Gill & Macmillan, €19.99
With her 'Simply Delicious' TV series and books in the early nineties, Darina Allen showed us that we have an Irish food culture - and butter and cream! - to be proud of. Now it's the turn of her daughter-in-law, Rachel Allen, to fly the flag for the Allen food dynasty. She has been teaching at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry for several years but it was last year's television series, 'Rachel's Favourite Food', that first brought her to public attention. A second series followed and 'Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends' is the accompanying book.
Allen's emphasis in this volume is on a large variety of entertaining options. From the seasonally appropriate Christmas dinner and party nibbles to having friends around for an Irish barbeque (including options for indoors cooking), family lunch for 30 or an intimate dinner for two, there's a menu to suit every situation.
Along with the usual Irish, Italian and French dishes, Allen's recipes also include dishes from Morocco (Moroccan Chickpea Soup), Central America (Ceviche), Thailand and India (there's a whole Curry Night chapter). She has a knack of simplifying and rendering unthreatening recipes and flavours that may not be very familiar in Ireland.
This is a wonderful book for anyone who is looking to experiment - just a little - with their home cooking and well worth a browse for even the more experienced cook.
'Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends' is available from the RTÉ Shop, priced €19.99.