Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cheese making:

So Monday morning I was raring to get back into the kitchen and get cooking. It’s funny because over the weekend I find that I start to miss the buzz of the kitchen. I can’t wait until 8.30am Monday morning. I wash my hands, before doing ANYTHING, (this is drummed in to us), sharpen my knives and get cracking with the dishes which have been demonstrated to us the previous weekday. I collect my ingredients, weigh flour, sugar and butter, juice and zest some lemons or whatever the dishes I am cooking may need. Cooking stops at 11.30am and the three and half hours fly. I usually feel wrecked after the morning’s session but there is always a little bit of me that wants to head back in to the kitchen after lunch and crack on with some more dishes, you might call it an addiction!!

My Greek Mousakka: No easy way to make this dish look attractive

My Fluffy Lemon Pudding.....Nom Nom!!!
Butchery is something I find very interesting. This week chicken was on the menu. In Monday’s demo Darina showed us how to joint a chicken. Of course it was something we were going to have to replicate the following morning in the kitchen. With practise I’m sure it will become second nature to me but is certainly something I will need to practise, making sure not to waste any of the chicken is key! Interesting to know is that when washing a chopping board after cutting raw chicken you should initially run cold water over the board and scrub. If you begin washing with warm or hot water there is an enzyme in raw chicken which reacts with the heat and therefore breeds bacteria thus food poisoning.


Darina's work not mine!!

On Wednesday, our theory day, Darina showed us a very large cut of beef on the bone. On a diagram she showed us where various cuts of beef come from and also the best way to cook the cut. For example the shin and cheek is usually slow cooked. How do you like your roast beef cooked? For every 1lb the meat should spend 6 minutes in the oven if you like it rare, 8-10 for medium and 10-12-14 if you like it well done. Another way to tell how cooked the meat is, is to look at the juices coming from the meat. If they are clear then it’s well cooked and the less clear they are the less well done it is. You should also leave your meat to rest after removing from the oven for as long as it was in the oven.

The information that we learn on a daily basis is massive, 12-16 recipes pretty much every day. Some of the info that I write in my blog is only the tip of the iceberg and if I were to write every interesting tip or fact I would be here all year. An interesting thing that I learned this week is that when cooking green veg you boil your water first, add salt and then add veg but under no circumstances do you put a lid on the saucepan. Putting a lid on the saucepan will cause the colour from the veg to go lighter and lighter. If we were to do this down here we would be killed.

Homemade Scone's
Wednesday afternoon consisted of a lecture from Darina on JOB!!. She is adamant that we will all have jobs for us by the time we finish. On a weekly basis she reads out jobs which employers send her in search of a new student. The first job she read out was for a chef required for a large private estate in the south of France cooking for a family and also cooking for them on their private yacht. Sounds fantastic!! She also told us what previous students went on to do after the course. This talk alone from Darina really made me feel like I am doing the right thing and I am on the main road to doing well in this industry. She has a tremendous skill to be able to fill us all with the confidence that once we complete this course then the world will literally be our oyster ,excuse the food pun ; ) . Past students have gone on to be very successful in areas such as food styling, food writing and food artisan to name just a few! I wonder what I will do?????????????????

 Normally on a Thursday evening, at home in Dublin, I would find myself heading to the gym or going to the cinema with the lads. However, life in Ballymaloe is slightly different. This evening I found myself down in the ever so small Ballymaloe dairy (right beside where the cows get milked) making cheese. Myself and five other students volunteered or rather jumped at the opportunity to make cheese with Tim Allen. The milk which had been taken from the cows this morning was the base for our cheese, add some rennet, leave it to set and then break it up with a large instrument, the name of which I do not know but it looks like a giant sieve. This giant sieve breaks up the curds to a smaller size and then the whey is drained from the vat leaving only the curds behind. I never realised but it is so easy to make your own cheese and, very satisfying too!! The curds are then put into a mould, usually circular in shape, and then you put a weight on top to help draw out the last of the whey. After all this is when the real work starts. The cheese has to be turned on several occasions to alter the weight and to continue to remove any whey. We filled our moulds at 6.40pm, the cheese has to be turned at 7.15pm, 8.15pm and 10.15pm. Tomorrow the cheese then has to be turned before breakfast, then before lunch and finally before dinner. Thereafter the cheese will have to be turned once a day over the weekend. In four month’s time or however long I like to leave it, I then will have my very own wheel of homemade cheese.

The Giant Curd

Tim and the giant sieve

Breaking down the curd to smaller curds

Breaking down the curd further with our washed hands

My wheel of cheese

Tim trying to steal my wheel of cheese.....Hands Off Timmy!!

Tomorrow morning I am on salad duty which requires an early start. Down to the kitchen for 8.00am so no rest for the wicked! After demo tomorrow evening it will be time to salt the cheese (in-between it will have be turned several times) and then it’s in to the car and back up to Dublin for the weekend. Have a good weekend everyone, happy eating…………………….with relish of course!!

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