The last two weeks at Ballymaloe were a whirlwind of revision, exams, fitting in last cooking techniques and more revision.
These were some delicious biscotti.
I got home on Saturday at five after about twelve hours of travelling and almost immediately began cooking puddings for a party of 30 of my family for Easter Sunday. Pudding was chocolate tart, bake well tart, vanilla ice cream and a lemon meringue easter nest (courtesy of the Mary Berry on the Easter great British bake off programme.) Then up at seven to finish the puddings and start on Roast Pork, with roast potatoes, spiced aubergine, cauliflower cheese and purple sporuting broccoli. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos due to my need to want to sleep when everyone was tucking in to the food. It was a really good experience and practice for doing similar things in the future (maybe being paid!)
Yesterday I went up to London with my mum and we went to books for cooks and recipease. Books for cooks was lovely and we had a great lunch (very spicy soup!). Recipease is Jamie Oliver’s business and is a big two floor shop where you can have cookery lessons. Such a nice place and a great idea.
My younger brother, Alfred is due home from university today so I have baked him a coconut cake. Although we just had a phone call saying he broke down so we might have to eat the cake tomorrow or as a midnight feast as he has broken down outside Edinburgh, about six hours drive away.
The recipe comes from Leon, baking and pudding.
You will need for the cake:
125g very soft butter
200g castor sugar
3 free range eggs
1/2 tsp salt
300g self-raising flour
175ml coconut milk
For the syrup:
150ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
100ml coconut milk
50g castor sugar
1 tbs cornflower mixed with 2 tbsp water
Pinch of salt
300ml whipped cream
100g coconut shavings
Start by making the cake – cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy, then add the eggs and salt and mix until fully incorporated.
Next add half the flour until just incorporated, then mix in the coconut milk and finally the rest of the flour.
Pour the mixture into a 23cm round tin and bake at 160C for 40-50 mins, until the cake is springy to touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely in the tin.
To make the filling, mix the sugar, coconut milk and water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the cornflour mixed with water and salt and whisk until thickened. Allow to cool in a bowl with cling film pressed into the top. Once cool place in fridge for two hours before use.
The syrup can be made once the cake is cool and has been separated into three layers. Heat all the ingredients over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
To assemble, split the cake into three layers. Drizzle the lowest later with half the syrup and fill with half the filling. Then add the second layer and add the rest of syrup and filling. Then put the top on and cover with whipped cream topped with coconut shavings.
Hope you enjoy it
Last week was a great week and I had lots of fun cooking sour dough, duck in many different ways, croissant and pain au chocolat, millionaire squares and parsley squid (made with coriander by accident…equally delicious!)
We also had to choose the menu we wanted to cook for the exam. I thought I had chosen my menu and ran it past Adam..he said ‘I could cook that’ so, without insulting his cooking skills, I went back to the drawing board!
I decided on:
John Dory with a Ginger Butter Sauce
Ottelenghi’s Chicken with Saffron and Rose Water
with rice and orzo, beetroot purée and seasonal vegetables.
Alison’s Chocolate Tart
Lets hope it impresses in the exam and that I keep to time (3 hours)
Squid with coriander sauce
Passion fruit mousse with strawberry coulis
Week 8 saw the excitement of a school trip. We started by going to a farmers market at Mahon point which is run by Darina’s son-in-law, Rupert. It is located just outside a huge shopping centre outside cork. There were some lovely stalled including a retired couple who made lovely macaroons and cakes, rocket man who sells a lovely mixture of salads and of course o’Conaills chocolate where the whole bus from Ballymaloe queued up when we arrived.
After the market we went on to a buffalo mozzarella farm on the other side of cork.
The process only took about 5 minutes after the rennet had been added earlier in the day. We tried it as it came out of the machine still warm and unbrined, was absolutely delicious.
On our way back we stopped at a pub called the Poachers inn that was run by a past student.
Him and his wife ran the pub and you could tell they really loved it. They gave us some tasters of delicious crab and prawn and a small selection of the puddings they do in a shot glass. Delicious.
Last weekend I had my brother and cousin to stay. They went off to the English market when they arrived and bought me things to cook them. They got me squid and duck 2 things that we haven’t yet done on the course but I think we managed to muddle through and made a delicious dinner.
These were taken down by the Ballycotton cliffs where we found a tire swing. We are going to try and do it before we leave although the weather has stopped is so far!
Week 7 saw the beginnings of flaky pastry which has always scared me and I have always bought. Although it did take time as you have to keep coming back to it and keep it very cold, it was quite a nice pastry to make and definitely very satisfying when the pie comes out the oven. We have been assured that puff pastry takes less time, is much easier and you get a very similar result. The idea being that when we do puff pastry after doing flaky we will wonder what all the fuss is about…lets hope that is the case in Monday!
Crepes with butterscotch sauce and bananas. The sauce is very rich so you don’t need a lot but utterly delicious and keeps for ages in the fridge so worth making.
This is a mimosa salad which is lovely and light for a lunch or a starter. The leaves are drizzled with a light balsamic dressing and then under the leaves are a layer of coarsely chopped olives and the white of a hard boiled egg and then the yolk on top passed through a fine sieve. Simple and delicious.
Poached monkfish with a red pepper sauce.
This weekend I had my Mum and Dad visiting and by Sunday my Dad said ‘so really all you do is eat here?’. This was after having breakfast at the Midleton market, lunch at the English market in Cork, coffee at Idaho’s cafe in Cork, dinner at the Herring Gull in Ballycotton, and then brunch on Sunday in the Ballymaloe house cafe and finally dinner at Garryvoe Hotel. The only answer I could give him was ‘yes!’.
I found this bag in one of the stalls at the English Market in Cork…
The end of week six marked the half way point in the course and that meant exams! We had two exams, one was a herb and salad recognition test and the other was techniques. The salad recognition was fairly straightforward as we have a lovely big bowl of salad for lunch everyday, we just had to recite the names before eating it. The herb one again was pretty straightforward as most of them I have used before but we also had to write down two Ballymaloe recipes that each herb goes with, which caused a bit of panic amongst us and a few people to write down hens bucket!
As a result of the technique exam in a house of 10 people we have lots of frozen filleted fish, chicken and we had to eat a lot of thinly sliced cucumber and mushroom! The technique exam involved chopping and sweating and onion, making a paper piping bag and then two techniques from a list of anything from filleting a fish to making short crust pastry and scones. I had to plait white yeast bread and make a curly kale purée. Although I haven’t got my results back I think this is the first exam in my life I have felt confident doing, so hopefully the results will reflect that!
Last week was a bit of a whirl wind in terms of what everyone cooked as people were trying to practice techniques and that became a bit more important than producing lunch. Here are a few things I cooked last week including choux pastry which I never thought would be as simple as it was to make! I also made a loaf of sunflower bread which is a great idea and would go really well with soup as each person can easily just pull a piece off.
Monkfish eating a scone…
On the weekend Adam was here from Nottingham, so we decided to go to West Cork which was absolutely beautiful. We were lucky enough that it didn’t rain even if we did nearly get blown away! We went to Mizen Head which is the most south westerly point of Ireland. When we arrived the museum looked very shut, so after a bit of umming and arring we though we better jump over the fence to get to the actual most south westerly point, only to discover that the museum was in fact open and we were being watched…luckily we didn’t get thrown out.
This photo was taken from the Ballycotton cliffs of the lighthouse on a island just off the mainland. We got there just as the sun was going down and even saw a bit of blue sky!
This week sees the beginning of puff/flaky pastry and soufflé.. Stepped up a notch now we’re half way through..let’s see if we survive the week!