Ballymaloe Cookery School Week 2

Ballymaloe Cookery School Week 2

“Don’t you dare use low fat milk or leave out the cream or I’ll appear to you” – Darina Allen

I can’t believe I have two weeks completed. They have flown past but it also seems so long ago since we had our first supper together in the Garden Cafe. While week one was very much a settling in exercise, week two has seen the pace increase considerably. I can feel myself becoming a better cook.

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The demonstrations have been great this week. We had Rory (O’Connell, Darina’s brother and former head chef at Ballymaloe House) for the first time on Monday, he was brilliant. He explains everything very clearly while somehow getting through an unholy amount of recipes. Wednesday was one of my favourite days with a morning lecture on dairy and cheese making with Eddie O’Neill followed by a wine lecture in the afternoon. It was very interesting to see how easy it is to make your own cheese and yoghurt and it is something I will certainly be trying once I finish the course. The Thursday demo was also very interesting with Rachel showing us how to fillet a fish while taking out the pin bones in the process, we all got a chance to practice this on Friday morning and although it’s a little tricky, we all managed to do it successfully. Darina’s demo on roasting was also of great interest and I’m looking forward to trying the recipes out on Monday morning in the kitchen.

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Apart from the demonstrations, I also had a good week cooking. The workload is increasing by the day but there never seems to be too mush pressure or stress. I was delighted to learn how to tell if a chicken breast is cooked by touch and successfully put it to the test on Monday morning, I haven’t poisoned anyone yet! There are plenty of things I want to achieve and master while on the course but one of the main ones is desserts. I’ve always stayed clear of them, they require a certain discipline that I’ve never possessed. That all changed last week when I made a delicious chocolate fudge pudding followed by a rich chocolate bread and butter pudding. Another thing I want to improve upon is my soup making and, on the same day as my chocolate fudge, I made a surprisingly nice celeriac and hazelnut soup. The lesson in all of this: be disciplined and follow the bloody recipes.

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I almost didn’t get home this weekend as I realised I had a flat tyre just when I was about to leave. With no spare I crawled into Shanagarry where Brendan in Broderick’s kindly sent me in the direction of Ballycotton (after pumping up the tyre) to a mechanic who was still working at 6.30 on a Friday evening. Fair play to him! I had a great weekend. I brought Penny for a lovely long walk on The Curragh , went to see The Revenant with Ali (surely Leo will get the Oscar!) and we had a lovely brunch at VDC @ The Curragh. Roll on next week.

Quotes of the week:

“Cooking is all about getting yourself out of a pickle if you get into it” – Darina

“Don’t you dare use low fat milk or leave out the cream or I’ll appear to you” – Darina, talking about bread and butter pudding

“Whatever turns you on, as they say” – Darina getting excited about the first wild garlic of the season

“Brain is almost entirely made of fat…..if someone calls you a fathead it’s a compliment” – Eddie O’Neill

“Have you made candied peel yet? Isn’t it the most heavenly form of torture!” – Rory O’Connell

“If you’re in need of a good source of roughage, the skin of ginger probably isn’t going to do it for you” – Rory

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