Ballymaloe Cookery Course: Week 3, Wednesday

Week three – a new partner and, this time round, a new kitchen. I’m cooking in the demo area this week. Lots of space and, with only eight people working there, a calmer atmosphere. Apart from when I discover, at the last minute on Monday, that I’m on cheeseboard duty and have to throw a batch of Cheese Biscuits together at the last minute!

It’s been a savoury week so far for me. Monday I made a composed salad of Roast Red and Yellow Peppers, Zucchini, Parmesan and Rocket, a Fish Gratin with Imokilly Cheddar and Mustard, served with beetroot in a piquant cream sauce and Salmon Papilotte. Plus a Brown Yeast Bread, just for fun. Basically, we are taught a couple of breads a week and we have to practice them as much as possible, on top of everything else that we are cooking. Tuesday was much more straightforward. A dish of spicy Black Eyed Beans with Mushrooms and Basmati rice was my main event as the Apple Chilli Jelly didn’t drip fast enough to be finished in that class. I’m in early on Thursday to get that sorted out. I also made a loaf of Brown Soda Bread but, due to oven issues, I had a nicely shaped brick to serve up at lunchtime. That was one loaf that didn’t make it back to my Ballycotton house!

One of the many advantages to living in Ballycotton is being able to participate in all the extra-curricular activities. Last night I spent in the kitchens of Ballymaloe House, making up salads and trying to be useful as the chefs whizzed around. This Saturday I’m off to work at the the market in Middleton on the Ballymaloe stall. As with meeting cheesemakers like Bill Hogan and Ari Weinzweig of Zingermans Deli, it’s great to get these opportunities to see behind the scenes – it certainly makes you appreciate a plate of food in a restaurant or a sliver of Gabriel cheese that much more.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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8 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Caroline,I was just reading your where you wrote you were working on the Farmers Market stall & helping out in the Ballymaloe kitchens. Is this something everyone does or at least has the opportunity to do? Are you very busy practicing dishes when you get home in the evenings and what kind of things are you doing in the evenings?Hope you’re having a ball there.PS your e-mail isn’t working so I’m posting this comment. Maybe e-mail me your reply.

  2. M Buckley says:

    Here’s wishing you every success. Your pieces are so lively.I remember the wood fired oven at Ballymaloe with great fondness. The pizzas were excellent.

  3. Caroline says:

    Sorry about that, Sarah – I mustn’t be checking it often enough down here! Those jobs are both voluntary. Every night a student can choose to go to the kitchens at Ballymaloe House, which is a great way to see inside a professional kitchen and, due to Mark there, I got a chance to make up several salads that actually were served to guests in the restaurant that night. The Saturday morning market in Middleton job was snapped up very fast – only 12 Saturdays in the course and everyone wants to see what it’s like behind a market stall! I’m going there this Saturday so I’ll let you know afterwards! Evenings are spent filing, picking blackberries, walking off our three course lunches and, rather often, wandering down to the Blackbird for a few pints of Beamish!Thanks for your good wishes, M. When were you at Ballymaloe? No sign of the wood-fired oven being fired up just yet but I’ll keep you informed!

  4. Sarah says:

    Oh that sounds amazing; I’m sick from the excitement of it all!!!

  5. Deborah says:

    Hi Caroline – just caught up on your last few weeks. Loving the updates – it sounds tough, but rewarding! Good for you! Keep us posted… really great reading!

  6. Thanks for the words of encouragment Deborah – this is definitely cooking on another level, while having to cope with loads of people, a scarcity of equipment, different expectations and a whole heap of ovens that seem to keep getting turned to the wrong temperature for me! I certainly am enjoying it, though, and it’s great to hear that people are reading my dispatches.

  7. M Buckley says:

    I’ve written a little account of my Ballymaloe experience, linking here.Friends who have done the hobbyist cookery course, which lasts a few days, speak really highly of the experience. Cooking is fun and that is what shines out from the Ballymaloe books.

  8. Sounds like you enjoyed your night at the restaurant! We haven’t encountered the wood-burning oven yet but apparently we’ll be using it during the pizza-making session, hopefully coming up soon…

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