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Hilton Park’s News

‘Hidden Ireland’ by James Fennell & Josephine Ryan. Published by Blackstaff Press.

We are thrilled to be included in this new coffee table book on some of the most charming houses in Ireland.

James Fennell’s evocative photographs combine with Josephine Ryan’s lively, authoritative text to tell the story of Hidden Ireland.

The Hidden Ireland group is a collection of historic Irish country houses where visitors can stay. All privately owned, the houses and much more than accommodation – together they form a group of Ireland’s most beautiful houses, and they stretch the length and breath of the country.

This stunning hardback offers privileged access to these houses and their owners – from our stately home in landscaped parkland in Co. Monaghan, a family home since it was built in 1734, to a Georgian mansion in Co. Cork that has diversified into glamping and on-site gin distilling.

Featuring eclectic interiors, family portraits and prized collections of fine porcelain, as well as the stunning architecture and gardens that these houses are known for, James Fennell’s evocative photographs combine with Josephine Ryan’s lively, authoritative text to tell the story of Hidden Ireland – the history, the style and the personalities that are at the heart of these glorious houses.

The book was launched at The Little Museum of Dublin on 29th November. Over a hundred people turned up to cheer on the book whilst sipping on Bertha’s Revenge tipples and Mont Irish Mountain Beer. Massive thanks to the wonderful team at The Little Museum of Dublin for hosting the event.

Review of Hidden Ireland, the book in the Irish Examiner.

Sense and Sensibility Open Air Theatre Sunday 1st July

Magical theatre in magical surroundings

Chapterhouse Theatre Company is proud to present Sense and Sensibility at Hilton Park on Sunday 1st July, promising to be one of the most enchanting and unmissable events of the summer.

Take a step back in time with Chapterhouse Theatre Company to meet Jane Austen’s most most lovable characters.

Join Chapterhouse Theatre Company this summer as Elinor and Marianne Dashwood make their first forays into the exciting world of Regency society. Adapted by award-winning writer Laura Turner, this exquisite and lively tale follows the sisters as they fall in love, make mistakes and experience heartbreak for the first time in their quest to find a balance between sense and sensibility.

Picnic in some of the most beautiful gardens and enjoy a night of magical theatre under the stars.

There will be a wine bar and local Monaghan food truck Blasta serving international cuisine.

Gates open at 5.30pm.  Performance 7pm. Please bring your own rugs or low backed seating.

To buy tickets to this performance click the link below

https://www.seetickets.com/event/sense-and-sensibility/hilton-park/1202937

To buy tickets and stay the night at Hilton Park click the link below

To book to stay at Hilton Park with ticket click here

 

Lucy Madden’s Blog

Some years ago in Belfast I bought a banana plant.  I was assured that it would, with proper care, in time bear fruit.  I’m still waiting, although every year huge new leaves unfurl from its base.  The disappointment is lessened by the fact that today bananas are seen everywhere, all year round.  It’s hard not to think that if bananas were not so universally available, they would be more valued as a tropical delicacy.

Transportable, digestible, full of nutrients, a good banana is a remarkable fruit, the perfect fast food in its own packaging.    It’s no wonder that after the citrus, the banana is the world’s most traded fruit.  In 1999 there was much excitement on an archaeological dig in south London when a perfectly preserved banana skin was discovered.  It was dated back to 1500 but it seems unlikely that the banana was anything but an oddity in Tudor times since its popularity is a more recent phenomenon.  Whether you like your bananas bright yellow, with brown spots, brown patches or black, there are few better snack foods.  If you don’t like overripe bananas, turn them into bread or muffins, as in the recipes below.   Heating the fruit intensifies the flavour and emphasises the starchiness.  Banana sandwiches, beloved in my childhood years, seem to have fallen out of favour with the young.  Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Elvis is said to have met his end with a banana fried in a sandwich with peanut butter and bacon.

The best bananas are said to come from the Windward Islands where small farmers work thin volcanic soil on steep slopes in uncertain weather conditions, conditions which allow the fruit to develop more slowly – resulting, the producers claim, in thinner skins and a finer flavour than those grown in flat fields under constant sunshine.  Similar weather conditions are never going to prevail in my garden, which is why my quest to produce the fruit is unlikely ever to succeed.

 

BANANA BREAD

This is more of a cake than bread.  Eat it warm from the oven or it is almost as good next day.

 

2 ripe bananas, mashed

75g/3 oz butter at room temperature

110g/4 oz brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

225g/8 oz plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

50g/2 oz sultanas

Cream the butter with the sugar and stir in the egg, the vanilla essence and the mashed bananas.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg and stir into the butter/sugar mixture to combine the ingredients well.  Lastly stir in the sultanas.

Spoon the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake at Gas 4/350F/180C for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the loaf.  Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out.

 

BANANA MUFFINS

2 ripe bananas, mashed

225g/8 oz plain flour

110g/4 oz caster sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg, lightly beaten250ml/8 fl oz milk

120ml/4 fl oz vegetable oil

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and make a well in the centre.  Blend together the remaining ingredients and mix into the dry ingredients until just blended.  Take care not to overmix.  Spoon into 12 muffin cases or greased muffin tins and bake at Gas 6/400F/200C for 20 minutes until well risen and springy to the touch.

 

BANANA PARCELS

 

For 6 people

6 medium bananas

2 tablespoons butter

2-3 tablespoons soft brown sugar

6 tablespoons cream

Cut 6 large squares of foil.  Peel and slice the bananas and divide between the foil squares.  Divide the remaining ingredients between the parcels.  Gather up the foil, twisting the top to seal, and either place on a cooling barbecue grill for 20 minutes or cook on a baking sheet at Gas 5/375F/190C for about 20 minutes.

 

 

Lucy Madden’s Walled Garden Blog

It must be admitted that the frozen pea has spoiled us for the seasonal treat of the fresh pea, but I have to concede that the freezing process has probably been more successful with the pea than any other vegetable.  In spite of this, as every gardener knows, the joy of bringing the first basket of peas into the kitchen is hard to rival.  It’s important to eat fresh peas as quickly as possible after picking as the flavour begins to degenerate with the sugars turning into starch.   Once picked peas have made the journey into a shop, I would say it is too late.  Best of all is to grow your own, but if you do buy them, make sure the pods are as plump and green as possible.  Otherwise, it is probably best to cook with the frozen varieites.

We have to thank the Italians gardeners of the sixteenth century for introducing us to peas which have remained a popular staple of our diet ever since.   Today there are confusingly many different kinds of peas available.  Imported mange-tout, sugar peas, snow peas and sugar snaps are in the shops all year round and will grow well in our own summer gardens.  Peas have been domesticated since the Stone Age, and there is a story that in the 1800s an archaeologist excavating the ruins of Troy dined on peas he had found in an ancient storage jar.  More than 3000 years old, the 440 pounds of peas were still edible!

EARLY SUMMER PEA SOUP

There are many ways of making pea soups, using older peas or frozen peas, but the delicate flavour of a soup made with the freshest of young garden peas, is hard to beat.  This is a special occasion soup.  Keep a handful of the pea pods to add to the pot.

About 600g/1 ¼ lb shelled peas

175g/6 oz spring onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

175g/6 oz butter

250ml/8 fl oz cream

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped mint, parsley or tarragon

Melt half the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the onions and garlic.  Cook over a low heat until translucent and then add the peas and the reserved pods and about 1.5 litre/2 ¾ pints water.  Simmer until the peas are just tender, taking care not overcook.  Puree in a blender and then sieve.  Pour into a clean pan and reheat until just below boiling point.  Stir in the remaining butter, cream, seasoning and herbs.

PEA CUSTARDS

These delicate little custards can be eaten on their own or served as an accompaniment to fish or poultry dishes.

450g/1 lb shelled peas

150ml/5 fl oz milk

150ml/5 fl oz cream

5 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg

Put the peas into a pan containing an inch of fast boiling water, cover with a tight lid and cook for no longer than 6 minutes.  Puree the peas and any remaining cooking liquid in a blender or food processor.  Push the pea puree through a sieve with a wooden spoon.  Pour in the milk, cream and eggs and season with salt and pepper and a little nutmeg.  Pour the mixture into 6 buttered ramekin dishes or a 1.5 litre/2 pint basin.  Place in roasting tin half filled with boiling water and cook at Gas Mark 4/350F/180C for 45 minutes.

To serve, cool the custards for 5 minutes and then run a sharp knife around the edge of the moulds.  Turn upside down and gently shake each out onto a plate.

PEAS WITH BACON AND NEW POTATOES

Throw in a handful of skinned broad beans to this and some chopped fresh herbs.

To serve 4:

8 rashers bacon, diced

2 tablespoons oil or butter

Enough small new potatoes for 4 (depending on your appetite)

A few mint sprigs

350g/12 oz shelled peas

A few shredded lettuce leaves

Fry the bacon lightly in the oil or butter.  Add the potatoes and the mint sprigs. Pour over about 400ml/3/4 pint water, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, adding the peas and lettuce leaves 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

 

 

Lucy Madden’s Food Blog-February

These cold mornings should have us all reaching for the porridge oats.  It is said that a bowl of porridge will keep you going for half the day since the raw ingredient, oatmeal, is a whole grain complex carbohydrate that is low in fat, cholesterol free and rich in fibre. It’s also a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin B1.  As if this wasn’t enough, eating porridge, too, helps the brain produce serotonin, a substance that keeps spirits up and appetites down.  No more reaching for the biscuit tin mid-morning then.

Of course there is much more to oatmeal than porridge.  Whether you buy oats in the form of rolled oats, jumbo oats, pinhead oatmeal or finely ground oatmeal, you have an ingredient that can be used in many different ways in cakes, biscuits and puddings.  Oats are a staple ingredient of black and white puddings, are sometimes used as a crust for roasting meat, and are essential in flapjacks.  Try adding oats to a crumble mixture or mixing them with fresh fruit, cream and a little sugar to make an instant pudding.  Oats can be added to meatballs or make a good coating for oily fish such as mackerel and herrings fried and served with some crispy bacon and a wedge of lemon.  Or stir a few spoonfuls of oatflakes into some chopped onion softened with butter.  This dish, known as skirlie, sprinkled with a little chopped parsley, was traditionally served as an accompaniment to fried fish much as you might serve potatoes or rice.

Oatflakes have long been used as an ingredient in soda breads as in the recipes below.  The ingredients can be mixed in a matter of minutes and you have none of the proving times necessary when making bread with yeast.  It is difficult to be accurate with oven times, since ovens vary, so the recommended times are not rigid.  The way to test whether or not a loaf is cooked is to turn it out of the tin, or upside down, and tap the bottom with your fingers.  If it sounds hollow, your bread is ready.

OATMEAL BREAD

150g/ medium oatmeal

300 ml/1/2 pint water

150ml/5 fl oz natural yoghourt

350g/ 11oz plain flour

1 level tablespoon baking powder

1 level teaspoon salt

extra oatmeal for sprinkling

Put the oatmeal into a large mixing bowl.  Stir the yoghourt into the water and mix into the oatmeal.  Leave so that the oatmeal can soften for at least 1 hour.

Place a sieve over the mixing bowl and sift in the plain flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a knife, cut and stir the ingredients to make a soft dough.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about 3 turns, just to remove any cracks.  Form the dough into a round disc, about 5 cm in depth and transfer this to a floured baking tray.  Using a floured knife cut a deep cross through the bread to allow it to cook evenly.  Bake at Gas Mark 6/400C/200F for 25-30 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool.

PINHEAD OATMEAL BREAD

450g/1 lb wholemeal flour

225g/8 oz pinhead oatmeal

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon bread soda

25g/1 oz soft margarine

500ml/18 fl oz buttermilk

 

Put the wholemeal flour and pinhead oatmeal into a large mixing bowl and sieve in the salt and bread soda.  Using your fingers, rub in the margarine and then pour in the buttermilk.  Stir until the mixture is smooth and then put into a greased bread tin and bake in a hot oven Gas Mark 7/425F/220C for 10 minutes then lower the heat to Gas Mark 5/375F/190C for about 25-30 minutes.

 

SPRING SODA BREAD

 

Even if there’s not much sign of it, we can pretend that spring is on the way.  If you don’t have tarragon, use another chopped spring onion.

 

225g/8 oz wholemeal flour

375g/13 oz plain flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon bread soda

25g/1 oz soft margarine

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

50g/2 oz medium oatmeal

600 ml/1 pint buttermilk

 

Put the wholemeal flour into a mixing bowl and then sieve in the plain flour, salt and bread soda.  Rub in the margarine and then stir in the spring onion, parsley, tarragon and oatmeal.  Stir in the buttermilk and then knead lightly until smooth.  Shape into two rounds and place on a greased baking sheet.  Using a floured knife cut a cross on the top of each round and sprinkle with a little wholemeal flour.  Cook in a preheated oven Gas Mark 6/400C/200F for 25-30 minutes.  Eat while fresh.

Pride & Prejudice Open Air Theatre

CHAPTERHOUSE THEATRE COMPANY presents Open-air Garden Theatre Pride & Prejudice at Hilton Park on Sunday 23rd July 2017

Hilton Park open air theatre

Magical theatre in magical surroundings

Chapterhouse Theatre Company is proud to present Pride & Prejudice at Hilton Park, promising to be one of the most enchanting and unmissable events of the summer.

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s death with the revival of their critically acclaimed production of Pride and Prejudice.

Take a step back in time with Chapterhouse Theatre Company to meet Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen’s most loveable heroine. When Elizabeth meets the rude and abrupt Mr Darcy, she loathes him at first sight. But is there more to him than meets the eye?

Brought to life by award winning writer Laura Tuner, this brand-new adaptation celebrates the 200th Anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and promises to be the most splendid evening of the summer.After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Gates open at 6pm.  Performance 7pm. Please bring your own rugs or low backed seating.

Click this link to go directly to book Pride & Prejudice tickets

Book to stay at Hilton Park along with theatre tickets

Ticket Prices: Adults €19/ Child €14 / Family (2 Adults & 2 Children) €56

10% discount for parties of 10 or more.

Lucy’s Madden Food Blog

One of the advantages – and yes there are many – of getting older is one’s memory bank of recipes that have gone out of fashion.  Recipes that have been passed down the generations for centuries are often lost in the desire for modernity.  We have been so influenced by Mediterranean cooking too that many of our traditional dishes have been forgotten and much to our detriment.  Pasta often replaces potatoes, our wonderful butter is shunned for olive oil, tiramisu has taken the place of old favourites like treacle tart.  I well remember the puddings of my childhood; we always had one and it was the highlight of out meal.  This might have had something to do with the fact that there was not the same choice of savoury foods available and the main course was often predictable, but at the same time how we looked forward to our puddings.

These were usually made from ingredients that you would find in a normal store-cupboard.  Occasionally there was cream on the side but more likely custard.  I don’t know if modern children are familiar with custard, but if not, they are missing out.  A warm jam sponge fresh from the oven and doused with custard cheers the grimmest day.  It may not be sophisticated fare, but it hits the spot.  It’s a message too, that someone has taken trouble over the meal.   Below are three puddings I remember from my childhood that you hardly come across these days.  They deserve to be remembered.

 

 

QUEEN OF PUDDINGS

 

600ml/1 pint milk

Rind of 1 lemon, pared with a potato peeler

25g/1 oz butter

150g/5 oz caster sugar

75g/3 oz fresh white breadcrumbs

3 eggs, separated

4 tablespoons raspberry or apricot jam

 

Put the milk into a pan with the lemon rind and heat until the milk is just beginning to form a skin.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 50g/2 oz of the caster sugar.  Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved and then remove the lemon rind.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Beat the yolks into the milk and breadcrumb mixture.  Pour into a buttered ovenproof dish.  Put in a roasting tin half filled with hot water and bake in a low to moderate oven Gas 3/325F/170C for 45-50 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Spread the jam over the surface.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the remaining sugar whisking all the time.   When the meringue is very stiff, spoon it over the jam, covering it completely, and bake in the oven at the same temperature for 30 minutes, until the meringue is golden.

 

LEMON SURPRISE PUDDING

The ‘surprise’ of this pudding is the unexpected sauce concealed beneath the sponge.

50g/2 oz butter, plus extra for greasing

Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons (keep rind and juice separately)

110g/4oz caster sugar

2 eggs, separated

50g/2oz self-raising flour

300ml/10 fl oz milk

Butter a 1.2litre/2 pint baking dish.  Beat the lemon rind, remaining butter and caster sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and flour and beat well.  Gradually whisk in the lemon juice and milk (don’t worry if the mixture curdles at this stage).  Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture and pour into the baking dish.  Put into a roasting pan half filled with hot water and bake at Gas 5/375F/190C for about 45 minutes until golden.  Eat at once.

 

CREAM AND YOGHOURT PUDDING WITH DEMERARA SUGAR

This is so easy to make it’s almost embarrassing to admit it.   You can eat it on its own or with stewed fruit of the season.

300ml/10 fl oz cream

150ml/5 fl oz natural unsweetened yoghourt

Demerara sugar

Whip the cream fairly stiffly and fold in the yoghourt.  Put into a bowl and strew the surface with demerara sugar, as thin or thick as you like.  Leave overnight in the refrigerator.