Ballymaloe Cookery School: Week 4

By Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another week down and I am already getting sad at the prospect of having to leave in 8 weeks time. 

I made my first cake at Ballymaloe this week. It was a basic chocolate sponge with a buttercream frosting and a really yummy chocolate glaze. It tasted deeeelcious! However, the kitchen was pretty toasty, so when I was trying to decorate the cake with chocolate wafers, they kept on melting in my hands. Never mind, I will try again in a slightly cooler room! 

Another really tasty dish I made was the Gubbeen bacon salad with a Caesar salad dressing and a poached egg. The egg was fresh from the farm that morning, so I didn't need any white wine vinegar or anything. I was actually really surprised at how nice my egg came out, but it does just go to show how much of a difference a really fresh egg makes when you are poaching. 

I have been making lots of bread recently, as I am loving the satisfaction of making a fresh loaf each day! This week I made brown yeast bread, brown soda, white soda and a white yeast loaf. 

I was lucky enough to be able to help out Rory during one of the demonstrations. My job was to stir the fudge. He is such a talented chef and it was a real honour to see him at work. (It was also a pretty good arm workout, as I was stirring the pot vigorously for about half an hour...yikes!)

Tim Allen held a very interesting demonstration all to do with sourdough. He ran us through the pretty lengthy process of making a really good sourdough starter. At the end, he gave us a taste of one loaf he had made from a starter that was six days old, and another that was made on that same day. Personally, I preferred the older starter, as it gave the bread a very punchy, fermented flavour. 

I really loved watching Darina and Rory work together this week. It is interesting to see how their styles differ and how much respect they have for one another's cooking. 

Around 10 orphan duck eggs were put in the school's incubator and left to hatch this week. I spent a lot of time checking up on them to see how many had been born. They started out really quiet and sleepy, but within a few days they were sprinting around their pen and happily squeaking away! 

...they sure turned into posers! 

Midleton market is a really lovely farmer's market. Albeit it is not in the most attractive setting (a SuperValu carpark), it does have a really great variety of foodie delights. 

I ran into Darina who was fashioning a lobster for me! 

Today I visited Tralee and Dingle in Country Kerry. It was a two hour drive from the cookery school and has such beautiful beaches. It was really nice to explore the west coast, which is a lot more hilly than what we are used to in Cork! 

We also stopped at Kennedy's Pet Farm on the way back...probably the highlight of my week! It had kittens, puppies, pigs, lambs, rabbits, goats and guinea pigs. You are allowed to pet all of them, and it was so nice to play with friendly animals,  as the cats at Ballymaloe School are not interesting in saying hi to me at all! 

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