Side Dish: Chefs tout modern Irish cooking

‘Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food: More than 100 recipes for easy comfort food’ by Kevin Dundon.

Mitchell Beazley.

$24.99, 224-page hardcover.

‘30 Years at Ballymaloe’ by Darina Allen.

Kyle Books, 2014.

$35, 320-page hardcover.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day on Monday come new cookbooks by two popular award-winning Irish chefs.

Darina Allen, dubbed the Julia Child of Ireland by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Kevin Dundon, who has a new 10-part series airing on PBS, have a passion for freshness and using locally sourced foods.

Allen’s book, “30 Years at Ballymaloe: A celebration the world-renowned cooking school with over 100 new recipes,” and Dundon’s book, “Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food: More than 100 recipes for easy comfort food,” are sure to be welcomed by home cooks.

Allen has taught many Irish people to cook through her television cooking program, Simply Delicious, and her weekly food column for the Irish Examiner. But, she is best known internationally for Ballymaloe Cookery School, which she and her brother Rory O’Connell first opened in 1983. Ireland’s longest running cooking school, Ballymaloe — and Allen — are renowned for a commitment to preserve Ireland’s culinary heritage. She also is a leader in the Slow Food movement, according to Alice Waters, who wrote the book’s foreword.

“Ballymaloe’s great and powerful message is not just about bringing back an appreciation of food and taste, but an understanding of the culture of dood, and of Ireland: a culture of stewardship of the land, tradition, hospitality, and, above all, beauty,” Waters says.

In her book, Allen takes the reader from the beginnings of the cookery school through today, introducing guest chefs and students who cooked there, many of whom contributed recipes for the book.

Among its recipes are Vegetable and Red Lentil Broth, Pork Belly With Green and Black Olive Tapenade, Honey Mousse With Lavender Jelly, Gluten-Free Raspberry Muffins, spiced Cauliflower and Tomato With Parsley, and Kaitlyn’s Lemon Curd Meringue Cake.

The book is beautifully illustrated with photos by Laura Edwards and photos from the school’s and Allen’s personal archives.

Dundon’s book, “Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food: More than 100 recipes for easy comfort food,” features classic Irish dishes with modern twists. He offers modern takes on such dishes as Irish soda bread, glazed ham, Blind Irish Stew made with vegetables and Pulled Corned Beef. But, not all of his dishes are traditional Irish foods. He also gives his touch to dishes that originated elsewhere, such as Cherry Tiramisu, Frozen Yogurt Gelato With Berry Compote and Sticky Glaze Chicken Thighs With Asian Stuffing.

He uses seasonal ingredients for recipes perfect for everyday meals or special occasions like Christmas and Easter. All are written in a clear, concise manner.

In the introduction, he writes, “I believe Irish food is worth celebrating, and in Ireland that means being with family and friends in the kitchen, which was, and still is, the heart of every Irish home.”

His book is beautifully illustrated with full-color photographs by Cristian Barnett.

Dundon is the chef of Dunbrody Country house Hotel in Wexford, where he also has a cooking school.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is

Salmon With Tomato, Ginger and Fresh Cilantro

Serves 6. Recipe is from “30 Years at Ballymaloe” by Darina Allen © 2014 Kyle Books. Allen writes, “Claudia Roden first introduced me to Salmon With Ginger and Cilantro. It sounds like an extraordinary combination, but try it; it’s delicious hot or cold.”

1 tsp. olive oil

2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

8 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tbl. freshly grated ginger

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar

6 (4-oz.) fresh wild salmon fillets

Butter, for frying

2 tbls. freshly chopped cilantro leaves, plus extra to garnish

1. Put the olive oil in a wide, stainless-steel sauté pan, add the garlic and tomatoes and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes soften and break down, about 10–15 minutes. Add the grated ginger and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Cook the salmon gently in a little butter in a wide frying pan for about 3 minutes on each side. (Alternatively, put the salmon into the sauce, cover, and cook gently in the sauce.)

3. Remove the salmon fillets from the pan and arrange on hot serving plates. Just before serving, add the cilantro and spoon the sauce over the salmon. Serve immediately.

Pulled Corned Beef

Serves 4-6. Recipe is from “Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food: More than 100 recipes for easy comfort food” (Mitchell Beazley, 2013). Dundon says, “This comforting broth has the flavour of home at Easter to me. You’ll need brisket or silverside for this recipe, and the cooking process is long and slow, but it makes the meat tender and juicy.”

3¼ lbs. corned beef silverside (bottom round), cut in half

1 cup beer

2 oranges, halved

1 garlic bulb, crushed

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs of thyme

4 tbls. honey

4 tbls. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. mustard seeds

3 star anise

2 tsps. black peppercorns

2 cups water

1 onion, cut into wedges

1 lb. 2 ozs potatoes (or 4 potatoes), quartered

1 lb. 2 ozs. baby carrots (or 4 carrots cut into batons about 2½ inches long)

7 ozs. baby turnips (or ¼ large turnip cut into small chunks)

1 small head of cabbage, about 10½ ozs., cut into wedges

1. Place the beef in a large saucepan with the beer, oranges, garlic, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, honey, vinegar, spices and peppercorns and cover with water. Put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 2½–3 hours, topping up the water during cooking if necessary, until a fork can be easily inserted into the center of the meat. Carefully remove the beef and put it on a cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the 2 cups of water to the pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Put in the vegetables and bring back up to the boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 15–20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Discard the orange pieces.

3. Use 2 forks to pull the meat apart. Divide it between bowls and serve with the broth and vegetables.

Pickled Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Makes about 1 pound, 10 ounces. Recipe is from “Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food: More than 100 recipes for easy comfort food” (Mitchell Beazley, 2013). Dundon writes, “This is a lovely crunchy and tangy accompaniment to cold meats and salads. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and use within a few days.”

1 lb. 2 ozs. red cabbage (or 1 small head), core removed and leaves thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1⁄3 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

2 tbls. white wine vinegar

2 tbls. muscovado sugar or light brown sugar

9 ozs. (or 2) cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tbl. butter

½ tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Grated rind and juice of 1 orange

1. Preheat the oven to 300 F.

2. Layer the cabbage, onion, sultanas, vinegar, sugar, apples, butter and allspice into a baking dish and season with the salt and some black pepper. Add the orange rind and juice.