Forgotten Skills of Cooking ~ Darina Allen

Friday, March 11, 2011
At Christmas, I got a wonderful gift to Amazon -- I knew immediately, I wanted to purchase Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking. I had my eye on it for some time -- I made myself go through my cookbook collection and give 2 books away -- I thought it would be hard but I did find 2 that were really unused and I happily sent them to the thrifty store while I awaited the arrival of my new treasure. Darina Allen, if you are unfamiliar with her, is the founder and operator of Ballymaloe Cookery School at Ballymaloe in County Cork, Ireland. I LOVE this book. The photos are GORGEOUS and if you want to cook it - this book will tell you how. It has occupied a place of honor on my kitchen island since it arrived in my home - and has even made a few trips to bed with me for my nightly reading. I've been eager to share this book with you and pass along my review but I thought it should wait -- since Miss Darina is Irish, I was waiting for the week of St Paddy's Day. She has even been called the Irish Julia Child - no disrespect directed towards Julia, but I prefer to think of her as the Irish Marcia Adams, since Marcia has been my favorite for so many years. I have never had a desire to attend culinary school BUT if I could attend Ballymaloe, I might reconsider.

Many of us Irish-American's and all who are Irish on St Paddy's will have the predicable Corned Beef & Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread on the 17th - I've included Miss Darina's versions of these most American of Irish foods!

Corned Beef & Cabbage
(Printable Version)
4 lb corned brisket of beef
3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
6 to 8 small onions
1 teaspoon dry English mustard
large sprig fresh thyme and some parsley stalks, tied together
1 cabbage
salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the brisket into a saucepan with the carrots, onions, mustard and the herbs. Cover with cold water, and bring gently to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in quarters and add to the pot. Cook for a further 1 to 2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are soft and tender.

Serve the corned beef in slices, surrounded by the vegetables and cooking liquid. Serve with lots of floury potatoes and freshly made mustard.

Irish Soda Bread
(Printable Version)
1 lb. (450 grams/3¼ cups) white unbleached white flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. baking soda
12-14 fluid oz. sour milk or buttermilk (350-412 ml)

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Sift the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be moist, but not wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured surface.

After washing and drying your hands, gather the loaf into a circle and gently flip over. Pat the dough into a round about 1½ inches thick and cut a cross in the top to, as Darina says, “let the fairies out.” Darina recommends letting the cuts go over the edge of the loaf to be sure of this.

Bake at 450ºF for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 400ºF for 30 minutes for until the loaf produces a hollow sound when tapped.

Sharing at Laurie's Favorite Things!