Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cleaning out the Cupboards (and frig)

Wow...a year has passed since my graduation from Ballymaloe. Since then Thyme to Cook (a home based cooking school) has been started with plans to build a permanent kitchen for the classes to be held. I've experienced life on a boat for two months and the joys and tribulations of cooking in a galley kitchen. The second boat trip is about to begin and the cleaning out of the cupboards as well as the refrigerator began a week ago. In doing that I realized how much stuff needed to be eaten before it went bad. I also packed one entire suitcase full of dried food I thought would be good to have on the boat. Then we decided to fly passes.....yes I still get passes from my days of being a flight attendant. Flying on passes means flying standby which means good chance of lost luggage if you check a bag which means "carry on" which means no room for food let alone everything I wanted to bring with me....Tom took one look at what I wanted to bring and just shook his head; shook his head and had a few choice words to say as well! All the packed food went back into the cupboard to be eaten upon our return. However the food in the refrigerator is almost gone with making some very creative meals. Last nights meal consisted of a salad made with mixed greens, diced tomatoes, diced green onions(from our garden), roasted yellow pepper,diced bacon, shaved Parmesan cheese, and a poached egg. The dressing was a red wine vinaigrette. It was the perfect summer meal and the last of the bacon and eggs were used!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Exam!

More than two weeks have past since the end of my Ballymaloe experience...the girls arrived on the Tuesday before the practical exam (practical took place on Thursday) and my brother Steve arrived with his family on Friday; the day of the 6 hour exam. We've been traveling since then. Everyone but Tom and I are back in Arizona. We are in Lyon, France visiting friends.

Well I made it, at least made it through. The practical exam was supposed to be completed in 3 hours…I took 5. But I’m really pleased with my results and Darina said “well done" when I saw her later in the day. I had practiced my meal a few days before with horrible results...burned the chicken and plating creativity ended up looking like blobs not beautiful scrolls and towers! Got help from my neighbors on how to plate the dessert and the patron saint (I think it's Pasqual) of the kitchen must have been guiding me in the rest of the meal because I must admit the final result looked like it had come out of a professional kitchen. My order of work was three pages! My menu was:
Chilled Pea Soup with Minted Cream
Chargrilled Chicken Breast with Aioli, Rocket(Arugula)and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice Cream
White Yeast Rolls (I was assigned this bread the day before the exam)

Everything went like clock work until the final 15 minutes... went to check on my bread and the oven was off; tried to get the oven back, no luck, went to get instructor for help she moved bread over to another oven. Called for my tasting which meant I had 15 minutes to plate my dishes. Started my plating and remembered I wanted to make croutons for the soup. Quickly heated some olive oil and sauteed the diced bread, this put me behind schedule and now the pressure was on. Started plating my main dish...the roasted tomatoes on the vine were no longer on the vine, they cooked a little too long and had fallen off the vine. What to do...magically the creativity juices started to flow and I placed them in a circle around the chicken which was placed on top of the rocket. Doesn't sound that pretty but it really did look good. The instructor overseeing the kitchen (Gillian) came by twice asking if I was ready for the tasters to come in...not yet, not yet, just a little more tweaking. Okay ready, I was required to leave the kitchen as the tasting was taking place. As I left I remembered about the rolls, looked in the oven and they needed to get out. Quickly grabbed the tray with my wet dish, hOT, HOT, sat down quickly on stove top; hit naan bread of another student which caused it to fall to the floor and shatter. OH NO, I yelled and I could feel the tears start to well in my eyes. The darling student whose bread it was immediately came over and said not to worry she had already been graded. I left the kitchen and then Gillian said Karen did you make the Aioli...I had and had it ready to go in the refrigerator just had forgotten to put it on the plate. Got it for her and left the kitchen. Went outside and cried with exhaustion and relief. The next day was long but I feel I passed. Will get the results in about 6 weeks! Friday night all the teachers put on an end of term dinner for the students. It was fantastic and that night we all went to the Blackbird for the last time....It was a good night!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Last day in the kitchens

Well, the end is almost here. Today was the last day to cook in the kitchens except for exam day. There was an air of relief and sadness in all of us. Everyone was taking loads of pictures. The afternoon's demo was the last one for Darina to present.

P.S. Here is my exam menu:
Chilled Green Pea Soup with Fresh Mint Cream
Chicken Paillarde with Roasted Tomatoes and Rocket (Arugula)
Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice Cream

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Time is flying, tomorrow begins week last week and I can't believe it. Right now I feel like I should be a "culinary dropout" though. Went to a small Fourth of July party and I brought an apple crumble. Upon tasting it I realized I forgot to add the sugar; I went to an extra bread practice this morning and my breads all had massive caves on the inside. Tim (Darina's husband) thought it might be that the oven temperature was wrong. I practiced jointing a chicken last night (need to do it for my practical exam)and it took me 30 minutes to finish...given that I only have 3 hours to prepare this meal I'm in big trouble. Last week my teacher tried to show me how to pipe icing on the cake I made...her's was beautiful, mine looked like blobs. I think I'm turning into a blob after all the sugar and cream and no exercise these last 12 weeks! The pictures above are of the party and my darling Irish neighbor who made cupcakes in honor of the Fourth of July!

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21 - Back Home!

The beginning of Week 10 and I'm back in the kitchen I started in and as another student said feels like we're back home! Funny how that is, but it truly did feel like coming home, comfortable. I missed class on Friday. Tom and I took a quick flight over to Paris for the weekend. Did a little shopping (Tom was very patient) and had dinner on Saturday night with our dear friends who own the apartment we rented 11 years ago. The flight from Cork was just over an hour. What a city Paris is; shopping (of course), eating (of course), museums, architecture, and so much more. We ended our last hour there by going to the food market we use to shop at when we lived there. All the sights and smells were the felt like being back home!

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14 - One Ugly Dude!

Quite weekend...Tom hurt his back. He's been on a mission over here to get into shape. His days consist of working out i.e. gym, golf, and horseback riding as well as the occasional game of touch rugby with the 19 and 20 year olds at school with me. The rugby game was the beginning of the back ache and then the horse he rides decided she was through and did an abrupt stop which wrenched his back more; he's been walking bent over since last Wednesday. He did rally for a trip to our favorite restaurant in Kinsale though! Today was the beginning of Week 9 and my partner is a FANTSTIC woman from Norway! It was a great day and I just have a feeling the week is going to be great as well. Our demonstration today was by Rory O' incredible chef and instructor! Can you guess what the fish is in the pictures? One ugly dude, I'd hate to be a little minnow when that thing opens his mouth, heck he could eat a few thousand minnows.

P.S. The dude in the pictures is a Monk Fish.