Week five brought lots of prep for our midway exams next week. We jointed chickens, filleted flat fish and segmented citrus fruits. I need to practice all this week. Chicken or fish anyone? You sure? It’s jointed! It was a week of fermentation, pushing ourselves a little harder in the kitchen and a cheeky whiskey tasting to top it off…
We get to work with the freshest produce most people can only dream of. One area of this produce is seafood. Ballycotton day trawlers go out and bring back spanking fresh fish and shellfish. Thankfully for us Ballymaloe have a fab relationship with the local suppliers, so on Monday we got a delivery of razor clams, mussels, oysters and clams. For someone like me (who adores seafood) it’s just so cool to appreciate how fresh the ingredients we work with are. I made two platters of shellfish with homemade mayo with some mussel cooking liquid added to loosen the mayo.
On Tuesday we made breakfast. Everyone was deliriously happy. There was Bucks Fizz. Happy days. I baked a massive batch of granola with golden syrup as the binder, it was gorgy! Every student cooked a full Irish. Being Irish this wasn’t a challenge but it was super fun. I learned that to get the perfect fried egg you should not flip the egg. Keep it sunny side up and put a saucepan lid on and the steam cooks it perfectly.
Wednesday was a fun day. Colm our wine expert came in with John Wilson (wine writer for the Irish Times and writer of several wine books), they brought eight wines for us to try. EIGHT. They are only samples so it’s all G but still EIGHT WINES! Learning about Spanish wines and how progressive the different regions are for the future of wine was so interesting. The two men have a love for sherry and wanted to push the thought of our granny offering the sherry left opened on the liquor cabinet from one Christmas to the next from our minds. I think its an acquired taste. Actually I know it is. It’s rotten. Maybe my palette is not sophisticated enough.
In the afternoon, we had a fermentation lecture with Emer one of our tutors. Ballymaloe love fermenting foods to retain the nutrients and preserve the food in between the seasons. Emer prepared water and milk Kafir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut and Kambucha in the most amazing flavors. My absolute fav was strawberry, basil and pepper. I would drink this happily for years on end. Apparently Kafir has amazing health benefits like improving your digestion system and boosts skin health.
Thursday was a fab day! I made a lemon meringue pie with lemon curd. With a little bit of help from my tutor Tracie (what a legend) I have finally understood how to line a flan ring perfectly. FINALLY! Everest completed. With a bitter lemon curd, a crusty short pastry and a googy marshmallowy meringue it was beyond yummy. I used a large rosette nozzle to pipe my meringue, it’s easier then it looks so anyone can do it.
On Friday we jointed yet another chicken to start our day. My tasks were a Shanagarry chicken casserole with mushroom ala creme, ulster champ, buttered cabbage and coriander aioli. This casserole is delicious, the meat falls off the bone. It you google the recipe it should come up. V easy. I piled on the corriandor at the end, it adds another depth of flavor and some MUCH needed color.
On Friday night we were invited to a whiskey tasting in the Blackbird pub that was such good craic. The ambassador for Kilbeggan was gas! He had the thickest Armagh accent of anyone ever. Sound man. Fab night with the Ballymaloe fam.