Darina Allen started Ballymole Cookery School in 1983 as a way to make ends meet during difficult times, since then the school has gone from strength to strength with students and guest chefs from all over the globe visiting the school. Darina Allen has a strong belief in a high quality local, seasonal ingredients and teaches her students the importance of this. Like many of us she has great concerns about intensive farming methods that are destroying the quality of our food and many small produces. These poor farming methods are to blame for BSE and Salmonella and will continue to become a danger to us while they continue. As long as we expect to get food for virtually nothing there will be a market for intensive farming. At Ballymole they have their own garden where they produce their own fruit, vegetables and herbs, anything they don't grow is sourced locally from small produces.
In this book Darina Allen passes on her knowledge to the readers. The book is broken up in sections teaching the reader the necessary basics, followed by simple recipes and classic dishes eg. "Potted Shrimp" and "Roast Rib of Beef with Horseradish Sauce and Yorkshire Pudding" along with some more unusual dishes eg. "Spiced Chickpea Soup with Coriander Cream and Pita Crips" and "Crispy Deep Fried Oysters with Wasabi Mayonaise". These recipes are not written just to be followed step by step but she encourages creativity with lots of ideas on variations. The book is filled with plenty of important tips that she has learnt from years of experience. Also included in this book are sections on equipment, menu planning, wines and freezing.
This is a total cook book handy to all of us as a reference but an excellent book for those who want a better knowledge of food and cookery. Darina Allen has put a strong emphasis on good quality food cooked simply but this doesn't mean that you don't get exciting recipes but a better understanding of what and how eat.