In her first cook book, Northern Irish chef Paula McIntyre gives a selection of recipes for each month of the year, concentrating on seasonal produce and the freshest ingredients. She covers starters, main courses, baking and desserts with equal enthusiasm and her dishes involve imaginative flavour combinations. Her recipes see the inspiration and influence of many cuisines such as Spanish, Mexican, and Moroccan, as well as a few traditional Irish dishes.
The mouth-watering cover image of the book is gingerbread pancakes, drizzled with maple syrup and filled with a raisin and pear compote and, for extra measure, a dollop of cinnamon marscarpone. Having this image on the cover of the book is apt, as it is indicative of the indulgent, decadent recipes that are contained therein. From luxurious macaroni and cheese, made with three types of cheese and a helping of double cream, to caramel, chocolate and Brazil nut cake, there are plenty to choose from if you want to treat yourself.
But she also includes recipes more tailored for health enthusiasts, without sacrificing flavour. Unusual salads such as runner bead, macadamia nut and lemongrass salad, and spiced carrot and chickpea salad make tasty snacks or can be a side dish when combined with other recipes in the book. McIntyre makes recommendations throughout the book as to which vegetable dish to serve with the meat or fish mains, such as stuffed loin of lamb with creamed flageolet beans, which makes it easy to put a delicious meal together.
The amateur chef may be put off by the adventurous recipes and hard-to-get ingredients that are involved. Fried oyster tacos and lobster with creamy roasted corn dressing sound delectable, but they aren't ingredients you can just pick up in your local shop. This book is more suited for the adept chef with good cooking skills, who wants to expand their repertoire. For this the book is successful, as it is apparent Paula McIntyre has both a unique and adventurous approach to cooking.
The book is complimented by beautifully taken photographs of the recipes and a good layout, and simple, modern presentation of the recipes make it a treat to use.