Posted by: marthabernie | June 25, 2018


P1010405aThis is the Ballymaloe Cookery School which is located about a mile or two from Ballymaloe House.  Ballymaloe House has two restaurants and a shop in addition to the house which does B&B for guests.  The cookery school is located on the farm where Darina and Tim Allen live, and there is a shop in the front of this building, the school kitchen being behind the shop.   Their house is to the right of what you see in this photo.

If you look carefully at this photo behind the right wooden planter box, you may be able to see the white haired head of a small woman who appeared to be looking at or picking something that was growing in that planter.  It wasn’t until she stepped to her right that I got a better look at her and realized it was Myrtle Allen herself.  Since they all live and work on both properties mentioned here (and other nearby properties), the Allen Family are often seen by the tourists and visitors, and they are a friendly bunch.  My first time staying at Ballymaloe House, I went out to the shop to discover someone going in with a key.  She informed me the shop was closed but she was just “popping in” to get something; she disappeared inside and then came out carrying a couple of jars of something.  She told me the shop would open at 9 the next morning.  I didn’t realize until later that it was Darina Allen herself.

Anyway, a took a second photo, and you can get only a slightly better look at Myrtle in the image below.


Posted by: marthabernie | June 24, 2018

Cream of Rice Pudding with Apricot Compote

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 24, 2018


6-24-18  Reposting this popular recipe in honor of Myrtle Allen, who died last week at age 94 in County Cork, Ireland.  She was single handedly responsible for farm to table cuisine being popularized in Ireland.  See my earlier posts this week which include an article about her from the Guardian.

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 | June 23, 2018

Liddle dogs

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 23, 2018

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (& first impressions)

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 23, 2018

Carrot Walnut Cupcakes

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 23, 2018

ANOTHER BALLYMALOE RECIPE – Pickled Cucumbers (Reposted)

6-23-18  Reposting this in honor of Myrtle Allen who died last week at the age of 94 in County Cork, Ireland.

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 | June 22, 2018

Kris’s Cornbread (& grandmas)

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 22, 2018

Count Down to the 4th of July

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 22, 2018



At a time when Irish food had a poor reputation, Myrtle Allen recognised that the ingredients on her doorstep were as good as those from any country in the world.
At a time when Irish food had a poor reputation, Myrtle Allen recognised that the ingredients on her doorstep were as good as those from any country in the world. Photograph: Alamy

Myrtle Allen, who has died aged 94, is widely credited with having established a new, modern era in Irish food and raised its international profile.

In 1964 she placed a notice on her gate, inviting people to dine in her rural home, Ballymaloe House, near Shanagarry in County Cork. Customers arrived each night in her blue dining room, called the Yeats Room after her husband’s collection of Jack Yeats paintings.

Decades before the country house restaurant concept became popular, Allen served a menu that quickly gained a following. Using the best ingredients from her husband’s farm and other local sources, she set the menu for the day after the dayboat fishermen had returned from Ballycotton harbour and delivered their catch, and the best produce had been selected.

Allen fostered strong relationships with suppliers, ensuring that they were paid properly for producing excellent ingredients. A selection of Irish farmhouse cheeses was served each night, at a time when artisanal cheeses were made by only a handful of independent producers across the land. Local children foraged for wild mushrooms, blackberries, elderflowers, damsons, sloes and other wild foods, which Allen incorporated into the menu.

As her unconventional business grew, the dining area was expanded and bedrooms were converted into overnight accommodation to obtain a wine licence, transforming the family home into a busy hotel and restaurant. From 1962 Allen was the cookery correspondent of the Irish Farmers Journal, combining cooking and writing. In 1975 she became the first Irish woman to receive a Michelin star, which she held for five years. The Ballymaloe Cookbook was published in 1977 and Myrtle Allen’s Cooking at Ballymaloe House in 1990.

“The nice thing about Ballymaloe,” said the restaurateur and food writer Tom Jaine, “apart from the excellent cookery, proper service and handsome surroundings, was its lack of stuffy pretension. The symbiosis of farm and kitchen brought it down to earth, injecting a pleasing reality.”

Ballymaloe House, County Cork, where Myrtle Allen established her country house restaurant in 1964.
Ballymaloe House, Cork, where Myrtle Allen established her country house restaurant in 1964. Photograph: Good Hotel Archive

Daughter of Elsie (nee Stoker) and Henry Hill, Myrtle was born in Cork. Her father was an architect. At a Ballycotton lifeboat fundraising dinner in Shanagarry she met Ivan Allen, a farmer, and they married in 1943. Myrtle taught herself how to cook in order to feed her husband and then her growing family. In 1948, they bought Ballymaloe, a rambling country house built on the site of a 15th-century Anglo-Norman castle, where they brought up their six children. Ivan, a progressive farmer, created both a mixed farm and a horticultural enterprise in Shanagarry.

Allen made large quantities of chutney using the tomatoes grown in her husband’s glasshouses, and this turned into a successful business in its own right: Ballymaloe Country Relish, run by her daughter Yasmin Hyde and granddaughter Maxine Hyde. Indeed, the Ballymaloe name is now a global brand and the Allen family are involved in many successful food businesses in Ireland. Allen’s daughter-in-law Hazel has managed Ballymaloe House since the 1970s. The TV cook, restaurateur and food writer Rachel Allen is a granddaughter-in-law.

The menu at Ballymaloe House has changed little over the years, resisting trends. “It’s a memory that remains, as indeed does the tradition in this remarkable house,” said the chef Jeremy Lee. “The presence of Myrtle Allen ensured all was as it should be and in plentiful amounts, which included welcome, comfort and cheer.” Claudia Roden described Allen as “a great inspiration. She represented everything that was wonderful and lovable about Ireland. She created a beautiful world.”

Ivan Allen died in 1998 and Mrs Allen (as she was called, even by close family) continued to live at Ballymaloe House for the rest of her life. She was regularly seen attending dinners and casting her eye over service in the kitchen. Her handwritten instructions for making the perfect porridge using stoneground Macroom oatmeal are still fixed to the kitchen wall.

In 1999 she gained an honorary master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin and in 2000 an honorary doctorate from University College Cork. She received the Women and Agriculture lifetime achievement award in 2011, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild lifetime award in 2014 and, in April this year, the Hall of Fame award from touRRoir/Good Food Ireland.

Allen is survived by her four daughters, Wendy, Natasha, Yasmin and Fern, two sons, Tim and Rory, 22 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.

Myrtle Allen, restaurateur and food writer, born 13 March 1924; died 13 June 2018

Posted by: marthabernie | June 21, 2018

Pain Suisse … with a Miso Banana Pastry Cream

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 21, 2018

The Summer Solstice

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 21, 2018

Brown Sugar Pound Cake. New Music From CARBS.

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 20, 2018

Muhallabia with Mahleb and Sourcherry Compote

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 20, 2018

How To: Season a Cast Iron Skillet

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 20, 2018

Comfort Cookies. Did Someone Say Oatmeal Scotchies?

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 19, 2018

#OTD in Irish History – 18 June:

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 19, 2018

Farm Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jam

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 19, 2018

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 19, 2018

Mango and Avocado Salad

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 18, 2018

Snickers Cupcakes

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 18, 2018

Chicken Cordon Bleu Stuffed Shells

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 17, 2018

Chocolate And Black Cherry Cake

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 17, 2018

Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac & Cheese

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 16, 2018

Rhubarb, Raspberry and Almond Crumble Cake

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 16, 2018

Chicken Cutlets With White Wine & Shallots

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 15, 2018

Parmesan Chicken Cutlet With A White Wine & Mushrooms Sauce

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 15, 2018

Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 14, 2018

Chopped Cobb Salad

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 14, 2018

New shorts, and banana bread with a lemon twist

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 12, 2018

Radish and Cucumber Salad with Basil

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 11, 2018

Fruity Spring Pasta

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 11, 2018

Pear & Pomegranate Muffins

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 10, 2018

Spiced Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip Mash

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Posted by: marthabernie | June 9, 2018

The Food Exchange – Picnic

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