Book Reviews

Our Daily BreadBooks are not just for Christmas and these are a few more of the good ones to enjoy this year.

Books weren’t really on the agenda at the Good Food Ireland conference in November, but the queue at the magnificent showcase lunch put up by the association’s producer members was slow to move because there were so many interesting people to talk to, and there happened to be a delay beside the Barron’s Bakery stall – lucky for me, as Esther Barron had time to show me their lovely history of the bakery ‘Our Daily Bread’ (hardback ‘with a cover the soft feel of a loaf of bread’, €25 incl p+p, available online from, and I came home with one tucked under my arm. And very nice it is too.

Written by Roz Crowley and with photographs by the Icelandic photographer Ara Run Runarsdottir, it’s an evocative book that will bring back many memories to family, customers and the people of West Waterford, and delight anyone with an interest in baking or social history.

Celebrating 125 years in business, this family bakery in Cappoquin is renowned throughout Ireland for its loving hands-on family management, traditional methods and the original Scotch brick ovens which produce a uniquely crusty loaf. As well as being a great read, the book also includes Mrs Barron’s recipes which, as Roz Crowley says ‘provide deliciously calorific interludes’. A lovely book.


“This is an easy recipe and quantities of ingredients don't have to be exact, so you can avoid using the weighing scales. I serve this in a crusty roll, such as one of Barron's traditional blaas*,” explains Eithne Barron. “The bread taken out of the roll to make space for the soup is used as breadcrumbs to thicken the soup. The cut-off tops can be buttered or dipped in olive oil.” (*The Waterford ‘blaa’ is a local speciality bread roll).

Click for recipe

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?s River Cottage Veg Everyday (Bloomsbury Hardback stg?25)Underlining the very welcome surge of interest in GIY and seasonal fresh fruit and veg – which, to some extent, is a result of his own campaigning - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday (Bloomsbury Hardback stg£25) is bang on trend and, whether or not you are a follower of his TV programmes, if you’re a keen cook (and perhaps a gardener too), you’re bound to love this book.

And why wouldn’t you, with over 200 imaginative recipes to help you make the most of the delicious foods which are all too often relegated to the role of side dishes – the example below is an interesting once, combining the root vegetables not usually destined to go into stir-fries with oriental ingredients.

While not aimed particularly at vegetarians, it is nevertheless a vegetarian cookbook – for everyone.


“The warming hint of star anise within Chinese five-spice powder gives this dish character. You can chop and change the vegetables a little depending on what you have to hand - celeriac instead of parsnip, for instance, or shredded cabbage rather than sprouts - but I do think this is a particularly fun way of using Brussels sprouts.”


Click for recipe

Elizabeth Luard?s TAPAS, Classic Small Dishes from Spain (Grub Street, hardback ?15.99)Elizabeth Luard’s TAPAS, Classic Small Dishes from Spain (Grub Street, hardback £15.99) is also bang on-trend, but nothing that this exceptionally talented and insightful writer does is ever governed by fashion.  She is one of the leading authorities on European cooking, and the experience and inspiration from fifteen years spent living in Spain are the foundation of this book.

In it, she champions the small dishes traditionally served with sherry in Spain – which, as she shows clearly, informatively and entertainingly in this definitive book, also travel well to other cultures and are ideal for all sorts of occasions.

An especially useful feature is a menu section, showing how tapas can be combined to create exciting party meals for different seasons and occasions.

Chicory stuffed with blue cheese Ojas de chicoria con queso de cabralesSAMPLE RECIPE: Chicory stuffed with blue cheese Ojas de chicoria con queso de cabrales

“This is a very common tapa in the north of Spain, where the French influence is strong. The boat-shaped leaves of endive (also known as chicory or white-leaf) make perfect finger-food. The stuffing, while other blue-veins will do, is usually the pungent Cabrales, a blue-vein made in Asturias in much the same way as Roquefort.”


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