The Ballymaloe Cookery Course is a fantastic book containing 1175 recipes, 370 variations and more than 100 basic skills from staple recipes that are quick and easy, to master recipes with twists to change them and more complex challenging dishes. There are many irish recipes and international recipes also, it’s more a culinary bible than a book and would be well placed in any kitchen. It is written by Darina Allen, the co-founder and one of the teacher’s at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. She’s the Irish answer to Delia Smith and a promoter of slow food and traditional cooking techniques. The cookery school is famous and has been the first step for many in a culinary career. It’s located in the middle of its own 100-acre organic farm outside Cork City, in an idyllic location near the coast.I am offering this cookbook as part of the prize I have donated for Menu for Hope 4 so, I thought that I should cook something from it to show you how lovely it is. I have chosen something very simple and quick as I had very little time yesterday. It was delicious, very rich and flavoursome, a perfect winter soup. The devil is in the detail as always, covering the potato and onion with the paper while it sweats really concentrates the flavour, be sure to do it. I used a chicken stock but a nice rich veggie stock would be great with this too, I just used what I had to hand.
Serves 6 approx
450g (1 lb) chopped onions
225g (9 oz) chopped potatoes
45g (2 oz) butter
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
900ml (2 pints) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
150ml (1/3 pint) cream or cream and milk mixed, approx
fresh thyme leaves and thyme or chive flowers
Peel and chop the onions and potatoes into small dice, about 1 cm.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. As soon as it foams, add the onions and potatoes, stir until they are coated with the butter. Add the thyme leaves, season with S&P.
Place a paper lid (I used baking paper) on top of the vegetables directly to keep in the steam. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and sweat on a low heat for 10 minutes or so. The potatoes and onions should be soft but not coloured.
Add the stock, bring it to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked – about 5-8 minutes. Liquidise the soup and add a little cream or creamy milk. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Serve, sprinkled with thyme leaves.
For information on how to donate and enter a raffle to win this book, please see the Menu for Hope – Raffle announcement & prize post.