Monday, 1 November 2010

Hot water pastry and shellfish platters

The rain which had deluged us for several hours yesterday eased and the day began clear and crisp. The massive puddle that effectively filled our back garden exit had shrunk to leave just an interestingly spongy and sodden stroll across the orchard and fields back to the school. The dawn, however, made up for any fears of trench foot before 8am.

Before 8 I had signed in, collected the weeks worth of recipes which I had forgotten to collect on Friday and was heading to Kitchen 2. Same kitchen as last week but another workstation and another partner. Some enterprising sorts (geeks) had calculated a pattern of movement and believed that they could predict who would partner whom next week but, as they could not predict which kitchen or workstation would be involved this was at best vaguely interesting

Anyway back to the real interest, the cooking. Today I would tackle a Dingle Pie, a Shellfish Platter and a Broccoli Salad. The Dingle Pie is very similar to the Kerry Pie except in that it contains Cumin Seed not Thyme Leaves. The commonality is that both are made with hot water crust pastry and both contain... wait for it, wait for it.. Lamb. Rapidly water and butter were brought to boiling point and added to flour and salt, the whole mass being rapidly combined and then set aside to cool - the pastry being useless at high temperature.

On to dicing the Lamb. Dice 1lb of boneless Lamb or Mutton began the recipe. Now this is Ballymaloe and we don't do things the easy way so the meat was still attached to either a leg or a shoulder and had to be boned out first. Any excess fat would be rendered and used to fry the vegetables and newly diced, boneless Lamb.

An orgy of boning and dicing of meat followed by a similar event with Carrots and Onions produced the raw materials for the pie filling.

These were fried off and then re-combined with the addition of flour, stock and the Cumin Seed now roasted and lightly crushed. After a lengthy slow cooking they were set aside to cool until the pie was ready to be assembled and baked.

On then to the Shellfish and first off the Mayonnaise. Though we are now big boys and can use Magimixes I chose to do mine by hand to better Shellfish came next on the agenda, Mussels, Oysters, 2 types of Clam, Periwinkles and Shrimp. The to be eaten cooked ingredients were cooked appropriately and the Oyster merely opened. Bladderwrack was boiled in lots of salty water - not to be eaten but as a suitable bed on which to assemble the Assiette des Fruits de Mer. Some Mayo was potted and all were ready for presentation and tasting.

But before that the flan ring for the Dingle Pie had to be filled with the cooled pastry. I remembered that the Basllymaloe way is to push forward a little lip at the top of the side to retain any subsequent filling. Brilliantly executed ( for the first time) I was mortified to be told that with this recipe it was not necessary! Nome the less the pie was filled, the lid put on - that lip came in handy for attaching the lid- and egg washed. All pies here have to be decorated with pastry leaves or the like so, given my extreme intolerance to sheep in 99% of its cooked forms I decorated appropriately.

Sadly it was not cooked today as there were plenty already on the way but I am told that it will appear tomorrow or Wednesday.

To ameliorate this crushing disappointment I was able to present the Platter:

What of the exciting Broccoli Salad! I here you cry. Well, no Broccoli was delivered so it could not be made. Brussels Sprouts were substituted but despite Darina's passionate defence of the Sprout, so wronged, so villified, so tasty, there was no way that I,or anyone else, would be making Sprout Salad. I suppose that had a party of vegan Bhuddist Monks been in we might, but only because they would have been too polite to protest, and even if they had they would have set fire to themselves not the School.

Lunch for me was a Jacket Potato.

Demo was interesting especially the introduction of Irish Proscuitto by a farmer who just happens to be the father of one of the students. He explained the processes involved and half hinted that he had only done it because no one believed that you could produce air dried ham in a cold and damp climate.

The Proscuitto honestly tasted as good as any that I have had in Italy and, if this is the standard of production, I hope that he takes on another challenge.

Eventually after a demonstration of Pasta making and Italian breads along side French tarts and Frites we ended in a traditional way. Two students shared a birthday and as ever cakes were baked and presented. One of them might just be a housemate.

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