Cookbook Watch: Darina Allen's 'Irish Traditional Cooking' updated

Darina Allen, founder of Ballymaloe Cookery School in East Cork, Ireland, has written a good number of wonderful cookbooks. And now she's just revised and updated her classic "Irish Traditional Cooking," written 20 years ago when she was just beginning her career as teacher, author, TV cook -- and, interestingly, founder of the first farmers' markets in Ireland.

About 15 years go, she writes in her introduction, she realized that "with the passing of one more generation, a whole culinary tradition, with all its fascinating regional variations, was in imminent danger of being lost. That was the starting point for this book. Writing it has been a labor of salvage as well as love." She explains that "while traditional Irish cooking stems, in the main, from simple farmers, it also embraces the more sophisticated food served in the grand houses of the Anglo-Irish gentry."

I haven't had a chance to cook from the book yet, but I've picked out some recipes to try: Irish nettle soup for the nettles coming up in the garden after the rains, poached salmon with Irish butter sauce, Ballymaloe Irish stew, roast rib of beef with batter pudding, horseradish sauce and gravy, bacon and cabbage, and a recipe for steak and kidney pie that dates from 1907. There's a recipe for funeral ham -- i.e., cold ham to be served at the wake. I like the sound of potato and caraway seed cakes, too, and Irish apple cake. And of course, I'm going to try her recipe for Irish soda bread.

"Traditional Irish Cooking," by Darina Allen, Kyle Books, Great Britain, $35.


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