Ballymaloe Week 7 / Food Fad Fit

One of the best things about being a chef is that it's such a multifaceted, multi-sensory job. It's like.. trades-work but with a visual arts edge. It also sustains life! Everyone has to eat but I'm not sure if anyone was prepared for how much indulgence was going to happen on the course.

Ballymaloe Cheese Fritters
Ballymaloe Cheese Fritters
Pakoras
Pakoras
Onion Bajis
Onion Bajis
My Gluten-Free Flaky Pastry Experiment. Dutch Pinwheels.
My Gluten-Free Flaky Pastry Experiment. Dutch Pinwheels.
Steak & Frites Dinner. I tried to cook it to Rare. It was Blue. I ate it.
Steak & Frites Dinner. I tried to cook it to Rare. It was Blue. I ate it.
My Local Smoked Fish Platter.
My Local Smoked Fish Platter.
The best dessert I've made so far.. Bakewell Tart.
The best dessert I've made so far.. Bakewell Tart.
some AMERICAN coleslaw
some AMERICAN coleslaw

We're all kinda feeling this slump in energy.. we have visions of whipping cream in our minds and the smells of butter on our skin. Sounds sexy but, well, the question is - is all this food taking a toll? Mind you, the consensus seems to be that we are here and we are learning - so - we must EAT! be merry! EAT!

Sailor Moon - Episode 3 Season 1
Sailor Moon - Episode 3 Season 1

Meanwhile, the dictates of an unhealthy body image our society poisoned us with whilst growing up is unconsciously seeping in. By no means is this a black and white issue, though. There's much to say about my 6 months of eating paleo - whole foods which are grain, dairy and refined sugar-free - and how incredible I felt. Yet, there's something humbling and grounding (and sleep inducing) as a mashed potato doused in butter. There's something exciting about giving my fellow gluten-intolerant students a fresh-baked brioche I've experimented on creating.

Rich, creamy Cannelloni I made with fresh gluten-free pasta I hand rolled out.
Rich, creamy Cannelloni I made with fresh gluten-free pasta I hand rolled out.
Gluten-Free Lady-Fingers aka Boudoir Biscuits
Gluten-Free Lady-Fingers aka Boudoir Biscuits
Tiramisu based on said biscuits.
Tiramisu based on said biscuits.
Green Saffron's Chicken Curries
Green Saffron's Chicken Curries
Mahan Point Market - Marshmallows
Mahan Point Market - Marshmallows

Food fads based on national health suggestions and the supplement industry are based on facts that aren't usually holistic.. Well-intentioned health practitioners have a tendency to push products on society as a whole as if they have the same body chemistry.. as if they have the same health needs.. as if they live in the same climate.

Fortunately, anti-rules to the health industry are starting to become mainstream. I can't speak for my classmates but these facts I've heard spouted by my fellow farm-to-tablers for years now have really run true for me here.

1. Eat Local and Organic - Produce and meat tastes better the freshest it is, you seem like a better cook when you've really only used quality products!

2. Eat seasonal - It's usually cheaper and treated with fewer chemicals and fertilizers so it's maintained all its nutrients by growing naturally and stored for a shorter amount of time.

3. Don't eat 'fat free' - Of all the essential vitamins, only two are water soluble! No wonder we feel nice when we've had a little bacon.

4. Live a balanced life - Ultimately, we're not only what we eat but how we treat our bodies holistically. It's one thing to say, eat this, eat that.. but what you do with the machine you are feeding impacts how you feel greatly.

Trust me, I'm a scientist.

Visit to Cashel Blue, cheese maker.
Visit to Cashel Blue, cheese maker.

So, how do YOU escape the clutches of a society that shames food indulgence?

Ballymaloe Week 6 / Thai Moules et Frites

Graveyard
Graveyard

I love using up leftovers. We get loads to take home from cooking at school so I invented a Thai Red Curry Moules et Frites with Blood Orange Slaw. Check out the recipe below!

Charles Fort, Kinsale. Or is it Game of Thrones..??
Charles Fort, Kinsale. Or is it Game of Thrones..??
Kinsale Harbour
Kinsale Harbour
Barbershop in Kinsale
Barbershop in Kinsale
Fish and Chips at Fishy Fishy
Fish and Chips at Fishy Fishy
Scallops with Spinach Risotto & Cheese Crisp
Scallops with Spinach Risotto & Cheese Crisp

But first.. my time here is over the hump.. as in I have a little over one month left of the course. We had our midterm exams and I'm feeling more and more confident in my cooking abilities.

Sourdough! Fini!
Sourdough! Fini!
Trying to make a Gluten Free Sourdough starter.. wish me luck! It needs a few days to ferment.

Trying to make a Gluten Free Sourdough starter.. wish me luck! It needs a few days to ferment.

I'm also fully into playing music again. I had my first gig in 3 years - not singing originals (unlike before when I was adamant about it). There is so much to say about the parallels between cooking and music when creating the two.

All of your apprehensions need to be suspended just for the moment in order to gain your own trust in intuition to create something beautiful. Like taste in food and music.. it is also all relative, but there is a certain foundation that one could use to make the process more enjoyable and less frustrating.

goats!
goats!
Wood-fired pizza made every Saturday at the school.
Wood-fired pizza made every Saturday at the school.
Philip doing the pizzas.
Philip doing the pizzas.
DSC01376
DSC01376
Pizza ingredients.
Pizza ingredients.

Every week we have a new teacher and each of them have taught me some essential tips:

1. Have a 'garbage can' for vegetable peelings, meat scraps, etc while you're cooking. It clears space on your cutting board. 2. Sharpen your knife every time before using. A sharp knife is actually safer to use and makes prepping way easier. 3. As you cook, clean up around you - the clean area helps you focus and a zen environment makes cooking less stressful. etc.

Moules et Frites with Thai Red Curry Mayo & Blood Orange Slaw (serves 2)

Make Moules et Frites with home made mayo as below:

Mussels

1 lb mussels (making sure they're still alive - refer to the video above)

Add them to an empty pan and turn on the heat. Cover and steam for 3-4 min until they open up. Allow to cool. You can reserve the juices from the pan for a fish stock or sauce.

Frites

2 medium waxy potatoes, sliced in 5mm x 5mm strips
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475. Toss fries in about 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Bake in an oven for 20min, flipping them once after 10min.

Thai Red Curry Mayo

250mL mayo
1-2 tbsp Thai Red Curry paste (to taste)
dash of lemon

Mix ingredients in a bowl and add more or less curry paste to taste.

Blood Orange Slaw

2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1/4 finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
zest of 1/2 blood orange and 1 tbsp of its juice
1/3 cup mayo
salt and pepper to taste

Shred cabbage. Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make a dressing. And combine with shredded cabbage adding more or less mayo to taste.

Been missing home lately. Was kind enough to be surprised with this little gem at a convenience store. 4 weeks left!!

Ballymaloe Week 5 / Pretty Pics in Limbo Land

The last week and a half have been a bit nutty. We are preparing for our mid term exam so this week, although I have LOTS to talk about... I am at my deadline of getting a post up so photos will have to suffice for now. More next week!

Until then.. Happy Valentine's Day!

This is a loaf of bread filled with sandwiches made from the inside of that loaf a bread formed into a treasure chest.
This is a loaf of bread filled with sandwiches made from the inside of that loaf a bread formed into a treasure chest.
Christmas cake!
Christmas cake!
cupcakes with meringue topping
cupcakes with meringue topping
meringue animals!
meringue animals!
My Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Eclairs
My Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Eclairs
More Choux Pastry delights!
More Choux Pastry delights!

The weather's been rather crummy.  WIND WIND WIND - the show must go on!

The power went out due to a terrible storm - Rory pullin' through, continuing the lesson.
The power went out due to a terrible storm - Rory pullin' through, continuing the lesson.
Tapas - Marinated Olives
Tapas - Marinated Olives
Marinated Anchovies
Marinated Anchovies
Manchego Cheese & Sherry
Manchego Cheese & Sherry
Almond Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Almond Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Cod-Stuffed Red Pepper & Toasts
Cod-Stuffed Red Pepper & Toasts
Peace over the weekends.
Peace over the weekends.

Wish me luck on my exam!

Ballymaloe Week 4 / ...what you make it

How was everyone's SUPERBOWWL SUNDAY!? / Groundhog Day / Imbolc / Chinese New Year?? I couldn't imagine having a more magical time in this country. A lot of it had to do with blind faith that I would achieve all my expectations - a hard one if you've been through some tough times... I went to Cork for the evening. Beautiful beautiful city.. (The locals don't believe it's a city - population is around 300,000)

Below are some photos of my house mates plucking and cooking wild hunted partridge, pheasant and goose.

Gruesome? Yes.

Awkward? Certainly.

Before I get into that, I should say that I'm very fortunate to live with such ambitious people. After volunteering to help clean up a little longer, they received these birds as gifts from the staff so we could practice our culinary skills.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Prawn Crisps.. for all my Pho lovers back in Ottawa - One of my proudest food styling so far.
Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Prawn Crisps.. for all my Pho lovers back in Ottawa - One of my proudest food styling so far.

This is one of the reasons why I chose to come here above all other cooking schools. The cooking skills we learn go beyond fine dining. It connects us to our food on many deep levels.

Recently, I also offered to help with cooking classes so I could get more experience with teaching. It was Imbolc themed, or St. Bridget's Day - the midway point of winter that celebrates the Patron Saint of Dairy - St. Bridget. There was a demo open to the public about Bastille Bread (a soda bread made in a stoneware pot) and a demo on homemade butter.

Prepping.
Prepping.
Learning how to make St. Bridget's Cross.
Learning how to make St. Bridget's Cross.
Little 'dote' making butter for the first time.
Little 'dote' making butter for the first time.
First wild flowers of the year - snow drops!
First wild flowers of the year - snow drops!
We did it!
We did it!
My own home made butter and gluten free White Chocolate Cranberry Scones
My own home made butter and gluten free White Chocolate Cranberry Scones
Yeasted Corn Meal Sandwich Bread
Yeasted Corn Meal Sandwich Bread

I've never understood food more in my life.. and it just makes me hungry for more.

Speaking of which...

!HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS OF CAKES!

My Gluten Free Candied Kumquat and Whipped Cream Victoria Sponge Cake
My Gluten Free Candied Kumquat and Whipped Cream Victoria Sponge Cake
Candied Edible Flowers to garnish this one...
Candied Edible Flowers to garnish this one...
Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake
Orange Cake
Orange Cake
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Parsnip Cake
Parsnip Cake
Gingerbread & Whipped Cream
Gingerbread & Whipped Cream

LOCAL SEA FOOD AND TRADITIONAL IRISH BREAKFASTS

Mini Lobster. How cute!
Mini Lobster. How cute!
My seafood platter: Home Made Mayo, Oysters, Shrimp, Clams & Mussels
My seafood platter: Home Made Mayo, Oysters, Shrimp, Clams & Mussels
Moss pudding! Instead of gelatine, you soak milk in seaweed, which exudes a jelling agent. So lovely!!
Moss pudding! Instead of gelatine, you soak milk in seaweed, which exudes a jelling agent. So lovely!!
My Irish Breakfast! Gluten Free Toast, Fried Tomato, Mushroom Cap, Lamb Kidney, Back Rasher, Streaky Bacon, Potato Cake, Blood Pudding
My Irish Breakfast! Gluten Free Toast, Fried Tomato, Mushroom Cap, Lamb Kidney, Back Rasher, Streaky Bacon, Potato Cake, Blood Pudding
Waffels
Waffels
Amazing Granola, Oatmeal & Fruit Salad Spread!
Amazing Granola, Oatmeal & Fruit Salad Spread!

And that's that.. So much more to learn - I'm about half way through the course! Living in the moment is a challenge but it's well worth it.. I hope I can carry on this spirit throughout my life afterwards. I swear though.. there must be something funny in the air in these parts...

Ballymaloe Week 3 / Talent, Touring, Cheese Tutorial

I ride my borrowed bicycle every chance I get when I'm not in school and it's sunny.. turns out that day is Sunday.

At school this week we learned how to make sourdough and cheese!

Makin pizza!
Makin pizza!
Sourdough starters.
Sourdough starters.
Sourdough Tutorial
Sourdough Tutorial
Cheese equiptment.
Cheese equiptment.
Let milk ferment with cheese culture.
Let milk ferment with cheese culture.
Cutting cheese to let whey escape.
Cutting cheese to let whey escape.
Mix at a certain temperature to encourage whey to escape.
Mix at a certain temperature to encourage whey to escape.
Drain whey and wash.
Drain whey and wash.
Whey is a really healthy beverage!
Whey is a really healthy beverage!
Adding water to wash it.
Adding water to wash it.
Fill cheese mold.

Fill cheese mold.

Press out whey.
Press out whey.
3 months later.
3 months later.
Cheese fridge.
Cheese fridge.
Salting the cheese the next day!
Salting the cheese the next day!

The most amazing part is getting to sample all the local goodies and just completely immerse myself in the culture where food is concerned. I'm really starting to get an idea of what true Irish food is. Cured fish, breads, THE CHEESE IS AMAZING. Irish cheese and butter is widely sought out around the world since the cows just have so much darned grass to eat. It makes their milk more yellow.

Midleton farmer's market. BARISTA!
Midleton farmer's market. BARISTA!
You get locally made chocolate chips with your coffee.. amazing.
You get locally made chocolate chips with your coffee.. amazing.
Bread.
Bread.
Cheese stand!
Cheese stand!
My goodies. Eggs, blue cheese, chive goat cheese, ginger dark chocolate, seaweed pickle, hot smoked salmon with chili.
My goodies. Eggs, blue cheese, chive goat cheese, ginger dark chocolate, seaweed pickle, hot smoked salmon with chili.
Local prawns.
Local prawns.
Bacon.
Bacon.
Chocolate lollipops.
Chocolate lollipops.
Meringue heart with spiced plumb and whipped cream centre.
Meringue heart with spiced plumb and whipped cream centre.
My creation!! Smoked salmon rosette with quick cucumber pickle.
My creation!! Smoked salmon rosette with quick cucumber pickle.
Stuffed lamb breast.
Stuffed lamb breast.
Roast beef!
Roast beef!
Dressing a cutting board for roast beef.
Dressing a cutting board for roast beef.
Roasted lamb shank.
Roasted lamb shank.
beautiful raw vegetables for an appetizer
beautiful raw vegetables for an appetizer
Hummus
Hummus
Helen and Mary Pat. Music promoter and Irish mom.
Helen and Mary Pat. Music promoter and Irish mom.

There was a talent competition at the local pub.

Talent show!
Talent show!