For the first time since I moved to Ireland 14 years ago, I’ve been avoiding turning on my oven for the past month. I’ve also kept the shades drawn to keep rooms cool, thrown open every window and the kitchen door all day long and dragged the fan down from the attic. In a country whose climate is usually more suited to stews and casseroles and long, slow braises on a cold rainy day, a spate of hot sunny weather like we’ve been having this July can leave you at a loss for what to cook outside of your usual repertoire. After all, we’re more accustomed to the dark, cozy pub than sunny poolsides. Here are some cookbooks — some new and some oldies but goodies worth revisiting — that have been getting a lot of play time in my kitchen this summer.
Relish BBQ by Rozanne Stevens
Launched in May, Rozanne’s new cookbook couldn’t have been better timed. Rozanne, who is originally from South Africa, has put her own al fresco spin on 10 different world cuisines (South African, Irish, Thai, Indian, Italian, Mozambique, Chinese, Mexican, Greek, American). The salads are particularly tempting and you’ll never want to settle for a bottled barbecue sauce again after trying these marinades, bastes and sauces.
Recipes to try: Black pudding burgers; soy-glazed salmon burgers; strawberry chilli flattie chicken; smoked paprika BBQ pork chops with guava salsa; BBQ prawn, avocado and melon salad; Monica’s berry Baileys meringue roulade.
Fresh from the Sea by Clodagh McKenna
Fish is the ultimate fast food, often taking only minutes to cook, which makes it perfect for those summer evenings when you want to escape the heat of the kitchen. With beautiful photography and celebrating some of Ireland’s fishermen and artisan producers, this cookbook focuses solely on seafood (with a few sides and desserts thrown in at the end for good measure) and is made for summer, when you want fast, light food.
Recipes to try: Roasted herb-crusted mussels; pan-seared scallops with smoked streaky bacon; crab cakes with lime guacamole; hake seared in a sun-dried tomato tapenade; smoked salmon mousse; chilli fried mackerel; marinated salmon in mint and lemon.
Martin & Paul’s Surf ‘n’ Turf by Martin Shanahan and Paul Flynn
One of my favourite new cookbooks last year, this is a collaboration between Paul Flynn, chef/owner at The Tannery in Co. Waterford, and Martin Shanahan, chef/owner at Fishy Fishy in Cork. At this time of year, the Salads and Quick chapters are the most well-thumbed, with plenty of recipes that are perfect for weeknight suppers, no matter which camp — surf or turf — you fall into.
Recipes to try: Crab claws, lemon, chilli and basil cream; mussels with sweet chilli and lime butter; butterbeans, chorizo and cider; grilled scallops, black pudding, lemon and thyme dressing.
Neven’s Food from the Sun by Neven Maguire
Inspired by Neven’s annual travels abroad, this book brings a bit of the sunny holiday flavours of Spain, Thailand and the Mediterranean to your kitchen. A little taste of the costas here at home in Ireland.
Recipes to try: Oven-roasted Dublin Bay prawns with tomato and chilli; crispy fried squid with harissa and creme fraiche; spicy chicken and mango noodles; baked Mediterranean vegetables with tomato, Cooleeney cheese and Parmesan; pineapple tarte tatin; coconut creme caramel.
Murphy’s Ice Cream Book of Sweet Things by Seán and Kieran Murphy
Summer. Ice cream. Need I say more? But if you need further convincing, Murphy’s is one of Ireland’s best-loved ice creams. Handmade in Dingle with milk from Kerry cows and premium ingredients, they say it best themselves: it’s ice cream that knows where it’s coming from. Head over to Bibliocook for an in-depth review of the book.