There is nothing I like more than sitting down with a cup of tea and a cookbook..
I have such a weakness for them that whenever I’m in a book shop, I will be instantly drawn to them and have bought many a book just for the one recipe in it which has caught my eye 🙂
We don’t call ourselves ‘Foodies’ but both Feargal and I would be lovers of good food and so are always on the look out for a new dining experience. We have taken our children to restaurants with us since they were babies and they have also grown up with an appreciation of different cuisines and will usually try anything (even once!). Sitting down to dinner each evening is something we have always done as a family and we have entertained at home many times over the years and so we’re always on the lookout for new recipes to try. I think there is nothing more enjoyable than finding a recipe, be it in a cook book, magazine or on the internet and giving it a go. The dish might not always be a hit (our children are our greatest critics and don’t hold any punches if they don’t like it) but sometimes a favourite meal will be discovered just by trying something which is just a little different! I think this is the joy of food in that there is so much variety out there and it would be a shame not to take yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time.
In this post, I have decided to list some of my favourite cookery books and will do a Part 2 again with some more. It was incredibly difficult to choose just a few from the large number I have but these are the ones which I turn to for both family meals and when we are entertaining guests (Note: These favourites are always open to change!)
Rachel Allen – Home Cooking
This is one which I return to again and again. We are really just a Mum and Dad who love to feed our family home cooked meals. The recipes in this book are simple to follow and don’t have long lists of ingredients (or any of those obscure ingredients which you buy once and they sit in your store cupboard until the day you are doing a clear out and realise the ‘best before date’ was 5 years ago!!)
It is divided into a number of sections for Breakfast, Lunch, Sunday Lunch and Supper to name but a few and for those with babies, there is a section on making Baby Purees which I know many Mums would find very useful. There is also a useful chapter at the end of the book about how to stock a larder – I think what puts many people off cooking is when you read a recipe and find you don’t have all of the ingredients. Experience will teach you that you can in many cases replace the item from the recipe with another you already have but if you can get into the habit of cooking at home then you can build up the stock in your pantry gradually and usually you will find that larder foods have a very long shelf life!
Favourite Recipes from the Book:
Roast Tomato Soup | Fish Cakes | Chicken Casserole with Cheesy Herb Dumplings | Chicken & Coconut Indian Curry | Raspberry Fool & Shortbread Biscuits | Dark & White Chocolate Fudge Pudding with Zesty Orange | Coconut & Chocolate Flapjacks
Avoca Cafe Cookbook
There are a number of Avoca Cafes in Ireland and they have become something of an Institution over here! They really are a terrific Lifestyle Store selling all sorts of lovely things from clothing and home decor items to books and jewellery and they also have a Garden Centre and fabulous Food Store. However, my favourite part of the Avoca Store is their restaurant. The food is absolutely delicious and I would encourage anyone to try it if they get a chance.
There have been a number of Avoca Cafe Cookbooks published and while I have a few of them, this is by far my favourite. I just love the mix of traditional and modern recipes in the book which are divided into various chapters including Soups, Salads and teatime/desserts. There is also a section on Vegetable Main Courses and while we are not vegetarians in this house, we do try to have at least one ‘meat free’ dinner each week and this book has been taken down many times when I’m looking for inspiration!
I’ve only listed a small number of the recipes I love from this book but I could have included many more 🙂
Favourite Recipes from the Book:
Courgette & Almond Soup | Tomato, Celery & Apple Soup | Tuscan Bean Soup | Sweet Potato & Lemongrass Soup | Brocolli, Feta, Hazelnut & Cherry Tomato Salad | Spinach, sun-dried Tomato, Parmesan, Pine Nuts & Pasta | Herb Crusted Cod | Chicken & Broccoli Gratin | Beef & Guinness Stew | Carrot Cake | Chocolate Orange Cake
The MacNean Restaurant Cookbook (Neven Maguire)
Neven Maguire is an Irish Chef who I admire greately. He runs the famous MacNean Restaurant in Co Cavan and this book is made up of some of the recipes which they serve in the Restaurant. I haven’t been lucky enough to dine there yet, but I’m hoping, someday!
I would say this book is more suited to someone who has a bit of experience cooking as the recipes are quite intricate and in many cases there are a large number of components to the dishes. That said, the instructions are very well laid out and if you are willing to put in the time and effort, then you won’t be disappointed.
There is an excellent section on Menu Planning and also Tips on How to Run an Efficient Kitchen (something I’m always striving for)
I have a number of Neven’s Books (there is another one coming up in Part 2) and while the receipes in this one are more technical, most of his books are written with a Home Cook in mind. I love this particular one as its perfect for entertaining and the food always goes down well
Favourite Recipes from the Book:
MacNean Special Porridge with Honey & Cream (Feargal’s speciality in this house especially when we have overnight guests. He loves it as it contains not only the Honey and Cream but also as he likes to add a little drop of whiskey to it – in place of the Irish Mist which Neven uses in his recipe | Gratin of Cod with Prawns, Spinach & Pesto | Smoked Salmon & Saffron Orzo | Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Mediterranean Couscous | The Raspberry Plate Dessert | MacNean Wheaten Bread | Rosemary & Cranberry Soda Bread
I hope you have found some inspiration in the above books and maybe the next time you are in a book store, perhaps have a look to see if you can find them – I’m not in any way suggesting you buy these as all opinions given are my own but as with anything on my blog, I will only recommend things that I have tried and tested myself
I’ll be back with Part 2 very soon…