A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School by Darina Allen – review

A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School The very name “Ballymaloe” sounds poetic and conjures visions of green and idyllic hills. Not far from the truth according to Antony Worrall Thompson who says, “I’m often asked which is my favourite cookery school. Without question Ballymaloe Cookery School near Cork in Southern Ireland would be my choice… At Ballymaloe you have everything, an exquisite property set in acres of wonderful organic gardens surrounded by fabulous countryside… Idyllic is a word rarely used but in Ballymaloe’s case it is the word that sums up what this cookery school is about.”

A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School is a lovely reflection of Darina Allen’s celebrated school. It’s a large-format volume with amazing photographs by Melanie Eclare, Michelle Garrett and Timmy Allen (hmm, another of the famous dynasty?). The overall impression is of comfort and calm. Probably just what we need in these times of crunching credit and creeping prices.

Darina is justifiably well regarded as not only a teacher but also an author. I have reviewed most of her books over these last weeks and they are all of a universally high standard but more importantly they are all a good read. A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School will be appreciated by lovers of her friendly and warm-hearted style.

This particular book focuses on the use of fresh and seasonal produce. We might not all have access to a good market but we can all, at least, chose the best that the change of seasons has to offer. It makes sense to buy vegetables when they are plentiful and at a good (one hopes) price. Darina’s book will give you an idea of what you should be looking for as the months go by.

The recipes are divided, as you would expect, by the four seasons. Those chapters each list Starters, Main Courses, Vegetables and Puddings. It’s nice to see those sweet things referred to as “puddings”. Sounds old-fashioned, cheering and comfy, although the puds here are trendy.

Steak and Oyster Pie is a classic and it’s good to see that combination of traditional and modern in the same collection. Thai Chicken, Galingale and Coriander Soup is a good example of the newer face of cooking. A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School represents how both the Irish and British eat (or would like to eat) these days.

Darina’s recipe for Christmas Semi-freddo with Raisins and Marrons Glacés is so good that it would be worth buying this book just for that. It’s one of those desserts that is simple to prepare, stunning to look at and delicious. A light change from the usual Christmas Pudding and the beauty of it is that you can make this ages in advance.

A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School is a joy and another Allen family triumph!

A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School
Author: Darina Allen
Published: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-709-0


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018


See more books by Darina Allen here