Sunday, April 6, 2014

The kitchen in the castle

To my dismay I arrived at the Kitchen in the Castle an hour late, the joys of Saturday morning roadworks!!! I rushed in all flustered fully aware that a slap on the wrist could be on the cards, but to my relief I was met by an ├╝ber cool lady kitted out in her culinary finery. I was quickly introduced to  my fellow foodies and we got stuck in. 

The course was called Feast from the sea 2 which for me is a dream culinary course as I just love seafood, ever since I was a wee one on holidays in Galway and I'd be sampling(mandatory) fresh muscles and scallops from my dad's plate. From then on I was hooked.

Our tutor for the day was Hazel Mc Fadden a Ballymaloe trained chef, I could tell early on that this was going to be a bit of craic as she had a wicked sense of humour. For me that's what a cookery course should be all about, a laid back easy listening but highly informative class that's hands on. And that really is the  what they want to instil in everyone that comes to the kitchen in the castle, we are here to support and guide you with new skills and techniques but above all have fun doing it...

As I was late I missed out on the trip to the market to pick out the fresh fish but I was right on time for the prep of the first dish and that was grilled macrel. Hazel showed us  the tricks to taking the heads off the fish with ease the correct way to slash a fish for maximum effect with your marinade.

We were shown how to infuse an oil which then can be used as a marinade in this case we used juniper and lemon a perfect combination with the mackerel.

As the mackerel was marinading my fear of cooking scallops was laid to rest, once prepped properly it literally took a minute on the pan before turning them .Hazel had a super way of showing us how to keep our pans organised, she put the scallops around the pan clockwise which meant they then were turned and cooked all equally...the scallops we paired with a ginger and sesame salad.

Our next dish was Seabream baked in a salt crust this was really exciting to make as I had seen it before on TV with Rick Stein but never thought it could be that do-able. We stuffed the fish with herby goodness like parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Before the Seabream went into the oven we combined egg white and course sea salt together and completely encased the fish In it I don't have to tell you how moist the Seabream was when it was time to tuck in.


During the course of the day Hazel incorporated different types of Irish seaweed into a lot of the dishes like the seaweed baked trout, japenese seaweed salad and my favourite the Dulse champ.

For this side dish we made an amazing mashed potatoes using cream, white wine, lemon and butter I'm just salivating at the thoughts of it ha. The Dulse is an amazing burgundy coloured seaweed that you can buy dry and then rehydrated in warm water. This was then finely chopped and combined in the mash...amazing is not the word.

The trickiest dish of the day was definitely the monkfish once the dark skin was removed it also il had an outer skin that had to be removed i was happy to just observe for that part . Hazel showed us how to Ballantine the monk fish which is a fantastic way to shape the fish that then can be cut into perfect medallions before serving.

Using the bone from the monkfish we made an amazing tarragon sauce to compliment it and no word of a lie we were having equal parts of monkfish and tarragon sauce, crazy good that's all I can say.

Through out the course we were given little gems of wisdom by our chef like know how to work your senses around the kitchen it could be the difference between Bon appetite and sorry your having beans for dinner I burnt the spuds!!!

I left feeling completely satisfied and at the same time all fired up and ready to take on all those fish dishes at home, the icing on the cake for me would have been if I had the hubby to drive me home so I could have had a nap as I was so full from all the seafood.

The kitchen in the castle has a jam packed calendar with something to suit absolutely everybody. so far I have my dads birthday present sorted with the paella + tapas course in May and then a fab day out with my hubby for the BBQ course, ever since our stint in Canada he's mad for the BBQ.


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