Ballymaloe Balloons

07 Feb 2012

I know, I know, yet another sinfully caloric, overly indulgent, sugary, post. Yes, but this time I have an excuse: Kiddos! We made these up on a Saturday morning after a little farmer’s sleepover and they went down a storm.

While my experiments in Irish baking seem to know no bounds, I like to think they are for the greater good as the fruits of my baking are ultimately bestowed upon hungry farmer bellies. While my amazing mother-in-law, Peggy, still prefers to prepare the large daily dinner feast for the men on the farm each afternoon, I contribute by way of baked goods and puddings. A win-win for all. We get to nibble a bit and then share with others. I have become convinced that baking and sharing is the key to a happy life.

These “Ballymaloe Balloons” were originally created by legendary Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House. They have since made their way into to both Darina and Rachel Allen’s kitchens + cookery book repertoires. They are quick and easy to make as they don’t include yeast so no need to raise dough, plus you don’t need a deep fryer, you can simply use a frying pan and flip them when golden. Roll em’ in sugar & cinnamon and serve immediately.

I am super excited to announce another fun giveaway, perfectly suited for this wintery time of year. A new Irish brand that I find innovative, creative annnnnnnd practical: Slugs & Snails tights for boys! I stumbled upon these beauties a few months ago and they made me wish I had a baby boy again. Slugs & Snails are a small family run business, which started in 2008 with the birth of their son, Noah. Living in an old house, atop a cold windy hill on the west coast of Ireland, keeping Kat’s newborn baby boy warm was a priority, and tights were the obvious solution, yet she simply couldn’t find any tights designed for little boys.

No stranger to farm living either, Kat and her family bought a farm in 2007 and have raised a pig, chickens and look after their vibrant veggie patch. Couple her country living background with the fact that she has used PacMan ghosts for one of her designs, and I immediately had to order a pair for my nephew-in-law!

Simply said, they ROCK.

PS. Girls can wear em too =)

Leave a comment below to win two free pairs of Slugs & Snails tights for boys, perfect for your baby boy or for a baby shower gift. Kat will ship internationally.

Slan Abhaile,


Photo by Imen. Styling by Geoffrey McDonnell and his sweet little hand 2012.

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A Tale of Two Trifles

02 Dec 2011

I once compared our crazy marriage to sherry trifle: there are lovely sweet creamy bits, some definite fruity parts and pieces that go down hard.

Trifle is a new holiday tradition for me here in Ireland. I’m afraid the closest we came to trifle at Christmas when I was growing up was probably something involving Jell-o, whipped cream and fruit….unfathomably, the liquor part never caught on at our family gatherings Stateside.

Since I am in charge of the turkey and trifle for this year’s Christmas dinner, I decided to try my hand at whipping up a bowl this afternoon using a combination of both my mother-in-law and sis-and-law’s recipes that we could taste-test before the big event. I need to be positive that it’s juuuuusst right, no? {cough}

Every year my mother-in-law makes what we like to call her “Pioneer’s Trifle”. Pioneer, because as a young girl she took a lifelong vow to abstain from drinking alcohol, which in Ireland earns you the ‘Pioneer title.  And ‘Pioneer’s Trifle’ because:

Me: How would you describe your mother’s trifle?

Farmer: It’s a Pioneer’s Trifle.

Me: Why do you call it that?

Farmer: Because you wouldn’t want to be driving after eating it.

Her trifle is basically a massive jelly (Jell-o) shot with fruit and sponge suspended in it. The sponge has nearly disintegrated from being soaked in lashings of Sherry or Cognac. We spoon it up and serve it with a dollop of cream on top and it goes straight to your head. As far as the pioneer status? Eating alcohol is different than drinking it.

My lovely sis-in-law uses her own mother’s recipe which is a creamy, custardy version sans alcohol with fresh berries. Different, but equally glorious.

The hybrid of the two turned out positively divine. If you wanted less sponge, you could take out one layer. You can also omit the sherry or cognac, but I wouldn’t…

Next Wednesday, the 7th of December, I will be donning my butter apron for a fun holiday butter demo at The Tipperary Food Producers Christmas Cookery Extravaganza, taking place at the Clonmel Park Hotel in Clonmel, County Tipperary. The event features Rachel Allen preparing a variety of delicious dishes including her unique take on traditional Christmas favourites. Clonmel-based wine expert, Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine, will be giving guidance on wines to accompany the variety of dishes from the cookery demonstration. Doors open at 7:30PM. Homemade butter makes for a lovely edible Christmas gift! Come along to learn how to make your own and present it in pretty, festive packaging. I’d love to see you there =) xx

Holiday Sherry Trifle


600g/20oz Madeira or sponge cake, halved and cut into thick slices

300g/10oz fresh strawberries

6-8 tbsp sweet sherry or cognac

1.5 pints of prepared raspberry gelatin

500ml/ 2 cups thick custard, ready made or homemade

500ml/ 2 cups double or whipping cream, softly whipped

Handful, toasted, flaked almonds and fresh red currants


The trifle can be made in one large glass dish or into individual dessert glasses

Line the bottom of the dish or glasses with the cake slices.

Pour over sherry or cognac

Pour over cooled gelatin

Hull the strawberries and then layer evenly over the cake. Press lightly with a fork to release the juices.

Spoon over the custard in a thick layer.

Finish with a thick layer of whipped cream either spooned over or piped on using a piping bag

Decorate with toasted flaked almonds and pearls of red currants

Put in fridge to set for 2-3 hours before serving.

Slan Abhaile,


Photo and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2011

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