Books of the Year

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Dandelion & Quince
Masterpieces are very, very difficult to make. Happily, however, they are very, very easy to spot. You only need to read a few sentences of Dandelion & Quince, by Michelle McKenzie, to spot that you have a masterpiece in your hands. It’s a work of culinary poetry, rapturous and enraptured. It’s actually thrilling, and who the hell ever heard of a book of recipes being thrilling.

Dandelion and Quince by Michelle McKenzie, published by Roost Books

The Cultured Club
Dearbhla Reynolds is a maverick, a culinary maven, one of those strangely remarkable people who emerge from Northern Ireland every twenty five years or so. This learned text on fermentation is a companion for life, not just for Xmas, and it will radicalise not just how you cook, but how you think about food, diet, and digestion.

The Cultured Club by Dearbhla Reynolds, published by Gill

Fruit on the Table
Theresa Storey is one of the best cooks we know, an artisan with a special energy in her work. Where other people make jams, cutneys and relishes, Mrs Storey makes magic, and her book is filled with the sort of ideas, secrets and concepts that will make your cooking better. 

Fruit on the Table by Theresa Storey, published by The O'Brien Press

Kevin and Kate’s Milk Book
Kevin and Kate’s Bread book

The brilliant Olivia Goodwillie rattles off the rhyming couplets in these two dazzling tales of how siblings Kevin and Kate tackle the mysteries of making cheese using milk from the cow, and baking bread, using wheat milled by the local miller. Ann McLeod’s plangent illustrations give the two books enormous energy, and you will not find a more charming gift for the younger person than these two precious titles.

Bread Book and Milk Book by Olivie Goodwillie, illustrated by Anne McLeod, published by 5T050 Books

The A-Z of Eating
We’ve said it before, so let’s say it again: Felicity Cloake is one hell of a funny woman, which makes A-Z a howl to cook from. You’ll laugh, you’ll chortle, and then you will cook everything delicious damn thing in the book.

The A-Z of Eating by Felicity Cloake, published by Penguin/Fig Tree

Brother Hubbard
What’s not to love about Dublin’s iconic Brother Hubbard, and what’s not to love about Garret Fitzgerald’s amiable, expert, enthralled cookery book? Garret’s pell-mell enthusiasms spill from the pages, and translate into delicious culinary reality.

The Brother Hubbard Cookbook by Garrett Fitzgerald, published by Gill

Diana Henry
Diana Henry’s productivity is as enormous as her creativity, and the creativity that seams through all of her books, ever since her debut masterpiece, Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons – has been unstoppable. Simple is one of her best books, which is the same as saying it is one of the best books.

Simple by Diana Henry, published by Mitchell Beazley

Rick Stein
Rick Stein’s signature is good judgement: he’s a guy to trust in the kitchen. Whilst Brexit threw something of a spoke into the wheels of Long Weekends – it’s a series of dishes from European cities designed to be easily reachable from the U.K. and so ideal for short hops and weekends – that political reality doesn’t undermine the integrity of these superb recipes.

Rick Stein's Weekend, published by BBC Books

The Farmette Cookbook
Imen McDonnell is the kind of a girl who could run a country, never mind a kitchen.  Her auto-didactic power is evident on every page of The Farmette Cookbook, as she casts her elegent, aesthetic riff on Irish food to delicious and original effect.

The Farmette Cookbook by Imen McDonnell, published by Roost Books

We know, we know: does the world need another JO book? The answer is no, and yet there are several ideas in Jamie's Christmas Cookbook that will wind up being sure-fire staples and go-to certainties of your future Xmas cooking.

Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook published by Penguin/Michael Joseph

Power Veg
You either love the work of the Lucky Peach stable, or hate the proud garishness that is the signature of everything David Chang and his team produce. We love what these guys do, garishness and all, because the food they offer is so bomb-proof disciplined, and funky cool. For a start, this book will change how you cook celery, for ever.

Power Vegetables by Peter Meehan published by Lucky Peach

Mark Best
Laconic, unimpressed, and quite brilliant, Mark Best makes you a better cook. His recipes aren’t always simple, but they are always good. Kitchen Basics is one of the essential basic texts for the creative cook.

Best Kitchen Basics by Mark Best, published by Hardie Grant books

Food from the Fire
Niklas Ekstedt was one of the stars of 2016’s Food on the Edge, giving a very droll speech about cooking and parenting. His kids are out in force on the pages of Food from the Fire, huddled around the flames as Dad cooks up something delicious in what is an authoritative and absorbing book.

Food From the Fire by Niklas Ekstedt, published by Pavilion

Gearoid Lynch’s book is a quiet masterwork. Being diagnosed as a coeliac unleashed a storm of creative energy in this brilliant chef, and his book is smart, direct, and essential, and makes the kitchen a place of welcome for coeliacs.

My Gluten-free Kitchen by Gearóid Lynch, published by Gill