Sunday, 25 March 2012

Ballymaloe Day 43, March 8th - Canapé Capers

Middle of the week and there was loads on today. First off the cheeseboard, which this week was Goats’ Cheese, then the canapé demonstration which was an epic affair with both Rory and Darina showing us how to prepare dainty little morsels for any occasion. There were quails eggs, smoked salmon, fish kebabs, anchovy straws, marinated feta, lamb on rosemary skewers, tiny Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and horseradish, meatballs and more. Top tips for presenting the food in a quirky fashion were foraging for an old birds nest (??!) and an antique dormouse grill if you happen to have one. It would certainly start the conversation among your guests if the Prosecco hadn’t done the trick!

Foraged bird's nest!

Quail's eggs, shrimps
Darina and Rory

Anchovy straws at the front
Field mice grill centre!

Canapes on artisan tiles
It gave me loads and loads of ideas for when I get back!After a short lecture on freezing and one on spices we all trooped off to Ballymaloe House Hotel a few miles down the road. I had already been to the kitchen to chop cabbages and to the shop and café a few times (warning, the shop is full of cool kitchenware you’d be tempted to buy) but this time we had a tour round the dining room, kitchen, wine cellar and bedrooms. The wine cellar down in the basement has some old stone walls from the remains of the original castle. We also went out to see the Grainstore, a converted barn they use for events which is a fabulous space, and the onsite coffee roastery. Yes, they really do have everything here! It was a gorgeous sunny day and afterwards we had some afternoon tea in the conservatory, all cakes we have cooked ourselves of course! The Allen family told us a bit about the history of the house and how Myrtle Allen first established the restaurant back in the 1960s, cooking country house family food with ingredients from her garden.

Ballymaloe House

The grounds

The wine cellar

The kitchens

Coffee Roastery, The Golden Bean

The Grainstore

The Coffee Roaster

Another thing I managed to fit in to today was the infamous sourdough. The trouble with this sourdough has been the second rising, it has risen fine but it's over risen and sunk a bit the second time. Mainly because its been rising in the middle of the night and would have been perfect to cook at 4 in the morning! Well they had sunk a little but still looked good so I baked then in the morning, here they are:
My sourdough

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