Tag Archives: 12 Week Cert

Things you need to know before doing the 12 week course at Ballymaloe Cookery School

So after spending 83 days at Ballymaloe Cookery School, I’ve taken in a phenomenal amount of information and have created things that I never imagined I could do.

On reflection there are definitely things that I think students should know before heading on this intensive journey, so I’ve put together a list of things I think might be of use – without bias.

If you’ve any questions about my experience, feel free to contact me and a pre-warning, this is a lengthy read. Let’s do this:

A car isn’t necessary, but it’s definitely helpful

I didn’t have a car while I was at Ballymaloe, but I can see how you would have gotten so much more freedom if you had one. To get to the shops in Midleton, I was reliant on housemates (who thankfully didn’t mind as long as you chip in for petrol), but if you want to go exploring the surrounding areas or breakaway at the weekend, it’s worth bringing a car if you can.

By the way, petrol is much cheaper to get in Midleton rather than in the local station in Shanagarry.

A single room can be a blessing

Thankfully this didn’t really affect me much because I had an awesome roommate here in Ballymaloe.

Though a bit more expensive, I can see how having your own space just for yourself can be pure bliss. By the way, where I was on campus the walls weren’t exactly sound proof so at times I benefited hugely from having earplugs.

You won’t always get on with everyone on the course.

Because you’ve got people on the course from all backgrounds, the chances are, are that you’re not going to get on with everyone. Like a lot of situations there will be a huge mix of personalities and while you can try to like everyone, some days it can be tough.

The most important thing I found on this course was to not try to fake it and treat people the way you want to be treated – don’t bitch about people and don’t alienate people.

There are people that are prone to gossiping and if that’s your thing, then that’s your thing, but I feel that you’d make way more friends by being a good teammate and a supportive friend. There are some days when a good cup of tea and a chat away from the kitchen can lift the soul.

Doing the extra-curricular activities gives you a richer experience

I had so much fun doing all the extra bits that aren’t strictly compulsory, as well as looking after a baby sourdough starter (wee Alfred), I also got to make my own cheese (howdy Brienne!) and help run to the stall at the farmer’s market.

Though you may not feel like getting up slightly earlier than usual to milk the cows or stay on in the evenings to hear someone do a talk, doing a bit extra is actually worthwhile.

Eat, taste, smell

Even if you know that you don’t like a certain type of food, taste it.

Think about it – what are the chances of you ever having such excellent ingredients at your fingertips? For years I didn’t think I liked walnuts, but as it turns out, a lot of the walnuts we get commercially are pretty rancid anyway. A fresh walnut is to die for. If you’re a picky eater than is it worthwhile even considering the course if you’re not going to embrace the food?

Keep to your rota

Something you’ll experience on the course: Inevitably the same people end of cleaning the dishes and cleaning the house, instead of it potentially becoming a glaring competition in your accommodation, stick to the rota that’s provided.

Same can be said for laundry days, there’s nothing worse than heading to laundry and having no machine available because someone nabbed your slot.

For those coming overseas, your bags will be MUCH heavier going back

I don’t remember this ever being mentioned before the course, but for those who’ve come overseas, bear in mind that you’ll be hauling about four large folders worth of paper back.

Ballymaloe Cookery School can organise costing for shipping but it’s good to know in case you were wondering halfway through the course and need to save cash. Better to plan in advance!

Faking a sick day is not worth it.

Consider how much you’re paying to do the course, then consider how much you’re wasting by not bothering to come in to cook or to demo. It’s not worth it and you may miss hearing some valuable tips and information.

Keep on top of your filing

You’ll understand once you start the course, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep on top of that pile of paper and file things properly. Keep things in folders so that you can find them and don’t worry about anyone else’s filing system. They’re your notes.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

I’m one of those people who plays out a scenario in their heads asking “Why? Why didn’t I ask that?”, so let me tell you that it’s up to you to take that leap and just ask. The teachers are there to help you, you’ve paid enough money, so don’t be shy. Even in demo, just raise a hand or call out, the chances are that five other people are wondering the same thing.

Don’t be tempted to talk during demo

Seriously, don’t. If you’re in rows further back the sound travels up through the room and to be frank, annoys the heck out of everyone. There’s plenty of time to have full-blown conversations outside of demo or at the break so bear in mind that other people have paid to do the course too!

Read, read, read

This isn’t stressed to you really until after the halfway point, but I genuinely think that it’s a good idea to start keeping notes on the things you learn from the beginning. You get a starter pack with some information on it and it’s worth flicking through. Whether it be a casual browse-through culinary terms, or gawking at mother-daughter sauces, know that they’ll be in your exams and throughout the 12 week you’ll be getting PLENTY more notes.

That being said too, familiarise yourself with various foods, cuts of meat and fish because that’s the stuff you’re meant to learn in your own time.

Personally, I would have preferred more continuous assessment on each topic rather than a Leaving Cert-esque exam week, but as long as you stay calm, revise on time and keep on top of your notes – you can do as best as you can in it. The exams are not easy by any means, they’re actually surprisingly hard (on this course anyway), but my advice would be to go through notes as early as possible.

Do you need previous cooking experience?

In the FAQ they say “there is no problem if you have no cooking experience whatsoever; this is a cooking school; our job is to teach you”, though I would slightly disagree on the experience point. I came in from a home cook background, only dabbling in my spare time but even my little dabbling helped me forward. In my opinion, I don’t think you can be a complete novice coming to the course, I think it’s worthwhile knowing a teeny bit about cooking or at least have a genuine interest. Why? Well the course is fast, it’s intense, there’s a lot to learn, and you could fall behind. Though of course the teachers do, do an excellent job at helping you along, you have to remember that they’ve six students to look after and it’s not a one-to-one for three hours each day. A little knowledge goes a long way.

You’re going to be exhausted

There are days when you’re probably going to feel angsty and down, but they will pass. But remember the majority of the days are happier days. Normally there’s a certain week when everything seems to a go in a downward spiral but know that there are many students who have gone through what you’re going through. When they say “intensive”, they mean “intensive” but also, incredibly rewarding.

If you put your heart into it, you can have a great time – I certainly did, and I’m glad I took the leap.

For those who have any other specific questions or about my experience, email me at unaminh[at]gmail[dot]com

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Ballymaloe Day 82: The final blogpost

Well it’s over, that’s it, c’est fini. 83 posts altogether including day zero – it’s been a roller coaster of a ride.

It’s hard to describe what how I’m feeling about the written exams right now, but the definite overall feeling that’s running through my veins is exhaustion.

I barely slept last night, and with about four hours under my belt, I headed into our final exams willing the day to just fly by – and that it did.

The exams were by no means easy – in fact they were very, very hard. Everyone I talked to today found them difficult and with three papers to get through, our energy levels plummeted quickly.

It’s hard to believe that we had that many things to learn on the course and to say it’s colossal is an understatement.

But that being said – the exams done and hopefully, though I’m not entirely confident, I did well.

Taking some time out to dance around my bedroom with my roommate Maddie, it’s now time to doll ourselves up and get ready for more nosh.

Tonight we’ve our final farewell dinner hosting by all of the teachers and Darina and Rory – so no doubt a fun-filled evening with food and wine is to be had.

Cheers! We did it! Bonne nuit.

If you’ve any questions about my experience here in Ballymaloe, about the course or your plans, feel feel to drop me an email to unaminh[at]gmail[dot]com.

Ballymaloe Day 78: “That absolute slap-across-the-face flavour”

The alarm went off at 7.30am, but I didn’t haul myself out of bed until 8am…

After a turbulent night’s sleep, I eventually managed to drag myself out into humanity with my chef whites on and knife bag under my arm.

Though shattered, it was actually a lovely morning in the kitchen, with an air of calm floating around each station. You’d never guess that we had exams starting tomorrow.

On the menu today was a lamb tagine with dates and couscous, along with melted leeks and as I started on my lamb, I found myself once again in that therapeutic trance-state while trimming off the fat.

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The tagine was happily bubbling away in the background and I got to work on my other dishes.

Today also saw us cooking lobster and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad as they went into the pot waving their claws!

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With a breezy morning under my belt and finishing way earlier than my usual self, it was sad to think that this was the last day that we’d be cooking as a group.

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(My lamb tagine – the sauce was rich with dates and spices)

We had the charismatic Rory in with us for demo today, and it was a delight to have him back teaching us for the final hurrah (we thankfully have him tomorrow morning too!).

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Going through an ar-RAY of dishes (see what I did there?), he cooked up sweetbreads, lamb kidneys, chocolate puddings and niblets, as well as cooking ray fish.

By the way, ray and skate love a good tickle and I used to love heading to the aquarium and giving their backs and bellies a rub – this said in all seriousness!

One thing that I’ve definitely learned while here is the value of less is more and focusing in on one thing that could just stop people in their tracks. As Rory puts it; “that absolute slap-across-the-face flavour”.

Home and already comfortably in bed surrounded by notes, I’m prepping for my cook ahead that’s on tomorrow. Basically the cook ahead allows you to prepare anything that might need more time to make like ice cream, panna cotta, pastry and things like that.

Incidentally, tomorrow is also our last demo of the course and it looks like we’re in for a treat – wish me luck?

Some random things I learned today:

  • You should store ray or skate separately to other fish because the ammonia in it will release onto your fish.
  • If you use unsalted butter you’ll have a more continental flavour but if you’ve salted butter it reflects more the flavours of these shores.
  • If you’re cooking lobster, you may need to put a weight down on the lid of the saucepan because they, understandably, start to lash out and sometimes try to get out.
  • Sweetbreads apparently taste better when bought during Easter! (Rory cooked ours and they were pretty delicious).
  • Lamb stock is probably the less flavoursome of stocks. If you’re looking to add more flavour it’s better to go for beef or chicken.

Ballymaloe Day 74: At the quack of dawn

Last night I managed to smash a pavlova on the floor, slip on a carpet and skid across the dining room and a dog grabbed one of my bread rolls and ran away (thankfully this was all in my dreams).

My dreams seem to be getting stranger and stranger and with the end in sight, I’m expecting them to end in a climax of crazy emotions.

This morning I was on salad duty, so getting up at the quack of dawn (prepare for duck puns), I headed into the cookery school to meet with Haulie, who’s one of the gardener’s here.

Scooting over the glasshouses, we hopped down and picked and plucked fresh salad leaves from the ground that would happily in our tummies come lunch time.

Heading into the kitchen before nine, it was time to prep for the day ahead which included a lot of duck!

When we get meat to cook here on the course, it’s not as simple as just getting part of the animal and working away with it – we’ve got to dismantle it.

With two large whole ducks plonked in front of me (I just needed the legs), I got to work on cutting away the meat and rendering down the fat. Looks like I had to wing it.

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I forgot to mention that the insides also tend to come with the duck too and I’m glad I’m not squeamish to say the least! (My partner Ian, see lead image, managed to get some action shots).

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(What came inside… mmmmmm)

Hacking away at the duck with a cleaver, it eventually got to the stage where I could pop it into the oven to cook away happily for the next hour.

Time whizzed by and like always I was close to the last person leaving the kitchen, but for the first time this week, I actually felt good about what I produced. Things were looking up.

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(Duck legs with onion and thyme)

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(Celery and toasted cashew nut salad)

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(Tomato fondue with plenty of parsley!)

Today’s demo came with an Asian feel, and with Emer as our host, we flew through and covered so many great things.

I love Asian food, and it was great to see her demo traditional Chinese/Vietnamese spring rolls as well as fresh rolls and Vietnamese dipping sauce – like sushi, I could lash these all up in a heartbeat.

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You mightn’t believe it at this hour, but I’m already in bed and running through notes for the impending final exams next week.

Oh by the way, guess what I’m cooking tomorrow? … Meringue… I’m definitely determined to defeat it this time!

Until tomorrow, slán agus beannacht.

Some random things I learned today:

  • Larger, flat mushrooms are just button mushrooms that have expanded outwards and gotten bigger!
  • Like most products, always check the label. When it comes to things like rosewater, see that it has just two ingredients: rose and water. Otherwise it’s more than likely a poorer substitute for that more natural flavour.
  • I’ve mentioned this before I think but worth remembering that one egg white is about 25g.
  • All rose petals are edible, as long as they haven’t been sprayed.
  • One way to see if a duck leg is done, is to see if the meat is pulling away from the knuckle, or if a skewer has no problem going through the meat.

Ballymaloe Day 63: Hitting the books

My surfboard hit the water and I pulled my arms through the waves to bring me forward into the ocean. The sun was shining down and all was clear – it was the perfect scene.

Sadly the above paragraph is a complete lie – if only my day was as tranquil and exciting as that! Today I had just one thing on the mind: studying.

Leaving a paper trail throughout the house, I’ve split my study topics in various sections with days for each topic (by the way, this sounds far more organised than it actually is).

Funnily enough I actually enjoy reading through the notes, I just wish that we had more weekly continuous assessment rather than one at the very end – brings back memories of the Leaving Cert.

So instead of boring you with how I broke down my time, here’s a refreshment course in what I studied today – hopefully you’ll find it somewhat interesting!

Smoking Food (really worth checking out)

Smoking helps inhibit the growth of moulds in a food but doesn’t fully preserve food – the ingredients you need to smoke have to be either salted or brined first.

It’s really easy to smoke food at home too – all you need is a metal container and a wire rack inside of it that can take heat underneath (a biscuit tin with a wirerack works wonders).

Hot Smoking

  • The smoking takes place inside the main chamber and needs to be at a temperature no lower than 55 degrees Celsius – you may even have to boost it to 82 degrees Celsius for smoking chicken.
  • Food is partially or fully cooked when hot smoked.
  • Keeps less than cold smoked.

Cold Smoking

  • Smoke is outside the main chamber and is allowed to cool as it passes over the food.
  • Cures the food slowly but doesn’t cook it.
  • Takes place by 10 – 30 degrees Celsius but ideally between 24 – 27 degrees Celsius.
  • To determine whether your food if properly smoked it should have a good, rich colour, firm texture but pliable to the touch.
  • It takes considerably longer than hot smoking.

Wood for smoking

  • It must be a hardwood from deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter), things like pine would give an odd flavour. Applewood is a solid choice!
  • Do not use painted or treated wood.

Curing (meat)

Salt draws out moisture and preserves meat.

Dry-Cure

  • Entails rubbing good salt liberally onto meat.
  • Salt can draw 26% of its weight in water
  • Things like Prosciutto takes about 7 – 10 months to mature (Prosciutto is also the generic name for Italian dry-cured meat while Serrano is the generic name in Spain for dry-cured and air-dried ham).

Wet-Cure

  • Soaking meat in a salted solution (salted water without spices)
  • Your brine is salty enough when a fresh eggs floats on top.
  • Cures meat much faster than dry-cure.

Ballymaloe Day 56: Sunday morning, no rain pouring

A bright and sunny day, the brisk air whipped my face as I brought the recycling out of the Coach House.

I spied two feral cats sauntering through the bushes, and my wellies crunched through some of the last of the autumn leaves.

Cleaning up the house with Sophie, we tucked into an early breakfast then whizzed off to Midleton to buy some supplies.

Without knowing it, I managed to get the most monotone basket of goods with various shades of green taking over the checkout.

In a bid to be more creative at the weekends, I decided to make a panna cotta with a different feel. I previously made one with a raspberry coulis but I thought I’d jazz it up a bit with ginger and lime (a la the classic Jameson combo).

After I write up my order of work and do a bit of filing, it’s down for some quality time with my sheets of notes, so another straightforward weekend where nothing crazy happening but time trickled by!

Tomorrow aka the start of week nine, is going to be a busy morning where I’ve a long list of random things to do… Wish me luck?

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Ballymaloe Day 35: Oh sweet cicely!

Oh sweet cicely! I lovage the herbs but I feel like a butterhead beCos I can’t remember them. Lettuce not get too distracted though – we need to dill with it. It doesn’t take a sage to mustard up a recipe list but ain’t nobody got thyme for that!

I’d love to tell you that I had the most riveting Sunday but the pun-filled paragraph above is exactly how my day has been going.

This morning after a glorious nine hours sleep and a dream where I slapped someone comically with a fish, I woke up to a pile of paper that needed to be sifted through.

After an hour of expertly putting paper in folders (I am the sorting queen), I sat down and got my order of work out of the way.

With cabin fever on the mind and studying on the timetable, I pulled on my wellies and headed into the garden for a more practical approach.

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Chewing on fennel, sorrel, oregano and sweet cicely, if someone spotted me in the gardens they may think that I know my stuff but I can safely say that I was just a bit hungry.

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(A shaggy ink cap mushroom)

Next weekend there may or may not be blogposts as it’s the Bank Holiday Weekend and I finally get to see my other half (Plus I may be a bit sad after the exams!)

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But in a bid to fuel your blog intake, I’ll probably backtrack the posts when I’m back in Ballymaloe on the Monday – I couldn’t leave you guys out of the loop, could I??

Tomorrow I’m cooking a caramelized apple tart and homemade noodles. Hard to believe that this is the halfway point in the course.

Now… back to the books.

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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.

Ballymaloe Day 22: “Much ado about Mutton”

The rain pelted down and I jumped out the door to rescue my bread from turning into a soggy gloop.

This was my first time in Kitchen 2 and I was like a rabbit in the headlights.

Though a breath of fresh air from my run in Kitchen 3, getting myself orientated in a new environment was fiddly.

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This week I was partnered with David Dunne or Tall David as we like to call him!

My agenda for the day asked for a light workload but despite that I bizarrely found myself flying around the place like a mad hatter.

Today was firmly focussed on the egg, and as I attempted to cook an omelette the Ballymaloe way, I managed to panic. One was far too salty and the other was overcooked, so I reckon I’ll have a weekend of eggs flying out of my ears.

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I also tackled brown yeast bread that spent a spell outside in the sunshine in an attempt to cool its insides (I’m still more a fan of the white!)

Getting my bearings, I slowly got used to how the system worked in my new kitchen and with luck I’ll figure it all out in the next few days.

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Demo today was presented by Darina, who was back from her trip to Boston.

With a host of dead birds in front of her, we were introduced to Tom, an expert in shooting “game”. Not a demo for the faint-hearted, he plucked a mallard, cracked a snipe’s wings and removed insides with ease.

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Every-so-often Darina brings in books and notes from her travels and today she was equipped with one from a former student and a rather curious book called – cue my blogpost title – “Much ado about Mutton”.

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Witten by Bob Kennard, the book explores the decline of the food that once played a huge part in British cuisine. Kennard has 25 years experience rearing mutton and is an expert in his field, plus, how could you resist that punderful book name?

Continuing on with the demo and assisted by her brother Rory, the pair showcased an array of dishes from a frosty tomato granita with crab mayonnaise to a Victoria sponge.

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Aside from admiring the roast chicken and guinea fowl that was being presented in front of us, one thing was definitely sticking in my mind.

In black, bold, letters and sitting on top of a page we were given was Friday, 24th October 2014: the date for our mid-term exams here in Ballymaloe.

With a list of 33 techniques and a herb and salad identification exam, I must admit that I’m feeling nervous about what lies ahead… Fingers crossed for me?

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(I fillet sea bream this evening! I pangrilled it on a griddle pan with seasoned salt and butter)

By the way, Brienne is a week old today! She hasn’t left the confines of the dairy for a full seven days and I can’t for her to experience the outside world (and my stomach).

In an unusual twist, tomorrow we’re not cooking! So until then, slán agus beannacht.

Some things that I learned today:

  • Biggest killer of game? Fog. Birds get disorientated, lose track of where they’re going and become exhausted.
  • The reason why game tastes so different and tough compared to animals like free-range chicken is because they’re incredibly fit. Consider all the flying and running around they do!
  • Consider using lard, olive oil or beef drippings for deep frying instead of oils that are marked for “deep frying”, the majority of the time they’re of poor quality.
  • Parsnips like other root vegetables should be bought unwashed with roots in tact. According to Darina, commercially a lot of parsnips are washed using a bleach that gives them that pale colour.
  • When testing if a chicken is roasted through, take a skewer and put it through the leg. The leg is the last part of the meat to cook. The juices that run from the chicken should run clear.
  • Lemons are just as important as salt and pepper. You need to learn how to use it properly to maximise its uses for flavouring.
  • Beware of portion sizes, as Rory points out, “polite guests will want to finish whatever’s on their plate”.
  • Rule of thumb in a restaurant when serving things like guinea fowl and chicken? Only serve them meat with one bone, unless requested for more.
  • In relation to gravy – “to thicken or not to thicken, that is the question”. According to Rory it’s all really down to personal preference.

Ballymaloe Day 20: “As long as it’s not my blood, I’m happy”

Rolling over in my bed this morning after a rather busy dream that saw me in an intense argument with a fish, I was glad to wake up and face a new day!

Strictly speaking I wasn’t actually in Ballymaloe but in the comfort of my home in Kerry, but despite that I still very much kept in theme with local food.

Bright and early, myself, Mam and our neighbour, whizzed off to the Dingle Food Festival dressed up in our glad rags.

With trickles and splashes of rain bursting from the sky, our hearts fell at the prospect of a gloomy day but as the clouds parted the further “back wesht” we went, we saw what can only described as the Kingdom in all its glory.

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Arriving early, we strolled around town and found our way weaving in and out of streets that we didn’t know existed.

There was a buzz in the air as producers set up their stalls and people milled around their products. From spices, sushi, kangaroo skewers and cheese, there was so much on offer for locals and tourists alike.

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At 2pm I headed off to check out a mini-butchery masterclass with my cousin Paudie Moriarty, who’s one of the local butchers in Dingle.

Slicing and shimmying his knife up and down the beef, he took it apart with such ease and it was a joy to watch him at work (I even got the opportunity to chat to a few of the relatives as Gaeilge).

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“As long as it’s not my blood, I’m happy!”, he announced.

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Feeling inspired, I wandered back through town and found myself at the Dingle Bookshop where I met Kristin Jensen (aka Edible Ireland), and Caroline Hennessy (aka Bibliocook – and who in fact did the Ballymaloe 12 week course back in 2007).

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The pair were in store for a book-signing of their new book “Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider”, and after being offered a double chocolate porter brownie, I knew I had to get myself a copy.

Not just a guide, but rather the perfect reference book, Sláinte combines beer matching, recipes and history for a concise piece of writing that’s executed using layman terms (we have a copy of it in the cookery school!)

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(Can’t beat a cone from Murphy’s)

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(From The Wild Irish Foragers and Preservers)

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(Delicious pickled herrings from Silver Darlings – I bought myself a tub)

Sadly, for me this was only a fleeting visit as I’ve to make my way back to Cork tomorrow, but next year I reckon you’ll see me on the town with fellow food lovers, brandishing a bottle of craft beer!

Until tomorrow, go n-éirí go geal leat.

I’ve an ongoing Irish Food and Drink Producers series that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in looking at local produce here in Ireland.

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