Day 42 – Pasta

Today I made : Lasagne verde. This took FOREVER. One of the big things I have realised at Ballymaloe is how many corners I cut when cooking at home. If you want to charge money for your food you have to do things right. I had to individually destalk the spinach leaves without bruising them,…

Day 40 – Dark Caramel

  Today I made : Two loaves of bread. One brown yeast, the other white soda. I finished the creme brûlée I started on Wednesday. The teachers say the most important thing when making caramel is to hold your nerve. You want to burn it enough to make that amount of sugar palatable. I held…

Day 37 – The Big Food Lie

Today I made : Aztec Soup, which is shredded chicken in broth with tomatoes, avocado and roasted chili. This is a simple recipe but it took a while because I had to joint a whole chicken, deep fry tortilla chips and roast chilies. Some people can joint chickens in two minutes. If one day I can…

Day 36 – Duck

Today I made : Roast duck with sage stuffing and gravy. Duck is darker and fattier than chicken. It renders a lot of fat but relatively little juice. This makes it good for roasting vegetables but hard to make gravy. Ballymaloe buy their ducks from  Nora Aherne. They cost between €19 and €22, while supermarket…

Midleton Farmers’ Market

On Saturday morning I volunteered at Ballymaloe’s stall at the Midleton Farmers’ Market. I spent the morning replenishing free samples, explaining products and general mingling with the locals. The Midleton market is small but good. You can tell people around here eat well. Dublin has a lot of markets selling interesting food but there are…

Day 35 – Mussels

Today I made : Goan Mussels, steamed in a spiced chili coconut broth and garnished with lots of coriander, my all time favourite herb. Easy, quick, (almost) one pan and endlessly versatile. Can also be made with pollock, hake, salmon and shrimp. Mussels need to be alive when you cook them. If one is open…

Day 34 – Chicken Curry

Today I made : Thai Green Chicken Curry.  I jointed a chicken to get thighs for this and felt very glad I had practised so much for the exam! I left it to simmer for too long, ended up reducing the sauce and concentrating the flavour, so I had to double the specified coconut milk…

Day 33 – Money On My Mind

Today was part two in the business section of this course with restaurant guru Blathnaid Bergin. We started several weeks ago (day twenty) but it was right before LitFest and somehow I never got around to writing about it. Blathnaid is extremely knowledgeable, with over 25 years of experience in the business. She also happens to be…

Day 32 – Elderflower

Today I made : Cardamom and yoghurt cream with green gooseberry and elderflower compote. This dish is ideal for a place like Ballymaloe – it is simple but so luxurious thanks to the high quality produce used. My teacher Sue and I went outside to pick elderflower straight from the trees for this. One of…

Day 31 – Tunisian Orange Cake

Monday was a bank holiday in Ireland. I came home for the long weekend and cooked for my parents. I made a spatchcock chicken, marinated overnight in yoghurt, cumin, turmeric and saffron. I put it over some potatoes and onions, also covered in yoghurt and spices, and sprinkled with parsley, mint and lemon before serving. I…

Day 30 – Test Time

Friday marked the halfway point in the 12 week certificate course, and our first exams. The first was a herb and salad leaf recognition test. Each student was presented with ten herbs and ten salad leaves. You had to write the names and list two recipes that uses each herb. The second part of the exam…

Day 29 – Apples And Oranges 

(I continue camera – less. I will hopefully be able to rectify the situation over the weekend. Until then it’s iPhone and old pics. Above is a picture of the blue sky from my bedroom a few days ago. Below is the most inspirational couch in Ballymaloe.) Today I made : An apple tart.  I have made quite a…