Ballymaloe Cookery Course: Week 10: Thursday

Today everything clicked into place, despite last night being a late one with the Sister at a musical evening in Ballymaloe House and lots of red wine! I was in at 8am on gardening duty with the ever-perky red-socked gardener. The two of us whizzed around the greenhouse or, rather, she whizzed – I plodded along behind at half speed – gathering quantities of parsley, chervil, coriander, kale and Swiss chard, which we then sorted, washed and labelled back at school.

A morning’s work already under my belt, I trotted off to Kitchen 3, to find my sourdough breads had been unceremoniously upended in the fridge overnight. Fortunately it bounced back and I ended up with two beautiful loaves of dark brown crusted, beautifully risen, satisfyingly chewy sourdoughs and an amazing sense of achievement.

Meanwhile, during the bringing-back-to-room-temperature, rising and baking of the dough, myself and my super-efficient American partner worked together on all of this morning’s dishes – Smoked Chicken Salad with Parsnip Crisps, Pan-Grilled Tuna and Salsa Verde, Apple and Sweet Geranium Vol au Vents and Homemade Parsley Noodles. It was just one of those days – for a change! – when all went smoothly. As my partner chopped parsley for the Salsa Verde, she handed over enough for my pasta; leftover egg from my dough served as egg wash for our vol au vents; I grabbed salad leaves, she made the parsnip crisps. We rolled, pan-grilled, chopped and assembled together and flew through an incredibly busy and satisfactory morning.

Today we also got our practical exam times and dates. I’m lucky – cooking the first day, Wednesday 5 December, from 9am. Must spend some more time on actual cooking my menu. The Husband is going to be well sick of eating the same goat’s cheese, duck and mousse dishes over the next two weeks



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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3 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Caroline, do you LOVE it down there? How do people feel about the place? Do you get weary or are you loving every second of it and taking the ups with the downs? I’m going down for a visit next weekend with my mum & am going to go down on a weekday after Christmas to see what it’s like in the kitchens. Sar

  2. Some days I do indeed love it – but others are not so easy. I just had an amazing week with a brilliant partner in my favourite kitchen (and made a brilliant sourdough!) so all is very right with my world. Other days things just don’t work out so well and you get really frustrated. It is a good idea to come down and see what it is like but the only way you will really appreciate the highs and lows of the course is to actually do it, which I’m sure is no help at all! When are you coming down next weekend? I might be around so that we could meet up and I could answer any questions in person!

  3. Sarah says:

    Supposed to go down next weekend but that may change as an uncle of my mum’s just passed away (he was 92 so no need to be sad) but we’ll be down there this weekend for the funeral.

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