I did a cooking course way back in the last century when microwaves were rare and wonderful and I needed to figure out what to do with mine. After all, microwave cookery had to about more than reheating dinners and defrosting things. It was a very interesting and informative course and I actually learned how to prepare some magnificent meals. The funny thing is that all these years later I only use my microwave for reheating and defrosting.
Now that we are well into the new millenium I decided it’s time to do another course. So I signed up for a week long course at the Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock. I didn’t know what to expect but the testimonials on their website were pretty impressive. Of course they couldn’t have been anything else!
It turned out to be a very busy and demanding week. We cooked, and consumed, a three course meal every day. We ate the meal at lunch time and in the afternoon watched a demonstration of what we would cook the next day. But the large meal, eaten so early in the day, made me sleepy and I often found myself dozing off during the afternoon session.
The demonstrations were given alternately by Linda Booth (the school owner) and a guest chef. The meals prepared by Linda were ones that I cook quite often viz risotto and Indian cuisine so I didn’t find much to challenge me in those areas. But John (the chef whose surname I didn’t get) offered a more interesting and challenging menu. Gnocchi, pasta from scratch, calamari, and more.
On the dessert front (my weakness- weakness in the sense that I am poor at preparing desserts) we learnt how to make tart tatin, hot chocolate mousse, lemon tart and passionfruit mousse. I was very impressed with how simple it is to make the passionfruit mousse and I suspect it is easily adapted for other fruits. It was definitely a winner and will be featuring on our menu on a regular basis.
We prepared a number of fish dishes too and I was very pleased to learn how to fillet, debone and skin a fish in the correct fashion. I love fish but have always had trouble with the bones. I cook fish on the bone for myself and manage to eat around them but I couldn’t possibly serve fish in this way to people. But now that I’ve learnt how to properly prepare the fish, well, the world is my oyster. Later in the week Chef John showed us how to transform a squid from sea monster into deep fried crispy calamari which was interesting, although some of the students proved a bit too squeamish to touch the squid.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course. The staff were absolutely wonderful as were my classmates who were a hugely diverse group. But this wasn’t the right course for me and I can only blame myself for not researching it properly. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the course for people who are still in the early stages of learning to cook for themselves and need ideas, guidance and expertise.