Thursday, 4 November 2010

Sweat at 100 degrees

I awoke with the pains that one associates with increasing age and some strange subterranean rumblings normally attributed to severe lack of food. A healthy bowl of muesli with a banana seemed to confirm that diagnosis as I felt much better - the four cups of espresso may also have something to do with that improvement.

At 8am I was due in the prep kitchen to prepare salad for lunch so, with the sun still cowering beneath the horizon, I set forth across the sodden fields to the School. On my arrival I was the only one in sight, unless you give the two Jack Russells anthropomorphic credibility. By 7:55, however, signs of human activity began and I entered the room ready to select wash and spin dry the leaves that would accompany today's meal. They had yet to arrive from the glasshouse so it was a Honey Mustard dressing that captured my full attention. Do you realise how much dressing is required for 70+ salads? Well over a pint is the answer so the first whisking of the day commenced whilst others selected the finest, freshest leaves to fill the two huge bowls.

Once over I headed to my station ready to start the morning's cooking but something was not right. My sinuses were blocked solid whilst the muesli appeared to be fermenting enthusiastically. Oh well let's get started. A Chocolate Mousse was first up. Hours of whisking, the mousse of eggs and sugar, egg whites, cream. Chocolate had to be melted with dark Rum over a pan of boiling water and gelatine sponged. Now at home I use leaf gelatine but Ballymaloe uses powder, sponged in cold water and then stood in a pan of hot water to melt.

Mousse en Place

Today the gelatine would not behave either developing a skin or setting solid. Despite heroic attempts at a retrieval by the teacher I had no recourse other than to re-do it. In the meantime the cream, egg whites and mousse had started to deflate and the chocolate to set. More whisking and reheating of chocolate. The souffle bowl into which the mousse would be poured had to have a collar of paper placed around it to provide for the mousse to come an inch above the bowl itself. Fun and games with paper and string ensued and by the time that the collar was fitted and greased the cream, egg whites and mousse had started to deflate and the chocolate to set. More whisking and reheating of chocolate. The gelatine meanwhile had begun to develop a skin!

We had, however, reached the point at which the mix was coming together regardless. Careful mixing and folding produced a chocolate coloured semi liquid which should set in a fridge so into the souffle bowl. Quite why we had wrestled with the paper collar is beyond me. The mousse did not quite fill the bowl and the paper collar stood high, proud and virginally untouched. Into the fridge, even though there was no chance of irit setting by lunch.

I was by this time all hot and bothered, not because the mousse was somewhat recalcitrant, but because I was genuinely suffering. This was not incipient Man Flu but a general clamminess with spinning rooms and the possibility of the muesli becoming a Mexican Gulf oil rig situation. It was only right to leave the kitchen before a nasty occurrence, so at 11 am I cleared down and left.

I walked back to the cottage, gulping in fresh air and appreciating the cooling effect of the light drizzle, got in, swallowed a lemsip and promptly fell asleep. Now Ballymaloe looks after students and around 2pm my phone woke me to tell me that there was a text. "Lunch at front door" was the message. I headed downstairs, opened the door and found a cling filmed bowl. I don't know who cooked the Red Thai Beef Curry with Rice and accompanying veg but it was a) lovely and b) a lifesaver. One of my favourite 'do or die' cures is a Prawn Madras and this curry met that criteria head on.

Briefly I blogged and then headed back to the arms of Lethe ( note to Mrs K - this is a Greek mythological allusion not the name of any student or local resident). Tomorrow - who knows?

1 comment:

  1. Poor you...yes I believe you...I'm not a complete philistine ;-)