Book it cook it
MARIE-CLAIRE DIGBYselects the food books of the year that got us talking, and cooking in 2012
Grande Table, Petite Cuisine by Trish Deseine, photographs by Deirdre Rooney (Marabout, €39)
You’ll probably have to order this from Amazon, as it’s in French, but the design and imagery are captivating enough to justify the purchase. Even if you have only rusty, school French, you’ll be able to read it and work from it. Entertaining at home, in a modern way, is the theme. As well as recipes, there are glimpses of the home kitchens and the entertaining styles of a variety of trendsetters, such as writer Tom Williams and his fiancée, Norwegian food writer Signe Johansen (pictured above).
Signature dish: Lemon Cognac cake, apple butter
Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, £20) Northern Ireland-born Henry is one of the most admired food writers around, with good reason as her books are always incredibly well researched, often over a period of years and many miles travelled. “For three years, I preserved food every day, often all day long and well into the evening,” she says. That’s why we believe her and are inspired by her. Don’t be put off by the title, it’s not just jams, jellies and gravlax you’ll find in these pages, it’s much more far-reaching . Signature dish: Smoked maple and bourbon chicken
Gok Cooks Chinese by Gok Wan (Penguin Michael Joseph, £20)
If you’re wondering what a fashion stylist is doing writing a cookbook (and tie-in tv show), it’s all down to Poppa Wan, Gok’s father, a chef and takeaway proprietor. Showing just how easy it is to make home-style Chinese food can’t have been good for the family business; you can throw away those takeaway menus now. These are recipes that really work and most take only minutes to prepare. Signature dish: Beef in fragrant black bean sauce
Ard Bia Cook Book by Aoibheann Mac Namara and Aoife Carrigy (Atrium, €39)
You have to search quite hard to find the authors’ names in this big, bold book, and the people photographed within it all have their face obscured in some way. This all points to the fact that this is a collaborative effort, celebrating 10 years of one of Galway’s best-loved restaurants. The recipes are vibrant and cosmopolitan, while being respectful of good ingredients. The extensive pantry section is full of building blocks of flavour that you’ll return to again and again.
Signature dish: Harissa-spiced lamb rump with bean tabouleh
Annie Bell’s Baking Bible by Annie Bell (Kyle Books, £25)