Picture it: you've bought far too many eggs, more flour than you ever saw in one place and a lot of – for some reason – courgettes. You might be the kind of cook that can just about scramble eggs and here you are having to fend for yourself amid the coronavirus outbreak. You're afraid. 

Well, don't be. Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School and JP McMahon of Galway's Aniar Restaurant have shared their tips and tricks for smart, simple cooking, and here they've shared some of their favourite basic recipes. 

Can't get bread and pasta? Make your own. Now could be the best time to teach yourself and others the art of simple cooking. 

Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School

White Soda Bread Loaf

You can make white soda bread in the round traditional way or like this in a loaf tin which is more convenient for slicing or sandwiches.


  • 450g (1lb) white flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1 level teaspoon teaspoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon breadsoda
  • sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 425ml (15fl oz) approx
  • oatmeal, sesame seeds or kibbled wheat (optional)
  • 1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8 inch) approx.
  • Sunflower oil to brush the sides and base of the tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.
  2. Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  3. 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 softish, but not too wet.
  4. When it all comes together, scoop it into the oiled tin, sprinkle with oatmeal and sesame or kibbled wheat seeds if you enjoy them. Place in the hot oven immediately turning down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from the tin and return the bread to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

JP McMahon, Aniar Restaurant

Brown Soda Seed bread 

Bicarbonate of soda was invented in the 19th century and helped to feed bread to a generation of soldiers at war in Europe and afar. It is the bread we are most familiar with in Ireland. My own grandmother would make similar bread every second or third day.


  • 200g white flour 
  • 800g brown flour 
  • 3tsp bicarbonate 
  • 3 handfuls mixed seeds 
  • 2 spoons honey/treacle 
  • 850ml buttermilk 
  • Stout (for consistency) 
  • Salt 
  • 2 eggs 


Mix all the dry ingredients together. 

Add the eggs and buttermilk. 

Add the stout until you achieve a good consistency. 

Pour into loaf tins and bake at 160°C for 45mins until hollow to touch. 

White Dough Loaf 

A white dough loaf is the most traditional and easiest form of bread. It includes the four basic ingredients for making bread:  flour, water, salt, yeast. This is all you need to make bread. You can treat this as your alpha bread recipe. To this you can add whatever you want, be it dried tomatoes, walnuts, or any flavoured oil. While this recipe uses strong white flour which has a protein content up to 17%, as opposed to cake flour, normally called soft, which has less protein. 


  • 500g strong white flour 
  • 10g yeast 
  • 10g salt 
  • 350g water (depending on temperature and time of year, you may need more or less water) 


  1. Mix the salt and flour in a stainless-steel bowl.
  2. In another bowl, weight out the yeast and water. 
  3. Gradually add the water. Mix with one hand while keeping the other hand on the edge of the bowl until the dough starts to form into one solid mass. 
  4. Tip dough out on to table and work dough for five minutes and then form into a smooth ball. 
  5. Flour or oil the inside of your bowl and place dough. Cover with cling film. Allow to rest for 45 minutes in a warm place (your kitchen with the oven on!) or until the bread has doubled in size. 
  6. Tip the dough onto the surface and gently flatten it with your fingers.
  7. Fold the dough over itself, rolling it up to form a loaf. 
  8. Make three or four incisions in the top of the loaf.
  9. Allow to prove again for at least 30 minutes. 
  10. Bake in a preheated oven of 200°C for 10-15 minutes, or until the loaf is cooked.

Lamb Stew


  • 1 – 1.5kg lamb neck, on the bone 
  • 10 –12 potatoes, peeled and diced 
  • 4 onions, peeled 
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme 
  • Sea salt 


  1. Season the lamb neck with salt. 
  2. Place all the ingredients in a pot (except the potatoes) and cover with water. If you like, you can use chicken stock for a more fuller flavour. 
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1.5 hours. 
  4. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 30 minutes. 
  5. Season to taste. 
  6. The stew is cooked with the meat falls from the bone. 


Focaccia is a traditional Italian bread, that is essentially a dough that has been banged down into a slab with the use of one's fingers! It is a very enjoyable bread to make with the kids. You can replace the rapeseed oil with any other type of oil or fat. Beef or pork fat is wonderful in bread.


  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g yeast 
  • 10g fine sea salt 
  • 100ml extra virgin rapeseed oil
  • 250g water 
  • 10g flaky sea salt and sprig of rosemary, chopped together


  1. Mix the flour and salt together into mixture in a stainless-steel bowl.
  2. Add yeast, olive oil and water in another bowl 
  3. Mix with one hand while keeping the other hand on the edge of the bowl until the dough start to form into one solid mass. 
  4. Tip dough out on to table and work thee dough for 5 minutes and then form into a smooth ball. 
  5. Flour or oil the inside of your bowl and place dough. Allow to rest for 45 minutes in a warm place (your kitchen with the oven on!). Cover with cling film. 
  6. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it with your fingers. 
  7. Oil lightly and then sprinkle with the rosemary salt.
  8. Allow to prove again for 20 minutes and then bake in a preheated oven 200°C for 15-20 minutes or until the bread is nicely browned all over. 


You can make pizza out of this dough. Simply roll out dough balls and let them rise for 20 minutes. Then roll them out with a rolling pin and cover with tomato sauce, cheese, and your favourite toppings. 

Instead of making a pizza, you can make a roulade. Simple sprinkle the base with cheese and Jamón serrano and roll as you would a wrap.

Add an egg and some milk for silky richer dough. The romans added eggs and milk to dough as a sign of prestige and class. 

Simple Tomato Sauce


  • 1.6kg tinned tomatoes 
  • 100ml olive oil 
  • 250ml white wine 
  • 4 medium onions, finely sliced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, finely chopped 
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded 
  • Sea salt 


  1. In a large pot, fry the onions and garlic in the oil. Season with sea salt and add the fresh thyme and rosemary. 
  2. Add the wine and reduce by half. 
  3. Tip the tomatoes into the pot and season with salt. 
  4. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. 
  5. Simmer for 1-2 hours depending on time.
  6. Blend the sauce with the basil and adjust the seasoning. 

Homemade Pasta


  • 500g Tipo '00' flour 
  • 5 eggs or 10 egg yolks 


  1. Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. 
  2. Add the whisked eggs into the centre and combine with your fingers. 
  3. Transfer the dough onto the table. 
  4. Flour your hands and knead until silky smooth. 
  5. Cover and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes rolling.
  6. Roll the pasta by hand or with a machine until you have reached the desired thinness. 
  7. Cut the pasta and allow to hang before boiling in plenty of salted water.