After Christmas Iâ€™ve got a whole stack of cook books with lots of tantalizing recipes to tryâ€“ so much talent out there. I thought Iâ€™d share a list of some of my favourite titles so if you have squirreled away a couple of book tokens you might be tempted to add one or two of these to your collection.
Those of you who follow my â€˜Whatâ€™s hot in Londonâ€™ list will know that Iâ€™m a big fan of Jacob Kennedyâ€™s chef owner of Bocca di Lupo on Archer Street in Soho and Gelupo the gelateria and delicatessen across the street. Both are always packed â€“ youâ€™ll find him at the stove there several times a week so Iâ€™m not sure how he found time to write his Bocca cookbook â€“ but definitely itâ€™s a gem. Flicking through there are over 20 recipes Iâ€™m longing to try.
Maria Elia is another name to watch, her new book Full of Flavour is an eagerly awaited follow up to her best selling debut The Modern Vegetarian. The concept is intriguing, here she takes eighteen of her favourite ingredients and shows us how to tweak them â€“ to create over a hundred different delicious recipes – a rare insight into the way a talented chefâ€™s mind works to create the perfect balance of flavours and textures.
Elia is no lightweight, she has wanted to be a chef since she was four and has worked in the kitchens of Ferran Adria at El Bulli and Elena Arzack in San Sebastian. She was head chef at Delfinaâ€™s in London and the Whitechapel Gallery and is now executive
chef at Joeâ€™s in South Kensington. She does regular TV and was voted one of the top 10 female chefs by The Independent.
Leon â€“ Baking and Puddings is another cracker, co-written by one of my favourite bakers in the world Claire Ptak. Leon was founded on the belief that food should taste good and do you good â€“ how brilliant is that. The design is bright, witty and fun and best of all the food doesnâ€™t look intimidatingly perfect, but boy does it taste delicious. Claire and her co-author Henry Dimbleby hope this book finds a permanent place in our kitchens and becomes battered, splattered, tacky with toffee and dog-eared through use â€“ mine already is. Other favourites are the Momofuko Cook Book, Rick Steinâ€™s Spain and Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, possibly the best bread book I have come across in the last year.
Blood Orange, Red Onion and Oregano Salad
Serves 4 as a starter or side
6 small, very dark blood oranges or 4 medium ones
Â½ small red onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon picked oregano leaves
Cut the skin and pith from the oranges, then slice them across into 5mm (Â¼ inch) pinwheel rounds. Slice the onion very thinly across the grain, and soak for 5 minutes in iced water to crisp it and render it a touch milder. Arrange the orange slices flat on a plate and scatter with the drained red onion. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil and dot the oregano leaves on top.
Oranges with Pecorino
: In Sicily this salad is sometimes served with a few slices of peppercorn Pecorino as a starter or a side dish, the cheese best if fresh or medium, rather than very mature.
Oranges with Bottarga
: Scatter the salad with 60-80 g very thinly sliced mullet bottarga for a refined and luxurious antipasto
Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy
Cosy Lamb Meatballs with Peas and Tomato Sauce
For the Meatballs
500 g (18 oz) lamb mince
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
flour, for dusting
4 tablespoons olive oil
For the Pea and Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 x 400 g plum tomatoes, crushed
pinch of sugar
1 chicken stock cube
100 g frozen petit pois
1 tablespoon dried dill
Â½ bunch mint, finely chopped
To make the meatballs, simply mix all the ingredients except the flour and oil together and form into balls. Dust the balls in flour. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cook until the meatballs are medium-rare in the centre (about 3 minutes, depending on the size). Then set aside and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.
For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the tomato puree and cinnamon and cook for a couple of minutes more. Add the tomatoes and sugar and crumble in the stock. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and dill along with 200 ml (7 fl oz) water and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes, adding a little boiling water if the sauce is a little thick. Season with sea salt, stir in the mint and serve with mashed potatoes.
Serve with flatbread and sprinkle with crumbled feta
For an Asian twist, swap the meatball spices for ground ginger, cumin, coriander, pinch of chilli flakes and turmeric. Omit the cinnamon and the dried dill from the sauce and add some freshly chopped ginger, then finish with chopped coriander and lemongrass.
Full of Flavour by Maria Elia
St Clementâ€™s Pudding
1 vanilla pod
140 g (4Â½ oz) unsalted butter
125 g (4Â½ oz) caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
200 g (7 oz) plain flour
1Â½ teaspoons baking powder
100-150 ml (3Â½-5 fl oz) milk
For the Syrup
Zest and juice of 2 clementines
200 g (7 oz) caster sugar
150 ml (5 fl oz) water
Double cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160Â°C/325Â°F/gas mark 3. Butter a medium sized pudding basin. Grate the zest from the clementine and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod. Set the zested clementine and seeded vanilla pod aside for later.
Cream the butter, sugar, clementine zest and vanilla seeds until light and fluffy, then gradually add the beaten eggs. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in thoroughly. Add the milk and set aside.
To make the syrup, put the clementine juice and zest into a small pan with the sugar, water and the vanilla pod. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer until the mixture has reduced to a syrup. Cut the zested clementine in half and place in the pudding basin with the cut sides down. Pour over three quarters of the syrup, reserving the rest for later. Spoon in the sponge mix and place a round of baking paper on top, then cover the basin with a second larger piece of baking paper (with a generous pleat in the middle) and secure with an elastic band or string. Put the basin into a deep roasting tin and pour enough hot water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Steam for 2 hours, or until well risen and firm to the touch (remember to keep the water topped up). Turn out on to a large serving dish deep enough to catch the syrup and pour the last of the syrup over the top. Server with double cream
Leon â€“ Baking and Puddings by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby
The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co Leitrim 2012 Course Programme and Seed Catalogue is packed with interesting courses to do this year â€“ to get a copy phone
071 9854338 â€“ email@example.com â€“ www.theorganiccentre.ie
Irish Seed Savers at Capparoe, Scarriff, Co Clare have some excellent workshop series scheduled this year, Fruit Grower Series, Herbalist Series, Brewers and Fermenters Series, Wild Food Foragers Seriesâ€¦ Contact them on 061 921866 / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://irishseedsavers.ie/index.php
Madeline McKeever winner of the recent West Cork Belling Artisan Food Awards has a range of over twelve hundred heirloom seeds in her Brown Envelope Seed Catalogue and while youâ€™re at it pick up one of her 2012 calendars beautifully illustrated by Sonia Caldwell.
Mahon Point and Douglas Farmers Markets are back in full swing every Thursday and Saturday respectively after the Christmas Break â€“ www.mahonpointfarmersmarket.com
Midleton Farmers is open again today â€“ Arun Kapil of Green Saffron Spices is doing a free cookery demonstration at 11am at the Community Stall â€“ www.midletonfarmersmarket.com
New Seasons Olive Oil
â€“ We have just got a delivery of the first of the New Seasons Tuscan olive oil, Capezzana, Fontodi and Selvapiana extra virgin olive oil â€˜to die forâ€™ – the ultimate present for a foodie friend – Ballymaloe Cookery School Shop â€“ 021 4646785.