'A Meringue Waits for Nobody'

Thursday morning started bright and early with vegetable duty. I headed to the greenhouse at 7:30 to pick vegetables for the kitchen. Aubergines, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel and cabbage. Great way to start the day!

Thursday morning in the kitchen. I made Spiced Chicken with Almonds, Cabbage and Fennel Salad and Basmati Rice. Eh- I would give myself an A on planning and organization, an A- on presentation and a C+ on taste. At least the food looked great and was planned well! Apparently my cabbage salad needed more salt, my spiced chicken with almonds was burned, but my basmati rice was cooked to perfection. Friends- get ready for a lot of rice when I come home because I can cook it perfectly! Honestly this day was a bit disappointing and stressful. I thought my cabbage salad was severely oversalted and I legitimately did not know that my chicken dish was burned. How?! Better luck next time I suppose. Enough about that- onto the afternoon demo. 

Thursday's demo was taught by Rory. I really enjoy his lectures. He is funny, succinct, efficient and an excellent teacher. The focus of the demo was filleting and cooking a round fish, stuffed zucchini blossoms, artichokes, beetroot, cucumber salad, brown soda bread and lemon meringue pie. If it hasn't been apparent yet in this blog, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I would eat only dessert if not for the obvious repercussions of doing so. Moreover, I LOVE lemon flavored desserts. Lemon tarte, lemon squares, lemon pie, lemon poppyseed cookies...you get it. So I was very excited to learn that lemon meringue pie was one of my dishes to cook on Friday and determined to have a better day in the kitchen than I did on Thursday. Rory's Lemon Meringue Pie was perfection and he stressed the attention to detail that must be paid to the lemon curd and the meringue. A meringue waits for nobody! Stay tuned for my attempt at the lemon meringue pie!

Filleting a fish- yikes. Rory makes it looks so easy and it makes so much sense watching him (sort of like jointing a chicken) however I know this will take a lot of practice. He basically said that as long as the back of your knife is on the bone than you're doing the right thing and getting as much meat as possible. See below for some tips on picking out a whole fish!

Friday morning in the kitchen was much better than Thursday, however, I didn't finish any of my dishes in a timely matter. I was in the kitchen from about 8:30am to 1pm making Lemon Meringue Pie and Brown Soda Bread. I'm sure you're wondering how two seemingly simple dishes could possibly take 4.5 hours- well, I couldn't tell ya! But I can tell you that they turned out very well and Debbie was very happy with both. Finally- a good day in the kitchen.  

Friday afternoons lecture was all about lamb and various side dishes that go along with it. Rory started the lecture by showing us how to divide the lamb into three sections- the shoulder, the loin and shank/leg/chump. Poor little lambchop, I hate to saw you up- but you taste so delicious!

After the lamb was literally sawed into pieces, we focused on the leg. Rory roasted the leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic- you can imagine how amazing the demo room smelled. 

While the lamb was cooking we moved onto mint sauce, red currant jelly and gravy (all suggested sauces for the lamb). For sides Rory made glazed carrots, rustic roast potatoes, flagolet beans with tomato and rosemary, a traditional Irish Salad with Shangarry Cream Dressing and various fruit salads for dessert. If you all remember any of my posts pre Ballymaloe, I mention my strong feelings toward fruit salads. I am a huge fruit lover and I think a good fruit salad can be really amazing. However, I think that some restaurants (and my some, I mean most) treat fruit salad as an afterthought by adding some cubed honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, one strawberry slice and a sprig of mint then charge you $11. I have nothing against honeydew, cantaloupe or pineapple, however, they have the advantage that they are big in size and can fill a bowl and therefore make the fruit salad quite uninteresting. If you're still reading this after my rant, you'll be happy to know that all of the fruit salads that Rory put together were really dynamic and delicious. The first was a cantaloup, blackberry and mint salad. The second was a banana, mango and passion fruit salad with lime syrup. 

Here are some pictures from the demo!

That concludes week two! I can't believe how fast it's all going by and how much we have covered in just two weeks. See below for some tips!

Tips:

-What to look for when buying a whole fish- eyes should be high, gills should be pink, scent shouldn't be fishy, appearance should be fresh

-At a fish monger, it's better to buy fish that is on the bone. Generally, the filleted fish is fish that didn't look as nice so they took it off the bone. Pick out a whole fish and fillet it yourself or ask the fish monger to fillet it for you. 

-Lamb classifications: 3-4 months to a year old is called lamb, 1-2 years is called hogget, and 2+ years is called mutton

-You can store egg whites for up to 3 weeks in your fridge and they freeze well- don't throw them away!

-Don't season potatoes until they are cooked

-To check if a mango is ripe, hold in your hand and press down with your thumb. If it leaves an imprint it is ripe. 

-Passion fruit are at their best when they get to be a bit wrinkly on the outside

-The color of a lime is not necessarily and indicator of flavor