Monday, October 5, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

fresh blueberry scones!

My morning began prematurely at 7:15 AM. I popped out of bed in a panic remembering that I had 7:30 AM "herb duty" early this week. I threw on a fleece and some boots and ran down to the schoolhouse only to find that I was on duty tomorrow, not today. Trying not to speak to anyone at close range (I hadn't brushed my teeth), I hurried back to bed for another hour.

Old-Fashioned Irish Salad

Wake-up number 2 was more successful (I brushed my teeth) and off to the school house I skipped to make red currant jelly, an old-fashioned Irish salad, and, because I had time, blueberry scones. Red currant jelly rivals raspberry jam in easiness. The same tricks apply: cook it quickly (on a high heat), do not fiddle with it while it boils, and jar it immediately. Because of the high pectin levels in red currants, the jelly sets naturally. It is delicious and so rewarding! My partner roasted a shoulder of lamb and made glazed carrots, mint sauce, and gravy. We had a feast for lunch!

All in a days work...

The afternoon demonstration focused on how to use up leftover lamb (judging by how much we all ate, it is a biblical miracle there was any leftover). We watched our headmistress make shepherds pie and Greek moussaka (a ground lamb, eggplant, and zucchini dish). We also learned how to serve boiled shrimp in various ways, and how to make mayonnaise, lemon mousse, different chutneys, and chocolate fudge pudding. I am especially excited to know how to make my own chutney! And I am sure the chocolate pudding might come in handy on a lonely Saturday night... (kidding).
shepherd's pie with herbed butter (that's butter, everyone!)
Some tips from today!
- If you are making any type of yeast bread, use bread flour or "strong" (stone-ground) flour. It has more gluten than regular flour and will hold together better as the bread expands.
- Cook shrimp or prawns (or any crustacean, for that matter) in seawater. If this isn't feasible (it rarely is!), make the water as salty as seawater (1 heaping tablespoon to every 2 pints).
- When buying prawns, ask the fishmonger for prawns that haven't been "dipped". Some fisherman dip the prawns in chemicals to preserve them before they make it to the shops. Non-dipped prawns are fresher and better for you.
- Prawns yield about 1/5 of their volume in edible meat. If you are buying 2 lbs of whole prawns, you'll yield around 6 oz of meat. Keep this in mind when purchasing for a crowd.
- Cook shrimp until there is no trace of black behind the head. If your shrimp are already shelled, cook them until they are just pink.
-Mash potatoes while they are still hot, and add milk that has been heated. This will keep the potatoes from getting "gluey".
- Bake potatoes with their skin directly on the oven rack. Wrapping them in tin foil wastes foil and makes the skin soggy.
- Your chocolate desserts are only as good as the quality of the chocolate you use. This is one time to splurge at the grocery store!
- When melting chocolate, chop it and place it in a heat-proof Pyrex bowl. Sit the bowl over a saucepan filled with hot but not simmering water. Do not let the Pyrex bowl touch the water. Stir frequently.


  1. How do you place pyrex bowl over simmering water without letting it touch the water? Cooking is rather scientific, that's for sure. The scones look absolutely delicious and so does the shepherd's pie! Yum Yum Yum

  2. Hi Reader (aka Mom). Make sure the bowl is big enough and the saucepan is narrow enough so that the sides of the saucepan will prop up the sides of the bowl. Also, don't add too much water!