‘Wrecked’. The word of the week that simply defines the whole mood of the student body. We now have a routine. Mistakes in the kitchen actually mean something. I had two good cook this week. Out of four. Not great in fairness. Moving swiftly along… this week is the week of chocolate, Irish traditions and getting a job. Oh! and cheese making.
Monday brought chocolate mousse with orange segments and deliciously gloopy pouring cream. YAS. I served it in a cheeky cocktail class. Very 70s, I know. I then made a french onion tart with shortcrust pastry. Shortcrust is my Everest. Majority of the time it turns out crisp and golden however sometimes it has a little crack here and there. If anyone else has this problem I may have the answer to your conundrum. Pastry is fragile so I found that using less water then the recipe says has worked out in my favor. Obviously gauge the feel of your flour when you add the egg first, then add water slowly. Too much water and it will evaporate in the oven, the pastry then shrinks and alas cracks.
Monday evening I was one of eight people being taught how to make cheese. Maria works in the dairy and is so passionate about good produce it’s completely infectious. We made is a Gouda style farmhouse cheese. It won’t mature for 3 more months (until we leave Ballymaloe) but I am so excited to try the same technique at home. I’ll probably start with butter making first, baby steps.
Tuesday was the day of lamb, I made Shepard’s pie. ‘THE PERFECT MASH’ took us all an hour or more to do and still was not ‘PERFECT’. GAHHHH. In fairness I loved piping the potato into little peaks but JAYSUS they are tricky. All in all the pie was a solid effort. I whipped up some mayonnaise too (not pictured). My housemate Joel challenged me to a ‘mayo off’ (who could whip in the oil the fastest). He won the battle. I will win the war.
Wednesday we learned ‘how to get a job’ with Darina Allen. It was pretty intense, with a massive list of jobs we qualify for at the end of the course. Darina does 1:1 sessions to chat about how she can guide us in the right direction. This is required in my case. Any jobs? Basically my thought process at the current moment. It’s lovely to have a fresh start but its scary giving up one career to pursue something completely different. Again, any jobs?
Thursday was a better day in the kitchen. I got a 10 for presentation on our daily marks which was very welcomed after a shitty start to the week. I whipped up some meringues into a roulade with pomegranates and rose water. Again, I got to pipe which is a newfound love of mine. It’s just so satisfying getting the perfect rosette. Just me? Grand. While that was being assembled I dripped natural yogurt (from the farm) through a muslin cloth. After two hours (or overnight if the yogurt is thin) it becomes Labneh which is a type of cheese. Very easy for literally anyone to make. Add some sea salt, olive oil, one mild chili, anchovies and finely chopped mint and serve as a starter or a fab canape with flat breads.
Friyay. The general consensus is that we need more sleep. But before sleep we need to cook crumbed bacon, piperonata and white chocolate mediants. My other housemate Louis (Who’s birthday is tomorrow. Happy Birthday Louise) and I cooked one loin of bacon between us. We initially called him Bobby the bobbing bacon, then switched it to Kevin Bacon. Inspired. Then I cooked Piperonata which is bacially peppers, tomatoes, onions and seasoning which is sweated down until tender. I also had a bit of time to melt chocolate and set into mediants (tiny chocolate discs). I ran out to the rose bush and grabbed some fab pink petals to pop on top with pistachios, cranberries and hazelnuts. One tip: work quickly before the chocolate gets cold and seizes. On Friday night a bunch of us headed into Sakura in Cork City for sushi. Everyone was given Macha tea to start and then we had enough Saki to drown out the week. Splendid.
On Saturday I was in Ballymaloe helping the team that do ‘Saturday’s Pizzas’. It essentially a pop up restaurant every Saturday that cook wood fire pizzas. I got to do the prep with Philip who runs the show. Dillon and Katy showed me how to shape the dough ball into a pizza. I had such a laugh. It’s such a great idea for anyone who loves customer satisfaction. I can’t wait to try the dough out at home.
Sunday morning we woke up at 6 and went to watch the ‘sunrise’. It was cloudy and wonderful. Grace and Charlie got to see a drizzly sunrise in Ballycotton. Fab. Yay for week four!