Simply Delicious: Darina Allen's essential Ballymaloe recipes

Simply Delicious: Darina Allen's essential Ballymaloe recipes

Darina’s mission is to teach her students that great food is made with produce that has been prepared simply, and with respect. This is the first lesson she teaches her students on her world-famous 12-week cookery course.

Lemon fluff with limoncello cream

Serves 4-6

This is a gorgeous old-fashioned family pudding which separates into two quite distinct layers when it cooks; it has a lovely fluffy top and a creamy lemon base, provided it is not overcooked.

  • 40g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 organic, unwaxed lemons
  • 300ml whole milk
  • Icing sugar, to decorate
  • 300ml softly whipped cream flavoured with Limoncello, or crème fraîche, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4. Cream the butter until really soft, then add the caster sugar and beat well. Separate the egg yolks and whisk in one by one, then stir in the flour.

Grate the rind of 2 lemons on the finest part of the grater. Squeeze and strain the juice and add the rind and juice then add the milk. Whisk the egg whites stiffly in a bowl and fold gently into the lemon mixture.

Pour into a 1.2-litre pie dish, place in a bain-marie and bake for 35–40 minutes. Dredge with icing sugar. Serve immediately alongside the softly whipped cream flavoured to taste with Limoncello, or some crème fraîche.

Chocolate meringue gateau

Serves 6

  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 rounded tsp cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
  • For the chocolate & rum cream:
  • 30g best-quality dark chocolate
  • 15g unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tbsp Jamaican rum
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 300ml softly whipped cream
  • For the chocolate wafers:
  • 55g best-quality dark chocolate

Simply Delicious: Darina Allen's essential Ballymaloe recipes

Preheat the oven to 150˚C/gas mark 2.

Mark 2 x 19cm circles on parchment paper. Check that the bowl is dry, spotlessly clean and free of grease. Put the egg whites into the bowl and add 110g sieved icing sugar all at once; whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture forms stiff, dry peaks.

Sift together the cocoa and the remaining 15g sieved icing sugar and fold in very gently. Spread into circles with a palette knife and bake immediately in the oven for 45 minutes or until just crisp. Leave to cool completely then peel off the paper.

Meanwhile, very gently melt the chocolate with the rum and 1 tablespoon of cream, or in a bowl over simmering water. Cool and add 2 tablespoons of whipped cream into the chocolate.

Mix well, then fold that into the remaining softly whipped cream; don’t stir too much or it may curdle. To make the chocolate wafers, melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Stir until quite smooth.

Spread on a non-stick baking mat or heavy baking tray. Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut into square or diamond shapes.

Sandwich the two meringue discs together with most of the chocolate and rum cream and add rosettes on top. Decorate with the chocolate wafers and a sprinkling of cocoa.

Ballycotton fish pie

Serves 6-8

How fortunate are we to live close to the fishing village of Ballycotton in east Cork? Everyone loves fish pie and the combination I use depends on the fish catch. Omit mussels and shrimps if they are not available.

This dish may be served in individual dishes: scallop shells are particularly attractive, are completely ovenproof, and may be used again again.

  • 1.1kg cod, hake, haddock or grey sea mullet fillets or a mixture
  • 15g salted butter
  • 600ml milk
  • 110g cooked mussels, out of shells
  • 110g cooked and peeled shrimp
  • 55g roux (recipe below)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard, preferably Dijon
  • 140g to 170g grated Irish cheddar cheese or 85g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 800g fluffy mashed potato or champ
  • (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the buttered crumbs:
  • 30g salted butter
  • 55g soft white breadcrumbs

Simply Delicious: Darina Allen's essential Ballymaloe recipes

Heat the oven to 180˚C/ gas mark 4. Skin the fish and cut into portions: 170g for a main course, 85g for a starter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Lay the pieces of fish in a lightly buttered sauté pan and cover with the cold milk. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4–5 minutes or until the fish has changed colour. Remove the fish to a serving dish or dishes with a slotted spoon. Scatter the mussels and shrimp over the top. Bring the milk back to the boil and thicken with roux to a light coating consistency.

Add the mustard, two-thirds of the grated cheese and the parsley. Keep the remaining cheese for sprinkling over the top. Season well with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Next make the buttered crumbs.

Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat immediately and leave to cool. Coat the fish with the sauce. Pipe fluffy mashed potato or champ in swirls on top for a more substantial dish, if you wish.

Mix the remaining grated cheese with the buttered crumbs and sprinkle over the top. Cook the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and the top is golden brown and crispy. If necessary, place under the grill for a minute or two before you serve, to brown the edge of the potato.

For the roux:

110g salted butter

110g plain flour or 50g cornflour and 50g rice flour, for a gluten-free roux

To make the roux, melt the butter and cook the flour (or cornflour and rice flour) in it for 2 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot. It will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

A warm salad with Irish blue cheese

Serves 4

Some ripe, crumbly Cashel Blue cheese now made by Jane and Louis Grubb’s daughter Sarah would be wonderful for this salad.

A few little cubes of ripe pear are of course delicious here too. We also love their Crozier Blue cheese.

  • A selection of organic salad leaves, such as watercress, radicchio, endive, rocket, oakleaf and butterhead 12 round croutons, 5mm thick, cut from a thin French stick
  • 45g salted butter, softened
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 140g smoked streaky bacon, cut into 5mm lardons
  • 50g Irish farmhouse blue cheese
  • 1 heaped tbsp of chervil sprigs or freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • For vinaigrette dressing:
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped chervil and 2 tsp chopped tarragon or 4 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Simply Delicious: Darina Allen's essential Ballymaloe recipes

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4. Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette dressing.

Wash and dry the mixture of lettuces and salad leaves and tear into bite-sized pieces. Spread both sides of the rounds of bread with softened butter. Put onto a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until golden and crisp on both sides.

Rub them with a clove of garlic and keep hot in a low oven with the door slightly open. Blanch and refresh the bacon, dry well on kitchen paper. Just before serving, sauté the bacon dice in a little extra virgin olive oil until golden.

To serve, dress the lettuces with some vinaigrette in a salad bowl. Use just enough to make the leaves glisten. Crumble the cheese with a fork and add it to the salad, tossing them well together. Divide between four plates.

Scatter the hot crispy bacon over the top, put three warm croutons on each plate and sprinkle sprigs of chervil or chopped parsley over the salad. Serve immediately.

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