Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 10: Hectic Day

Whew, two weeks down and 10 to go!!!The first picture is what greets me when I enter the yard each morning. There are a number of these gorgeous roosters all over the property and they keep close tabs on all of their hens; and let me tell you these chickens eat like you can't believe. No scratch(feed) for these hens and roosters it's all the left over scrapes from our daily cooking. The next picture is the view I had from my work station this week and the last picture is of Sophie my week two partner and me today after a very hectic day of cooking. My dish responsiblities included filleting a whole fish, Cod with a Mornay Sauce, and Duchesse Potatoes. Sounds easy but once again didn't get into the dining room until 40 minutes pass the time I should have. Got points taken off for not having my serving plate hot but other than that I think it's been a pretty good week overall! We have a three day weekend and Tom and I are taking off for a driving trip. Words of wisdom today..."nothing like a good glass of wine at the end of a week of cooking"!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 9: White Irish Soda Bread

Today I got to make TWO white irish soda breads...I was very organized this morning and had my mis en place (prep work)done right at 9:00 am which is when the teachers arrive. We are not allowed to begin cooking until the teachers are in the kitchens. As soon as they arrived BOOM I was in motion making my soda bread. I was just ready to pop it in the oven when Darina (owner of the school) came in for some instructions; one of which was to say we were not allowed to make our bread or pastries until a teacher was standing at our side. She looked right at my bread ready to pop in the oven. Needless to say I had to make another batch in order to get signed off. The second was better than the first and so I brought that one home, much to Tom's delight. I also made Spicy Chicken with Almonds and Basmati Rice. This dish is a winner and I'll share it when I get home. It was a day filled with cleaning since I had two additional duties; hoovering (vacuuming) the dining room after lunch and cleaning the ovens and hobs (cooktop)in the demonstration kitchen. I'm exhausted but loving it! Kitchen words of wisdom today from Darina:
"The faster the soup is made the fresher the taste"


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 8 Gardening, Cheese Making & Tasting Champagne

What could be better, gardening in the morning then learning how to make cheese, and then getting to meet the export director of Bollinger of only three french champagne houses still privately owned. We had a lesson on the century plus technique used by Bollinger and then had a taste test of three of their champagnes. It was wonderful! Here are today's words of wisdom from Phillippe Mengui...he is referring to aging of wine but could be applied to many different things I think!

"If you don't let your baby grow it can never become clever"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 7

A good day. Sophie and I had it all together today! All of our dishes turned out good and I think I'm finally getting the hang of making a tart...this was my second attempt, I hope it wasn't beginners luck! Not that I'm a beginner but Megan is the one who is the baker in the family not me. The last time I made a tart at home was for my friend Kelli's birthday; three attempts, three throw-aways, sent one of the girls to Marie Calendar's to buy a pie! I've got a new primary instructor this week. In his past life b.c.(before cooking)he was in an irish rock band and toured the world. Okay I know you all are thinking U2, no it wasn't U2 the name of the group was Stockton's Wing. Our demonstration today consisted of organ meats: heart, liver, sweetbreads....I tried everything without gagging, whew! Tomorrow is lecture day, no cooking for the students.

Today's cooking words of wisdom are: Taste, taste, taste, at the beginning, middle, and end of cooking. If the flavor is not quite there you can add salt, sugar, or lemon juice (the triology of flavor enhancers)and taste again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

2nd Week: Day 6

It's really day 7 for me because Tom and I went to an all day class on butcherie and charcouterie on Saturday. It was good and Tom loved it which is a good thing...ha,ha! Only 5 other students went (we do have to pay extra for these supplemental courses). Today started in the kitchen with a new partner Sophie...she is darling. Neither one of us had good time management though...Megan I needed you today! We were the last ones out and barely had time to eat before the afternoon demonstration started. I collapsed in what is now my regular chair, front and almost center, always trying to be teachers pet but this time it doesn't seem to be working. The young people always have time to change into very cute clothes for the afternoon demonstration classes...most of the older folks just stay in their "chef's whites", I wonder why! This evening a group of students put together a barbeque for all of us, at the house they are staying in for the duration of the course. There are various houses for students to stay in and they are charming. I will take pictures and post! Where Tom and I are staying is very industrial and definitely not charming. The party was great fun, I'm still learning british and irish english for instance, being pissed means drunk! Words of wisdom from today's lesson "what goes into the animal goes into us".

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pictures of 1st Week

Here are a few pics from the week! Last picture is the entrance into the school. Third picture is demonstation/lecture; the image of the class is in the mirror above the island. I am in the front row holding a camera. Picture 2 is the small shop at the school, and the first picture is of my partner for the first week Laura, and myself on the last day of our first week! Do I look exhausted and how bout that skull cap; seriously that's what is is called and I think its the next big trend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 5 - End of 1st Week

First week down! Today began in the kitchen at 8:30. We can arrive early to do our "mis en place" (organizing needed supplies for preparation of recipe)but cannot begin cooking until the teachers arrive. I was responsible for basic brown bread, raspberry jam, tucsan salad with goat cheese...the morning ran extremely well which gave me plenty of opportunity to do lots of dishes...oh yea forgot to mention we are responsible for all the clean up of everything we use while in the kitchen including cleaning the ovens (my oven at home hasn't been cleaned in over a year)let me tell you my nails and hands are already suffering. I brought a pair of rubber gloves with me on the second day but soon tossed them aside; there's just not enough time to take them on and off. Got my first burn while checking on my brown bread. I think I received lower marks on my cooking today because of having a dirty rim on my salad plate....the instructor pointed it out to me. After putting on my reading glasses, there it was a drop of honey and olive oil; trying to not give my age away by not wearing the reading glasses is just not going to cut it in the kitchen! Should have had the reading glasses on before the teacher came over, damn! The afternoon's demo consisted of Indian and Mexican food, had a hard time keeping my mouth shut about the way we make Mexican food in Arizona!!!! but of course their way was pretty darn good! Tom and I went to the Inn at the Harbour in Ballycotton for dinner. I had a delicious john dory fish with lemon risotto and chorizo; Tom had traditional fish and chips. Tomorrow I'm attending a supplemental course on butcherie; I think an entire pig will be shown...oh no! Here's a little cooking wisdom shared by Rory O'Connell today in class. "When cooking beans do not add salt until right before serving...the salt will toughen the beans and/or cause the skins to fall off during the cooking process"!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 4 - Cheese Biscuits, Wine, Safety

Today was all backside was tired! First thing this morning Darina demonstrated the biscuits(crackers) that go on the cheese tray...the ones that I was supposed to have made yesterday but didn't! She also demonstrated red currant jelly. She talked about local artisanal cheese makers and we got to sample four different products, all were fantastic. I learned that the mold that makes blue cheese so scrumptious can infect other cheeses in your that's why my havarti sometimes turns blue, who knew! Finally got some exercise, it was fantastic walking on the country lane looking at the greenfields. I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M IN IRELAND GOING TO COOKING SCHOOL!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 3

First true first day in the kitchen...yesterday we worked as a big group, today we worked with a partner (my partner is from Ireland) but mainly individually. I moved at a snails pace and barely finished in time for lunch. I was responsible for making a mushroom/thyme quiche and a mediterranean salad. At the very end of our cooking session which was from 9 to noon I realized my job responsibility of setting out the cheese board had not been accomplished yet. I ran to my teacher to find out how to do it. Her response was "you have to first make the cheese biscuits (crackers); I looked at her with what must have been a "deer in the headlights" look, she took pity on me and said she thought we had a enough left over from the previous day...and then she made up the board for me...whew! After preparing our dishes we are responsible for plating up as if we were in a restaurant and then we get marks for presentation and taste. We then combine all our individual dishes into serving dishes which are placed in the dining room for lunch. On any given day we are feeding 75 to 90 people for lunch with what we made that day! After lunch we had a demonstration by Rory O'Connell (Darina's brother). It was fantastic...we will be attempting the dishes demonstrated by Rory on Friday morning. Tomorrow is a lecture day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Second Day

Sorry for the lack of information but today is the first day I've had access to a computer. One week today since I left on my adventure and it started out being one heck of an adventure with a volcano erupting in Iceland causing the airspace over the U.K. and Ireland to be closed. The airports are still closed as I type this. I was able to catch the last flight out of London before the airports closed. Went to Dublin instead of Cork (Cork airport was closed) but turned out great as I spent two unexpected days in a great city. Had two delicious dinners at The Pigs Ear and The Winding Staircase...if you're in Dublin you must try eating at both. I just finished my second day of classes and it is exhausting. I woke up at 5:00 am being nervous since we would be cooking. Yesterday was an orientation day but we did not finish until 6:00. The class is filled with really interesting people from 8 countries. Two other Americans had to cancel because they could not get in due to the closure of the airports. We start promptly at 9:00 am and we do not finish until 5:00 or 5:30. If we choose we can be involved in the gardening on Wednesday mornings which means arriving at school at 7:30 a.m. We have responsiblities everyday like setting the table for our lunch; washing dishes; serving; making lemonade, elderwater cordial(non alcoholic);and then cooking. We started today with the basic brown bread recipe. It is delicious but harder to make than you would think. We also made carrot soup with cilantro; mushroom a la creme over pasta, and the most beautiful and delicious green salad. All the greens were grown right here!!!!!! Hopefully pictures will be posted in the next few days. It has been truly amazing so far! I LOVE IT!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Nothing taste like summer more that a ripe tomato. Now that I have a greenhouse I am sooooo lucky to have vine ripe tomatoes year round. Here's a super easy recipe for pasta with fresh tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Sauce
1 yellow onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
5 medium tomatoes diced
Fresh basil

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent approx. 5 min. Add fresh tomotoes and cook just until hot. Add salt and basil to taste. Use as topping for pasta or grilled chicken breast.

This is our greenhouse. We started construction in August and ate our first crop of tomatoes two months later. Can't wait to see what the greenhouses are like at Ballymaloe.