Ballymaloe Day 33: “Like a fine, cashmere blanket”

The chili made its way under my nails and over my knuckles – my hands felt like they were on fire.

Today I had three dishes to get prepped, and with a sense of Friday calm, I busied myself chopping, peeling and dicing vegetables.

Rachel Allen was around in our kitchen today, and it was nice to have her floating around and being so willing to help us out despite her busy schedule.

Tomato and chili jam was a long task, and given my rather confusing relationship with chili I suspected that it would somehow make itself into my system.

In a bid to stop the tingling sensation, I hand to dip my hands into a bowl of milk and swish it about – it must have been a bizarre sight!

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(My watercress, walnut and goats cheese salad with kumquat compote)

With all my dishes plated up and ready for tasting, I was so taken aback when Pam served me up my best scores yet on this course and my first proper 10s.

Her comments about my dishes and how I worked today really meant a lot to me because she seems like the type of person who wouldn’t throw out compliments unless she really meant them.

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(My tomato and chili jam)

In high spirits I quickly whizzed back to our house to change for demo.

Rachel was taking us for the afternoon and one thing that I love about her is that she loves to finish on time!

With soufflés, monkfish, homemade pasta and tarts on the menu, she flew through the recipes and I increasingly became more hungry.

Musing about the sauce on her filleted monkfish, Rachel said that “it should sit on the monkfish like a fine, cashmere blanket” – very Rory-esque!

After demo, we get to taste each of the dishes she cooks and by far my favourite was the cheese soufflé. With layers of oozing cheese – how could I resist?

In typical Ballymaloe-style, after coming home from demo I began to joint my chicken on the kitchen counter.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of blue and red and who came bounding through the house but Darina Allen.

“The chickens are here! The chickens are here! Come see the chickens” she announced, and you can imagine my absolute horror as I held the mutilated chicken carcass in my hand.

Turns out that we had just gotten a delivery of 200 chicks and they were hanging out in the Palais du Poulet (as you can see below, I was quite taken!)

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The weekend awaits and it’s hard to believe that week five has officially come to a close. Time to swot up on herbs and salad leaves!

  • Don’t dry homemade pasta on top of an Aga, it tends to dry out too quickly. Instead consider just using a clothes horse! You’ll fit loads on it.
  • “00” flour means that it’s a much stronger flour but very fine.
  • Unsmoked bacon is also known as “green bacon”.
  • Planning on making chips? Here are some good potato varieties to make them with: Kerr Pinks, Sante, Colleen and Setanta.
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