Ballymaloe Day 3: The need to knead!

Still no blue plasters on my fingers so all’s well in camp Ballymaloe this evening.

Each day we’re to prepare an “Order of Work”, where we time out how we plan to spend our kitchen time and let’s just say, when it came to cooking the plan went out the window.

We’re meant to be in the kitchens by 8.30am but everyone was in by 8.00am measuring up ingredients and bustling around. I had to cook a Quiche Lorraine, a Middle Eastern Salad and an extra pesto with my partner Paula, and so tried to master the cumbersome weighing scales.

It’s quite strange cooking with so many people in the same room – not only do you have to be wary of keeping measurements but you have to be keeping your station clean, having an eye on ovens and making sure you don’t accidentally stab someone.

I never realised how long pastry takes, from making it, to popping it in and out of the oven – the need to knead is crazy!

So far, speed has not been on my side, and I finished up tired and worn down at about 12.15pm – 15 minutes over the preferred 12pm deadline.

Despite having a slightly too short-shortcrust pastry (irony), and not remembering to dress my salad, overall I was happy, if not a bit overwhelmed.

photo 1(1)
(My Quiche Lorraine)

photo 2(2)
(My Middle Eastern Salad)

Lunch came and went, and strangely enough I didn’t feel hungry at all. Ballymaloe has been very weird in the sense that I don’t feel like I need food, despite being surround by aroma all morning – and I’m not the only one! (Maybe this myth of losing weight while here is true after all…)

Understanding that we were physically not very present in the afternoon demo, Darina’s brother Rory O’Connell got us to all stand up and stretch our arms to the ceiling. We looked like awful yoga amateurs, but it worked on getting the energy back.

Today was the first day that Rory was with us and I was pretty excited – all the blogs that I read before heading here said that he was their favourite teacher. For our amusement, he was in charge of showcasing the 14 dishes we’re going to reproduce on Friday from Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart, Candied Peel and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Wasabi and Mascarpone to traditional White Scones (take a second to imagine what it’s like to try and take in all this info!).

photo 3(4)
(Rory’s scones and jam, they’re so light and beautiful)

Sage advice from Rory today? “Don’t try to be an Olympian in the first week, or you’ll be an Olympian without a finger”.

By the way, Darina brought in three dead birds so we had a plucking party in the courtyard during our break.

photo 1(2)

Come 6pm and after our information fill we trudged out headed back home.

Currently I’m sitting in the communal area with a few of the girls, attempting to work the TV and getting down to our filing system – we live riveting lives folks!

Tomorrow we’ve a theory day (a nice break from the sweaty kitchen), and we’re getting to learn all about… wait for it… CHEESE. Bring on the fromage.

Some random things I learned today:

  • 180°C in the oven will sterilise jars if you’re planning to make jam or pesto.
  • If beans squeak when you eat them, they’re undercooked.
  • Majoram is part of the Oregano family.
  • Reserve pasta water to help it unstick if it becomes stuck together.
  • If you scoop out a cucumber, you can use the seeds for a gin and tonic.
  • You can usually tell what sauce a pasta needs by its shape – things like Penne has two open ends so a sauce that runs easily through is preferred whereas a pasta with a curve in it, like Conchiglie, would welcome a thick sauce with open arms.
  • I can officially survive on 6 hours sleep.
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