The Darina Allen Column

The Ballymaloe Cookery School was founded in September 1983 and since then thousands of students from all over the world have ‘kick started’ their careers by doing a 12 Week Certificate Course, a full-on immersive experience of hands-on cooking classes, breadmaking, preserving, pickling, butchery, sausage and charcuterie making, fermenting, foraging, cheese making, sowing and growing..…

By now they are scattered all over the world, using the skills they learned in a myriad of ways….in restaurants, catering businesses, cooking schools, private cooking classes, food writers, magazine editors, food businesses, personal chefs, grand prix catering, TV cooking shows, ski chalets, on yachts and liners, in multinational food companies, upmarket supermarkets, independent delis, artisan bakeries, gastro pubs, on and on it goes.

I’m always intrigued by the extraordinary variety of ways they use their knowledge and cooking skills around the globe. So when I’m travelling I often shoot off an email to past students with my itinerary and invite them to contact me for a convivial catch up if they are in the area, could be London, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Paris, Romania, Mumbai or any one of the 78 countries our students have come from.

It’s so fun to catch up and hear about their adventures…On a recent trip to London, we heard from several students, ate a delicious lunch at Clipstone where Daniel Morganthau and his partner Will Lander and their team do some of the best food in London.

Thomasina Miers started Wahaca serving Mexican street food in 2007 and now there are over 25 all over the UK, plus she writes a weekly column for the Saturday Guardian magazine and to cap it all off was recently honoured with an OBE for services to business – now there you are!

Stevie Parle’s first restaurant, Dock Kitchen was launched in 2009 now he’s added Rotorino, Craft London, Palatino and Pastaio to his list.

James Ramsden was awarded a Michelin Star at Pidgin in 2017.

Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt’s restaurant King in Manhattan is the toast of the town and recently praised by the New York Times. In Delhi, Rachel Goenka’s restaurant The Sassy Spoon has kept the flag flying in India as has Zhang Li at the Flying Fox in Shanghai.

In Dublin and Cork, readers will be familiar with Bunsen, Tom Gleeson’s much loved burger joints, Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland who run Brother Hubbard North and South both did a 12 Week Course here at the school.

Reg White at PI on South Great George’s Street in Dublin is turning out pizzas that have punters queuing around the corner while Eoin Cluskey at Bread 41 on Pearse Street has caused a sensation for his artisan breads.

Down in Tramore, Co Waterford, Sarah Richardson has changed people’s perceptions of bread at her Seagull Bakery. Carol-Anne Rushe’s Sweet Beet in Sligo is well ahead of the curve with vegetarian and vegan food and David Dunne’s Knox is doing brilliantly on the main street.

Food Game in Dublin, run by Ross Staunton, is turning out breakfast and brunch to die for and on and on it goes…..

We are super proud of our Ballymaloe Cookery School cooks and chefs who continue to spread their wings. If you can cook you can get a job anywhere in the world, so the way to everyone’s heart is still through their tummy. The next 12 Week Course starts on April 29th and runs until July 20th 2019.

Sweet Beat's Smoky Beans
A staple on the Sweet Beat menu, in the beginning this was only a breakfast option but it became so popular that it is now served all day Try making it at home at the weekends for a big family brunch. So delicious with crusty sourdough and avocado. Double it and make a big batch to freeze.

3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tins of cannellini beans
1 tin of crushed tomatoes
Heat a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, add in the sunflower oil, once the oil is hot, add in the onion and garlic and sweat until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
Add in the tomato paste, smoked paprika, thyme and cook for 3 minutes.
Once the spices have cooked out, add in the maple syrup and vinegar, cook for 5 minutes. Add in 100ml water and the crushed tomatoes.
Cook until rich and the sauce has thickened, about 15-20 minutes and blend until smooth.
Taste and check for seasoning, add the 2 tins of cannellini beans.
Cook for 5 minutes until beans are coated in sauce.
Serve over toasted and buttered sourdough with lashings of kale pesto, toasted seeds and organic greens.

Clipstone’s Grilled Cabbages, Apple & Chestnuts
Serves 4 people

2 heads of hispi, pointed or sweetheart cabbage
4 Cox apples
1 tablespoon of demerera sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 fresh chestnuts (or vacuum packed)
250ml good quality apple juice
1 tablespoon of double cream
180g cold, cubed unsalted butter
Fresh horseradish

Cut the cabbages in half. Lightly cover the base of a frying pan with vegetable oil and heat until the oil has just started smoking. Sear the cut side of each cabbage in the oil one after another until they are nice and golden brown, veering on burnt. Set the cabbages aside.?
Peel and core the apples. Pop them in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water, the sugar and cinnamon. Cook them down until the apples are soft and then blitz them in a food processor with a squeeze of lemon juice.?
If using in-shell chestnuts, take a knife and pierce the brown skin of the raw chestnuts all the way the around their circumference. Either blow torch or put them under the grill or in a very hot oven until the shells crack and they are easy to peel. Peel the shells and the underlying skin off the chestnuts and then set aside.?
Reduce the apple juice in a saucepan to 1/5th its original volume. Add the double cream and then whisk in the cubed butter, keeping it over a low heat and not letting the liquid bubble or boil. Then add a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.?Line your serving dish with the warm, spiced apple puree.
Finely chop the grilled cabbage, warm it in the oven and then dress it with olive oil, a pinch of salt and some lemon juice and arrange it on top of the apple puree. Dress the cabbage with the apple and butter sauce and then grate the chestnuts and some fresh horseradish over the top.

Clipstone's Bakewell Tart Recipe
You will need a loose bottomed 28 cm tart tin.

For the sweet pastry:
250g plain flour
138g butter, softened
120g caster sugar
1 egg
Pinch of salt
For the frangipane:
250g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
25g plain flour
250g ground almonds
A splash of Disaronno almond liqueur (optional)
1 jar raspberry jam (we make our own, but a good shop bought jam will work perfectly)
25g (1oz) flaked almonds for sprinkling

To make the sweet pastry:
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Fold in the flour and salt, and mix gently to form a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To make the frangipane:
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour, ground almonds and the Disaronno (if using) and mix gently to combine. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the tart:
Set the oven to 170 degrees C
Lightly grease a loose bottomed 28 cm tart tin.
Roll the sweet pastry to the thickness of a €1 coin, and then ease it into the tin, making sure to push it into all the sides. Trim off any excess with a knife, then prick the base of the case all over with a fork ‘blind bake’ the tart case until it is uniformly golden brown
Remove from the oven and spread a generous layer of raspberry jam around the base of the tart shell. Cover this with a thick layer of frangipane. It should come almost to the top of the tin, but leave a little room as it will expand when you cook it, sprinkle evenly with flaked almonds.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the frangipane has lost its wobble, cool on a wire rack.
Once cooled, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar before serving and serve with good ice cream, cream or crème fraiche.


Mungo Murphy’s Seaweed Company
We used to get the most wonderful sea urchins from West Cork some years ago but the source ran dry. So we are delighted to be able to source fresh sea urchins again to showcase to all our 12 Week students here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. They came all the way from Mungo Murphy in Connemara in the West of Ireland. Mungo Murphy’s began farming periwinkles, but has since expanded into seaweed, abalone, sea cucumber, sea urchins…..all these creatures thrives in a land based aquaculture system. Check it out on

Cooking Break in Sicily
How about jumping on a flight to Sicily for a week long full immersion culinary experience at beautiful Rocca delle Tre Contrade led by Michelin-starred chef Merlin Labron-Johnson, one of my favourite chefs – in one of my favourite places on earth. 30th March – 6th April 2019. Check it out on


'30 Years at Ballymaloe' - Bord Gáis Avonmore Cookbook of the Year 2013

Good Food Ireland Cookery School of the Year 2012/2013

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