Darina Allen is a famed Irish, no world, culinary figure. Author, media personality, and founder of the glorious Ballymaloe Cookery School. She also founded the first farmers market in modern Ireland, an action in today’s environment that actually gives me some pause. How far have we come? And how important has Darina been in making all that progress?
Thirty-two years ago, Darina was approached to do her first TV program. And, naturally, there had to be a cookbook. That first Simply Delicious volume was a mere 68 pages and quickly sold out. There were five more Simply Delicious volumes added along as the TV program flowed from one season to the next.
Those early Simply Delicious books are long out of print. For this Classic Collection, Darina has scoured those early recipes, brightened up some favorites, tagged many of them with glamorous photos, and bundled these gifts into this book: Simply Delicious, The Classic Collection.
The 100 recipes in this book are divided into seven chapters:
- Soups and Appetizers
- Fish and Seafood
Ah, you noticed. No bread chapter. So if you want her fabulous soda bread, you’ll need to get another volume of Darina’s. You can really never have too many of her books.
I find the best chapter is the first one, Soups and Appetizers. The very first recipe there, the first in the book, is this Winter Celery Soup with Cashel Blue and Toasted Hazelnuts:
Celery is something we overlook. Oh, yes, we put it in our Thanksgiving stuffing. But it has a distinctive flavor whose intensity here is muted with chicken stock and milk. Other soups in this chapter include:
Onion and Thyme Leaf
Vine-Ripened Tomato and Spearmint Soup
Winter Leek and Potato
Rutabaga and Bacon
Green Pea with Fresh Mint Cream
Potato and Fresh Herb
Lebanese Cold Cucumber
Don’t be fooled by the simple titles, like “Mushroom.” The base of the soup is whole milk and homemade chicken stock. Homemade. Don’t open up a can here. Open that container of stock you let cook on your stove for hours, that stock that is rich as Fort Knox.
Darina will tell you: you don’t need a lot of ingredients but they all matter, they all need to be superior.
Proof of that is her Lamb Roast with Rosemary and Garlic:
That leg of lamb is cooked with just salt and pepper, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves. On the side, there is a gravy made with your homemade lamb stock. Oh, save that bone! You have stock to make.
You will find classics here like Irish Stew, complete with a discussion of how the dish varies across the different counties of Ireland:
Or Provençale Bean Stew:
Herbs are sprinkled throughout this book. Like this Chicken with Mushrooms and Rosemary:
At her cooking school, Darina has a rather large garden supplying the veggies and herbs and fruit. The mushrooms are hunted across a vast and beautiful property.
Desserts in this book are a grand finale:
Almond Tartlets with Raspberries
Orange Mousse with Dark Chocolate Wafers
Caramel Mousse with Praline
Vanilla Ice Cream [made by freezing an egg-mouse base with softly whipped cream]
Coffee Ice Cream with Irish Coffee Sauce
And then there is this Chocolate Meringue Gateau:
The recipes here in The Classic Collection are, well, classics. Every dish here will grace your table with brilliance. This is a recipe collection to be treasured.