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.
After starting at 8am on Friday – I was on Early AM duty, shaping and rolling pizza bases for that morning’s demonstration – and having our first set of set of exams that afternoon, the last thing I needed was a night at Declan Ryan’s Arbutus Bakery. But, as my father continually tells my mother, when you enlist your must soldier, so 11.30pm found me wending my weary way along the dark, foggy roads en route to the bakery in Mayfield Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Cork City.
I’ve just got the first three weeks-worth of notes filed and already the first folder is bulging. That’s not too much of a problem – the stationary list we were sent before the start of the course specified four lever-arch files – much more of an issue is the actual filing system. In our house, now comprising of three students plus one Husband, there have been several debates over the best way of doing it. Does Tapenade fit under starters or dressings? Or, as I was asked when I called round to our three student neighbours, should Poppadums be put with their appropriate dish in the Main section or be filed under Bread?
Life – in the form of friends’ weddings, new babies and house buying – has gotten in the way of updates here in the last while but, even though I haven’t been cooking or baking very much recently, it hasn’t stopped me from either eating or investigating interesting new food products. While the Boyfriend and I were down at home in County Cork last weekend, I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to my beloved English Market and Quay Co-op in Cork city and these are a few of the things that I’m trying at the moment:
If there’s one thing nicer than Murphy’s Seacláid (chocolate) Ice Cream, eaten straight from the tub beside the fire (yep, it’s still cold in Ireland!), then it’s got to be that self same cold, intensely flavoured ice cream topped with great generous spoonfuls of creamy sweet/salty confiture de lait. Perfect for an Easter treat! Literally translated as milk jam, confiture de lait is a truly luxurious, indulgent toffee caramel sauce, similar to the Argentinean dulce de leche, and often used as a spread for bread, or even to sandwich cookies together.
Last week the Boyfriend decided that it was time to move on from making bagels which, though gorgeous, are very time-consuming to something a little faster. As we both take our lunches to work, we’re going through a lot of brown bread at the moment (mostly McCambridge‘s…especially nicely nutty when toasted) so he decided to make a couple of loaves of my Brown Soda Bread. After a few minutes hovering and being more hindrance than help, I decided to leave him to it. I curled up on the couch in the living room with a book as he worked away in the adjacent kitchen – close enough to help if asked but far away so that I wouldn’t be interfering!
Before we took off for our year in New Zealand, the Boyfriend was really getting involved in bread-making. There was an ongoing, sporadically successful, sourdough project but where he really hit his stride was in making bagels. A birthday present of Bread by Ursula Ferrigno and Eric Treuille (never let it be said that I didn’t encourage him!) inspired him to try their recipe. Do you know how they get the holes into their bagels? You take a small ball of dough, stick your finger through the centre of it and then work your finger in a circle to stretch and widen the hole. It’s rather like doing the hula hoop, but with your finger instead of your waist! We were in fits laughing that first morning that he tried the recipe as our fingers hula hooped their way through eight bagels.