One of my favorite recipe books is Cafe Paradiso Seasons, by Denis Cotter. I’ve had the book for many years and it has provided much inspiration.
Denis is the owner/chef of Cafe Paradiso, and well the ‘Seasons’ aspect demonstrates his commitment to cooking with fresh ingredients. This is a vegetarian book (as is his cafe), but if you’re not vegetarian don’t let that intimidate you in the slightest. The introduction provides an incredible perspective on fresh foods, how we have been moving away from them, and the benefit of focusing on them. He writes “There is a holistic sense of well-being we enjoy when our hunger is truly satisfied that can only be had from eating good food cooked with great care. We have forgotten that the balance we often have such difficulty maintaining in our relationship with food is present in the natural seasonal order.’
For me seasonal eating feels right, salads in late spring and early summer when greens are at their best and steaming hot soups of winter squash on a chilly fall day. Yes, it feels right. The book is divided into seasons. The fall chapter includes recipes for mushrooms, eggplant, figs, pumpkins and leeks. One of the recipes is for Eggplant, tomato and goats’ cheese galette with a balsamic-tomato emulsion. It sounds complicated but with his writing style, excellent images, background information and clear instructions it’s really not.
His recipes for eggplant inspired my quick, week night version. I grilled eggplant rounds, layered the slices with fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers. Then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped basil. The market is filled with 99 cent eggplants and I can’t seem to use the basil in my garden fast enough…. seasonal.
Yes, Cafe Paradiso is a real place. Ireland is one of the few places I long to see and when we go you can bet we’ll be stopping in! They now have two guest rooms above the cafe. I think I could spend several days there. You can read more about the cafe, accommodations and Denis’ books at http://www.cafeparadiso.ie/ You can also purchase his books there which I highly recommend! I know I’ve go my eye on Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me! And if you need some inspiration peruse the menu. Yep, it is posted online.
So, are you ready to meet me in Cork City now?