Memory Lane


A few weeks ago on 20th September, past students from 14 countries world wide converged on Ballymaloe Cookery School to help us to celebrate 25 years.

As ever it doesn’t seem that long ago since we converted some farm buildings into a little cookery school and tentatively put an ad in the Cork Examiner and the Irish Times.  We waited for the phone to ring and eagerly awaited the morning post. Eventually we started in September 1983 with just 11 students.  Within 2 years the first American student registered so we boldly added the word international to our next brochure.  From the beginning the school operated year round with a selection of 12 week certificate courses for those who wanted the skills to cook professionally and a variety of short courses for those who love to cook at home for family and friends.  In recent years we have added a series of ‘Forgotten Skills’ courses.  For those who would like to try their hand at homemade butter or cheese-making or curing bacon, smoking their own food or keeping a few chickens or bees………

There are afternoon cooking demonstrations on week days for those who are in the area and bespoke courses for corporate events, parties and celebrations.

We were blessed with the weather, a beautiful balmy autumn day, the sun shone on the hundreds of students as they hugged and greeted each other.  There was a lot of catching up to do, some hadn’t met for over 20 years. We had set up a Farmer’s Market with stalls brimming with delicious local food and the bounty of our farm.

There were tasty shrimps from Ballycotton with thick homemade mayonnaise, smoked fish from Bill Casey and Frank Hederman. Bowls of cucumber pickle, organic salad leaves and sweet cherry tomatoes from the green houses.

Past student Arun Kapil from Green Saffron had commandeered his brother to help him to ladle out bowls of freshly made chicken tikka with spices he imports directly from India.

Philip Dennhardt, Ted Berner and Garreth Granville were spit roasting a fat saddleback pig from the farm served with Brambly Apple sauce, Ballymaloe relish and crusty bread from Scott Walsh and Declan Ryan of Arbutus Breads.  Almost the entire Ferguson family from Schull came to man the Gubbeen stall and give people a taste of Fingal house cured charcuterie and cheese.

Many of the local farmers, cheese-makers, fishermen, butchers, bakers also joined us to celebrate and we were particularly delighted to have retired butcher Michael Cuddigan from Cloyne who supplied both Ballymaloe House and the Cookery School with fine meat for many generations.

We had a fine selection of farmhouse cheese and several of the cheese-makers came along including Jane Murphy from Ardsallagh, Mary Burns from Adrahan, the Keatings from Baylough cheese, Jeffa Gill from Durrus and Maria Collier from Cooleeney.

For pudding there were meringues, pink and white, blackberry and chocolate cupcakes, homemade strawberry and raspberry ice cream in sugar cones and summer fruit salad with rose geranium leaves.

Cork coffee roasters doled out cup after cup of coffee.

Students wandered through out the farm and gardens and into the cottages to relive the memories and to check out any changes since they were with us.

The music played and the guests stayed chatting at the long tables into the early evening.  It was such a joy to be reacquainted with so many of our past students some of whom had traveled from the other side of the world.  We are so proud of each and every one.

A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats

One of my favourite easy entertaining tricks is to serve a selection of Irish artisan charcuterie from inspired producers like Fingal Ferguson and Frank Krawczyk from Schull, west Cork and James McGeough from Oughterard, Co. Galway.  The quality is so wonderful that I’m always bursting with pride as I serve it.


A selection of cured meats:

Air dried smoked Connemara lamb

Smoked venison

Prosciutto, Gubeen, Chorizo

Venison Salami

Derreenatra salami

West Cork Kassler

Rillettes, brawn


A selection of Crusty country breads, sour dough, yeast and soda

Tiny gherkins or cornichons

Fresh radishes, just trimmed but with some green leaf attached

A good green salad of garden lettuce and salad leaves


Arrange the meats and potted meat on a large platter, open a good bottle of red and tuck in!
Smoked Mackerel Pâte


4 ozs (110g) undyed smoked mackerel or herring, free of skin and bone

2-3 ozs (55-85g) softened butter

1/4 teaspoon finely snipped fennel

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2-1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste

salt and freshly ground pepper

crusty bread
Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork with Fennel Seeds
Serves 8 – 10


Shoulder of pork is best for this long slow cooking method, as the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away, try to find a traditional breed, e.g. Gloucester Old Spot, Saddleback, Black berkshire or Middle White.  We also slow roast shoulder of lamb which is succulent and juicy.


1 whole shoulder of free-range pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25 kg (7-8 lb) in weight

8 garlic cloves, peeled

30 g (1 oz) fennel seeds

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)


Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8.


 Using a small sharp knife, score the rind of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5 mm (1/4’’) wide.


Peel and crush the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste.  Push this mixture into the cuts, over the rind and on the surface of the meat.  Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to blister and brown.  Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/325ºF/Gas 3, and leave the meat to roast for 5-6 hours or more until

It is completely soft under the crisp skin.  The meat will give way and will almost fall off the bone.  Serve each person some crisp skin and some chunks of meat cut from different parts of the shoulder.  


Loin and streaky pork is also delicious cooked in this way but it will take a shorter cooking time.




Sprigs of fennel



Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste, add more lemon juice and garlic if necessary, it should be well seasoned. Put into little individual pots, or set in a loaf tin lined with cling film.


Alternatively, this pate can be piped in rosettes onto 1/4 inch (5mm) thick slices of cucumber, melba toast, crostini or savoury biscuits. Garnish each one with a sprig of fennel.


Serve with cucumber pickle and crusty bread.


Cooked fresh salmon, smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, trout or herring can be substituted in the above recipe.






Sugar Cones with Strawberry Ice cream


If you are a DIY fiend perhaps you could produce a board with circles cut out to fit the cones with Perspex or light timber.


Serves 6-8


225g (1/2 lb) castor sugar

300ml (1/2 pint) water

900g (2lb) very ripe strawberries

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

150ml (5fl oz) whipped cream


6-8 sugar cones or plain ice cream cones


Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree, fold in the whipped cream. Freeze immediately preferably in a sorbietere.  Store in a covered plastic box in the freezer. Store in a fridge. Scoop the ice cream into balls and fill into the sugar cones – enjoy.


Pink & White Baby Meringues



4 egg whites

9 ozs (130g) icing sugar

Pink, blue, purple organic natural food colouring


Cover four baking trays with a perfectly fitting sheet of silicone paper.


Mix all the icing sugar with the eggs at once in a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks.  This is best done in an electric mixer otherwise you’ll be exhausted.  Divide into separate bowls and add a few drops of the food colouring of your choice to the meringue mixture (careful not to overdo it). Spoon into a clean piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe into rosettes. Bake immediately in a low oven 150°C\300°F\regulo 2 for 30 minutes or until set crisp and just brown on top.



1/2 pint (300ml) whipped cream


Sandwich the meringues together with whipped cream.


Rose Geranium Cupcakes and Crystallized Rose Petals

Makes 12


150g (5ozs) butter (at room temperature)

150g (5ozs) caster sugar

150g (5ozs) self-raising flour

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 medium sized geranium leaves, chopped

8 medium sized crystallized rose petals


icing sugar

freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 muffin tray lined with 12 muffin cases.


Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5.


Put the chopped rose geranium leaves into a small saucepan with the milk and warm gently, turn off heat and allow to cool.  Put the remaining ingredients except the milk into a food processor, whizz until smooth.  Scrape down sides of food processor, then add the infused milk to the mixture and whizz again.


Divide mixture between the paper cases in muffin tin.


Bake in preheated oven for 15 –20 mins or until risen and golden, then remove from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack


Meanwhile make the icing.  Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add the freshly squeezed lemon juice to make thickish icing.  When the cupcakes are cool spread a little icing over the top of each one and decorate with a crystallized rose petal or a rose geranium leaf.


Fool Proof Food
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

For the past few years we have growing a large selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes.  Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval.  They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.  If you cant find heirloom tomatoes, use a selection of ripe red and yellow fruit


Serves 4


8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey

3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves


Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the oil and honey together and add ‘torn’ basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and toss gently.  Taste, correct seasoning if necessary.  A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.



Kinsale International Gourmet Food Festival

10th – 12th October

For lovers of good food there is never a bad time to visit Kinsale, but this October weekend has to be one of the best times to be there. It’s a packed programme of foodie events all day long, including tastings, dinners, parties and of course music and entertainment.

This year’s Slow food festival market is going to be bigger and better than previous years with over 30 local producers lining the pavements of Patrick’s Street..

For further information on this event please call Rose-Anne Kidney at 021 4270475 or email



Its already time to think about making plum puddings,Christmas cake and mincemeat.  Look out for beautiful plump, dried fruit, muscatel raisins, Lexia sultanas and currants which can be purchased from Farm Gate Midleton, Urrú Bandon, Country Choice Nenagh, Fallon & Byrne Dublin, Gourmet Food Shop Rathgar………



Good Things Café in Durrus, West Cork offer a range of exciting day, weekend and week-long cookery courses. Carmel Summers can cater for your party or function and stock your fridge or freezer so you can take a weekend off.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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