Family treats

To mark the first Grandmother’s Day the Irish Examiner invited readers to send in their favourite recipe taught to them by their grandmother. The eight winners spent last Saturday cooking their dishes with Darina Allen at Ballymaloe House.

Billie Turnbull’s Granny’s Madeira Cake

“I think this should be a winning recipe because I am a diabetic and my nana made this especially for me.”

175g (6oz) butter or margarine

12 tbsp Splenda or 175g (6oz) caster sugar

3 eggs

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

A little milk if necessary

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Cream the butter or margarine with the Splenda in a bowl until light and fluffy and pale in colour. Beat in the eggs. Sift the flour and fold into the mixture. Add the lemon rind with the flour. Add a little milk if it’s very stiff. Turn the mixture into a greased and lined (7 inch/18cm) tin. Bake in a fan oven at 145C/275F/Gas Mark 1 or in a conventional oven at 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 1 – 1¼ hours.

Janet Payne’s Granny’s Oriental Sweet and Sour Pork

“For as long as I can remember Granny has been asked to make this recipe for parties to the delight of those who taste it. I would love to see this recipe win the prize, because even though she probably wouldn’t say so herself, she really deserves it.”

350g (12oz) pork fillet

2 level dstsp of seasoned corn flour

1 clove of garlic

1 medium sweet green pepper

225g (8oz) tinned pineapple chunks

3 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

2 ripe tomatoes, quartered (optional)


1 chicken stock cube

300ml (10fl oz) water

2 tbsp honey

1 dstsp soy sauce

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Cut the pork into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes and toss in the seasoned cornflour. Remove the stalk and seeds from the pepper and chop. Drain the pineapple cubes, reserving the juice. Heat the garlic in the oil. Fry the pork cubes briefly until brown on all sides. Lower the heat and add the chopped pepper and continue cooking over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks, mushrooms and tomatoes for the last five minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by dissolving the chicken stock cube in the boiling water. Mix with honey and soy sauce. Blend the leftover cornflour from the dish with a little of the pineapple juice and add to the mixture. Bring to the boil and cook for three minutes, stirring all the time. Add it to the pork and stir well.

This dish can be served on a bed of organic rice or with mashed potato.

Kellie Murphy’s Granny’s Bacon and Cabbage

“I like bacon and cabbage because it is really delicious, and every time I go up to my Nan’s house she cooks it for me. I think it should be kept in our family because I love it so much and it is a traditional Irish meal.”

Loin of Bacon



Put the bacon in a pot and cover with cold water. Make sure it is covered with water at all times. Boil the bacon for an hour depending on the size. Chop up your cabbage then wash it. Put the cabbage in the pot with the bacon and leave for a further 30 minutes. Serve with potatoes.

Leah Flynn’s Granny’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake

“My nannie’s chocolate biscuit cake is the best. It was her mammy’s recipe and now my mammy makes it too. I think it should be passed on because people will remember my nana, my mammy and me. When they make it they will have lots of fun cracking eggs, licking spoons, spreading chocolate and eating it up, of course!”

2 x 300g (11oz) packets of rich tea biscuits

350g (12oz) butter

225g (8oz) caster sugar

4 dstsp cocoa powder

3 eggs

225g (8oz) milk chocolate

1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin, lined with cling film

Break the biscuits into a bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together, stirring all the time. When melted, add the cocoa powder. Allow to cool slightly. Beat the eggs lightly and add to the butter, sugar and cocoa mixture. Add the broken biscuits and mix well. Fill into a lined loaf tin. Leave to set in the fridge. Turn out of the tin and cover in melted chocolate.

Lynda O’Gorman’s Granny’s Rissoles with Onion Mash

“My grandmother’s name is Mary Miller. She is 87 and I am the eldest of her 11 grandchildren. As a child in my grandmother’s house I was adored, spoiled rotten and more than anything else, fed.

“When conversation turns to favourite dinners, last meal or death row requests, mine is always the same: Granny’s Rissoles with onion mash and baked beans. This is a simple, inexpensive, ordinary dinner which always leaves me feeling, nourished, nurtured and loved.”

450g (1lb) round steak, minced

A small handful of sage, chopped

1 egg 1 cup of breadcrumbs

1 small onion, finely chopped

Mix everything together until fully combined. With wet hands form the mixture into palm-sized burgers. Fry gently on a medium heat until cooked through. Serve with onion mash and Batchelor’s baked beans.

Onion Mash

6-8 medium potatoes (Kerr’s Pinks)

Salt 50g (2oz) butter

225ml (8fl oz) warm milk

½ onion, finely chopped

Peel the potatoes and cut into halves or quarters. Place in a saucepan of cold water with a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain off all the water and allow to steam on the warm ring for a minute or two. Add a pinch of salt and mash. Then add the butter and warm milk and beat with a wooden spoon (the sound of this rigorous beating will act as a dinner gong and bring the starving hoards to the table!) And don’t forget the onion.

Maeve Brennan’s Granny’s Queen Cakes

“I love my Nan’s cakes because when you bite them they are so creamy and you can put on any colour icing. I’d like to win this because I’d love to spend a day with my Nan.”

168g (6oz) margarine

168g (6oz) caster sugar

3 eggs

252g (9oz) self-raising flour, sieved

Place the margarine and sugar in a bowl. Cream together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well into the mixture. Fold in the sieved flour. Place a teaspoon of the mixture into each cake case. Bake until golden brown and springy to the touch. You can add 28g (1oz) of coco if you want chocolate cakes. Ice the queen cakes with white or chocolate icing and decorate as you choose.

Meghan Ali Maguire’s Granny Grunt’s Boiled Fruit Cake

“My granny has been making this for as long as my mum can remember. It’s all done in a saucepan, apart from cooking, so it suits all lifestyles from student to super-cook. The wash up is minimal. This cake arrives at all our birthday parties and family celebrations. Friends would ring up and ask for charity donations of a fruit cake. Granny is 66 and is very small and lively so we all call her ‘Granny Grunt’ for no logical reason at all!”

450g (1lb) margarine

600ml (1 pint) water

350g (12oz) brown sugar

450g (1lb) sultanas

4 large free-range eggs

900g (2lb) self-raising flour

2 tsp mixed spice

Put the margarine, water, sugar and sultanas into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool until it’s warm to the touch. Add the eggs and mix. Mix the spice and flour together and add gradually to the saucepan.

Line 2 x 900g (2lb) loaf tins with greaseproof paper. Fill the mixture into both tins. Bake at 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for 1½ hours. Test with a skewer to ensure it’s cooked.

Aoife O’Callaghan’s Granny’s Apple Tart

I think this is a great recipe because it is tasty with hot custard and we go to my Granny’s house to eat it with a cup of tea. It is the best apple tart ever and she a great cook. That is why I love her and this recipe!


175g (6oz) margarine

350g (12oz) flour

Pinch of sugar

Drop of water


6 cooking apples, chopped

4 cloves


Rub margarine, flour and sugar together in a bowl until they look like breadcrumbs. Gradually add drops of water, mixing the ingredients together until you have combined everything into a dough. Flour your table, place half the dough on the table and roll over to a thin round flat pastry, the size of a dinner plate. Place the pastry on a dinner plate, place one layer of chopped cooking apples, some cloves and a spoon of sugar on top. Roll the second piece of dough and place on top of the apples. Pinch around the edges and prick the top with a fork. Place in a hot oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes. Leave cool for two minutes then enjoy with hot custard or cream and dust with icing sugar.


John’s chairs will last a lifetime, but he is also passing on his knowledge to a new generation, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: The ancient art of súgán-making is woven into Irish family history

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