1st day's cooking

Day 2 at began with me realising that the thick folder of recipes wasn’t a compendium of everything we were going to make at in the 12 weeks, it was everything we were going to make this week. I reeled from that shock into the kitchen, where we were going to cook the soup and bread we’d seen demonstrated the afternoon before.

Or, we were going to nervously and labouriously chop vegetables like people who’d never seen knives or onions before, while our teachers magicked them into meals. This was lucky for me because in the minutes it took me to walk from demo theatre to kitchen, I completely forgot how to cook.

I have chopped onions, carrots and potatoes a lot in my 30 something years, but put a short, kindly, smiling woman next to me who says: “Now, how are you getting on there?” and I forget which way is up on a knife. If she was to ask me to demonstrate walking, I’m pretty sure my knees would buckle and my legs would go every which way but forward.

Potato and chorizo soup

Lunch was therefore a success and in the afternoon Darina demonstrated the meals we’d be cooking the next day. A rota goes up on the board and you check who your cooking partner is, what you’re meant to produce and divide the recipes up between you. I was with Sean and we had beginner’s brown soda bread, French onion tart, potato soup with Gubbeen chorizo and parsley and rhubarb and strawberry compote.

I lucked out and got the soup and compote and I triumphed at them. That’s right, triumphed. If you ignore the fact that I nearly burnt my potatoes and onions while sweating them in a great slab of butter (1st thing you learn at Ballymaloe: eat more butter). I also sort of nearly burnt the soup when reheating it to plate it up.

To be honest, the whole soup making process was a series of stages where I nearly burnt it (and the chorizo) but just managed not to. Would you believe you could burn soup?

Rhubarb and strawberry compote

The compote was a shade easier. I made stock syrup, cooled it and then added my puckeringly pink chunks of rhubarb to it, brought it back to the boil and then stuck a lid on it so the rhubarb would cook in the residual heat.

I was supposed to serve it at 11.30 for tasting but at 11.10 it was still at body heat. An ice bath and a lot of anxious prodding and swirling resulted in something like a cold compote, which I sliced my strawberries into and plated up with a sweet geranium leaf for decoration.

I got good marks and danced my way out of the kitchen. I made soup and fruit compote and my teacher liked it – sweet, blissful success.

0 Responses to Day 2, 1st day cooking, Ballymaloe Cookery School

  1. Bellerina says:

    Fantastic description modom. So much so I almost felt like I was in the kitchen with you with an upside down knife. Except that I *would* have burnt the blumming soup!

  2. Sounds like you are really enjoying it so far!!!

    I have managed to burn soup once before… and it was hugely burnt…. billowing black smoke burnt! In my defence I was using a professional induction hob and didnt know the ring i moved the soup to was tuned on… I knew it was on when I came back in the galley 30 mins later!

    Looking forward to hearing more!


    • ginandcrumpets says:

      I am loving it so far. It’s a wonderful school/place. Did the pot survive your soup burning? I’ve been introduced to the magic of the diffuser mat and now expect to anxiously underheat everything for a few days!

  3. Helen says:

    This is brilliant. I am loving hearing about the course. I consider myself riveted.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Aw, thanks Helen – although I’m under pressure to produce something riveting! Will do my best to bring the Ballymaloe Soap Opera to life (Chickens! Butter! Laundry slots! Frantic stain stick applications to dirty chef’s jackets!)

  4. Lizzie says:

    I’m just catching up with your ballymoe posts and already I’m sucked in. That soup looks delicious.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      It’s my own little soap opera and a really thin excuse for writing “What I cooked today” type posts. The soups here have been a bit of a revelation. Who knew what a difference really good stock and a ton of butter would make?

  5. […] moment of the month: My 2nd day at Ballymaloe, my 1st day wearing whites and my 1st day in the kitchen. I made potato soup with chorizo, strawberry and rhubarb compote and a loaf of bright green brown […]

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