While the pandemic derailed many things, the release of excellent new cookbooks was not one of them.
If this year has been good for anything, it was the new-found love for all things food. Between the mountains of sourdough and the vats of DIY cocktails, 2020 was the year that many of us rediscovered our own kitchen and transformed into the home cooks we never thought we could be. Granted, it was mostly out of necessity–with restaurants and cafés closed, we had to make meals from the comfort of our own homes. But the act of cooking also served as a delicious distraction from the stress and anxiety that was happening around us. Even the dreariest days of lockdown were brightened by a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread, our anxious thoughts suddenly vanished when preparing an at-home food box from our favourite restaurant.
So what better gift to give this Christmas than a cookbook? Whether you know a budding amateur chef or someone who has a new found love for the kitchen thanks to lockdown, a cookbook hits all the marks of a great gift. Firstly, they're easy to wrap, they ship quickly and can be easily customised to fit the receiver. There are thousands of cookbooks out there to suit every skill level, lifestyle, and interest, from ones based on favourite TV shows to celebrity cookbooks to volumes on cuisines from every corner of the world. Paired with a note, a cookbook makes an easy and thoughtful gift this Christmas.
Ahead, we've rounded up 10 of the best new cookbooks to gift this holiday season.
1. My Wild Atlantic Way Kitchen by Maura O'Connell Foley
My Wild Atlantic Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections is a compilation of Maura O’Connell Foley’s favourite recipes created throughout her career in Kenmare, County Kerry spanning over six decades. The dishes contained in the book follow Maura’s ethos of keeping food simple, cooking with care and using the best available local produce. Several years in the making, this book is a comprehensive collection capturing over 250 recipes. Carefully organised into eight chapters in the book: Breakfast, Starters, Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Desserts & Baking, Sauces, Stocks & Staples, as well as a dedicated section on Dinner Parties. Examples include Drop Scone Pancakes with Dry Cured Bacon and Apple Syrup, Confit of Duck Leg with Pear and Ginger Salad, Twice Baked Hazelnut Goat’s Cheese Soufflé, Seafood Sausage with Beurre Blanc, Smoked Cod Cakes, Beef and Guinness Casserole, Dover Sole Stuffed with Atlantic Prawns with Brandy & Cream Sauce, Chocolate Pots, Irish Barmbrack & Butter Pudding and, Spicy Apple and Rum Pudding. Buy it here.
2. Craft Cocktails by Monika Coghlan
Over the past few years, so many great Irish distillers, cocktail bars and mixologists have made themselves known. While we haven't been able to visit many cocktail bars this year, Monika Coghlan's new book Craft Cocktails has helped to bring delicious recipes from around the country home for us to enjoy. If you've exhausted the Old Fashioned and are sick of margaritas, Craft Cocktails is a great guide to help you experiment at your home bar. With its gorgeous design and stunning photographs, the book includes more than 50 cocktail recipes alongside fascinating stories from some of Ireland's leading spirit makers to inspire you to try something new. If you're in need of a stocking filler this Christmas season, this book is a great option. Buy it here.
3. Genuine Pizza by Michael Schwartz
Throughout his acclaimed career, chef Michael Schwartz has been celebrated for his skilled use of quality ingredients, and with his pizzas, this talent is on full display. Genuine Pizza is Schwartz's vibrantly illustrated guidebook for creating unforgettable pies at home. His cookbook makes the pizza process approachable and fun, giving the reader the tools they need to make better pizza and then run with them. First providing a clear and simple view of the fundamentals-with detailed step-by-step methods for making the best pizza doughs-Schwartz then empowers home cooks to mix and match ingredients, playing with different sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables, and more, to build pies both classic and innovative. Pizza is just the beginning-it's a jumping-off point to colourful, delicious meals. Buy it here.
4. Eat, Cook, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson fans, rejoice: the iconic food writer has released a new cookbook. Featuring 150 new recipes, Cook, Eat, Repeat is more than just a cookbook as Nigella has also penned personal essays and stories for the book. As her writing is just as sumptuous as her recipes, fans will no doubt devour each and every page of this cookbook with a twist. Buy it here.
5. Sourdough Mania by Anita Šummer
Sourdough Mania’ is by passionate self-taught baker and teacher, Anita Šumer. Based in Slovenia she has become an international success and now has more than 70,000 followers on Instagram (@sourdough_mania). Sourdough Mania gives us both simple-to-make and more ambitious recipes for more festive occasions. Every stage is fully illustrated with step by step photography on weighing, mixing, kneading, shaping, scoring and baking. Just what all the Covid-19 sourdough bread bakers are yearning for. Buy it here.
6. Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna
Written in the height of lockdown, Clodagh McKenna's latest book was inspired by the challenge of coming up with something fun and exciting for dinner every single night during quarantine. With over 100 recipes that anyone can cook, Clodagh's Weeknight Kitchen contains easy simple quick fix meals for every weeknight. The perfect gift for any busy mums who are juggling working from home with home schooling or for those living alone and needing quick and easy meals for one. Buy it here.
7. Vegan Eats by Rachel Ama
You might have stumbled across Rachel Ama’s recipes on YouTube. Now, all her best creations are in her first book: Vegan Eats. All the recipes are simple and avoid complicated ingredients that you wouldn’t find in the supermarket, but are packed with the flavours from her Caribbean and West African roots. Plus! She even suggests a song for every recipe, to always have the best soundtrack when cooking. Buy it here.
8. Table Manners: The Cookbook
If you love food and have ever rolled your eyes at a relative, you’re probably a fan of Table Manners. Musician Jessie Ware’s hit podcast with her social worker mum Lennie is one of our favourite foodie listens for relaxed celebrity chats, nerdy debates about cooking and eating, and reassuring evidence that even celebrities occasionally yell at their mums. And we’re far from the podcast’s only fans: since it launched in 2017, it’s had over 8 million listens. Now, the Wares are expanding their food media empire with a recipe book, aptly titled Table Manners: The Cookbook. It contains over 100 recipes divided into seven helpful categories: Effortless, A Bit More Effort, Summertime, Desserts and Baking, Chrismukkah and Jewish-ish Food. Buy it here.
9. The Joy of Food by Rory O'Connell
This is the book Rory O’Connell was born to write. Not only a collection of good things to eat, showcasing the best of Irish seasonal produce from Rustic Chicken, Swiss Chard and Tarragon Tart to Blackberry and Sweet Geranium Posset, The Joy of Food is also a celebration of everything Rory is passionate about: first-rate ingredients, simple and respectful cooking techniques and the absolute pleasure that comes from enjoying and sharing the result. Accompanying the recipes are Rory’s charming original illustrations and personal essays in praise of everything from hazelnuts to the humble hen. The Joy of Food is, quite simply, a book for every food lover’s home. Buy it here.
10. The Green Cookbook by Cornucopia
Everyone's favourite vegetarian restaurant on Wicklow Street in Dublin, Cornucopia, has been serving up delicious healthy grub for more than 30 years. In 2019, owner Deirdre McCafferty penned her healthy recipes on paper with the vegan cookbook Cornucopia. If you like plant-based food that packs a punch, i.e. that will leave you thoroughly satisfied and wanting more, this is the book for you. It's hardback, heavy, and is ideal for anyone looking for real comfort food during this turbulent time, that is loaded with nutrients, protein and your five-a-day. The dishes are flexible and include ingredients that can be easily sourced in your local supermarket. Buy it here.