Ballymaloe Day 26: “Here at Buttermaloe”

With a long wooden spoon in one hand and a spatula in the other, I started today’s cooking with determination in mind.

The end of week four was just in my grasp and I wanted to go out of Kitchen 2 on a high note.

I had a blackberry, apple and sweet geranium tart, strawberry jam and a curly kale soup on the go and with the Friday feeling buzzing around the kitchen, I made sure that I didn’t accidentally knock things over, cut myself or destroy a dish.

Mamie was stepping in for Gary as our teacher, and with her watchful eye I put together the pastry for my pie and its topping (I’ve a definite mental block about pastry, despite the fact that I’m marked down as being “good at it”, in my technique list!)

In a mini-moment of frustration, I noticed that someone had turned down my oven from 180 to 150 and my pie was crying out for extra heat (pet hate here on the course, an honest mistake but the importance of actually looking at the dial is so important).

In the end, it was a happy day in the kitchen, and giving myself the rather nerdy pie approach (I put a Twitter bird on top of it), I was happy with all of my dishes.

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Rachel Allen joined us for demo today, and taking on the task of choux pastry, she pulled each dish off like a pro.

As you might have guessed, butter is king here in Ballymaloe – none of your low-fat shenanigans, only pure buttery goodness here.

Funnily enough, and despite delving headfirst into “Buttermaloe” as Rachel affectionately calls it, I’ve managed to lose a few pounds while on this course, which is rather amusing.

“Colour means flavour”, Rachel remarked while cooking up her meals, and how right she is. As long as it’s not black, burnt and smoking, it’s potentially bursting with flavour.

As a special treat, JR Ryall a pastry chef from Ballymaloe House, came in to demonstrate how to make fudge and marshmallows.

What I’ve found amazing about this course is how from the outside, the things you thought were tough, are actually quite straightforward.

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By the way, tomorrow is apparently Rachel’s birthday so Darina brought in a lovely cake for her as an early treat!

We’ve had a fair few birthdays on the course so far, and it’s rather amusing when we all burst into song and take a huge breath when it comes to the person’s name. It ends up sounding like this:

“Happy Birthday dear… [big pause] mumble mumble!”

Tonight a group of us are heading to the Blackbird in Ballycotton for a few tipples and tomorrow myself and Sophie are popping over to Midleton Farmers Market.

Next Monday I’m in the demo kitchen, and I’ll be attempting to make chocolate éclairs. Here’s to week four – we did it!

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Some random things I learned today:

  • Lots of roe in a fish usually means a lot of flabby bits, so that’s not good!
  • Chili con carne literally means chili with meat.
  • Black sole is the most expensive flat fish to buy over here.
  • Make sure that you have a dry tea towel if you’re using an oven. You could burn yourself with a wet towel, even a damp towel – I’ve the marks to prove it.
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