“Don’t use boards……you can’t put them in the dishwasher…..” – Blathnaid Bergin
It was such a good feeling walking back into the Cookery School on Monday morning, Mid-Term exams behind us and a weight off our shoulders – for the moment at least. I got my results on Tuesday and was thrilled to receive 95% in my Herb and Leaf Recognition and 100% in my Technique exam, I’m making good progress!
My Monday cooking session started off slowly (again); it seems to take me the first morning of the week to settle in. I prepared three dishes: a classic Irish Stew, Colcannon and Focaccia Bread. Each recipe turned out well but I did slice my finger while peeling potatoes, typical! On Tuesday I got to cook some of my favourite dishes on the course so far: Country Terrine with Brandy-Soaked Livers, Cheese Soufflé and Pancakes with Orange Butter. Thursday I took on the difficult challenge of making Ballymaloe Cream Pastry. This recipe is tricky to get correct, the dough is quite wet and hard to handle but creates the most beautiful pastry, perfect for my Caramelised Apple Tarts. To finish Week 7, on Friday I made Spring Rolls for the first time – completely worth the effort, they were delicious!
The Demos were very enjoyable this week. Darina and Tim are currently travelling through India, so Rachel and Rory led most of the workshops. I really enjoyed Pat’s Smoking Demonstration, which took place after hours on Wednesday. It’s hard to keep going after a tiring day in the kitchen, but it was interesting to see how easy it is to get the smoking process started, even if the trial and error nature may mean you have to wait a while for a decent result. Pat’s Hot-Smoked Duck Breast was one of the nicest things I’ve eaten, amazing flavours. Another revelation was Rory’s Polenta on Tuesday. I’ve always liked Polenta and have used it myself in cooking but I never imagined it could taste that good!
On Friday, Ali and my Mam came to visit for the weekend. Ali had some time off from her teaching, so they decided to come and stay for two nights. They arrived from Kildare just in time for lunch with the students and the afternoon demo with Rachel. They really enjoyed seeing Rachel in action and had a great time sampling all the dishes. I introduced them to some of my teachers, my room-mates and fellow students. The three of us stayed in a B&B in Ballycotton and had a great weekend sampling the local eateries. On Saturday morning, we had a gorgeous breakfast at The Café at Stephen Pearce Pottery, I loved my choice of Black Pudding on Homemade Sourdough with Poached Egg, followed by a tour of the Ballymaloe farm and gardens. We spent the afternoon shopping in Cork City, one of Ali and I’s favourite places. We had lunch at the Farmgate Cafe in the English Market, dinner back at Pier 26 in Ballycotton and finished the night with a nice few drinks at The Blackbird, my first time in a pub since starting the course! On Sunday we opted for brunch at the Kilkenny Design Centre in Shanagarry, sampling some lovely desserts and we said our goodbyes. It was really nice to have my family visit and to have a break from the drive to Kildare!
Quotes of the Week:
“It looks like a tangle of some description” – Rory, after spending about 15 minutes decorating a tart
“When you get perfect curls of Parmesan it means it’s not as mature as it should be” – Rory
“Close your eyes and they taste of nothing!” – Rory on sugar-snap peas
“Has absolutely everybody made flaky pastry? Right well I can tell you, with a degree of certainty, that you’ll never make it again in your life” – Rory
“Can you see how good the tart looks? And the Normandy Pear one doesn’t look bad either” – Rachel, as Pam is glazing the Normandy Pear Tart