Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Recipes

Northern Ireland country estate owners share their mouth-watering family recipes


Ballywalter Park estate: Lady Vibeke Dunleath outside her stately home
Ballywalter Park estate: Lady Vibeke Dunleath outside her stately home
Crannagael House: John and Jane Nicolson at their family home in Portadown
Ballymote House: Nicola and James Manningham-Buller and dog Nia at their Downpatrick home
Larchfield Estate: Sarah Mackie at her Lisburn home
Newforge House: John and Louise Mathers at their home in Craigavon

By Lorraine Wylie

During the past few months, the owners of Northern Ireland's oldest and most beautiful properties opened their doors to reveal their fascinating histories in our special Weekend magazine interview series. Now, they share with Lorraine Wylie a slice of their culinary past by revealing some favourite family recipes

Ballywalter Park Estate, Co Down

Irish Style Hake

Lady Vibeke Dunleath: "Interestingly, this is one of the first documented recipes using mashed potatoes!"

What you'll need:

700g (1.5lb) hake, cleaned weight (cut into two fillets)

470ml (1/3 pint) milk

1 small onion, sliced

6 cooked potatoes

15g (0.5oz) butter

1 egg, separated

Parsley and lemon garnish


3tbsp soft breadcrumbs

2tsp lemon juice

1tbsp chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


Combine the stuffing ingredients to make the filling. Lay one of the hake fillets in a long narrow, greased, ovenproof dish. Cover with the stuffing mix and lay the other fillet on top.

Pour the milk around the fish and scatter sliced onions over the top. Cover with foil and bake in a moderate oven (180C/gas mark 4) for 30 minutes.

For the potato mixture: combine the butter and egg yolk with the mashed potato. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into the potato and egg mixture. Remove fish from oven and cover with the potato mixture. Return to oven and allow to brown for a further 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and slices of lemon.

Pheasant Pithivier

Lady Dunleath: "Our old menus show that the Dunleaths would have had pheasant in April."

What you'll need:

4 pheasant breasts

50g (2oz) currants, soaked in balsamic vinegar

50g (2oz) smoked bacon lardons

5 shallots, chopped

A pack of puff pastry

1 beaten egg

For the gravy:

Pheasant trimmings

1 garlic clove, crushed

4 fresh sprigs of thyme

2tsps flour

3fl oz red wine

17fl oz good chicken stock or pheasant stock


Soak the raisins in the balsamic vinegar for at least 1 hour.

Cut the 4 pheasant breasts in half across the middle.

Using the mincing attachment of the mixer, put one half of each pheasant breast through the coarse cutter. Do the same with the bacon and shallots.

Combine and season the mixture with salt and pepper.

To make each portion, place a lightly oiled cling film inside a small domed mould and line with puff pastry (leave enough pastry overhanging the sides of the mould to bring together to form a parcel).

Firmly press 2 tablespoons of the pheasant/bacon and shallot mixture into the mould, bringing it up the sides.

Place the remaining pheasant breast in the centre and cover with more of the stuffing mixture. Wrap over the pastry ends to form a dome-shaped parcel. Ensure it is well sealed and turn out. Re-line the mould and repeat till all four are done.

Place on baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and cook for 20-25 minutes at 200C until golden.


Separate the thigh from the legs and add all other trimmings. Fry with garlic and thyme until golden. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 1 minute then add the wine. Boil briefly before adding stock. Return to boil, simmer and reduce until it thickens, then strain.

Newforge House, Craigavon, Co Armagh

Newforge House: John and Louise Mathers at their home in Craigavon

Spiced bramley apple chutney

Louise Mathers: "This chutney goes well with strong flavours and is particularly great with cheese and cooked meats."

What you'll need:

1 litre cider vinegar

450g granulated sugar

1kg bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

300g eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

200g stoned dates, chopped

250g sultanas

450g onions, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed

1tsp cayenne pepper

1tsp paprika

1tsp mixed spice

1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

2tsp salt


Put all the ingredients, except the eating apples, into a preserving pan or a big heavy bottomed saucepan.

Bring steadily to the boil, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the chopped eating apples. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens, stirring regularly. Spoon the chutney into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Store in a cool, dark place for two months before eating.

Chocolate Cremeux

Louise Mathers: "This is a decadent dessert, good with a toffee sauce or homemade ice cream. And, it's also gluten-free."

What you'll need:

For the meringue base:

30g egg whites

60g caster sugar

2tsp cocoa powder

2 drops white wine vinegar


Grease and line a 20-inch springform tin. Preheat oven to 170C.

For the base, whisk egg whites into soft peaks and gradually whisk in sugar until stiff and glossy. Sieve over the cocoa powder and sprinkle in a couple of drops of white vinegar. Whisk to combine. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins. Leave to cool.


Put 240g finely chopped chocolate into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk 100g egg yolks and 50g caster sugar until pale and thick consistency.

In a large pan, gently heat 250ml cream and 250ml milk together until just under a simmer, then pour over the egg mixture, whisking all the time. Pour the custard mixture back into the pan and heat gently, stirring until it coats the back of a spoon. Pour over the chopped chocolate, leave for 2 minutes then stir until the chocolate is melted.

Gently pour the cremeux over the meringue base and cover the surface with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Chill for at least four hours until set.

Ballymote House, Downpatrick, Co Down

Ballymote House: Nicola and James Manningham-Buller and dog Nia at their Downpatrick home

Nectarine and Rose Jam

Nicola Manningham-Buller: "This jam is soft set and therefore doesn't keep long. But that's not a problem in my house as it is one of my favourite jams. It's delicious on ice-cream as well as scones. Our guests even like to dollop it on their porridge."

What you'll need:

1.5kg (3 lbs) very ripe nectarines

Juice and zest of 2.5 lemons

1kg (2 lbs) of caster sugar

A few drops of rose essence

Pinch of salt


Chop up the nectarines (stones removed) into smallish pieces and add the lemon zest and juice plus a pinch of salt.

Place everything into a wide, large, shallow saucepan and simmer gently for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked and the fruit is broken up.

Add sugar to the pan and stir until dissolved. Boil rapidly until it reaches setting point, approximately 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for around 15 minutes.

Add rose essence to taste and pop into sterilized jars.

Banana Ice-cream

Nicola Manningham-Buller: "This is not really a recipe, it's more of a process!"

Whenever you have a few bananas left over, peel and chop them into chunks before freezing on a plate. Later, transfer them to an airtight bag and pop them back in the freezer.

When there are enough bananas frozen (around six), put them into a food processor and chop roughly.

Add double cream (about 500ml) and continue processing until it becomes smooth (or leave some chunks if you wish).

If you wish, throw in pieces of chocolate pieces or raisins, and it's delicious with caramel sauce.

Larchfield Estate, Lisburn, Co Antrim

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Larchfield Estate: Sarah Mackie at her Lisburn home

Citrus Cured Salmon

Sarah Mackie: "My mother-in-law recently landed an 8lb salmon at Ballynahinch Castle, and duly made the record book there for a salmon caught in March. I love this recipe - it's an ideal starter."

What you'll need:

500g of thick organic salmon fillet, skinned and pin-boned

30g sea salt flakes

30g caster sugar

Finely grated zest from 1 lemon and half an orange

ªtsp black peppercorn

ªtsp coriander seeds

1ƒtsp chives finely chopped

Lemon chive cream:

200ml creme fraiche

2tsp Dijon mustard

ƒ lemon zest and juice

4tsps chopped chives

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Grind or process together the sugar, citrus zest, salt, chives, peppercorns and coriander seeds until they form a damp and gritty texture.

Spread half of the mixture on to a sheet of clingfilm the same size as the salmon.

Put the fish on top and cover with the remaining mixture. Cover with clingfilm and weigh down with a plate, and rest in the fridge for 24 hours.

Take out of the fridge, wipe off the curing mixture and pat dry.

Cover the fillet with Dijon mustard and scatter the herbs on top. Slice the fish into thin slices.

Make the lemon chive cream by mixing all the ingredients together - and serve with the salmon.

Easy but Delicious Scones

Sarah Mackie: "My daughter brought this scone recipe back from school last year. We often add handfuls of frozen raspberries and a small packet of white chocolate chips."

What you'll need:

Makes 8

250g (ƒlb) soda flour

50g (1ƒoz) sugar

50g (1ƒoz) butter

Enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, approximately 15 fl oz (three-quarters of a pint)


Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour for a few minutes and then add the sugar.

Gently add the buttermilk, using a spoon at first to bring it together. Use your hands to form it into a soft dough. Do not knead as it will be very soft and doesn't require much handling.

At this stage you can add extra ingredients such as raspberries, dried fruit or white chocolate.

Form into small balls - around eight - and place on to a well greased baking tray. Brush each scone with a little milk or beaten egg and bake in the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes or until they turn golden.

Crannagael House, Portadown, Co Armagh

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Crannagael House: John and Jane Nicolson at their family home in Portadown

Apple cake

Jane Nicholson: "I imagine that a blob of whipped cream on top of a slice of this cake would work well ... in fact, I must make another one right now!"

What you'll need:

225g self-raising flour

2tsp cinnamon

2tsp ground cloves

115g butter

115g light brown sugar

1 large egg

6-8tbsp milk

225 Bramley apples, chopped

100g sultanas or raisins

2tbsp demerara sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C (fan oven 160C).

Grease and line 20cm cake tin, one which is flatter rather than deep.

Mix the flour and spices in large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour until a large breadcrumb consistency forms. Stir in the brown sugar.

Beat the eggs and add to the mixture along with the milk - fold in gently. You should have a smooth, thick batter, so add the milk cautiously.

Add the apples and sultanas/raisins.

Mix gently to combine. Scrape the mixture into the tin and level it off.

Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake in tin to cool for 15 minutes before removing.

Apple and Walnut Chutney

Jane Nicholson: "This is so tasty and great with cheese."

What you'll need:

2kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped

450g onions, halved and sliced

1 large red chilli or a small one if preferred (deseeded and chopped). Some people may prefer less heat, but I think it needs a good kick!

500g light muscovado sugar

250ml cider vinegar

50g raisins

50g sultanas

85g chopped stem ginger (the stuff in jars - fresh ginger would work as well but would lack the syrupiness)

2tsp ground cinnamon

2tsp ground cumin

1tsp sea salt or to taste

90g walnuts roughly chopped and toasted (optional)


Put all the ingredients into a preserving pan or large saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves, stirring from time to time to prevent the bottom burning. Increase the heat a little and cook for about 35-45 minutes until the apples start to soften but still hold their shape.

Keep an eye on the mixture and stir it from time to time. It's ready when there is no liquid visible on the surface. Stir in the walnuts and put into sterilised bottles.

Belfast Telegraph


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