cover image The Irish Heritage Cookbook

The Irish Heritage Cookbook

Chronicle Books, Margaret Johnson. Chronicle Books, $19.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1992-3

Food writer and Massachusetts native Johnson delivers a fresh perspective on Irish cookery with an engaging collection of recipes culled from Irish (and Irish-American) chefs, hoteliers and long-time home cooks who have reinterpreted traditional dishes with earthy panache. Organized by topography--hill, dale, waters, etc.--chapters include historic sidebars and anecdotes, such as information on medieval Irish castle banquets. Despite an occasional gourmet detour (e.g., Mussel Soup with Oatmeal-Herb Crust or Warm Woodland Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette), robust, rustic Irish cooking prevails. Recipes are not for the diet conscious: copious amounts of butter and cream, meat-with-meat pairings and other caloric combinations predominate (e.g., Black Pudding Roisin, with pig blood sausage; Dublin Coddle, a pork, bacon and potato casserole; Quail with Chestnut Stuffing and Burgundy Sauce). Ireland's culinary ""roots"" (carrots, turnips, parsnips and tubers) as well as distinctly Irish libations (stout, whiskey and poitins, a distillation of barley, sugar and water), punctuate many recipes. Relatively uncomplicated, many of these meals involve minimal preparation time and can be easily rendered by novice home cooks. Looking beyond boiled potatoes and cabbage, Johnson provides valuable insight into Ireland's gastronomic heritage. (Mar.)