Ballymaloe Day 18: “The wetter, the better”

The buckets clanked against my legs and the ends of vegetables and creamy bits sloshed onto my apron. The hens were going to have a feast!

Today was probably one of the most chaotic days in the kitchen with people rushing around and battling for ovens (I managed to cut off most of my nail while fiddling with a container).

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“The early bird catches the jelly bag!”, Florrie announced while handing out our dripping devices for our preserves and while I was lucky enough to nab one, the time it took to prepare was quite tedious.

My order of work was completely abandoned while filleting fish and my apple jelly decided to be very bold and not set.

Aside from that I had to make tortillas for Daniel’s quesadillas, and getting them to the right size and thinness took tremendous patience.

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Everyone was rushing around and despite finishing at a ridiculous hour I was pretty proud of how things (eventually) pulled together.

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(My apple and mint jelly!)

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(My pan-grilled pollack fillets with homemade parsley butter)

For demo today we had two lecturers – Rory took on the savoury dishes and Pam breezed through bread and dessert.

Showcasing a lovely almond tartlet, she topped it with grapes that she painstakingly individually peeled and removed the seeds within. Guess who has to do that dessert tomorrow?

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We were also introduced to white yeast bread, where she stressed the importance of having the right texture in our dough: “The wetter, the better!”

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Like a reliable “parent”, at the break I headed down to my cheese, Brienne, who has to be looked after once a day and was waiting patiently for me at the dairy. Since my last visit, she’s been covered in brine and is enjoying life among the other cheeses. C’est la Brie.

Stretching our limbs in the sun, we toddled back into demo to catch the last of the cooking action with our teachers.

Like all good chefs, the pair pulled together a welcoming feast, and with the heartwarming aromas of zucchini trifilati wafting down into the front row, I was once again inspired by food.

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I’m heading home to Kerry tomorrow to see Mammy Kavanagh and to head to the Dingle Food Festival. So heads up, chances are that the blog will be late tomorrow night but don’t worry, it’ll be live when it’s live!

Some random things I learned today:

  • “Whether you want to be the next René Redzepi or whatever, you must master the simple things like a Béchamel Sauce!” – Rory
  • It’s important to make bread by hand to become familiar with the texture and what it should feel like.
  • Always keep a sharpening steel by your side when you’re filleting a fish.
  • The difference between chutney and relish is that relishes are usually made from pickled vegetables and chutneys are usually made from fruit.
  • A good rule of thumb when serving fish? 6 ounces for a dinner portion and 3 for a starter.
  • Just to clarify: Ballymaloe Cookery School is not in the same location as Ballymaloe House which also houses the Grainstore and Café. Though they’re related, they’re about 5km away from each other.
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