Good Vibes Cookbook (Orca Publications)
Jane and Myles have made a cookbook with the excellent Good Vibes, but they have also, perhaps accidentally, done something much more: they have created a community, both in these pages, and with their work in the brilliant Shells café, in Strandhill, County Sligo.
Shells is one of those eating houses – like Dunne & Crescenzi, or The Happy Pear, or The Farmgate – where the punters feel they own the place. Shells is not just a place to eat: it’s a place to be. And that sense of community wafts through these pages, as Jane and Myles cook, and surf, and create community though food and activism and friendship. Good Vibes Cookbook delivers the good vibes.
Wild Adventure Cookbook (Prestel)
Sarah Glover is the chef behind the recipes in Wild, and Ms Glover also features in virtually all the photographs in this ambitious book. But the real talent at work on Wild is Luisa Brimble, the photographer, who has created something powerful in these pages. Ms Brimble has basically taken the concept of the outdoor cookbook, and blown it to smithereens. She has brought an art house, fashion-shoot style to the business of cooking with fire, and she has made something likely to be as influential as the sea change initiated by Australian Gourmet Traveller, Marie Claire magazine and Donna Hay, and photographer Petrina Tinsley and Bill Granger, when those collaborators radicalised the look and style of cookery books. The images in Wild are stunning.
Irish Seaweed Christmas (Inishmurray Ink Publishing)
Prannie Rhatigan wrote her first seaweed book, The Irish Seaweed Kitchen, in 2009. Since its publication, seaweed has taken a much stronger hold on the forces that shape Irish cuisine, even taking on its own memorable phrase from Food on the Edge in 2017 ‘We Need To Talk About Seaweed’. Chefs and cooks have begun to take a serious look at this wealth of produce that surrounds our island.
In this new recipe book, Prannie’s work takes an interesting turn. This is a book that looks back and reflects on seaweed traditions, particularly focusing on Christmas. ‘Seaweed is now a much more mainstream ingredient in restaurants, supermarkets, and households generally’ she writes in the introduction 'and a request for trailblazing, seaweed-using chefs would not be valid this time, as the job, to a large extent, has been done.'
In the book Prannie seeks to describe seaweed winter traditions, and fits seaweed neatly into foods that are cooked and served at this time – mince pies with brandied sea spaghetti; cranberry and elderberry port jelly set with carraigín; a good turkey stock given an umami bounce with a piece of Alaria.
The thoughtful introduction by Manchán Magan sums it up perfectly. 'Since Christmas is a time of honouring traditions and valuing the customs of our forefathers, it is fitting that we focus on the legacy of our ancient seaweed practises. For the many of us who have been inspired by Prannie Rhatigan’s revelatory book Irish Seaweed Kitchen (the first ever modern book about seaweed cooking in the English language) it is highly appropriate that we try to blend the customs and traditions of Christmas with our ancient seaweed culture, and my hope is that this book should provide the ideal inspiration to do so.'