Day 54 – Pastry

Today I made : Three kinds of pastry. I like pastry but today was a challenge because the kitchen was hot and sweaty. Ideally you want to make pastry in a cold room so the butter doesn’t melt. I did my best. The first was Amaretto Almond and Strawberry tart. The shortcrust pastry was very…

Day 52 – Crackling

Today I made : Roast Chinese Belly of Pork with Five Spice Powder Crackling and Chinese Greens. This recipe was one of my top three favourites of the whole course. Usually I’m not a fan of rich, fatty meats which can leave me feeling nauseous but the spice rub cuts the richness and makes it…

Day 51 – Sousing and Strawberries

Today I made : Soused mackerel. Sousing – cooking in vinegar – is a method of preservation. Very medieval Scandinavian. Not something I would order myself, but a good way to practise filleting fish, and I think the shiny silver skin is beautiful, like a slinky disco dress. Strawberry tart. I used Friday’s puff pastry…

Day 50 – Rib Rolling

Today I made : Tuna Steak with pipperonata and Kalamata olive tapenade. I am not usually a big fan of peppers but pipperonata – pepper, tomato and basil stew – is okay with me. I had concerns about cooking tuna because I have read so much about it being endangered but I was assured this was…

Day 44 – Strawberries and Cream

Today I made : Almond meringue with strawberries and cream. The toasted almonds make it crunchy and toasty, a nice contrast to the juicy berries.  I had extra meringue so I made these little babies with mashed strawberries and cream. I like it when there are leftovers to play with because you can present them…

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 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 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 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 28 - Breakfast Wine, Afternoon Tea

(Frustratingly, my camera card reader has broken. I took pictures of amazing cakes today and got some good shots of myself carving a lamb with a saw but I won’t be able to share them for now. The garden pics were taken on my phone and the flowers were from last week. They are irrelevant to this post but will…

Day 22 – Bacon and Cabbage

(Every time I walk past these little piggies on the farm I swear I’ll never eat pork again. But then it’s on my plate and smells so good…will I ever learn to live with the guilt?) Today I had a relatively short order of work in the kitchen. There were lots of guests coming so late…

Day 18 – Deep Fat Frying

(Disclaimer – The picture of the chickens has nothing to do with this post, so if you want to read about fried chicken look elsewhere. I walk past them every morning and love how the red looks against the green leaves. They were cooperative today and posed for some pics). More bread today. The white yeast dough I…