Ballymaloe Day 36: “A pan of water to a furious boil”

Muttering mild expletives under my breath, I sliced the apple into thin slivers and placed them onto my tart.

Back in the kitchen for the start of week six, I felt quite drained and my energy levels were far from their peak.

I’m back in Kitchen 2 for the week and though tired, I was excited about making pasta for the first time.

First off and attempting to brush aside my dislike of shortcrust pastry, I set to work at making a base for my carmelised apple tart.

Then hopping onto noodle duty, I gathered my ingredients to make my pasta dough and you know those moments when everything seems to go in slow motion? Well, that happened.

As I slowly added a teeny bit more egg white to bind my dough, the whole lot topped into my big bowl and I stared at it in horror as it turned it a sticky gloop.

Musing at my dilemma, I nabbed Rachel Allen who had been wandering around our kitchen and asked her if she could help me salvage my pasta.

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Saved! Back on track and with help from the expert, I began to knead my mini-gloop into a more acceptable shape and eventually it came together.

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By the way, a side note about Rachel, she is an absolutely lovely, talented and kind person and though we bombard her with questions, she always keeps a cool head and is willing to share what she knows (plus she took my pasta photos!)

Behind time and in the desperate need to get my tart and tartlets in the oven, I abandoned my pasta temporarily and scooted back to my shortcrust.

This is where the cursing came in! Painstakingly peeling and slicing apples, my eyes glared at the big tart and 12 tartlets that sat before me.

Finishing well behind schedule and delighted that things were eventually presentable, it turns out that I was in fact proud of my tarts and the effort I put into it was worth it!

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Skipping back home for a quick change of clothes, I headed into demo hosted by Rachel.

Demonstrating a rather amusingly-written recipe for a beetroot salad by Scotsman Jeremy Lee, Rachel pointed out the humorous way he wrote down his method.

“Bring a pan of water to a furious boil!” he writes, “should chives be at hand, then slice them very thinly in readiness”. Noted!

Admiring the vast array of fabulous dishes in front of our host, we got to taste and I can safely say that it was one of the best tastings we had yet.

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Roast chicken is on the menu tomorrow and I’ll be serving that alongside mushroom a la crème.

Some random things I learned today:

  • One way to check if a chicken is done is to give a little tug on its leg. If you feel like it’s coming off then it’s cooked!
  • You’re not allowed to shoot a hen pheasant during the shooting season, except if it’s on a driven shoot where they add pheasants to the grounds.
  • Jerusalem artichokes brown very quickly after being cut so place them in water and lemon while you cut to keep them clear!
  • Romaine and Cos are the same lettuce and curly parsley has stronger taste than flat.
  • A good recipe will list the ingredients in the order that they are used!
  • Dry chives on a sheet of kitchen paper and they’ll chop for you much more easily.
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