I really want to include an Irish written book with a focus on plant-based eating in this round-up. Holly White’s Vegan-ish was published earlier this year and is written as a slow conversion guide to a plant-based diet. This book isn’t exclusively for vegans, but rather it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to add more plant-based foods to their diet. Dishes like the Sweet Potato Curry and Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl are really delicious and sure to appeal to lots of non-vegans. I’m all for moving away from labelling people based on how they eat and instead just enjoying great food and as it happens, vegan food can be pretty great.
The Currabinny Cookbook by James Kavanagh & William Murray
“Currabinny eating is all about pleasure” and so say all of us. I heard about Currabinny Food through Instagram. Yeap I follow both authors there and got hooked on their food, lifestyle and general goings-on. While both are very entertaining online, there’s real substance to their food offering. This is the kind of food that most people want to eat. This is a beautifully photographed book that’s broken down into the usual categories: breakfast, salads, fish, meats, sweet, etc., but I think it’s the chapters on Bread and Preserves, Dips and Condiments that really got my culinary interest going. From the Irish Cider & Honey Loaf to the Thyme and Kombu Focaccia. From the Beetroot and Seaweed Hummus to the Flavoured Butters, there are some really great ideas in this book and ones that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have come up with myself.
Simply Delicious, The Classic Collection by Darina Allen
This book was published almost thirty years on from the original Simply Delicious book and TV series and the risotto recipe alone is reason to include it in this round-up. If you are after a collection of Darina Allen’s timeless, tried and trusted recipes, well then this is the book for you. I was naturally drawn to the vegetable and salad sections and with stunning recipes such as Darina’s Courgette & Basil Lasagne and “Beans Galore” with toasted hazelnuts and coriander, there’s definitely plenty for the vegetarians among us. And Ballymaloe Coffee Ice-Cream… I mean… how good does that sound?!