Week 11: A day out at the Ardsallagh goat’s cheese company

Once upon a time in the 80s, a door-to-door life insurance salesman rang the Murphy family’s doorbell, and unsuccessful in his purpose, he left a surprising parting gift of on their front lawn – a heavily pregnant goat. It transpires that goat’s milk works miracles for eczema, which Jane Murphy’s children suffered from. One goat led to many goats, and these are the auspicious beginnings of the award-winning Ardsallagh goat’s cheese company, run by Jane Murphy, who kindly invited me to her goat farm and dairy. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Jane and her daughter, Louise, had just finished preparing 1,700 litres of milk for the day. Continue reading

Squatting in an Irish country house

In the 1950s, my very English great aunt Sheila made the bold move of marrying an American. He was called Charlie, and they lived in a beautiful 60 acre Irish estate, near a town called Mallow, in Cork county. Up until now, I had a fairly idyllic vision of Ireland, based on seaside villages and postcard farms, but driving one hour inland shows a rougher reality of copy-and-paste housing, unemployment, Irish travellers and boredom. Continue reading

Week 10: A midsummer night’s dream feast, in pictures

Prologue: an abridged version events

Student 1: “How about we turn the cookery school dining room into a magical forest, and invite 70 members of the public along to a Midsummer Night’s Dream Feast themed three course pop-up dinner, sourcing the food almost entirely from the school farm, in two weeks time?”

Everyone else: “Yeah, why not? YOBO.” (You Only Ballymaloe Once. Yes, that’s a thing we need to abbreviate).

Exit, pursued by a bear. Continue reading

Mrs. Digby’s fool-proof meringue roulade

This is my mother’s foolproof recipe for meringue roulade. It’s dated, but trust me, you won’t regret it. I’ve put in mum’s berry filling and also the Ballymaloe lemon curd filling which I used in the picture.



4 egg whites
225g (8oz/generous 1 cup) castor sugar
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) whipped cream (approx. 150ml of unwhipped cream!)

Lemon Curd

100g (3 1/2oz/scant 1/2 cup) castor sugar
50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter
grated rind and juice of 2 good lemons
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk (keep whites aside for meringue)


A whole load of berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries… whatever you have), smooshed with a fork until it’s vaguely spreadable


Kenwood mixer
Swiss roll tin 12 x 8 inch (30.5 x 20.5cm)


Preheat the oven to 150°C – on the fan setting

  1. Put the egg whites and caster sugar into a spotlessly clean bowl of a food mixer.
  2. Whisk as fast as possible until you can hold the a peak on the whisk upside down and the tip doesnt fall over… should take 10-15 minutes approx in a Kenwood. Hold your nerve!
  3. Meanwhile line a swiss roll tin with tin foil, brush lightly with sunflower oil
  4. Spread the meringue gently over the tin with a palette knife, it ought to be quite thick and bouncy. Bake at 150oC on a fan setting in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.You want it a bit more crunchy than a marshmallow texture when you press it
  5. Put a sheet of tin foil on the work top and… 3, 2, 1 FLIP! the roulade onto it, remove the base tin foil now on top and allow the meringue to cool.
    Meanwhile make the Ballymaloe lemon curd/filling…
  6. On a very low heat melt the butter, add castor sugar, lemon juice and rind and then stir in well beaten eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon
  7. Draw off the heat and pour into a bowl (it will thicken as it cools).
    To Assemble
  8. Spread the whipped cream and lemon curd or berries over the meringue (be generous)
  9. Roll up length-ways (or width-ways, depending on how big you like each slice) and carefully ease onto a serving plate
  10. Pipe cream along the top of the roulade, decorate with crystallized lemon peel, berries, elderflower, mint leaves… whatever you fancy!

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Two of Sally’s favourite ways to eat her smoked fish

Recipe #1: Smoked salmon with honey and cracked pepper


Smoked wild salmon, thinly sliced (Sally’s, if you can get it)
Runny honey (the best quality you can get)


Arrange the salmon on a plate
Drizzle or dot the honey very sparingly over the salmon
Add a few twists of pepper


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Recipe #2: Smoked haddock, lime and cracked pepper


Smoked haddock, thinly sliced (Sally’s, if you can get it)


Arrange the haddock on a plate
Squeeze the lime over the haddock
Add a few twists of pepper


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