"Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries: Delicious Recipes Throughout The Year," By Clodagh McKenna, Kyle Books, $27.95
What it is:
Dubbed "Ireland's answer to Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart" by Forbes magazine, TV food and travel personality Clodagh McKenna takes us, in her new book, through her year of eating, with seasonally-inspired dishes and themed recipes (Mother's Day coffee, walnut and cardamom cake; ghost meringues for Halloween; Guinness and beef stew for St. Patrick's Day).
"Each page is filled with memories of the people I celebrated and shared food with and the wonderful places I have lived and eaten in, from Dublin, London, New York City, Italy and France," she writes in "Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries."
Praises and quibbles:
A mildly interesting concept is elevated by unexpected variations on conventional dishes: Turkey curry with basmati rice and naan bread at the holidays, spicy lamb koftas with tomato salsa and tzatziki with a chilled beer in July and lemon grass and ginger infused creme brulee for Valentine's Day. If reading other people's diaries is your thing, all the better.
If passages like, "One Valentine's weekend, I was instructed to pack my suitcase and have my passport ready" trigger your less-than-gracious jealousy reflexes, proceed with caution. And know that the next sentence reads, "It was only when we reached the boarding gate that I knew we were en route to Paris." How nice for her. Really.
Why you'll like it:
Surprise Parisian excursions aside, the book is an approachable blend of unfussy comfort foods (spiced butternut squash and coconut soup, key lime pie) and dishes inspired to challenge your skills and your senses (pan-roasted John Dory fish with minted beurre blanc, banoffee pie cupcakes). Virtually all of them look delicious.
— Heidi Stevens, Tribune Newspapers