Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy "Arthur’s Day" - A Stroke of Guinness!

Pin It My Goodness! The marketing machine over at Guinness is Genius! When Obama visited Ireland to find the lost apostrophe of his Irish roots (OBama) the money shot was that pint of the black stuff in his hand. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth was a little more canny on her visit, and merely looked at her pint of plain with suspicion. It still made headline news.

This bread is a stroke of 'Guinness' - and it's perfect with my mum's Plum and Ginger Jam

In a nod to “Arthur’s Day” - another stroke of Guinness from the marketing department - I made Guinness and Cranberry Bread from TV Chef, Catherine Fulvio’s new book. In Catherine’s Family Kitchen, she shows us around Ballyknocken House, her cookery school and home. As the title of the book suggests, this is all about family. Catherine says “There is nothing quite like sitting around the dinner table, laughing, joking, catching up, and, most importantly, enjoying good home-cooked food.”

The book revolves around the number 5… 5 useful gadgets… 5 ways with chopping… 5 quick soups…  soda breads… scones…  pasta… mash… sauces – you get the picture - all easy ways to ring the changes and keep the family menu from ever getting boring.

There are plenty of simple-to-prepare dishes to tempt your tastebuds and also to broaden the palate of any younger members of the household. It is an eclectic mix – Asian, Italian, Irish – with the emphasis on dishes that are quick and easy to put together, and even easier to eat.

The Guinness and Cranberry Bread (a soda loaf) took about 3 minutes to put together and just under an hour in the oven. It was dark and sweet and the perfect partner for my mother’s incredible plum and ginger jam. Himself and I demolished several slices before it had even cooled.

On my list to try are: Marinated Aubergine and Courgette with Goat’s Cheese and Hazelnut Dressing; Orange and Oregano Cod; Seafood and Spinach Open Ravioli; a show-stopping Thyme-infused Raspberry Chocolate Meringue Tower and how could I resist the Orange Mocha Crème Brulée.

I have two criticisms, and they are both aesthetic. Firstly, while most of the recipes are dark type on a light background making for optimal readability, there are several on brightly-coloured pages with white type in a script font, which I found hard on the eye – and my eyesight is pretty close to perfect.

Secondly, Catherine is one of the most animated and energetic people you could possibly meet and yet there is a ‘posed’ stiff quality to several of the lifestyle portraits in the book which doesn’t do her justice. On the other hand, the food photos are stunning; so less lifestyle and focus more on the food perhaps… These are minor complaints. I’ll definitely be cooking from this book.

As for “Arthur’s Day”, where does it all end? Next thing you know the Whiskey companies will be clamouring for their day… What’s that? They already have one? So they do - Paddy’s Day!

Review copy of Catherine’s Family Kitchen, courtesy of Gill & McMillan Publishers

Catherine’s Family Kitchen by Catherine Fulvio
ISBN: 9780717150571
Hardback: €22.99 Pin It