Four stunning recipe books that would make gorgeous gifts

This week there’s a novel about family secrets set on the Devon coast, there’s also a murder mystery from Meath author Fiona Sherlock at a 1970s London dinner party, and there are lots of dinners to be made with four stunning recipe books just published, which would make gorgeous gifts for the domestic god or goddess in your life.

The Storyteller by the Sea, Phyllida Shrimpton, Head of Zeus, €11.99

There’s something felicitous about a coastal story by an author named Shrimpton! And a felicitous fireside read this is. Protagonist Melody likes to collect ‘treasures’ she finds on the seashore, to take home to her cottage and make something of them. Her life looks simple and idyllic, but Melody’s life wasn’t always like this. The plot moves from the present day back to the ’60s and the ’80s, revealing the heartbreak Melody has endured. But she’s always believed in family, even when that belief has perhaps been misplaced. And there’s a big family secret lurking in the shadows.

Of course, secrets have a knack of uncovering themselves. And in the telling of this tale, the author explores disability, unexpressed grief and environmental issues. But ultimately this is an uplit novel and god knows we can do with all do with a bit of that.

Supper for Six, Fiona Sherlock, Hodder, €12.99

An unsolved murder, committed in a posh apartment in Mayfair, London, becomes an obsession for true crime podcaster Felix Caerphilly, who’s determined to uncover the killer. But there are logistical problems, the principal one being the time lapse. It all happened in April 1977. On the evening of April 7, Lady Sybil Anderson invited four guests to supper, the first time she’d ever hosted a dinner party. On the following morning, her husband Lord Anthony Anderson was discovered dead in his home. A fire during the night destroyed any evidence but Caerphilly, a journalist at the time, has always maintained there was skullduggery afoot. Now he believes he can unwrap what really happened.

Reeling back in time with considerable flair, Sherlock introduces the diners. They’re a disparate group and, interestingly, each person thought they would be the solitary guest. So what was Lady Sybil up to? And why was there a sudden power cut during dinner when the lights stayed on in neighbouring homes? The thick plottens. Another intriguing Christie-esque mystery from the author.

Flavour, Mark Moriarty, Gill, €24.99

If you’re interested in TV cooking programmes, you’ve probably seen Mark work his wonders on the RTÉ series Off-Duty Chef, where he makes everything look so easy. But then off-duty cooking probably feels easy when you’re not sweating it out in a two-star Michelin kitchen. This book, warmly endorsed by Neven Maguire, Rory O’Connell, the great Stanley Tucci, is introduced by Moriarty himself, expressing his hope that it will help the reader in ‘perfecting the basics of home cooking’. And so, before venturing on to specific recipes, he gives clear instructions on how to make perfect mashed and roast potatoes, perfect rice, a perfect omelette... Then come the recipes, some of them old reliables but plenty of adventurous ones too. It’s a gorgeous book for your kitchen cookbook shelf.

Spice Box, Sunil Ghai, Penguin Sandycove, €24.99

Sunil Ghai owns three hugely successful Indian restaurants in Dublin and in his first cookbook he offers recipes to home cooks using ingredients easily found in most supermarkets. His emphasis here is on producing authentic home-cooked Indian food, not takeaway imitations. He’s got some neat tips on what to have in your cupboard and how to get the most from your ingredients. Curries are featured, of course, but there’s a lot more to Indian food and Ghai is intent on offering the authentic deal. It’s beautifully produced and illustrated, with a generous foreword by Darina Allen, who’s a big fan and someone who’s been pestering this chef for years to write a cookbook. Here it is, another welcome addition to the kitchen bookshelf and who doesn’t love Indian food?

The Food Pharmacy, Jess Redden, Gill, €24.99

Jess Redden is both a psychologist and a pharmacist and is passionate about health and fitness. She has a huge social media following and in this book she has produced a vast collection of recipes that are all about healthy eating, but also full of flavour and oomph. In her introduction she writes: ‘Every time you eat or drink, you are either fuelling or fighting disease.’ Based on her experience as a pharmacist, she has set out 10 chapters, with lots of recipes in each, that deal with society’s 10 most common ailments and she offers gorgeous recipes to combat those conditions. Again, this book is beautifully produced and illustrated, high gloss from start to finish, and promises to keep us healthy while still enjoying our food.

The New Ballymaloe Bread Book, Darina Allen, Gill, €26.99

The high priestess of the kitchen in this country has produced a big, fat, comprehensive cookbook covering every type of bread you’ve ever heard of and loads that you haven’t. In her introduction, Allen remembers the ‘Beast from the East’ storm in 2018, when there was a genuine scare about bread running out in the shops. (There were some funny videos on social media about it too!) She maintains that everyone should be able to make a basic loaf of bread and should have the ingredients at hand to do it. Hard to argue with that. There’s a whole section on gluten-free breads, another on recipes using leftover bread and a huge section on ‘essential extras’ like jams, curds, pesto, guacamole and flavoured butters. It’s a high quality doorstopper of a book with gorgeous illustrations, full of Allen’s trademark practicalities and well worth the investment.


The Dublin Book Festival runs on November 8-12 and there’s a massive programme on offer, including children’s events and special After Dark events. Some events are already booked out but there’s plenty of choice here for everyone. See for more information.

Samhain on the Hill of Uisneach (where they say Samhain has its roots) looks promising, with lots of storytelling, history and music. Takes place on November 11 and tickets are available from