Our 8 Week Certificate in Professional Cookery continued on into its second phase this week. And what a week it has been! The students have been learning about everything from offal to cheese to sourdough and they have done so with aplomb. The last half of the 8 Week course is where everything becomes more intensive and many of the subject areas which were covered in the first 4 weeks are revisited in far greater detail. There are also a few guest appearances who run masterclasses in their chosen specialty, such as Mark Taylor for sourdough, Silke Croppe of Corleggy Cheese for cheese, and Benoit Lorge from Lorge Chocolates for chocolate.
The week began as all Mondays should – with brunch! Brunch is one of those meals which is, or should be, all about having fun and using really good ingredients that are put together simply. This is exactly the atmosphere that our chef created as he worked with our students to make Eggs Benedict, Croque Madame, Oaty Pancakes, and Very Berry Granola.
On Tuesday, our students embarked upon the aromatic and colourful world of Middle Eastern cooking. We have all made falafels from a packet before but it is quite another thing to make them from scratch! Add to that baba ganoush (or grilled and pureed aubergines with tahini, olive oil, and seasoned to perfection), tabbouleh, and flatbread, and that’s just for starters! With Middle Eastern cooking it’s all about the combinations of flavour and less about the exact quantities. Our students were allowed to flex their culinary swings a little and experiment.
They started with a bit of fun – blow torching some peppers for their Red Pepper Hummus!
After which they made Baked Falafels…
And Baba Ganoush and Flatbread
Before making up some Cous Cous, Tabbouleh, and finishing off their Veggie Flatbreads…
And Middle Eastern Day wouldn’t be complete without hummus!
The results at the end were really exciting to look at – a feast for the eyes.
Day 3 was all about cheese. Silke Croppe of Cavan-based Corleggy Cheese was here at the school to put our students through their paces. Silke begins her class by slowly moving her finger through the air and explaining that the speed of her finger is as fast as the students will go today! Cheese is a long, methodical process, if one is to achieve the high standards of Corleggy Cheeses. The technical elements involved in cheese making are not to be trifled either – everything must be at the precise temperature to work.
They began by heating the milk and adding the rennet.
After which it begins to set. Once set to the correct temperature and consistency it is cut into cubes in the buckets.
Then the cheese is taken out with a slotted spoon into moulds.
At lunchtime, Silke sat down with the students to taste and talk about cheese. She brought in some samples – including the famed ‘Cavanbert’!
At the end of the day, our students went home very happily, with a hard and soft cheese all of their own.
Day 4 was all about Offal! Not loved by all, our chef managed to convince the group to love it by the end, incorporating some fine dining plating into the mix to show off this overlooked meat type.
Our chef peaked the students’ interest as he upped the game by baking vegetables in salt batter. The purpose of this is to infuse the vegetables with as much flavour as possible. It also looks quite interesting!
The chef accompanied this salt-baked veg with the much-loved Juniper-Cured Duck.
And also served up some Roast Loin of Venison with Brussels Sprouts and Toasted Hazelnuts.
Day 5 was all about Sourdough with expert baker and 8 Week Certificate in Professional Cooking alumni Mark Taylor. This was another day of patience!
What a rollercoaster of a week! We definitely need a rest. Luckily for us, Cooks Academy is close to some breathtaking views, with the Dublin mountains only a short journey away. We will certainly be getting out for some RnR!