Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The time-honoured ways are the best – over 700 recipes show you why by Darina Allen
This time of year, Forgotten Skills of Cooking comes off the shelf and is used a lot. It was recommended to me by my friend Bill King, an alumni of the celebrated Ballymaloe Cookery School run by Darina Allen, as I was asking a whole heap of questions as what to do with all the excess vegetables we had grown in our garden. I went out and bought the book and it has been in constant use ever since. But this is not a book just about preserving food. This is a book that teaches you the skills that the older generation used in cooking and that are becoming lost. Darina Allen revives recipes and techniques that were used before the advent of ready meals.
Have you ever watched Masterchef where the contestants have to do a skill test? John and Greg call them in and they have to fillet a fish, skin a rabbit, prepare kidneys, tunnel bone a leg of lamb. Most of the contestants fail miserably. They would all have done better if they had a copy of this book!
Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The time-honoured ways are the best – over 700 recipes has over 600 pages and has the following chapters, Foraging, Fish, Game, Beef, Dairy, Eggs and Poultry, Pig, Lamb, Vegetables Herbs and Salad, Preserving, Puddings, Cakes Buns and Biscuits, Bread, and Household Tips. Each chapter gives traditional recipes, such as how to cook the perfect steak or bake a loaf of bread. It also includes ideas on cooking with forgotten cuts of meat. Most importantly it is packed with the traditional skills of cooking. This book teaches you how to make your own sausages, cure your own bacon and make your own yoghurt.
The foraging chapter is divided into wild greens, wild flowers, wild fruit, wild nuts, wild mushrooms, and wild coast. Darina Allen gives loads of tips on when and how to pick as well as a myriad of traditional and new recipes such as spaghetti with wild garlic and herbs and crab apple and blackberry tart.
The fish chapter gives you tips such as cleaning and filleting a fish, cooking and extracting meat from lobster, and smoking fish.
The section on game will teach you all about game birds: not only how to cook but about hanging, plucking and gutting.
Beef, Pig and Lamb teach the reader about the different cuts of meat and teaches forgotten process such as brining as well as recipes for lesser used but traditional cuts of meat.
The section on milk included recipes on making buttermilk, butter, cheese as well as recipes for milk based desserts and meals.
Eggs and Poultry gives instructions on keeping hens and Vegetables and Herb has a lot of great suggestions for growing your own whether you have a big garden or just a window box.
As I have a glut of vegetables and have been foraging for wild berries, I have turned to this book for the Preserving chapter. Here you will find recipes and tips for making flavoured vinegars and oils, mustard, pickles, chutneys, jams, marmalade, and cordials. You will also find instructions on how to preserve food by smoking, salting and brining.
This year I have, so far, made pickled beetroot, wild damson and apple jam, wild blackberry and apple jam, white beetroot chutney, rhubarb and ginger jam and the marrow, lemon and ginger jam! Again along with fabulous recipes, the book gives clear instruction on sterilising jars, getting a good set in your jam, preparing fruit and vegetables for preserving and more.
I absolutely love this book as it so much more than a collection of recipes. It focuses on skills needed to be a good cook. It will make you a confident home cook as you delve into the pages and learn some traditional cooking skills. A must if you wish to develop fundamental cooking skills.
*If you want to know more about Carol’s adventure with food or even join her on one then check out Food Adventure Ltd.