Tag Archives: 12 week course

Ballymaloe Cookery School Blog Index

Below is the index for all of my posts while I did the 12-week certificate course in Ballymaloe, feel free to click through to each day.

If you’ve any questions about Ballymaloe you can drop me a comment or an email at unaminh[at]gmail[dot]com

Day 0: Leave your Prada and Gucci behind
Day 1: “This is a wooden spoon!”
Day 2: No soggy bottoms please
Day 3: The need to knead
Day 4: “It’s a moment in a glass”
Day 5: “A mouth like the Jack Lynch tunnel”
Day 6: No rest for the wicked
Day 7: Lazing on a Sunday afternoon
Day 8: Chicken you believe it?
Day 9: “Recipes are good as a guide – they’re not bible”
Day 10: Wine after wine
Day 11: “Meringue waits for nobody!”
Day 12: The day I murdered a meringue
Day 13: It’s oh so quiet
Day 14: Basking in the rebel county
Day 15: “If you ever catch crabs…”
Day 16: “Have some supper darling, before I stab you…
Day 17: “The most expensive thing in a café is an empty chair”
Day 18: “The wetter, the better”
Day 19: “You’re better off putting it on your face”
Day 20: “As long as it’s not my blood, I’m happy”
Day 21: Back on the ranch
Day 22: “Much ado about mutton”
Day 23: “Bred to be grass fed”
Day 24: Roll of thunder, hear my cry
Day 25: “You could knockout the whole of Munster with that!”
Day 26: “Here at Buttermaloe”
Day 27: “Like a badass, filleting”
Day 28: Splish, splash, splosh
Day 29: “Born onto earth”
Day 30: “It’s very good for the soul”
Day 31: “Bigger than the Late Late Toy Show”
Day 32: “The sexist word in food folklore”
Day 33: “Like a fine, cashmere blanket”
Day 34: The English Market
Day 35: Oh sweet cicely!
Day 36: “A pan of water to a furious boil”
Day 37: Full-time forager
Day 38: “Give sherry a chance!”
Day 39: Droopy dill and fun-living fennel
Day 40: “How to get a well-browned bottom”
Day 41: Knocking around Knockadoon
Day 42: Curry house!
Day 43: The joys of adulthood
Day 44: Stuffed to the brim
Day 45: Sweet dreams are made of sourdough
Day 46: “It’s all about the wobble, not the bass”
Day 47: “You’re highly contagious”
Day 48: Is binn béal ina thost
Day 49: You stay classy, Ireland
Day 50: Today my Alfred was born!
Day 51: I may have a sourdough addiction
Day 52: A “toolbox of flavours”
Day 53: Ode to a candied peel
Day 54: The end of week eight
Day 55: Mammy, Midleton and Munchies
Day 56: Sunday morning, no rain pouring
Day 57: Members of the Lost Knives Club
Day 58: Would you like fries with that?
Day 59: The matriarch of Irish food
Day 60: The business of food
Day 61: Rare, juicy and full of flavour
Day 62: On yer bike!
Day 63: Hitting the books
Day 64: Not expensive, just sophisticated
Day 65: Drink less, but better wine
Day 66: “We should treat them like diamonds”
Day 67: Here’s the Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau!
Day 68: Goodbye week ten!
Day 69: A ray of sunshine among cuts of meat
Day 70: The best bottle on the table is always the empty one
Day 71: Dropping like flies
Day 72: Death by meringue part two
Day 73: Úna dreams of sushi
Day 74: At the quack of dawn
Day 75: A day in the leaba
Day 76: Cough and splutter
Day 77: Just one day left in the kitchen…
Day 78: “That absolute slap-across-the-face flavour”
Day 79: “There once was a man that ate a motorcar…”
Day 80: Channeling my inner Florrie!
Day 81: The studious adventures of Úna-Minh Kavanagh
Day 82: The final blogpost
Things you need to know before doing the 12 week course at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Ballymaloe Day 37: Full-time forager!

I sucked in the oyster with a breath that could knockout the whole of Ireland and savoured the flesh that slipped into my tummy.

After starting out my day in a lazy fashion, I could have never predicted that I would be ending the working day with glorious, fresh, seafood.

A roast chicken and a mushroom dish sat firmly on my list on things to-do, but you wouldn’t realise that had you seen me making a white soda bread and scones with gusto (see above photo!)

Frightfully calm, 11.30am came and went, and with my chicken not yet cooked, I started making paper piping bags – maybe to ease my nerves, or sheath my denial.

Eventually, I began to battle with the cooked chicken carcass and as I attempted to swivel my filleting knife up and down I realised that I glumly failing at what I normally enjoy.

What felt like years later, I finally got to the stage where I was able to clean up and I felt so bad for Emer who had to hang around and watch me suffer! It just seemed to be one of those days.

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(My soda scones – bit overcooked but right texture apparently!)

Demo today was all about seafood and with oysters, clams, mussels, periwinkles and crevettes spilling onto the table in front of Darina, my eyes nearly fell out of my sockets.

Mam and I are seafood addicts back in Kerry, and we love heading to the beach for a quick walk and forage.

Darina pointed out that some people around Ireland are “full-time foragers” and supply restaurants with wild ingredients and I marvelled at the thought!

Emer popped in to give us a crash course in foraging seaweed on the shores in Shanagarry and I would have loved if we had been able to head out and see everything on the strand.

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“Oysters are an aphrodisiac”, Darina mused, “so watch out!”

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(Me and my oyster)

Topping off the day I headed to a Slow Food Ireland event with Helen Hume – who I mentioned on the blog before! Helen is a student here and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to tea.

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Slow Food doesn’t as it name suggests have to do with slow food cooking, but in fact is a movement aimed at promoting sustainable and wild food.

Helen, as I said before, is wonderfully personable and as she gave an in-depth talk about tea from leaf to cup, I couldn’t help but feel great admiration for her! (While at Tetley’s, she tasted approximately 250,000 teas).

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Sadly, due to my caffeine intolerance (I haven’t been able to drink tea or coffee properly since 2011), I couldn’t taste any of the teas but my eyes and nose helped me along.

I used to drink about five cups of coffee a day but then I got ferocious headaches. The only teas I can drink are herbal – including green, as the level of caffeine is much lower.

Tomorrow in preparation for our Friday exams, there’s to be a 7.30am gardening class where Haulie will be going through herbs and salads – so more than likely he’ll be seeing his biggest turnout yet!

A little note that’s not related to food: I mentioned this on my Facebook page but there’s a mental health campaign that I’m co-fronting at the moment called “Little Things”. Airing across Irish channels, Channel 4 and Sky, it’s something that I’m honoured to be a part of. I’ve been living with depression and anxiety since 2009 and write about it on my personal website here (you can see the campaign video below):

Some random things I learned today:

  • You know the leaves that are at the bottom of cauliflower and broccoli? Don’t throw them out! If they’re clean you can steam them and they’re delicious!
  • There are about 400 varieties of seaweed on the Irish coast so don’t be surprised if you don’t know them all.
  • Seaweed won’t poison you – some may be tougher than others but ultimately it’s all edible.
  • You can use sugar kelp (seaweed), to replace some sugars in your food.
  • “Wrack” is the overall term of types of seaweed.
  • The best seaweed to forage is below the tide line, otherwise it’ll go off much more quickly.
  • You can throw your bananas in the freezer if you have too many – they’ll then darken and be perfect for banana bread!
  • Tea grows from sea level up to approximately 7,500 ft.
  • Basically there are four types of tea: black, green, white and oolong.
  • 80 – 90% of tea is plucked by women and their aim is pluck two leaves and a bud because they’re the freshest.

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.

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.