Ballymaloe Cookery School On Tour


Once a term on the 12 Week Certificate course, all the students pile into a bus. There’s always great excitement as we head off on our Ballymaloe Cookery School tour – Everyone reverts back to giggly school kids but although it’s a super fun day it’s all about garnering ideas that inspire the students. We visit a farmers market, artisan producers, fish smoker, farmhouse cheese maker, maybe a café and restaurant, food truck…..

This term, we started at Mahon Point Farmers Market – a sizzling ferment of brilliant ideas and a myriad of stalls selling predominately local food. Where to start?! The Old Millbank Smokehouse has a wonderful range of potato and fish cakes. Gorgeous pies – chicken and chorizo, steak and Guinness, roast vegetable and goat cheese… Scotch eggs in many flavours from the West Cork Pie Company, The Good Little Cook make Arancini to make even Italians weep, Middle Eastern falafel and hummus. Marshmallows to die for from Cloud Confectionary,  Marcus Hodder makes homemade gelato and serves it with  crispy waffles made fresh on the stall,  irresistible  cake pops from Treat Petite. Carl Fahy’s Galway Bay Bagels and pretzels made from scratch. Mick’s homemade nut roasts from Nutcase Food Company.  Spanish temptations, La Cocina from Silvia and Olga – super authentic Spanish style baking including their Portuguese custard tarts.  Gluten free treats from Gan Gluten for the fast growing wheat intolerant and coeliac market. Fumagalli’s fresh pasta, lasagne and pasta sauces, numerous cake, preserves and cookie stalls,  Arbutus Artisan bread and I haven’t even mentioned the farmers, fishermen, local veg or herb growers, Lolo’s steak sandwiches, Arun’s Green Saffron spices, Volcano pizzas, Rocketman salads  on and on ……..

From there we headed for West Cork to visit the Ferguson family farm at Gubbeen outside Schull. The multi ethnic student group loved driving through the beautiful Irish countryside and little towns with gaily painted pubs and shop fronts.

Three generations of the Ferguson family live on the 150 acre dairy farm and add value to the produce in a variety of ways. The milk from Tom’s herd of Friesians and Jersey cows goes to the dairy to make the now famous Gubbeen cheeses,  the whey from the cheese-making gets fed to the pigs for Fingal’s Gubbeen bacon and charcuterie. Clovisse grows the organic herbs to flavour the sausages and salad leaves and edible flowers for local restaurants. Giana also has a collection of fancy fowl, geese, ducks and chickens and Fingal in his ‘spare time’ makes hand-made knives when their three little boys have snuggled down for the night.

The produce is sold at five  farmers markets and specialist shops around the country. The students were gob smacked by the entrepreneurial spirit of the family.

The Gubbeen cookbook, ‘Gubbeen – the Story of a Working Farm and its Foods’ published by Kyle Cathie Books is now available in all good bookshops.

We had a picnic and food from the farm in the conservatory and gardens and then off to  Ummera Smokehouse near Timoleague.

There Anthony Creswell told us about the trials and tribulations and triumphs of running an artisan food business. We tasted his award winning smoked salmon, duck, chicken and dry cured nitrate free rashers – a wonderful story which started in 1980’s.

Our last stop was at just a few minutes away close to the beautiful Timoleague  Abbey in the Village of Timoleague  where Gavin Moore and Michelle O’Mahony opened a  pub/café (Monks Lane Wine Bar & Café)   last May. The revamp took just 5 weeks of super hard work with lots of help from family and friends. Their simple menu reflects the fresh local produce of the West Cork area where let’s face it they are spoiled for choice. My students from 7 different countries were thrilled and inspired by their brief interlude in West Cork and are already talking about planning a longer trip to discover even more West Cork Magic.


Mary Jo’s Waffles


Makes 12


Mary Jo McMillan worked with us at the Cookery School on several occasions – she was a passionate and perceptive cook. This is her recipe for waffles which I enjoy much more than mine.


175g (6ozs/1 1/2 cups) white flour

15g (1/2oz) sugar

a pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder


50g (2ozs/1/2 stick) butter, melted

350g (12ozs1 1/2 cups) milk, slightly warmed

2 eggs, free-range and organic if possible, separated


75g (3ozs/scant 1/2 cup) of batter for each waffle.


Preheat waffle iron.  Sieve all the dry ingredients into a deep bowl.  Make a well in the centre.  Mix the warm milk, melted butter and whisk in the egg yolks.  Pour the milk and egg yolk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients.  Stir together to form a batter.  Whip the eggs whites stifly and gently fold into the batter. Heat the waffle iron. Pour a 75g (3oz/scant 1/2 cup) ladle of batter onto the iron. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden on the outside.


Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve hot in a variety of ways both sweet and savoury.


Waffles with Fresh Fruit and Berries

Ripe berries of all kinds, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, sliced peaches, nectarines, apricots and bananas are all delicious with waffles. Pile the fruit on top of hot waffles, or serve it on the side of the plate. A blob of softly whipped cream doesn’t go amiss!


Waffles with Bananas, Toffee Sauce and Chopped Walnuts

2-3 sliced bananas

Toffee Sauce (see recipe)

110g (4oz) coarsely chopped walnuts


Toffee Sauce

110g (4oz/1 stick) butter

175g (6oz/3/4 cup) dark soft brown Barbados sugar

110g (4oz/1/2 cup) granulated sugar

275g (10oz) golden syrup

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla extract. Put back on the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.


Put some banana slices on top of the waffles, pour Toffee Sauce over and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped walnuts.


Top Tip

Toffee Sauce is also delicious with ice-cream. It will keep for several weeks stored in a screw-top jar in the fridge.


Good things to serve with waffles:

Crispy bacon and honey or maple syrup

Crispy bacon and slices of Gruyére or Emmental cheese

Crispy bacon with sliced banana

White peaches with raspberries




Real homemade marshmallows are a forgotten flavour but are easy and great fun to make. Toast them over an open fire or drop one into hot chocolate and watch it slowly melt.


Makes about 64


vegetable oil

2 teaspoons icing sugar, sieved

2 teaspoons cornflour, sieved

25g (1oz) powdered gelatine

2 organic egg whites

500g (18oz/2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar


1 x 20cm (8 inch) square tin


Line the tin with a bakewell paper, brush lighting with sunflower oil and coat with icing sugar and cornflour. Sprinkle the gelatine to cover 125ml (4fl 1/2 oz/1/2 cup) water in a small bowl. Allow to sponge for 3–4 minutes. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.


Whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, preferably in the bowl of a mixer – this makes adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites much easier.


Put the sugar into a saucepan with 250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) water. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and continue to boil fiercely until it reaches 122ºC/252ºF (firm-ball stage) on a sugar thermometer. Turn off the heat.


Pour the dissolved gelatine into the syrup and stir. Watch out – the syrup will bubble up a little.


Switch the food mixer on the lowest setting so the egg whites carry on whisking, then pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a gentle trickle, whisking all the time. The mixture will change texture and become creamy. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes really thick but is still pourable. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set in a cool place – but not the fridge – for an hour or two.


Dust a clean chopping board with the rest of the cornflour and icing sugar mixture and coat a sharp knife with vegetable oil. Gently ease the marshmallow out of the tin. Make sure it is dusted all over with icing sugar, then cut into squares. Oil and dust the knife again as often as necessary. Thread the marshmallows onto skewers or spear them with forks. They are delicious toasted over an open fire.


In response to readers’ requests here are recipes that were not included in my column on Zionsville though they were mentioned in the text.


Marianne’s Beef Tenderloin

A perfect recipe for a stress free dinner party.

Serves 8-10

1 whole fillet of well hung beef, 5 lbs approximately

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Grey Poupon Dijon mustard

450-500g (16-18 oz) streaky bacon

Preheat oven to 230C/ 450F/regalo 8

Place the tenderloin in a roasting pan, tuck in the ends. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.  Slather the tenderloin generously all over with Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.

Wrap the tenderloin with slices of streaky bacon to cover it completely.

Roast, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 25 minutes for rare meat.

Test with a meat thermometer, it should register 60C/140F.

If you would like it a little better done, return it to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove, cover and allow to rest for at least 15 mins before carving.

Serve either hot or at room temperature with chosen sauces and accompaniments.


Regina Mehallick’s Guinness Cake with Sweetened Cream

This is a signature cake at R Bistro in Indianapolis. A delicious, moist cake that keeps really well.

Serves 16-20

Seeds from 6 cardamom pods

1 ½ inch cinnamon stick

3 whole black peppercorns

1 whole clove

225ml (8fl oz) stout, such as Guinness

350g (12oz) unsulfured molasses or treacle

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

3 large eggs

110g (4oz) granulated sugar

110g (4oz) packed dark brown sugar

165ml (5 ½ fl oz) vegetable oil

220g (8oz) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

A square tin, 23cm x 7 ½cm, lined with parchment paper.


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.

Toast the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and clove over a moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder and allow to cool. Finely grind the spices.

In a large saucepan, bring the stout and the molasses or treacle to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda; it will bubble vigorously. Allow to cool.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Whisk in the oil and then the stout mixture.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the ground ginger, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and fresh ground spices. Add the molasses mixture in 2 batches. Stir in the fresh ginger. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until the top is springy when lightly pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then unmould the cake.

To serve – cut the cake and top with sweetened whipped cream to resemble a Guinness.


Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Jam

Delicious with cheese but also great in a layer cake or on scones.

If lemon verbena is not available, include the zest of the lemons instead.

Makes 5 x 375g (13oz) jars


1kg (21⁄2lb) firm Irish blueberries

juice of 2 lemons

a large handful (about 50) lemon verbena leaves, roughly chopped

700g (11⁄2lb) granulated sugar, warmed


Pick over the blueberries and discard any that are bruised. Put the blueberries in a wide, low-sided saucepan or preserving pan. Add the lemon juice, lemon verbena and 300ml (1⁄2 pint) of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the warmed sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil until a setting point is reached. Fill the jam into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place.


Hot Tips

The Nordic Food Revolution

Chef and cookbook writer Trine Hahnemann will do a  (not to be  missed) Slow Food Event at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on the exciting Nordic Food Movement, Thursday 20th November at 7pm. For details and to book telephone 021 4646785.


The Craft & Design Festival at Ballymaloe  returns for its fifth year of offering work by more than 100 of Ireland’s best craft professionals in Ballymaloe’s Grainstore and The Big Shed, Shanagarry.  The Living Craft area is a new addition to the Festival.  It will showcase skills from a cross section of craft makers and food producers.  Interactive stands and tastings will delight visitors as they watch and enjoy these masters of food, drink and craft doing what they do best – creating something of beauty by hand. The Festival takes place on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 November from 10am – 6pm.  Both admission and parking are free.


Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé

With the grape harvest coming to a close across the wine regions of France, celebrate ‘La Paulée’ – the years work in the vineyard , with the new seasons wines – Beaujolais Nouveau, and Muscadet Primeur, available from this Thursday 20th November in restaurants, cafés and wine shops.



About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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