Ballymaloe Cookery School Week 3

Ballymaloe Cookery School Week 3

“There you are, there’s life in the old dog yet….” – Darina Allen

Another week down and another week closer to our 6 week exams. The reality of the ‘Leaf Recognition Test’ is starting to hit home but more about that in another post!

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Week 3 was a great week for me. I had been sick last week and after a good weekend of rest and recreation, I began Monday with lots of energy and enthusiasm. The demonstrations were enjoyable this week, with an emphasis on the art of preserving. We learnt how to pickle in vinegar and how to preserve in oil; handy techniques to know. Upon seeing it in our weekly plan, I was interested to see how Ballymaloe does Bacon and Cabbage. It’s a dish that has never appealed to me but turned out to be one of my favourites of the week; the quality of ingredients really makes the difference. Wednesday morning (Theory Day) we were treated to a magnificent demonstration on how to use the cheaper cuts of meat. The demo was great but getting to try all the samples at lunch was the best part! Thursday and Friday’s demos were excellent too, with fresh, live shrimp aplenty and a workshop centered solely on how to make great burgers, leaving us all hungry by the end.

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It was a successful week for me in the kitchen, rounding off with two 10/10’s on Friday for my Apple and Sweet Geranium Tart and my Prawns. I did have a disaster (or three) with my Brown Soda Bread however, not one of my attempts worked! I moved on to a delicious Brown Yeast Bread on Friday but have vowed to return to the cursed soda next week. My desserts are still flying and this week I completed Home-Made Macaroons, Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Saint-Emilion and the aforementioned Apple and Sweet Geranium Tart. I have never enjoyed cooking desserts before but am finding myself drawn to them when I see them on our work sheet; maybe there’s a pastry chef hidden somewhere beneath. I also enjoyed the extra practice at jointing a chicken, removing the oyster as part of the leg in the process, no wastage here!

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My favourite activity this week was waking up at 7am on Tuesday morning to milk the cows. I had been dreading the extra early start but I think I could quite happily do it everyday. The glass of milk straight from the cow was exactly as described – like warm ice-cream. On Wednesday afternoon, Darina gave a talk on job prospects when we leave the course. It’s hard to think about it now but it’s only nine short weeks away. I’m not sure exactly of what will come after but it’s time to start thinking about it. If anyone has any suggestions……..!

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Quotes of the week:

“The really choice bit of the snipe is the brain actually” – Darina goes all Hannibal Lecter on us.

“It’s where the vegetarian movement was years ago: it’s good for you so it doesn’t need to taste good” – Darina on the raw food diet.

“This is a high-stool job which definitely doesn’t turn everybody on” – Darina on crystallizing flowers.

“There’s Michelin style garnishing – with lots of little dots and skid marks on the plate” – Darina

“So many people can’t cook for toffee” – Darina

“I really sound like the Reverend Mother now” – Darina, as her voice goes after a full day of lectures.

“Can you see Pat’s buns?…..they’re really nice……Pat they’re gorgeous!” – Rachel, admiring Pat’s burger buns.

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2 thoughts on “Ballymaloe Cookery School Week 3”

    • Thanks Susan, I think it’s all about not over handling and working it as little as possible. Its funny as I’m quite good with the more difficult yeast breads but the soda catches me out!

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