Biscuit Of The Week

Well what a week.  I think this week there has been some madness and some solace in being in the Ballymaloe bubble.  Yes I am talking about Wednesday 9th November 2016 when Donald Trump was voted the President Elect of the good old US of A. Now whatever your political views are you have to admit that two years ago no one actually thought that a property developer would have a really become President.  Well it happened.  But all I can say is that here in the Bally bubble Wednesday is 'Biscuit Of The Week' day and I can tell you never have I seen a 64 people so excited as they were on Wednesday to see what biscuit would await them, what sugary delight would sweeten a very sour day.   It was a millionaire square.  Oh the irony.  I think I snorted.  If in fact I know I snorted.  They can either be rather quite ordinary or they have the opportunity to really be something quite fantastic we were told.  If only the same thing could be said about what was happening across the pond. Thank God for biscuit of the week that's all I can say.

I had I think one of the worst days in the kitchen this week since I started.  Vegetarian lasagna became my nemesis, this was much worse than the scones or the shortbread (which turned out rather nicely much to my delight and relief), no this was far worse.  The Ballymaloe recipe for vegetarian lasagna is there to break you and that it nearly did.  We have 3 hours every morning to complete our recipes for that day.  I can safely say that this cannot be completed in 3 hours.  Pasta verde (that's a shed load of spinach) made from scratch pasta, pepperonta, mushroom a la creme, buttered spinach (more bloody spinach) and béchamel sauce, each layer made from hand.   I NEVER want to de stalk and wash spinach again.  I lost my sanity about five times over.    Anyone who handles spinach regularly will know you need about 20 times the amount of spinach to get to the desired amount in any given recipe.  I have told anyone that would listen about my spinach rage.  I had spinach rage all week.   It's a shame I was always rather partial to spinach.

It's wasn't all rage though, a group of us popped ourselves off to Ballymaloe House on Thursday.  It was rather inspiring to see that many of the dishes we have been learning to cook are being served at the restaurant.  Knowing that you could deliver on the menu (maybe not quite with the same finesse) as one that is being served in a five-star establishment made me feel quite jolly.  Yes all thoughts of spinach evaporated and I was floating once more on my Ballymaloe bubble of happiness.   I am working there next week so I am sure they'll be very happy to hear that I can deliver on the menu.  Ha!

We have had our examination notes in advance of our 12 week exam.  Mild panic has resumed once more.  Herb chats have been replaced by "What are you cooking for your exam" chats. It's a guarded affair, no one wants to be too open for fear that their menu might be stolen. It's a tricky business at times old cooking school.   I feel relatively calm about it at the moment.  I am trying to take my time in deciding what three course meal I want to cook. Simplicity with good flavour is what I am going for.  Something that excites me, that I'd want to eat and the type of food that I hope to cook once I leave.  Tall order then. Lots to ponder on this coming week.

Here's what else has been happening in Ballymaloe this week:

  1. Box in Ireland has a very different meaning so if you are going to go all cockney and say "It's doing my box in" Don't
  2. I am slowly learning that maybe it's best that I don't speak in Ireland apparently everything I say is rude (as in the naughty way)
  3. I have taken to washing my chef whites with my pens so now am sporting a tie dye look
  4. Vegetable prep - the jury is out.  I mean I know it's apparently the stepping stone to chef greatness but I feel there must be a way to bypass it or maybe it's a case of turning it into some sort of chopping meditation?
  5. I am trying to hold my nerve through the fear of the end of Ballymaloe.  What next?
  6. The pop-up dinner is fast approaching and my commitment to the Petit Four has not wavered.  I was gushing about the merits of the Petit Four at Ballymaloe House, never before did I gobble so many up with such enthusiasm
  7. My love of fermentation continues.  It does however have an interesting effect on ones' stomach, I seem to have a gurgling symphony going on.  I am strong in the belief this is the good bacteria having a whale of a time and that I am not poising myself
  8. Karaoke is definitely still a crowd pleaser. Always a winning night out. Two of my best night's out in one week.  Result
  9. For anyone who knows me I escaped performing my 'crowd pleasing' rendition of Big Spender. Alas it wasn't my night (one thing I did learn at Drama School, know your audience, know your audience)
  10. The sock thief is still at large - I am considering putting a bounty on their head, extreme?

God Bless the Biscuit Of The Week.


Nadra Shah