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Cottage Pie with garlic butter Darina Allen

Friday, 20 November 2009

Darina is in with us to cook up two recipes from her new cook book :Forgotten Skills of Cooking - The Time Honoured Ways are the Best
- over 700 recipes show you why
Published by Kyle Cathie Ltd November 2009, RRP GB£30/ €31.50

About the book:
Once upon a time cooking skills would have been passed from generation to generation but when food started to get wrapped in plastic we started to forget where it came from. In her new book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking, Darina Allen, sets out to teach us the cooking skills that missed a generation or two, and shows that doing it yourself is not just economically sound but incredibly satisfying. With her infectious passion Darina shows us that if we learn about our ingredients then we can learn about the right way to cook them.
When she became a grandmother, Darina realised the importance of passing on her knowledge. The result was a series of 'Forgotten Skills' courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School that have been oversubscribed from day one. In Forgotten Skills of Cooking she shares this huge wealth of expert knowledge, from how to smoke your own food to making butter and yoghurt, and the recipes showing you how to use your home made produce to its best. It also includes lots of ideas for how to use leftovers in delicious ways - a skill that came naturally to our grandparents.

Divided into chapters, Dairy, Keeping a Few Chickens, Using the Whole Pig, Lamb and Beef, Fish, Bread, Cakes and Biscuits, Home Growing, Foraging, Cider & Wine Making and Smoking, the book contains over 600 recipes, with ideas for using forgotten cuts of meat, home-made tomato ketchup, Darina's foolproof Soda Bread, and good old fashioned cakes, stews and sausages. Discover the safe way to forage, learn how to cook, pickle, and store beetroot, and glean growing tips for even the smallest of window boxes. The chapter on 'Preserving' offers an inspiring host of oils, vinegars, pickles, jellies, jams, pastes and chutneys and shows you how to make the most of a glut and capture the flavour of seasonal foods at their peak.

For many it may be an impossible dream to move out of the city and into the country but even in the tiniest of flats you can grow a salad in a seed tray, learn to bake bread or even consider an allotment. For those lucky enough to have an outdoor space to call their own, why not consider keeping chickens or geese, after all, the best way to source 100% organic free-range eggs is to keep your own hens. Just one chicken alone can produce up to 300 eggs a year, not to mention the best quality meat for your table.

Whether you fancy trying your hand at home-made cider and wine, this definitive modern guide to traditional cookery skills is a book for every household. With over 600 recipes and stuffed with helpful step-by-step instructions and engaging text from Darina, Forgotten Skills of Cooking will not only make us think about the food we eat and the money we spend, but inspire us to reconnect with essential life skills to pass on to the next generations.

Darina Allen
. Owner and principal of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Co Cork.
. Cookbook author and television presenter.
. Darina works tirelessly on behalf of artisan producers and is a champion of the Farmers Market movement.
. In 2007 Darina won an award for her outstanding contribution to the Irish culinary sector by Euro-Toques at their 2007 Food Awards in association with The Cavan Crystal Hotel.
. She was awarded with the Cooking for Solutions Conservation Leadership Award - Chefs of the Year 2008
. Both Ballymaloe Cookery School and Ballymaloe House was awarded the Good Food Ireland Top Overall Member Award in 2008.
. She is involved with local national school in Shanagarry to bring the children into the kitchen and garden to show them where food grows and how to cook it. She is a strong advocate of creating school gardens.

Cottage Pie with garlic butter
The cheese in this crust and the lump of garlic butter that melts onto the centre makes this into something very special. The worcestershire sauce is also a great help. I have no shares in the company, but ensure you always have a bottle in your cupboard as it gives a welcome lift to many otherwise pedestrian dishes

Serves 6
. 3 tablespoons olive oil
. 2 garlic cloves, mashed
. 175g (60z) onion, chopped
. 450g (1lb) beef, freshly minced
. 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
. 150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white or red wine
. 300ml (1/2 pint) homemade beef stock(see page 150)
. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
. 1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
. Roux(see page 165)
. Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the topping:
. 1.3kg (3lb) potatoes
. 300 ml (1/2 pint) full cream milk
. Salt and freshly ground pepper
. 25g butter
. 1 tablespoon chives, chopped(optional)
. 25g (1oz) parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
. 25g (1 oz) cheddar cheese, grated

To serve:
. Garlic butter(see page 217)
. Green salad

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and fry until soft and slightly brown.
2. Increase the heat, add the minced beef and thyme leaves and fry until the beef changes colour.
3. Add the wine, half the stock, the Worcestershire sauce and the tomato puree. Simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their jackets, then peel them. Add boiling milk and mash the potatoes while they are still hot. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add a blob of butter and the chives, if using.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C 350F gas mark 4.
6. Bring the remainder of the stock to the boil and thicken it well with roux. Stir it into the mince- it should be thick but still juicy. Taste and correct the seasoning.
7. Put the meat mixture into one large or six individual pie dishes. Pipe or spread the mashed potato over the top.
8. Sprinkle with the grated cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden and slightly crispy. Serve with garlic butter and a green salad.

Rachel Allen's drop scones

This recipe was given to Darine by her daughter in law Rachel. Her grandsons Joshua and Luca, are champion drop scone makers.

To make 12
. 100g (4oz) self raising flour
. 1 teaspoon baking powder
. 25 g (1oz) caster sugar
. Pinch of salt
. 1 organic egg
. 125ml (4fl oz) milk
. Drop- of sunflower oil, for greasing

1. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and salt and stir to mix.
2. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg and whisk, gradually drawing in the flour from the edge. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the time, to form a smooth batter.
3. Lightly grease a frying pan and warm it over a moderate heat. Drop 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, keeping them well apart so they don't stick together.
4. Cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface and begin to burst and the drop scones are golden underneath(and not before). Then flip them over and cook on the other side for a minute or so, until golden on this side as well.
5. Remove from the pan and serve warm with butter and jam, apple jelly, lemon curd or chocolate spread.

Butter Balls

This is a traditional way of serving butter for the table and at Ballymaloe House, staff members make butter balls every day and butter is still served in this way.
1. Put the butter bats or hands into a deep container of iced water for about 30 minutes.
2. Cut the cold butter into dice.
3. Pick up a piece with the butter bats. Hold one flat with the ridged side upwards and the knob of butter on top, then roll the other bat around over the butter to form a ball.
4. Drop each into a bowl of iced water.