Today I made : Shanagarry Chicken Casserole and Ulster champ (buttery mashed potatoes with peas and parsley). This is rustic, peasant style food but labour intensive. You have to joint a whole chicken, make gravy and use a lot of equipment, which means lots of washing up. I added mushrooms a la creme to make it richer and creamier. I wasn’t hugely inspired by this recipe but it was delicious and my teacher gave me full marks so I came around to it in the end.
I also made buttered courgettes and fennel as an extra for the dining room. They looked so cute in their little blue and white stripey tray.
I learned : The difference between clarified butter and ghee.
Clarified butter is pure butter fat – regular butter with the salt and milk proteins removed. It has a higher smoking point and is used for cooking at high temperatures.
Ghee is similar but has been cooked more so has a brown colour and nutty, toasted flavour.
We have an Indian classmate, Usha, who gave a demo on ghee. She says they use it for cooking because it helps absorb nutrients. Again, fat is your friend.
Food of the day : Chickpea, bulgur and wild rice salad with a bright lemony dressing.
Line of the day : ‘If your tart curdles put on a big dollop of cream and keep talking to people as they eat so they don’t notice.’ Darina’s tip for salvaging a lost tart.