Day 11 – Curds and Whey

Day one of week three. This morning was productive! I got to do more cleaving and roasted a leg of lamb with coriander and garlic. Everyone is getting into butchery. Being able to joint an animal carcass is one of those things that elevate you from a home cook to a professional. Plus it’s handy if you can recognise cuts of meat if you’re travelling in a country where you don’t speak the language.

I also made a roasted pepper salad and kalamata olive tapenade. I had some free time between recipes so practised omelettes. I feel more confident but haven’t perfected the technique yet so I’m sure I’ll be eating plenty of eggs this week.

After class I stayed in my chef whites and did something extra. Students can make their own wheel of cheese during their stay and tonight I started mine with nine others.  We saw the milk being coagulated, separated the curds from the whey and then placed it in moulds. It needs to be turned every day for the next two weeks, then it will be aged and by the end of the course we will have made cheese!

I learned : Prawns are some of the most expensive seafood. To find the true price of the meat multiply the cost in shell by 6. Most restaurants make more money from the shells than the meat.

Cookbooks were not common until the middle of the 20th century. When Myrtle Allen started Ballymaloe she owned only two.

Always buy dry aged meat when you can. Wet aged meat is put into plastic immediately.

Soda bread is traditional in Ireland because the wheat grown here is low in gluten and doesn’t work well with yeast. Most of the bread flour we use is imported from Manitoba, Canada.

Food of the day : Shepherd’s Pie. At Ballymaloe they exclude carrots from the recipe which I was initially sceptical of but once I tried it I understood. It was rich, simple and divine.

Line of the day : ‘If I were Minister for Health the first thing I would do would be ban all sliced white bread.’ Darina thinks BIG.