Posted by: marthabernie | February 20, 2017


REPOSTED (This recipe is in my top three favorites for banana bread):

Bon Appetit magazine has an article by actor Andrew McCarthy about a return visit to Maui, where he lived for several years.  He talks about various banana breads that are available on the island but decides that the one he likes best is available near the settlement of Kahakuloa at a roadside stand called Julia’s.  It is dark in color, sticky and moist, also spongy and dense.  I made this recipe the other night and I do like it a lot but next time I will cut back on 1/2 cup of sugar as it’s very sweet.  The lesser amount of sugar may make for a less sticky bread, but I don’t think it will make any difference in the taste.  Julia developed this recipe herself, starting with a recipe from a cookbook and a whole lot of over ripe bananas.


1-3/4 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1-1/2 cups sugar (I plan to cut back to one cup next time I try this recipe)

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)

3/4 cup vegetable oil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas and oil in another bowl until smooth.  Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined.  Scrape batter into prepare pan and smooth top.

Bake until tester in center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack, let cool in pan 15 minutes.  Run a knife around edges to release bread.  Turn out onto a rack and let cool completely.

Can be made 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container at room temperature or in refrigerator.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 19, 2017

Perfect Banana Bread

Banana bread recipes are among those I collect, though I tend to use the same two or three depending on whether or not I have buttermilk in the house.  I do sometimes use the buttermilk powder (I keep a carton of it in the refrigerator) but I don’t think it’s the same as the real stuff.  Note the applesauce in this recipe.

Perfect Banana Bread.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 18, 2017


This recipe uses Betty Crocker’s Fiber One banana nut muffin mix as a base and is very quick and easy. If the Betty Crocker brand is not in your store, any banana muffin mix in similar quantity can be used.


1 box (15.3 oz) Betty Crocker Fiber One banana nut muffin mix
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon decorator sugar crystals

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom only of 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray (or use a paper liner).
In medium bowl, stir muffin mix, water, oil and eggs just until blended (batter will be lumpy). Gently stir in blueberries. Spread in pan, sprinkle sugar cyrstals over batter. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool about one hour. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.

One loaf makes 12 slices.

001aThis is a very old image by Valentine of the Pavilion at Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), County Dublin, Ireland.   The wooden pavilion has been replaced by several successive structures, and today it is a large, white stucco structure housing restaurants and shops.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 17, 2017

Brilliant Banana Bread – Gluten Free

For those of you who are gluten free, here is a banana bread recipe to try:

Source: Brilliant Banana Bread

Posted by: marthabernie | February 16, 2017


Another great recipe to try:


Posted by: marthabernie | February 16, 2017

The Very Best of Mary Berry’s Shortbread

Mary Berry is very popular in the UK.  She has been around for years but is now popular again for her cakes and other baked goods, and she is one of the judges on the UK tv show, The Great British Bake-off, which now airs on PBS.  British baker Paul Hollywood is he second judge.  It’s sort of like American Idol.  Each week, the contestants bake three things and then the judges decide which one has to go. Mary has also done a couple of American bake-off shows in the past year.  Here is her classic shortbread recipe:

The Very Best of Mary Berry’s Shortbread.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 15, 2017

Raspberry Cheesecake Cake

This recipe combines a lot of my favorite flavors!

Raspberry Cheesecake Cake

Posted by: marthabernie | February 14, 2017 – or the Best Irish Brown Bread – Part Two (Updated)

If you didn’t read my post yesterday about, please go back and take a look at it as it will give you more details about Imen McDonnell, an American broadcast journalist who met and married an Irish dairy farmer and moved to rural County Limerick, Ireland.  She started blogging a few years ago about her life on the farm, and a friend of mine in Ireland told me about the blog.  Imen has recently come out with her first cookbook, “The Farmette Cookbook, Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm,” which is available on Amazon (Roost Books).  I entered a contest on her blog site and won a copy of this new book, and I received it from the publisher a few months ago.  It’s a great read, never mind the wonderful recipes and gorgeous photographs.

After going through the book, I decided my first attempt would be her recipe for Irish brown bread.  If you’ve been to Ireland and sampled it, you know that we have nothing like it in the U.S.   Since 1990, I have brought it back in my carry on luggage; I have brought back Odlums whole meal flour in my checked luggage (adding a lot of weight, I might add) so that I could make my own–Odlums is the whole meal flour brand sold in Ireland; and in recent years, I have brought back (or had friends bring to L.A.) the “just add water” (or buttermilk) mixes.  My early attempts with the Odlums whole meal flour were not successful.  The bread baked OK, but it just didn’t taste the same.  A friend from Ireland who spends the winter with her son in California most years also tried making it here, and her results were similar…not the same thing.  We could not figure out why and it’s still a mystery, although some people think the weather or Southern California climate has something to do with it.  When I brought back a “just add milk” packet that I had purchased at Aldi in Ireland in 2012, it was PERFECT…as in just like what you get in Ireland.  I thought I had hit the jackpot, but then Aldi decided to discontinue the mix.  Frustration….

Imen McDonnell says that she was repeatedly asked for “the best brown bread” recipe and that she came up with this one in her own kitchen.  She entered it into an Irish bread baking competition and won a top prize!  The interesting thing is that it’s nearly the same as my friend’s mother’s recipe, except for one ingredient.  Another friend also uses nearly the same recipe but omits one (other) ingredient and adds 1/4 cup all purpose flour.  Another friend’s recipe is nearly the same but she uses sugar instead of honey and omits the egg.    Yet another friend adds a teaspoon of cream of tartar.  Go figure.

When I set out to make the bread last week, I had to find some stoneground whole wheat flour.  For those of us in the U.S., Imen recommends Bob’s Red Mills Stoneground Whole Wheat flour if you can’t get the Irish stuff.  So I went to one market and could only find Bob’s whole wheat flour, not the stoneground variety.  I bought it anyway and went to another market where I did find the stoneground flour.   In the meantime, I also ordered the King Arthur “Irish Style” Stoneground Whole Wheat flour and waited for it to arrive.  I had used it once before and liked it’s consistency and flavor.

Once I had three types of whole wheat flour plus my usual Gold Medal Whole Wheat brand,  I decided I would give them all a try.  I first made the bread with the Bob’s whole wheat and the result was good, but not quite as heavy or grainy as I like this bread.  I then tried Bob’s stoneground whole wheat and noticed immediately that the dough was heavier and not quite as sticky.  The result was also good and I liked this bread more than the first one.  I then made the bread with the Gold Medal whole wheat flour, and it was a lot like the first batch I made with Bob’s whole wheat (not stoneground).  Finally, the King Arthur “Irish Style”  Whole Wheat flour arrived from Amazon, and I tried the same recipe with this type of flour.  Bingo!  The dough was heavier, the bread was heavier and most like what I have consumed in Ireland.  Very tasty!  Fortunately, my family loves this brown bread and were happy to be the recipients of all the various incarnations, minus a slice or two of each for my personal taste testing!

If you’ve never tried Irish brown bread but like a heavy, full flavored loaf, give this a try.    Imen has graciously allowed me to set out her recipe below.  And when you buy stoneground whole wheat flour, it really is worth getting the King Arthur “Irish Style” or Bob’s.


3/4 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups (275 g) coarse-ground whole wheat flour such as Bob’s Red Mills Stoneground Whole Wheat Flour (or King Arthur “Irish Style” Stoneground Whole Wheat flour.  Odlums is also available through

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1-1/2 cups (375 ml) buttermilk

1 large egg

1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix in the whole wheat flour. Rub or cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and honey.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids.  Mix together with a spoon.  The dough will be wet and sticky.  Pour into a greased loaf pan and cut a line down the middle.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool for ten minutes, pop the bread out of the pan, and cover with a tea towel.  It tastes best on the same day but will last for two or three days in the bread box.

If you prefer, you can form a round with the dough and place it on a floured baking sheet or pour it into a well oiled cast iron pan.  Cut the traditional cross through the center, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

NOTE:  I always wrap the loaf completely in a clean tea towel when I take it out of the pan.  It cools and keeps a lot of moisture in the bread that way. Nothing better than this bread with some Kerrygold Irish butter, blackberry jam or marmalade!



Posted by: marthabernie | February 14, 2017


Irish school girls 1880, Irish antique photo, photography, IrelandThis is another photo I bought on the quays in Dublin.  It is a group of Irish school girls and friends, as near as I can tell.  The girl seated second from the right is wearing a cap and gown.  There are light penciled names above and below the image.  The names I can make out are Murphy, O’Shea, Kingston, Guilford and Begley.  I have a lot of old images of Ireland, and one day I think I will donate them to the National Archives in Dublin.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 13, 2017


Here is another recipe from cousin Millie Frances McMenus Ikerd, who lived on Route 66 in Conway, Missouri.  I visited her several times before she passed away.  I think she was 90.  She sewed and made lovely children’s clothing for her neighbors, and she was a marvelous cook.  This is her recipe for Chicken and Noodles, and she told me that she always made this when her family came home, making at least four time the amount listed here.  She also took this dish to her church dinners at the Twlight Church which was just up the road from her house.


Boil one large chicken and remove meat from the bone, shredding the larger pieces.  “Make sure there is plenty of broth” after boiling.

Mix 2 or 3 eggs, 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Add flour, and keep adding flour until you have a “real stiff” dough.  Pinch small balls off the dough and roll very thin, cutting into 1/2 inch strips.  Drop the strips into boiling chicken broth, and then add the chicken once all noodles are in the broth.

She gave me no other instructions, and I’ve had to make this a few times to get it right.  The noodles do need to cook a few minutes in the broth before adding the chicken, but once done, it’s wonderful!

A close friend of mine in Ireland recommended a website a few years ago……written by an American woman who married an Irish dairy farmer and moved to a fairly remote part of County Limerick.  I remember signing up to get her blog posts and going back through all the previous posts and printing out recipes.  I also thought at the time that there had to be a wonderful cookbook in the making here because of her story about adapting to farm life and learning so much about cooking and baking from her mother-in-law.  So much of what she shared was based on traditional Irish country cooking and baking, and if I was fascinated by her modern twists to old recipes, I figured a lot of other bakers and cooks would  be, too.

The website was subsequently changed to but it has lost none of its charm.   Each blog post is a bit of an adventure, and even though I live in an urban area, I enjoy her stories of foraging for fresh ingredients, planting a vegetable garden, adapting traditional Irish dishes, and inventing others.   And yes, a cookbook has just come out in the last month or two in the U.S.,  “The Farmette Cookbook, Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm” by Imen McDonnell (Roost Books).  (Available on Amazon).

I don’t specifically remember entering a contest, but must have done as a couple of months ago, I got an email from Imen herself, telling me I had won a copy of her new book and asking for my mailing address.  The book arrived from the publisher a short time later.

I read plenty of cookbooks, but I rarely take them to bed for bedtime reading.   Imen’s book is a combination of her personal story and life on an Irish dairy farm, complete with gorgeous photographs and recipes, and I had a hard time putting it down.  The recipes are not difficult, and they are traditional as well as modern variations of old Irish favorites.  There are a few exceptions, however, such as Potato, Rasher and Rosemary Pizza or Lavonda’s Buttermilk Pie (a gorgeous pie from the American south) and Wild Garlic and Soft Irish Cheese Tamales.  There is also a complete section on making your own butter, buttermilk, farmer’s cheese, ricotta cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche etc etc.  If you happen to have access to fresh whole milk straight from the dairy, these recipes are a snap.  If not, Imen suggests that whole organic milk will work just as well.  But even if (like me) you have no desire to practice traditional Irish dairy skills, there are dozens more recipes that will interest you.  Everything from bread and sweets to roasts and veggies, with the traditional boxty, colcannon, champ, brack and many more included.

The editors of Martha Stewart Living recommend this book highly saying, “The Farmette Cookbook, by Imen McDonnell (Roost Books), tells a story as delicious as its recipes: The American broadcast journalist adjusts to life in the country after marrying an Irish farmer and moving to rural County Limerick.  Follow her journey dish by dish, from learning classics like bangers and mash to creating her own twists such as bacon and cabbage pot stickers (a take on corned beef and cabbage).”

Darina Allen, founder of the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and award winning cookbook author said, “A joyful celebration of life on an Irish farm.  A super, chic book written with the appreciative eye of an outsider who reminds us of the sheer pleasure of living on a dairy farm–rearing a few table fowl, planting a vegetable garden and an orchard, rediscovering the satisfaction of using homegrown Irish produce to make truly delicious and creative food for family and friends.”

Images of the front and back covers below.  If you are into Irish cooking and baking, or if you just want to add a really lovely book to your cookbook collection, I can really recommend this book as being a cut above.  Can’t wait for Imen to come out with another book!

P.S.  Come back in the next couple of days for Part Two and the run down on my recent experiments with “The Best (Irish) Brown Bread.”



Posted by: marthabernie | February 12, 2017

Darina’s Brown Bread for Beginners

Here is a link to a recipe from Darina Allen of Ballymaloe.  If you like Irish brown bread, you will like this recipe, though the whole wheat flour we have in the U.S. is different from the Irish flour; you have to look for stone ground wheat flour.

Darina’s Brown Bread for Beginners.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 12, 2017


I love the black faced sheep you find all over Ireland.  This one came over and posed for the camera when I visited a farmyard and grazing fields in 2005.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 11, 2017

Ballymaloe White Soda Bread With Herbs

This recipe is from the Ballymaloe Bread Book and it’s easy to make.  Use freshly chopped herbs to bring out the sweetness of the bread.  Great served with soup!


1 pound plain white, unbleached flour

1 level teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon soda, finely sifted

1 dessertspoon (tablespoons) each of fresh, chopped rosemary, sage and chives.

14 fl oz buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Sift the flour, salt and soda into a large, wide mixing bowl.  Add the freshly chopped herbs to the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center.  Pour most of the milk into the flour.  Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing the flour in from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary.  The dough should be soft, not too wet and sticky.  The trick with all soda breads is not to over mix the dough.  Mix the dough as quickly as possible, as gently as possible, keeping it really light and airy.  When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured work surface.  Wash and dry your hands.

Gently roll the ball of dough around with floury hands for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up.  Then pat it gently into  a round about 2 inches high.  Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet.  With a sharp knife, cut a deep cross in it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread.  Then prick the four triangle with your knife.  According to Irish folklore, this will let the fairies out!  Put into your preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400 degrees F for a further 25 minutes, or until cooked.  When the bread is cooked, it will sound hollow when tapped.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 11, 2017


I have found that a lot of people search for new and different banana bread recipes.  Personally, the one I like the best is the Starbuck’s Banana Bread (look for it under BAKING in the archives).  However, the one below is a British variation that uses dried banana chips, sultanas and Earl Grey tea.  The fruit is soaked in the tea, which is a method used in other tea breads such as Irish Barm Brack.  It also calls for whole wheat flour which makes the texture a little heavier.  FYI, it’s very hard to find sultanas in the U.S.  The best substitutes are the golden raisins made from Thompson seedless grapes that are available everywhere.  Get out your scale because this recipes measures everything in grams!  And hopefully you can figure out the milliliter conversions — if you don’t have a liquid measure that shows milliliters, there are conversion charts on the internet!


1 Earl Grey tea bag

150 grams dried banana slices (dried chips)

100 grams sultanas

100 ml rapeseed or other vegetable oil

175 grams soft brown sugar

2 free range medium eggs

225 grams self-rising wholemeal (whole wheat) flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard loaf tin with paper liner or parchment.

Soak the tea bag in 300 ml boiling water, remove the tea bag, then pour the tea oveer the fruit and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Whisk the oil, sugar and eggs in a lare bowl until pale and creamy, add the soaked fruit.  Fold in the flour and pour into the prepared tin.  Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until golden and cooked.  Cool slightly before removing from the tin.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 10, 2017

Ballymaloe Potato Bread

This bread is served with the traditional Irish breakfast.  It is more like a potato pancake or potato farl.  The recipe is from the Ballymaloe Bread Book.


2 oz flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

8 oz cooked mashed potatoes

1 oz butter, melted

Fully preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Into a large, wide mixing bowl, soft the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add the potatoes. Melt the butter and pour it in.  Knead lightly and roll our the dough, then cut it in four.  Bake on a greased baking sheet in a preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 10, 2017


market town, town market, ireland, irish town marketI am only guessing when I say that I think this photo is from the 1940’s or 50’s.  It was obviously taken in a small town that had a weekly market, which means it could have been just about anywhere in Ireland.  I bought this photo in a little shop in Sandycove, County Dublin, many years ago.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 9, 2017


This cake was one of my mother’s favorites and she made it several times a year.  It takes a bit of time to make and assemble, but it’s well worth it. The filling/frosting is what makes it so special.


1 pkg (4 oz) German sweet chocolate

1/2 cup boiling water

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-1/2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Melt chocolate in boiling water.  Cool.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add yolks one at a time, beating well after each.  Blend in vanilla and chocolate.  Sift flour with soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to chocolate mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.  Fold in beaten egg whites.  Pour into three 8 or 9 inch round layer cake pans, lined on bottom with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.  Cool.  Frost tops only with Coconut-Pecan Frosting.


Combine 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, 2 slightly beaten egg yolks, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, about 12 minutes.  Add 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut and 1 cup choppee pecans.  Cool until thick enough to spread; beat occasionally.  Makes 2-1/2 cups.


Posted by: marthabernie | February 9, 2017


This is one of the easiest corn breads you will ever make.  It is from the Ballymaloe Bread Book.   I have been making a load of bread lately, both in the oven and in the bread machine.


4 oz yellow corn meal

good pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon soda, finely sifted

6 fluid oz buttermilk

knob of butter

Put the corn meal, salt and soda in your bowl and add the buttermilk.  Beat the mixture well with a wooden spoon for 4 to 5 minutes.  Thoroughly heat a non-stick pan, then add the knob of butter.  Carefully pour the batter into the pan.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, when little bubbles begin to form on the surface of the batter, it is ready to be turned over.  Gently and carefully flip the bread over.  Cook for a further 3 minutes.  Cut into slices and serve with soft butter and crispy bacon.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 8, 2017


This is quick to make and really good!


4 oz butter

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

4 to 5 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

4 to 5 garlic cloves, crushed.

Cream the butter, stir in the lemon juice a few drops at a time, then add the parsley and garlic.  Mix well.  To store, form a ball or roll and wrap in plastic wrap, sealing.  Refrigerate.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 8, 2017

ANOTHER BALLYMALOE RECIPE – Pickled Cucumbers (Reposted)

2-6-17 Getting ready to make a batch of these.  I repost this periodically for those who are interested.

6-11-15:  For whatever reason, this is one of my most popular posts.  I think it’s because so many people search on Ballymaloe House and the cooking school.  The recipe is fantastic.  I keep a tub of these pickles in the refrigerator most of the time.  I found small Persian cucumbers on sale this week and am going to make more today.  See below. Note that Myrtle Allen is now well past 90 years of age.

POSTED MAY 7, 2012:

On a drive along the south coast of Ireland to Ballymaloe House in April, there were many stops at designated scenic viewing spots as well as stops where there was just a wide place in the road.  March/April is the time when the gorse blooms all over Ireland, and sometimes it’s just a few bushes along side the road, and sometimes it’s an entire field or hillside.  Here it was blooms overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, which you can see peaking through the top of the flowers.  It was a cloudy day.

Arriving at Ballymaloe House a little while after taking this photo, I promptly ordered a pot of tea and a ham and cheese sandwich–something to tide me over until dinner.  Could they serve it in the drawing room?  Of course!  At Ballymaloe House, you can get pretty much whatever you want, wherever you want it!  What came from the kitchen was a slice of brown bread, slathered with butter and topped with a thick slice of local free range ham and local farmhouse cheddar cheese.  There was also a leaf of lettuce which I’m sure was from the home gardens at Kinoith Farm, where Tim and Darina Allen live and where the Ballymaloe Cookery School is located.  Accompanying the sandwich were two little dishes–one containing the now famous Ballymaloe country relish and the other thinly sliced cucumbers.  I tried the cucumbers first and what a surprise!  Lovely pickled, tangy-sweet cucumbers!  I made a mental note to go home and look for the recipe in the Ballymaloe cookbooks.

That night at dinner, a Friday, the evening fare featured a seafood hors d’oeurves buffet that was a meal in itself–crab vol au vents, lobster mayonnaise, deviled eggs, mussels, smoked salmon and trout, lovely baked breads and much much more.  It covered an entire dining room table and all the diners were helping themselves.  As I worked my way through the various delicacies, all made with fresh, local ingredients, I spotted a large dish of the pickled cucumber and added a nice serving to my plate.

Midway through dinner, a diminutive elderly woman stopped by the table to make sure everything was all right.  I took one look at her and realized that the iconic Myrtle Allen was standing before me–all 88 years of her.  We struck up a conversation, and I commented on the pickled cucumbers!  In retrospect, it seems a relatively insignificant thing to talk about in the presence of Irish culinary royalty, but I no more than mentioned how wonderful the dish was and she was off to the kitchen!  A few minutes later, she returned with a print out of the recipe….the one where you start with 12 quarts of sliced cucumbers!  She smiled and said that I would, of course, need to pare it down for a smaller batch at home.  She also went on to say that she had gotten the recipe from “America” years before but she thought it had originated somewhere in Europe.  Before she departed, she said she was glad to be “sending it back to America,” and I was certainly glad to be taking it home with me.

The dinner was devine, served by attentive and efficient staff, at whatever pace you desired.  It included many courses, including cheese before dessert, several scrumptous choices for dessert (and yes, you could taste a little bit of several if you wanted), home made fudge (non-chocolate) with your coffee…it went on and on.

Breakfast the next morning was another meal to remember, but that’s for another blog post….

When I got home later in the month, I immediately went to my Myrtle Allen/Ballymaloe cookbooks, and found her recipe for Quick Cucumber Pickle.  She says there, “This is a recipe that has traveled the world.  It came to me from America in a collection of family recipes gathered by home economists.  I gave it to Finnish friends who told me that it is typically Polish or Russian.”  I had overlooked this recipe in Mrs. Allen’s cookbook for years but tried it very soon after I arrived home!

NOTES:  The original cookbook recipe says to use unpeeled cucumbers, though I think it probably depends on the size and type used.  In my first attempt, I used small Persian cucumbers, unpeeled.  In a later batch, I used larger American (thick skinned) cucumbers and I peeled them.   Persian and English cucumbers have fewer seeds than their American cousins though you can always halve the cucumbers and scrap the seeds from the middle beofre slicing thinly.  Here is the recipe.


6 cups unpeeled cucumber, thinly sliced

3 small onions, thinly sliced

1-3/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons salt

1 cup cider vinegar

Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl.  Mix sugar, salt and vinegar and pour over the cucumbers and onions.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate.  The pickle will be ready to eat in an hour, it will keep more than a week in the refrigerator, but will soon lose its green color.  Yields about 7-l/2 cups.  (Adapted from a recipe by Mary Petersen in Cooking in Minnesota).

Additional Notes: The recipe given to me by Mrs. Allen last month states that the pickles will be ready in 3 to 4 hours, rather than one hour, and if kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container, will keep up to 3 months.  My latest batch has been in the fridge for three weeks in a sealed plastic container and it’s doing just fine.  You can tweak this recipe to taste.  I added a little more vinegar and a little less onion.  Note also that “three small onions” in Ireland are like one medium yellow/brown onion in California.  As long as you check your ingredients label on the cider vinegar, this recipe should be gluten free.

They are wonderful on sandwiches or grilled turkey burgers, or served as a side dish with just about everything.  Never have I been so enthusiastic about cucumbers!



Posted by: marthabernie | February 7, 2017


Here is a Ballyamloe recipe (reposted) with a lovely photo taken at Ballymaloe House, looking out over the landscape.  This is my most viewed post each week and I like to repost it every year or so.


This banana bread is on sale at the Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland.  I’ve been cooking from Myrtle and Darina Allen’s cookery books for years, but after finally visiting Ballymaloe House and the Ballymaloe Cookery School in April of 2012, it is now one of my favorite places.  If you don’t plan to be in Shanagarry any time soon, you can make the banana bread at home by following this recipe, which is found in The Ballymaloe Bread Book, compiled by Tim Allen, Myrtle’s son and Darina’s husband.

NOTESFirst, I have made this with glace cherries, the type you would put in fruitcake–just be sure to wash off the sugar coating first;  have also made it with fresh pitted cherries, as well as dried cherries.  I prefer dried cherries as they mix in well with the sultanas, but if you want a full cherry taste, go with the fresh or glace cherries; second, since it’s hard to find sultanas in the US, use California golden seedless raisins; third, be sure to keep the oven door closed as noted below because the banana bread WILL fall if you open the oven door during the first hour or so.  I speak from experience.  However, it has never fallen when I have opened the oven after the first hour. Last, Since my oven runs a little on the hot side, I bake at 325 degrees Farenheit, to avoid burning on the bottom or sides.  You can also bake this in smaller loaf pans, but it still needs to cook for at least an hour at around 325 degrees.


8 oz. self rising flour

1/2 level teaspoon salt

4 oz butter

6 oz castor sugar (regular granulated sugar)

4 oz sultanas or seedless raisins

1 oz chopped walnuts

4 oz cherries, washed and halved

2 medium eggs, preferably free range

1 lb very ripe bananas, weighed without skins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and salt.  Rub in butter until mixture is crumbly, add sugar and mix again.  Stir in raisins, walnuts and cherries.  Mash bananas with a fork, add the eggs and mix this well into the other ingredients.  Dough will have a soft consistency.  Pour into a loaf tin which has been lined with greaseproof parchment or silicone paper and spread evenly.  Place in the center of the oven and bake for one and a half hours.  It is VITAL that the oven door is not opened during cooking or the banana bread will collapse.

Cool before removing from the tin.  Served in thick slices with soft butter, it’s an ideal accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea.


Mine is coming out of the oven in about half an hour!


PS  This photo was taken standing in the front drive at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, looking south/southwest.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 5, 2017

Veggie Soup with Rotisserie Chicken – Perfect Winter Soup

I love heavy, thick soups!

Veggie Soup with Rotisserie Chicken – Perfect Winter Soup

Posted by: marthabernie | February 4, 2017

Traditional Cheese & Potato Pirogies

I have never made pirogies, but was talking about doing so with a friend the other day.  Apparently the fillings vary from country to country.

Traditional Cheese & Potato Pirogies

Posted by: marthabernie | February 3, 2017

Easy Breakfast Casserole 

3 eggs 5 slices of Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, chopped 2 large organic Gold Potatoes, diced 2 teaspoons of old bay seasoning or any all purpose seasoning  2 teaspoons of black pepper  1 Port…

Easy Breakfast Casserole 

Posted by: marthabernie | February 3, 2017


Here is casserole that is a family standard.  I don’t like olives, so I always omit them from the recipe when cooking for myself.   Made it again this week for the family and put in extra olives!  This is an easy recipe to double when cooking for a crowd.

8 oz package small to medium noodles

1 pound ground beef

1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce

1- 8 oz can niblets corn

1 small can sliced black olives (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon butter or oil

1-1/2 cups liquid (water, liquid from corn and/or olives).

One or two dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Mince & fry onion in butter til brown, add meat and brown.  Season with salt, white and black pepper and garlic powder.  Add tomato sauce and liquid, then Worcestershire sauce.  Add noddles and stir.  Cook until noodles are tender but not completely soft.  Season again to taste.  Add corn and olives.  Put into a greased casserole dish and spinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees F.  Turn up to 350 for the last 15 minutes.  Turn oven off and let stand in oven additional 15 minutes, then serve.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 2, 2017

Breakfast Ideas

I make oatmeal with fruit in large portions and keep it in the fridge, dishing it out one serving at a time.

Breakfast Ideas

Posted by: marthabernie | February 2, 2017

Fettuccine Assortito (Olive Garden Copycat)

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been to Olive Garden, so I’m not familiar with this dish; but take a look, it sounds great!

Fettuccine Assortito (Olive Garden Copycat). Listening To Olive & The Pitz.

Posted by: marthabernie | February 1, 2017

BLOGMAS Day 4- Baked Christmas Porridge

Past Christmas, but this is still a good winter option!

BLOGMAS Day 4- Baked Christmas Porridge

Posted by: marthabernie | February 1, 2017

Maple Snowflake Candy!

Only one ingredient here:

Maple Snowflake Candy!

Posted by: marthabernie | January 31, 2017

Peanut Butter & Jam Oatbars- Proper Nutty

I love anything with oats in it!

Peanut Butter & Jam Oatbars- Proper Nutty

Posted by: marthabernie | January 30, 2017

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Take a look….

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Posted by: marthabernie | January 28, 2017

Berry Bomb Cupcakes

Another recipe that includes a dollop of black raspberry jam….

Berry Bomb Cupcakes

Posted by: marthabernie | January 27, 2017

Black Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

The black raspberry caught my attention….  My mother loved black raspberry jam and for years bought Smuckers “Black Cap Raspberry” jam.  Not sure if black cap is different from just black raspberry.  Anyway, it then went off the market in California in the 80’s and it being back before the internet and Amazon, we searched high and low for it without success.  Finally we started seeing Black Raspberry and bought it, though my mother claimed it wasn’t the same.  Anyway, when I saw Black Raspberry, it made me think of her….

Black Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

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