New Recipe: Allison Abernethy: My life in food

Allison Abernethy from Abernethy Butter discusses her souffle hopes and favourite cake.

Do you think you’re a good cook?

I love to cook and bake. I was taught by my mum and granny and I have taught my children to cook as well. When they both went to university their friends were amazed that they cooked properly instead of pinging something in the microwave.

If I see a recipe I like, I will always have a try at it. My husband will then say do it again or do not bother. It’s good to try something different. I find baking very relaxing and of course use plenty of good butter.

Your most memorable dish was…

I made beef Wellington for my mother’s 80th birthday last year – I had a fabulous fillet of salt aged beef from Hannan Meats to make it. It took two days to prep/make but it was worth every minute. I use the recipe from Calum Franklin’s Pie Room cookery book.

Are you more sweet or savoury?

Depends on my mood – sometimes I want cake and sometimes it’s crisps. Sometimes it hard to beat crackers, cheese and chutney.

I’d love to be able to make…

Souffle – I have never tried but will soon. It looks scary on the TV waiting for it to rise and not collapse.

Which food(s) do you dislike?

I hate lamb, liver and salmon – they will never cross my lips. I do cook them for my husband though as they are some of his favourites.

What’s your favourite restaurant in NI?

I do not have a favourite as l love them all. It would not be fair of me to state just one. So many use our butter we try and visit to support them as well. I do love to eat fish so it would the first thing it would pick from a menu. I would quite often have a fish starter and main. We have such good fish in Northern Ireland.

What’s your favourite comfort food?

On a cold winter’s night nothing beats a homemade shepherd’s pie with the sauce bubbling over the edge of the dish and crispy potato on top. I love proper homemade Battenberg cake which is really hard to make. My daughter made me one for my birthday last year. It took her four hours but it was worth every minute. My husband and daughter got one slice and the rest was mine.

What’s your favourite cuisine?

I love good Chinese food. When I go to London I always visit Chinatown.

Your last meal would be…

Scampi and chips with honey chilli chicken on the side and Battenberg cake with a mug of tea. Simple but tasty.

Which celeb chef do you rate?

I have a list – Nigella Lawson, Marcus Wareing and James Martin – all Abernethy butter fans and of course, Paula McIntyre and Alex Greene, also butter fans and big supporters of Northern Irish foods.

Nigella often mentions our butter on Instagram.

Both Marcus and Paula have used our butter in their cookbooks and James has used the butter on Saturday Kitchen.

Do you enjoy a takeaway?

Not very often but it would be a chippy tea. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good Chinese restaurants near where I live so that would be a really special treat.

What was the first dish you learned to make?

My mum had me cooking from about age four – probably sausages and potatoes. She also taught me how to make soda and wheaten bread, pancakes, scones.

I can remember standing on a stool in the kitchen beside the Aga turning pancakes.

My dad taught me to make butter. I lived on a farm and we were more self-sufficient in those days. Everything was made from scratch.

For more information on Abernethy Butter, made by hand using traditional methods, see

Belfast Telegraph

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