From putting the FUN into funky fermented foods to a Trinidad & Tobago meets Nigeria food mash-up, the 2024 Blasta Books series, with their inimitable, illustrated cookbooks, continues to promote new voices in food and showcase the culinary diversity found across Ireland.
In #9: FUNKY [January], Caitlin Ruth delves into the flavour profiles found in pickled foods to create dishes that deliver on taste and texture, proving that funky foods are not just for jarring gluts but can elevate your favourite meals too. From 10-minute pickle projects, shortcuts for mass pickling, tips on how to keep the crunch and inventive recipes using pickle juice, FUNKY shares inspiring and surprising ways to use almost any fruit and vegetable.
#10: WHOLE CATCH [April] introduces you to pioneering young chef Aishling Moore, a keen advocate for regenerative aquaculture and a promoter of the gill-to-fin approach. Cooking what the sea dictates at her restaurant, Goldie, Aishling’s approach to using the whole ‘catch of the day’ has gained her a loyal customer following, taught her how to plan a well-stocked larder in the event of bad weather and be resourceful when it comes to foraging from the seabed. With step-by-step instructions, buying and storage tips, Aishling introduces clear and innovative ways to clean, prepare and cook commonly found flat fish, round fish, shellfish, even tinned fish (!), converting even the wariest and novice cook into a confident seafood handler.
In #11: AGAK-AGAK [July], where food pivots between Chinese, Thai, Indian and Malay influences, chef Sham Hanifa combines all the cuisines of his multicultural childhood to create his own personal representation of the Malaysian society he grew up in. With recipes that pack in all the flavour of his diverse heritage, Sham presents a fascinating food landscape that shows him to be an instinctively clever and respectful chef and will encourage readers to dip into his easy and delicious Asian-style dishes.
Blasta Books’ final cookbook #12: SOCAFRO [October] is a mash-up of Alistair Jeje’s two favourite types of music: the rhythmic beats of Soca from Trinidad & Tobago and the soulful lines of Afrobeat from Nigeria. Reflecting Alistair’s dual heritage, this vibrant and uplifting cookbook is a journey through Alistair’s childhood memories as well as the food served from his street food venture Socafro Kitchen. Bridging the culinary gap between West Africa and the Caribbean, SOCAFRO shows how fusing two major food influences can create dishes to delight and dance to, including a jollof pilau, spicy Trini suya kebabs, a rich and cheesy Afro-Trini macaroni pie, and delightfully sweet and crispy chin-chin tamarind balls.
Meet the authors:
Caitlin Ruth has been working in restaurant kitchens since she was 12 years old. Formerly head chef of Deasy’s Restaurant near Clonakilty, West Cork, she hails from Dublin, New Hampshire in the US and has called Ireland her home since 1992. Listed in McKennas’ 100 Best, awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and recently named a Munster Local Food Hero, she now has a food truck, Caitlin Ruth Food, that serves a menu driven by seasonal ingredients from West Cork’s local growers and producers. @caitlinruthfood
Aishling Moore is one of Ireland’s most exciting young chefs. Her fish restaurant, Goldie, has pioneered gill-to-fin cooking in Ireland. In 2019, Aishling was named Chef of the Year by John and Sally McKenna. Goldie achieved Michelin Bib Gourmand status in 2021 and in 2022 was awarded Best Casual Dining in Ireland 2022 by both Food & Wine Magazine and the Restaurant Association of Ireland. In 2023, Aishling was named Young Chef of the Year in the Food & Wine Awards and became deputy head of the Euro-Toques Ireland Food Council, an organisation that endeavours to preserve Irish culinary heritage by supporting traditional cooking methods and promoting producers of local and seasonal artisan products. @aishlingmoore
Shamzuri (Sham) Hanifa is a multi-award winning chef, businessman and broadcaster. Originally from Malaysia, Sham moved to Carrick on-Shannon in County Leitrim, Ireland, in 2000 to begin a journey that would take him from general kitchen work to head chef and owner/co-owner of a number of establishments, including the Cottage Restaurant, My Kitchen by Sham Hanifa, Synergy Café, Buffalo Boy Steakhouse and the Chef Sham Sauces range. Sham appears regularly on Virgin Media One’s Six O’clock Show, where he demonstrates easy, Asian-style dishes. @sham__hanifa
Alistair Jeje, affectionately known as JD, is the proud proprietor of Socafro Kitchen, a bustling street food venture in Waterford City offering an enticing fusion of Caribbean and Nigerian flavours. This culinary blend pays homage to his roots: his mother hails from Trinidad and his father from Nigeria. The name Socafro comes from JD’s passion for two distinct music genres: the vibrant rhythms of Caribbean soca and the pulsating beats of Afro tunes. JD was born in England but his formative years were spent in Lagos, where his mother and sister introduced him to the world of cooking. JD believes that your true calling is what you can do effortlessly, and for him, cooking is just that. JD’s larger-than-life charisma is undeniably magnetic, and his radiant smile and treasured recipes lift up everyone who meets him and eats his food. @socafrokitchen