Sunday, May 31, 2015

Slow Wedding Service

Today I worked at another wedding. I arrived at 10:30, and baked madeleines and prepared the canapés as yesterday. Then I was told to help the breakfast cook, who told me yes, it was busy and she needed help, but it would take too long to explain things to me. Even though I had popped in for a few breakfast shifts before, I still didn’t know enough to not be in the way. She sent me back to help the cook working on canapés. I finished up there, then was sent to the bar in the lodge to help them out, as I had predicted yesterday, we didn’t have much left to do to prepare for the wedding.
Back at the bar, they were in the midst of a busy Sunday service, so I was sent to help at the dessert station – filling orders and completing some prep. The chef also went over the latest health inspector report with me, so I would know what to be mindful of and how to take precautions. Keeping in mind I had only ever worked one shift in the bar, so I still did not totally know what I was doing. The cook who was on pastry seemed slightly annoyed at me and not very patient, and no one was taking the time to explain stuff to me. I understand they didn’t have the time to spare, but I can’t do things I don’t know how to do. I was at the bar for about two hours, then back to the castle to get something to eat, serve the canapés, and do some pastry prep.
The wedding cake. Along with the actual cake, there was a 'cheesecake', as in a cake of gourmet cheeses. Now I do love dessert cheesecake, but I love this idea too!
Staff lunch was a garden salad, spaghetti in white sauce, and a ground beef mixture. I was then taught how to make shortbread cookie dough and scone dough to freeze and have ready to bake to help out the afternoon tea chef. Around 5:30, I headed over to the marquee to prepare for the wedding meal service. It all went smoothly, however, speeches were to be held before dinner again (I really hate this – they nearly always run longer than the scheduled thirty minutes, and then dinner is late, food is overcooked, and guests are starving). The bride and groom were also late arriving because they stopped to visit the equestrian center. I was listening to a debate between two of the cooks – one argued that small weddings such as this one were easier, as there is less to prep and less to serve. The other argued that small weddings are more hectic because it really doesn’t take much to prep a few more plates, but because there are less people to serve, service goes faster and you have to move and plate more quickly. That was not the case tonight, as I think they were shorter on service staff so service went painfully slow. Nevertheless, we still finished up around 9:00p.m.

Tonight’s menu was:
Canapés: Cherry Tomato Filled with Crab, Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraîche on Blinis, Tempura of Prawn with Sweet Chilli Sauce, Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls, Filo Tartlets with Smoked Chicken, Black Olives & Pesto, Spiced Chicken Kebabs.
Starter: Organic Goat’s Cheese Parfait with Ratatouille Chutney & Basil Pesto, Balsamic and Sherry Reduction.
Bread: Wheat bread, raisin rolls, sesame seeded rolls, white rolls, caraway rolls, red pepper rolls. 
Soup:  Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato with basil pesto
Sorbet: Mango and Passionfruit
Main Course Option #1 - Meat: Seared Fillet of Irish Beef served medium, braised shallot, carrot coriander purée, fondant potato, ratatouille, brandy and Madagascar green peppercorn sauce.
Main Course Option #2 - Fish: Pan-fried Fillet of Sea Bass, Mediterranean vegetables, red pepper coulis and pesto.
Side Dishes: Roast Baby Potatoes, and Roast carrots, onions, parsnip, and turnip.
Dessert: Eton Mess: Warm Apple and Berry Crumble with vanilla ice cream
Petits Fours Assortment: madeleines, cranberry white fudge, fruit jellies, flaked white chocolate truffles, Belgian dark chocolate truffles. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I'd Prefer A Wedding Meal Anyways

            Today was a typical day – as most wedding catering days are similar. I began with preparations for dessert – baking madeleine cookies and crushing meringues. Then I moved on to making canapés – smoked chicken and black olive with pesto in phyllo pastry, smoked salmon and crème fraiche on blinis, spicy chicken kebabs, tempura of shrimp, vegetable spring rolls, and cherry tomato filled with crab. Most of the prep had been completed yesterday, and I was already familiar with most of these canapés, so assembly went pretty quickly. The only tedious part was hollowing out the tiny cherry tomatoes in order to stuff them. After a staff meal of, you guessed it chicken and rice (luckily there was also waldorf salad today), I was sent over to the marquee to begin helping there. As I was walking over, a couple from the wedding celebration stopped me to ask if I could take their photo together, as they thought it would be the only one they would get all night. It isn’t in my job description, but I was happy to help.
Plating the chicken salad starters.
            First thing was picking parsley for garnish, then cutting microgreens for the salad. Then preparing the vegetables and potatoes for the side dishes, and the bread and rolls for the bread baskets. I was glad that the chefs were actually explaining things to me today – like how long to cook the vegetables, at what temperature, and what to put on them. We also heated the soups and sauces, and attended to the applicable dietary requirements – tonight there were two vegetarians, one vegan, and three gluten-free diners. This can be tricky in an eight course meal, ensuring there is an option for every diner at each course. Even just trying to find a sauce for the vegan vegetable gateau main (can’t use pesto – it contains cheese). While we didn’t have much else to do, we did as much prep as we could for tomorrow, which will be a very similar menu. Tomorrow’s function is much smaller, at only eighty-eight people, and we will surely be fairly relaxed tomorrow.
            Here is a funny event from today. At 5:00p.m., chef told me to go over to the lodge to get my staff dinner. This was unusual, because normally I get a staff lunch before going to the marquee, and then I eat leftover wedding meals once we have finished serving. He sent another cook as well, telling him to drive me over. The cook said he wasn’t hungry, but chef said, “No it’s not all about you, maybe other people are.” Then he left. Without me. After being gone a while, chef called over to the lodge and asked him if he had forgotten something (or someone). Then the cook said he would bring some dinner back for me. He didn’t, so chef told him to drive me over to the lodge. He still didn’t, and after all the hassle I said I was fine and could wait until we finished serving.

Plating, garnishing, and serving went on as normal, and we finished up around 9:00p.m. Hopefully we made another dream wedding day for another happy couple.

Tonight’s menu was:
Canapés: Cherry Tomato Filled with Crab, Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraîche on Blinis, Tempura of Prawn with Sweet Chilli Sauce, Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls, Filo Tartlets with Smoked Chicken, Black Olives & Pesto, Spiced Chicken Kebabs.
Starter: Salad of Green Asparagus and Smoked Chicken, pickled girolles, hazelnut dressing, garden herbs.
Bread: Wheat bread, raisin rolls, sesame seeded rolls, white rolls, caraway rolls, red pepper rolls.
Soup:  Cream of Celeriac and Smoked Bacon, with truffle oil.
Sorbet: Orchard Apple
Main Course Option #1 - Meat: Seared Fillet of Irish Beef served medium, braised shallot, celeriac purée, fondant potato, brandy and Madagascar green peppercorn sauce.
Main Course Option #2 - Fish:  Pan-fried Fillet of Sea Bass, Mediterranean vegetables, red pepper coulis and pesto.
Main Course Option #3 – Vegetarian: Provençal Vegetable Pithivier with Red Pepper Tapenade & Basil Pesto
Main Course Option #4 – Vegan: Gateau of Vegetables
Side Dishes: Roast Baby Potatoes, and Roast carrots, onions, parsnip, and turnip.
Dessert: Eton Mess: Mixed berry compote, whipped cream, crushed meringue, raspberry coulis

Petits Fours Assortment: madeleines, cranberry white fudge, fruit jellies, flaked white chocolate truffles, Belgian dark chocolate truffles. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Nice Day For A Wedding

This morning I got to work early again, 10:30a.m. for the expected 11:00a.m., so I helped out the breakfast chef again until I had to start. I fried up some more sausages for him, then he told me to help myself to something. So I practiced making a cheese omelette. Here, they make classical French cigar omelettes, instead of the folded ones I am used to, which are a bit trickier, but at least my omelette did not turn out brown and it was certainly tasty. 
Next, I moved on to more prep work for after dinner snacks and canapés for tonight and tomorrow’s weddings. I began by making bacon butties – which essentially involves slathering butter on baguette buns and topping them with slabs of bacon. Sounds classy, right? Well as the chef I was working with said, it doesn’t matter how classy the establishment is, when it is eleven at night and you’ve had a few too many and you already had your fine dining meal, all you want is salty meat and bread. I also prepared the crème fraiche smoked salmon mix for blinis, and smoked chicken, black olive pesto mix for phyllo tarts, as well as the crab mix to stuff into cherry tomatoes. Staff meal was honey roasted chicken, curry fried rice, and potato wedges, which is basically a different take on the exact same lunch as yesterday. Luckily, there was leftover fruit salad and Greek yogurt from breakfast too. 
After prep, I headed over to the marquee, where we were doing the usual wedding dinner preparations. I spent the first good chunk of time wiping grease from the beef plates that had been previously done up and refrigerated, as for some reason the carrot fennel purée ran oil all over the plates. This seems tedious and unnecessary, but in fine dining, your plates must be exact and pristine. Next we heated up soup, baked rolls, heated sauces, cooked the side dishes, etc. Then we plated and dressed appetizers, filled and garnished soup bowls, cleaned sorbet glasses, plated mains, trayed up desserts, and the wedding meal was served!
Rows and rows of delicious chocolate mousse - my favorite wedding dessert!
I really enjoy working weddings. It isn’t too rushed and stressful, and the plating is fun. The menu also changes a lot from wedding to wedding too, yet you always know it is the same process and order. We tend to finish up by 9:00p.m., which isn’t too late, and there are usually leftover meals and desserts we can have – which are of course delicious. I also have just always liked weddings because they are such happy and special days, and I am glad I get to work behind the scenes of so many of them.

Tonight’s menu was:
Starter: Marinated Escalope of Local Chicken with sliced plum tomatoes, mixed leaves, balsamic, and basil pesto.
Soup:  Cream of Celeriac and Smoked Bacon, with truffle oil.
Sorbet: Lemon 
Main Course Option #1 - Meat: Irish Rib-Eye Steak with braised shallot, crushed potatoes with garlic and spinach, carrot and corriander purée, rich red wine jus.
Main Course Option #2 - Fish: Grilled Irish Salmon, salad of fennel marinated in lemon, baby spinach, vierge dressing.
Main Course Option #3 – Vegetarian: Provençal Vegetable Pithivier with Red Pepper Tapenade & Basil Pesto
Side Dishes: Roast Baby Potatoes, and Roast carrots, onions, parsnip, and turnip.
Dessert: Dark Chocolate and Orange Mousse with Praline Ice Cream.

Petits Fours Assortment: madeleines, cranberry white fudge, fruit jellies, flaked white chocolate truffles, Belgian dark chocolate truffles. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Breakfast and Prep

Today I was not scheduled to begin until 9:00a.m., but I decided to go in for 7:00a.m. and help out with the breakfast shift in the castle. I was very glad I did. The breakfast chef, is very friendly, and actually took the time to explain things to me and walk me through the basics, which had not been done with me yet in these kitchens and was extremely useful. Even knowing basic things like which garbage bin is for what. He put me straight to work – I began with making granola parfaits, moved on to baking portabello mushrooms caps, frying sausages, helping prepare the breakfast mise en place for the day, etc. As we were working, he would tell me times and temperatures for the items so I would know for next time. This chef is the type of person I actually felt at ease with in the kitchen – I was much less stressed and on edge. I felt I could ask him questions, maybe I asked a few too many, but this is unlike me and a good change. He seemed happy to answer them and I learned a lot. I mean, I was making scrambled eggs, which sounds very simple, but every place does it differently so I had to inquire if I was to use fat in the pan, add milk or cream, or season the eggs. This estate holds a gold medal award for the best breakfast, so I had to be consistent and professional. This breakfast shift is not chaotic and stressful, so I had time to make myself a full typical breakfast of the area, well my spin on it. I tried black pudding for the first time (actually quite tasty), as well as a vegetarian white pudding, my first local organic egg, and my first eggs benedict (though the hollandaise was not made fresh – it was from a carton. Better than powdered, and this one was truffle scented).
Breakfast - Eggs Benedict with local bacon, portabello mushroom cap, cherry tomato, potato bread, black pudding, vegetarian white pudding.
Once breakfast was underway, I also helped with afternoon tea preparations, as the breakfast chef is also the afternoon tea chef. I began with chocolate-dipped éclairs – yummy. Chef was prepping scones, finger sandwiches, and cream cones. Soon it became time for me to start the preparation for the weddings again. 
I began with every chef’s favorite job, one of the most monotonous and tedious tasks ever, of picking herbs. First several bunches of basil, then parsley, then I also had to mince the parsley. We also made two big batches chocolate orange mousse with brandy and rum, mixed berry compote, roasted red pepper and tomato soup, goat cheese terrine, pesto, raspberry jellies, and more prep. By 2:30, we were winding down. By 3:00, we were cleaning up. By 3:30 we were scrubbing things that didn’t really need to be scrubbed. By 3:45, they said I could go home. So it was a short prep day, and I am really glad I went in for breakfast.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quiet Prep Day

Today was a fairly short and easy day for me. I was working in the castle again, doing prep work for the three upcoming weekend weddings. So my workday only ran from 9:00a.m. – 5:00p.m., and was definitely not hectic or stressful. I showed up at 8:30, early as usual, but none of the other prep cooks had arrived yet. No bother, I headed up to the kitchen where the breakfast cook was midway through what seemed like a rather slow breakfast morning. He is very friendly, and chatted with me besides just asking the typical, what's it like where you are from, questions.
Prepping for three weddings at once, especially several days in advance, can be challenging, but we had lists and were organized in what needed to be done and when. I began with trimming and peeling (yes, peeling the tough bottom skins) from four cases (that’s like, thirty-six bunches) of asparagus for a cream of asparagus soup. This is a slow and monotonous job, and requires standing leaning over a counter for far too long. It’s harder than it sounds – you need to get all the fibrous parts off, without making the stalks too thin so they won’t turn to mush. Next, I moved on to traying up the desserts for the petits fours trays – raspberry jellies, cranberry white chocolate fudge, white chocolate flaked truffles, and Belgian dark chocolate truffles. 
Petit fours
Maybe someone read my post from yesterday, because staff lunch was better today. Well, actually, it’s probably because I was eating in the castle rather than the lodge, which tends to be a bit better, as there are breakfast leftovers to be had. Today there was a lightly dressed garden salad, fruit salad, stewed apricots, burgers in creamy mushroom sauce, and fries of course, as well as leftover croissants and a few pastries. After lunch I scooped the flesh out of a bunch of baked potatoes and made crushed potatoes with garlic and spinach, then roasted and peeled red peppers. Then I helped out with some odd prep and cleaning jobs. Other items being prepped that day were sliced plum tomatoes for an appetizer, celeriac soup, tomato and red pepper soup, ratatouille, vegetable sides, smoked chicken phyllo tartlets. It may seem like today I was put to work with a bunch of tedious odd jobs, and to tell you the truth, I was. But I by no means feel like I was being taken advantage of as an intern, because these prep jobs are necessary for functions, and the other cooks and chefs I was working with were doing the same jobs.
One thing about working in castles – they aren’t warm! This may be nice on hot summer days, but with a typical moderate climate and a cold rainy day today, working in the castle basement was freezing! I was happy to go to the upstairs kitchen where it was warmer for the odd job. Even the oven didn’t warm up the place. I also got to chat with the breakfast chef, who let me try his brown bread when I complimented the smell. He even buttered the piece for me. I was glad, because it was delicious, and staff supper back at the lodge was spicy chicken wings, gaufrette potatoes (fancy-shaped fries) and creamy coleslaw. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Food Preferences Here

Today I had another day off, as generally we get two days off in a row – so it’s almost like a weekend, regardless of what day of the week it actually is, which is nice as one day passes by too fast. I relaxed again today, and ended up exploring the estate. There are so many paths on the estate, around the rivers and through the forest that one could walk for hours! But I will be here for a few months, so I will definitely get another chance to explore. The estate grounds are by far larger than the entire village.

For my entry today, I will talk a little bit about some of the food preferences I have noticed here thus far. First of all, I thought where I used to live was crazy about potatoes, but I guess even more so here! I feel like that is all they eat here, and they must consider it to be both a vegetable and a starch, as they hardly prepare any vegetable side dishes either. Of course I am basing this mostly on staff meals and the menus I have been working with. The menus here seem ok – most plated dishes do have vegetable, starch, and protein components. Salads do appear on menus as well, though usually drenched in creamy dressings. However, I find the portion sizes of meat and protein to be huge, and one thing I noticed with the wedding menus was that there weren’t always vegetables on the plate either, just meat and starch. Emphasis on the potatoes. Vegetarian options exist, but certainly aren’t first and foremost, merely an afterthought. Of course meat-free options have to exist at weddings, but are only prepared begrudgingly. To be fair, most dietary restrictions at weddings, though usually catered to, are a pain in the butt. Having to prepare one special dish when you have 200 other guests to feed is sometimes a challenge. Dairy-free, gluten-free, and of course vegan guests, there is usually a few at each wedding. The issue is when these requests are not genuine. I heard one chef mutter something about a supposed vegan guest who arrived late, then did not want the dish specially prepared for them, because they said the vegetarian option was ok with them, even after being told the vegetables were cooked slathered in butter. So when vegetarian options exist, they are not always healthy or protein-rich choices as they should be, but something like goat’s cheese in puff pastry, which isn’t unusual. Even fish dishes seem lacking when compared to meat dishes. Vegetarians are a minority. I am by no means a strict vegetarian, but not a huge meat eater either, and tend to lean towards vegetarian options, as I do love my veggies. Although I was told staff meals would have vegetarian options, but that rarely seems to be the case here. I would like some options. 
Creamy, fatty, salty potatoes - loads of butter and cream!
In addition, all the food here is so, so, so salty! I am used to salty meals from culinary training, but these are excessively so, so much that it’s difficult to eat, and you are always thirsty. Also the dishes are quite fatty – mashed potatoes loaded with cream and butter, globs of cheese, whole milk, etc. But strangely, dessert is not a huge thing! Not even fruit. At least give me some sugar to go with that fat, or dark chocolate to lower my blood pressure from all that salt. Today’s staff lunch was chicken in creamy white sauce, garlic toast with globs of mozzarella cheese, mashed potatoes, and roasted potatoes. Supper was meaty, cheesy lasagna and fries. So in conclusion, excessively salty, fatty, and full of potatoes. I don’t know how they can eat like this every day.

Monday, May 25, 2015

First Day Off

After working three long consecutive days, I have a day off today. Honestly, I would have gladly worked again, but I suppose three days was fine to start, while I am still getting adjusted to the time difference and new environment, plus I am not used to working long hours like that. I think my body needed a rest, as I slept in late this morning, then decided to spend some time in the afternoon taking a leisurely stroll to explore the small village. I was hoping to get to the village chocolate shop, but unfortunately, it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 
When I got home last night, my housemate was saying how it was absolutely insane for me to start on a Sunday – as Sundays are crazy and busy here, and I was working in the bar, which is busier, and it was my first time working there and I didn’t know anything! Oh well, I told her, it can only get better from here then, right?
The other day one of the chefs I was working with was telling me about the time he worked in my home country. He was commenting how it kind of sucked, because certification equivalences were an issue at first in finding a job, a common issue nation to nation. He was not a fan of the hot boxes we use, as they are too large and you need to take the plates out individually every time you need to add a component. He also had to learn to work with product differences – such as milk and produce. I can’t say I disagree with him on any of this either.
So I didn’t have too much to do with food today, other than going in for a staff lunch of quiche Lorraine and rice with curry sauce, and supper of salad, puff pastry tarts, and fries. 
My favorite sighting on my walk through the village - a coffee shop selling hot beverages, sandwiches, pizza, desserts, and most importantly, ice cream.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Crazy Sunday Service In The Bar

Today I began at noon, which is late considering Sunday is a very busy day here. I had offered to come in earlier… Anyways, I was placed in the bar today, which is open from 12-9p.m. daily. At first I was just assigned to the dessert station, which is pretty simple and basic as all the components are prepped in advance, and it is just a matter of putting the components together and possibly warming some things up. In addition, the dessert menu in the bar only contains a few offerings and none of them are overly complex. Tasty, but not complicated. 
The menu is as follows:
Ice Cream Sundae - Vanilla & Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry Compote Whipped Cream & Toasted Almonds 
Traditional Bread & Butter Pudding With Rum & Raisin Ice Cream and Crème Anglaise
Warm Pear & Almond Frangipane Tarte With Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce 
Brownie And Caramel Ice Cream Coupe - Flacked Walnut Brownie With Caramel Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce And Whipped Cream 
Apple Crumble With Apple, Raisin & Cinnamon Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream
Warm Raisin Scones Dusted In Icing Sugar With Raspberry Preserves and Whipped Cream
Dessert Of The Day (Today’s was Cream-Filled Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Chocolate Quenelle)
Children’s Ice Cream – One Scoop Each Of Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry
Other Ice Cream Dishes as ordered

The problem was, hardly any dessert orders came in at first. I was asked to do some preparation for other dishes – such as slicing strawberries, making apple crumble, making chocolate sauce, etc. But then since I wasn’t really doing much and many orders were coming in, I was placed on the line to watch and learn how to make the starter, main, and side dishes, hopping back over to desserts as ordered (which was usually six of them at once). Pretty soon, I was not just watching, I was put to work. As orders came in, the cook working on the Soups, Salads, and Classics section (as well as a few main courses) showed me how to make the dishes, and got me to complete a few tasks, then I could make the dish myself next time. Occasionally the cook on the main courses would ask me for the odd job as well. My first dish was Open Smoked Salmon Blini with horseradish crème fraiche, red onion, and capers. It wasn’t too bad – warm up a blini, squeeze on some horseradish crème fraiche, add the salmon, onions, capers, greens, and lemon wedge. Got it. But then when you have several dishes, many more complicated than that, it starts to get fuzzy, rushed, and hectic. 

The other dishes I learned and made today include:
Soups, Salads & Classics
Classic Triple Decker Sandwich Served with Garden Salad
With a choice of:
Free Range Chicken Sandwich With Bell Pepper, Lettuce bound with Mayonnaise
Monaghan Ham & Cheese Sandwiches With Castle Leslie Relish
Free Range Egg Salad Sandwiches With Scallion & Chive bound with Mayonnaise
Open Smoked Salmon Blinis With Horseradish Crème Fraiche, Red Onion, Capers 
Prawn Cocktail Whiskey Marie Rose, Iceberg Lettuce 
Kitchen Salad Baby Gem Salad Leaves, Feta Cheese, Garlic Croutons, Black Olive, 
Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion, Balsamic Dressing  
Chicken Wings Tossed in Hot Sauce 
Barbeque Ribs With Garden Salad 
Atlantic Seafood Platter Smoked Mackerel, Prawns in Marie Rose, Crab Claws, Battered Squid, 
Whitebait, Smoked Salmon, Garlic & Lime Mayonnaise
Side Orders
Chips or Gaufrette Potatoes 
Side Salad 
Onion Rings 
Garlic Bread
The first dish I learned to put together.
For my first day, and for starting on a Sunday, with no prior experience or training in this atmosphere (or any restaurant kitchen, for that matter, let alone during service time), I think I did quite alright. Of course I made a few mistakes, which were kindly pointed out to me so I would know for next time. Nothing got sent back to me, and I was not yelled at. I consider that a pretty good accomplishment! I worked side by side with the other two cooks on the service line, helping them out and completing dishes and orders on my own. It was a tight and chaotic space, and we certainly got in each other’s way, especially with limited work space, as most kitchens run. But in the end, we were finishing each other’s dishes and even able to chat a bit during service. Today was a crazy busy day - we had done nearly two hundred covers before 1:30p.m. Then another 300 covers that night for supper. Covers, in a restaurant, refers to the number of people served, so it doesn’t refer to the number of dishes – it could be appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Even in the midafternoon, the bar hadn’t quieted down too much, not ten tables ordering at once, but still a steady flow, so there was no chance to even catch a breath. The only breather I got was a short staff meal around 5:30p.m. of pizza, ratatouille, mixed vegetables, and fries. Also, if there is a lull in service, we can make ourselves a quick sandwich or some sort of concoction with our mise en place ingredients, or ask a server for a cold drink. Other than that, it is work, work, work. 
I was extremely worried at first – two yelling incidents occurred early on in my shift. First, a chef yelled at a cook for not cooking chicken properly, because he was going to make someone sick. I was scared he would yell at me for doing something wrong. Then chef yelled at a server because the server commented that a dish was not hot enough, and it's stressful being back in the kitchen where you have a bunch of other dishes to send out, you can't always take time to fix ones coming back.
I am glad the servers are quite knowledgeable and efficient at their jobs, because they certainly helped me out today. They were extremely patient with me, would let me know if I did something wrong. They would also help me if I was running behind, and wipe plates if I needed it. Chef would check in with me and make sure I was okay and not totally in over my head.
We finished up service around 9:00p.m., and I tidied my dessert station. I then offered to help clean the service line, but the three cooks still there refused and insisted I go home. 
I learned a lot today – both about myself and the kitchen in which I was working. I was overwhelmed, trying not to be in the way, not knowing what I could do, not knowing how to do things, not knowing where things are, and feeling in the way or a nuisance when people had to stop to help me or tell me what to do. But it was only my first day. I learned how orders work and are called, and how a service works. I learned how much I can endure. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Huge Italian Wedding

My day began as a nightmare for any chef out there. Ok, not totally true, but my day began in the castle again around 11:00a.m., where preparations were beginning for a wedding of 210 guests. I started with preparing the canapés that would need to be ready around 3:30 – today’s were smoked salmon and crème fraiche blinis, tomato and basil crustini, baby baked potatoes with red onion marmalade and sour cream, spiced chicken kebabs, and vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili sauce. Both the salmon and tomato basil canapés consisted of a flat bread base with a quenelle of topping. Making quenelles is something we all dread. Ok, it is not by far the worst job in the kitchen, however, I know I am not very good at it. It is tedious. Quenelles are oval or egg shaped pieces of food, usually crafted from softer foods such as sorbet, goat’s cheese, or purées. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and a special knack to make quenelles, and I must have formed over three hundred today (including the ones I had to scrap and redo). I can by no means claim myself as a quenelle master yet, I am still rather slow at it, but I am much better than I used to be. Next I headed over to the marquee in the box truck with some supplies to help with some of the plating there. I piped over two hundred servings of mango passionfruit sorbet into shot glasses. This sounds like a pretty easy job, but oh my goodness you do not realize how cold sorbet straight from the freezer is when put into a plastic piping bag. Although I was wearing thermal gloves, I have hands that are particularly sensitive to the cold and frostbite, so this was not a very fun job.
            After a quick staff lunch of garden salad and pasta casserole, I got back to work with the canapés and scones with jam and clotted cream for tea time. Then I began plating up the canapés for service. They left me completely alone in the kitchen to do this – which surprised me considering it was only my second day, and everyone else was over at the marquee. Once they were all served, it was back to the marquee to get ready for dinner service. It was much like yesterday – saucing and dressing the starters, finishing the soup and sauces, then once service started plating everything assembly-line style, plating desserts, preparing everything, etc.

Here is the complete menu:
Starter: Smoked salmon and prawns bound in Marie Rose sauce, mixed greens and red pepper essence OR Organic Goat’s Cheese Parfait with Ratatouille Chutney & Basil Pesto, Balsamic and Sherry Reduction OR a melon rose vegan choice.
 Soup: Cream of Potato and Leek scented with truffle with Wheaten Bread and assorted rolls.
Sorbet: Mango Passionfruit.
Main Course Option #1 - Meat: Seared Fillet of Irish Beef served medium rare, celeriac purée, braised shallot, champ, brandy and Madagascar green peppercorn sauce.
Main Course Option #2 - Fish: Grilled Salmon, champ, parsley cream sauce.
Main Course Option #3 – Vegetarian: Mediterranean Vegetable Tart with Spinach and Goat Cheese Filling in puff pastry.
Side Dishes: Roast Baby Potatoes, and Roast carrots, onions, parsnip, and turnip.
Dessert: Warm Chocolate Brownie with caramel ice cream and rich chocolate sauce.
Petits Fours Assortment - madeleines, cranberry white fudge, fruit jellies, chocolate pieces.
The dessert for the wedding tonight - also one of my favirte things in the world to eat, and after a ten hour day, boy did I enjoy a leftover!
We endured a twenty minute break between the entrée and the dessert in order for some wedding guests to do some crazy loud Italian singing or something. You would think we would be glad to have a minute to regroup or take a breath, but honestly, once service begins it is much easier just to keep going and be done with it. The singing was, however, entertaining and unusual, and I am wondering how drunk they all were.
 We finished up service around 9:00, which means drinking and smoking and socializing time, although I only partake in the socializing part, and eating any food if there is some left (especially the brownie). Chef always makes sure I get to try the foods, and he drove me back to the lodge as well.

Friday, May 22, 2015

First Day On The Job

My favorite dish and creation of the day - pavolas for dessert!
Today I began work! I was told to come in at noon, but because I was so excited/nervous/had nothing better to do, I was in at 11:00a.m. Which was fine, because the thing about kitchens is there is practically always work to be done. I finally met the executive chef who had hired me, who was younger than I expected considering the position, and also more laid back than I had anticipated. I was put over at the castle, where I would help prepare for the wedding later that day. I started working with a nice lady, which was nice because up to this point I had noticed the kitchen was mostly dominated by males (as most kitchens are), so it was nice to be paired with another female who understands how tough kitchen life can be on us. Times are improving, but the stereotype certainly still exists. She was kind and made my first day seem easy and much less scary.
            I started with canapés – four different types needed to be ready by 3:30p.m. I made one with smoked chicken and black olives and one with duck breast and peppers. Then I cut baby roasted potatoes into little crown shapes, which would later be filled with onion marmalade, crème fraiche, and dill sprigs. Then I helped make the desserts – pavlovas with fresh fruit and Chantilly cream. They were pretty but time consuming and tedious and delicate, and we had to be very careful as there were only two extras since more guests came than anticipated. Staff lunch was prepared by a different chef today – the castle chef, and was chicken curry, rice, fries, and fruit salad and yogurt from breakfast. Chef called to ensure I had gotten lunch as it was part of my contract being an intern from away. I plated up all the hors d’ouevres – the canapés, chicken skewers, baby roasted potatoes, and vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili sauce. I was slightly surprised, but I was left alone to do this and given freedom to make the plates look however I wanted on my first day. Once the canapés were served, it was time to head over to the marquee for the wedding reception.
            At the marquee, a lot of the preparation and plating had already been done by staff earlier. But the appetizers needed to be sauced and dressed with salad, the mains heated, the soup bowled up, the desserts plated, and an assembly line created for finishing the dishes and handing them to servers. Serving time is very up and down – very busy and hectic while plating and serving a course, and fairly quiet and boring between courses.

Here is the wedding menu I worked with tonight:
Starter: Smoked salmon and prawns bound in Marie Rose sauce, mixed greens and red pepper essence OR Organic Goat’s Cheese Parfait with Ratatouille Chutney & Basil Pesto, Balsamic and Sherry Reduction  OR a melon rose vegan choice.
Soup: Forest Wild Mushroom Soup with Wheaten Bread and assorted rolls.
Sorbet: Lemon.
Main Course Option #1 - Meat: Seared Fillet of Irish Beef served medium rare, ratatouille, carrot purée, fondant potato, brandy and Madagascar green peppercorn sauce.
Main Course Option #2 - Fish: Pan-fried Fillet of Sea Bass, Mediterranean Vegetables, Red Pepper Coulis and Pesto. 
Main Course Option #3 – Vegetarian: Mediterranean Vegetable Tart with Spinach and Goat Cheese Filling in puff pastry.
Side Dishes: Roast Baby Potatoes, and Roast carrots, onions, parsnip, and turnip.
Dessert: Pavlova with fresh fruit, strawberry purée, and chantilly cream.
Petits Fours Assortment - madeleines, cranberry white fudge, fruit jellies, chocolate pieces.

 Serving the wedding reception finished around 9:00p.m., which is when the chefs celebrate before a final clean-up - drinking and smoking is the norm, but not something I take part in. Chef had ensured I get some of the leftovers as a meal before we finished up - so I tried as much of this delicious menu as I could. Then I popped back over to the bar kitchen to see if anyone needed help, and they were finishing up for the night as well. I would say I did well and enjoyed it for my first day!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Exploring My New Surroundings

            Following a good fifteen hour night’s sleep (much needed) I proceeded to staff lunch. They sure do love their salt and potatoes here! Lunch was sliced turkey breast in gravy with mashed potatoes (as a colleague accurately described as loaded with buckets of cream and butter), and roasted potatoes. I suppose one of the potato dishes is considered the starch and the other is considered the vegetable? Then I decided to go exploring and get used to my surroundings before beginning work the next day. I came across the equestrian center, some nice paths through the forest, some more village houses, and the castle. Unfortunately, I could not get a tour of the castle today, as it was closed for a private wedding, but the friendly receptionist told me to come back another time when there were no weddings. Then I came across the cookery school (which refers to the garden center and not a food institution), where my roommates were working (I didn’t even know they would be there). Several of their colleagues were around, and they were all very friendly to me. They asked me about my journey here and whatnot. They insisted I stay and have afternoon tea and cake and cookies with them. I must say, they make a mean pot of tea here and often insist on this afternoon tea break.
            Afterwards, I stuck around the kitchen and talked to some of the chefs and cooks on their work here and whatnot, and they were friendly as well as entertaining. It was helpful and interesting to watch and see what I would be getting myself into the next day. For supper I was treated to dinner in the bar where I would be working at times, with my new roommate, another culinary intern that had only just arrived. I tried a raspberry mojito and went for the seafood platter, which consisted of smoked mackerel, prawns in Marie Rose, crab claws, battered squid, whitebait, smoked salmon, mini salad, and wholemeal bread, with a garlic and lime mayonnaise. The vegetables were a mix of large diced carrots, parsnip, and turnip with butter and herbs. My roommate had a rare eight ounce rib-eye steak with onion rings, sautéed mushrooms, and straw potatoes with peppercorn sauce and a side of garlic potatoes. For dessert we shared a warm pear and almond frangipane tarte with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Looking forward to beginning work tomorrow and actually having some great, culinary news to share!
My seafood platter for dinner - delicious!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who Are You and Why Are You Here

Following an evening flight, a brief layover, and an overnight flight, the only thing that separated me from my internship was some distance and the dreaded customs. As the other occupants of the plane passed through customs quickly, most simply visiting the country for a few days on vacation, I got held back – as there are a few more requirements to be met when you enter a country for an extended work period. As I presented my work permit and explained to the officer that I was coming here to cook and study cuisine, he said, “Why here? Wouldn’t France or something be a better choice for cooking? We might be able to teach you how to butter bread and make some toast here. Maybe cook some potatoes.” I was somewhat taken aback, as I deemed this location high class in terms of menu. Sure, France may be better established food-wise, but also poses a language barrier and more difficulty obtaining a visa. I’m going to work at a castle! I think a castle kitchen can teach me more than just buttering bread.

I landed at 7:00a.m. and took a bus from the airport to the county where I would be working at 9:05a.m. It was sunny, with cloudy periods, and slightly cool with a breeze, reaching around fifteen degrees Celsius. The head chef, was sent to pick me up at 10:40a.m. as he was in the area on his day off. His wife was driving and they had their little dog in the car too, who was very friendly. They spoke French to each other, and English to me with a heavy French accent. They also asked me why I came here, and said that I would be staying in a very small village with not much to do at all. Now I had done my research, and the castle grounds themselves have a multitude of activities – horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting, kayaking, boating, fishing, hot air balloon rides, falconry, lawn games, biking, picnics, and plenty of walking trails and picturesque surroundings. On top of that, I’m sure the village is quite quaint and although small, fine by me since I didn’t come here to shop or see films. I expect to be working long hours in the kitchen, and in any free time I get, taking part in the activities, exploring, travelling, blogging, and catching up on some sleep. No time to be bored; besides I am used to the small town lifestyle having lived in one all my life.

The wife drove home with the dog and the chef took me to the lodge at the castle. It took a little while to find the right people in order to get me into my staff accommodations, but eventually the matter was sorted out. During this time, I met several staff members in the area, including many of the kitchen staff. Upon hearing I was to work in the kitchens, one of the desk staff said “Good luck” to me, in a tone that implied I would need it. Her warning did not phase me at all, I was hoping for the best but expecting the worst; having heard enough horror stories about the industry and kitchen life. Another staff member called me a chef, saying the chef had arrived, even though I am nowhere near that status yet! I was then shown the work and storage areas in the kitchens. I ate my first staff meal in the canteen; there were chicken legs cooked in a creamy sauce with vegetables, rich mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, vegetarian curry, white rice, and a tossed green salad. Then I finally got into my room and got some time to settle in after having travelled all night.

The evening staff meal was extremely salty, and somewhat reminiscent of lunch, with chicken pieces in sauce, cheesy rice pudding, and French fries. Apparently fries are a very common supper here. I guess lunch is the hearty meal and supper is more of the pub fare. At supper, I finally met the person who was supposed to get me arranged this morning. He was extremely welcoming and apologetic and made sure I had everything I needed, all my questions answered, and people I could go to for assistance. He also dropped a care package off at my house – a jug of fresh whole milk, a carton of orange juice, a loaf of fresh white bread, a bag of cereal, and some jams that I can use for breakfast and snacks.

After supper I finally got my wifi figured out so I could post this and contact my family to let them know I was settling in well. I also met my roommates, though they are leaving in a few days and then I will have new roommates (two of which I already know). My current roommates work in the garden center, and are extremely nice and helpful and willing to speak French with me so I can practice! My other two housemates I have not met yet, but the girls insist they are nice and they work in the equestrian center. The house is a clean and comfortable village house nestled among others in the heart of the village, a pleasant short walk from my work. I have a well-equipped kitchenette, a living room and dining room, a laundry room, and a patio. One of my roommates just came back from the village chocolate shop with treats and is insisting I have some. Life is good. Now I just need a good night’s sleep.
Picture of the day: The first bakery I spotted (at the airport of course). Not just any bakery though, a 'baguette specialist'. Breakfast time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Change of Scenery

Well, I am off on yet another culinary adventure. Those of you who know me well know exactly where I am headed and why, and are beyond excited for me. For those of you who don't know me so well, I will share a few details without giving out too much information.

In order to further my culinary experience and skills, I will be completing an internship at a reputable estate in a foreign country. I will be cooking at a castle, and that is no joke! I will be an intern cook at the estate's dining establishments, gaining experience in a fine dining restaurant, a bar, breakfast cookery, afternoon tea ceremonies, as well as weddings and special events. So I will gain lots of experience in an array of different areas.

I am beyond excited as well as a little nervous. I just landed in my destination country, and will be heading to the estate soon. My plan for this blog for the next four and a half months is to turn it into more of a journal. I will be documenting the events of my day, everyday - what I have learned, tried, experienced, tasted, etc. You will see some of my emotions come out, and even on my 'days off' (does such a thing exist for an intern cook??), I am sure I will never be sitting around twiddling my thumbs and will find some food-related experience to blog about.

So for the next little while, my blog may not contain as many recipes, but I will try to keep it interesting with lots of photos of not just dishes I have created or ate, but also scenery and other interesting encounters. 

I will choose an appropriate title to accompany each day’s post, instead of just writing the date.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

This is another energy bar recipe I developed, which is high in protein and full of flavor and texture. The dominant flavor here is definitely peanut butter, but a different type of nut butter could be used if preferred. Likewise, ingredient substitutions could be made - such as chocolate chips for the raisins and chopped nuts for the sunflower seeds. 

Peanut Butter Energy Bars
2 cups granola or multigrain cereal mix
2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup pitted dates
water, to cover
1 1/3 cups smooth natural peanut butter
1/3 cup smooth almond butter
2/3 cup honey
Place the granola, oats, flax, raisins, seeds, and spices in a large bowl and mix well.
In a large saucepan, bring the dates with just enough water to cover them to a boil. Boil for a few minutes until dates soften, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the peanut butter, almond butter, and honey and heat until melted and smooth.
Pour this mixture over the dry mixture in the bowl and stir to coat. Press this mixture into a parchment-lined 9x13-inch rectangular pan. I find it easier to use your hands to mix and press this mixture. Refrigerate for several hours until firm, then cut into bars. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Muffins

This is a muffin recipe I came up with, trying to mimic the flavors of a chocolate peanut butter cup. I began with a basic double chocolate muffin recipe, then added some peanut butter to it and peanut butter chips, and made a chocolate peanut butter filling to make them extra rich. These are large, chocolaty muffins with a soft crumb, a smooth filling, and a crisp topping, and they are especially tasty (and messy) warm. 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Muffins
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tablespoon chocolate milk

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease or line one 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
FILLING: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt all ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
MUFFINS: In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Whisk in the sugar. 
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add to the liquid ingredients and mix until just moistened. Stir in both chips. 
Use half the batter to fill each muffin cup half full. Make a small dent in the center and place a teaspoon of filling in each. Cover with remaining batter, enclosing filling completely. 
Bake for about 20 minutes, until muffins are firm and spring back lightly when touched. A toothpick inserted where there is no filling should come out clean.
TOPPING: If you happen to have any leftover filling, it is perfect for topping the muffins to give them a little more flavor and pizzazz. If needed, gently reheat it to make it thinner, then either drizzle or spread over the muffins. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cold Plate

Some days you may not feel like cooking, it may be too hot to think about cooking, you may have a bunch of leftovers or random ingredients you would like to use up, or you really aren't sure what you are in the mood for. That's where a cold plate comes in. 
A cold plate does not have a specific recipe or even a description of components it must contain. A cold plate is simply a plateful of cold foods, or foods that have not been cooked or reheated. It often contains salad ingredients and the likes, but really it can be any mismatch of things you would like. You could pull a leftover piece of pizza from the refrigerator, consume it cold, and technically consider it to be a cold plate, but typically a cold plate consists of several different items - cold pizza is simply cold pizza. Here is the most recent cold plate I made up.
It consisted of: salad with greens, diced tomato, soft boiled egg, and cheddar cheese sticks; whole grain crackers, hummus, roasted chickpeas, hazelnuts, fresh dates, frozen pineapple, and of course, a few chocolates to round out the meal. This was a cold plate, well actually there are a few dishes there as it did not all fit on one plate, for two. Cold plates can definitely be nutritious, light, and well-rounded meals. This one has vegetables, a little fruit, cheese for dairy, egg, hummus, and nuts for protein, and crackers as a whole grain, with a touch of dessert.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Here is a quick beet appetizer dish I made for myself not too long ago.
I started by roasting some beets in the oven, then shocking them to cool them.
Once cool, I peeled them, and sliced them into thin slices on the mandolin. I also roasted some cloves of garlic, which did not take nearly as long in the oven as the beets. Alternately this could be done as pan-roasted garlic, which will develop lots of surface flavor but perhaps not as much flavor penetrated throughout the garlic. 

I arranged the beet slices artistically on a rectangular plate. Then I placed a thin slice of gravalox in the center, topped with pickled onions, a gourmet soft cheese mixture, capers, and a sprig of dill, and garnished the beets with the roasted garlic cloves. 

This makes a light and tasty appetizer that is easy to put together, stunning, but also easy to prep in advance. It combines vegetables with some protein and cheese to satisfy any appetite until the main course comes.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
2 large eggs
3 large, overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease or line muffin cups.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, banana, milk, and oil.
In a separate large bowl,  stir together all the remaining dry ingredients. Make a well in the center. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir until just moistened. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes twelve muffins.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Raspberry Cobbler

Raspberry is a different flavor for a cobbler. This one is simplified because it uses a prepared pie filling instead of fresh fruit, which creates a pleasing, moist and sweet sauce. This cobbler would be extra special is served with a caramel sauce or a lemon crème anglaise sauce. 

Raspberry Cobbler
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1-2 cans raspberry pie filling
Preheat oven to 350F. 
RASPBERRY: Place the raspberry pie filling in a rectangular 9x13 inch or similar-sized pan. Place in the oven to warm up while preparing the dough. CAKE: Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Drop by spoonfuls over the warm filling. Bake for about 25 minutes until topping is cooked through. Best served warm, especially with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Coconut Molasses Spice Bars

Coconut Molasses Spice Bars
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x13 inch rectangular pan.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
These squares are a fine, not-too-sweet, easy to eat spicy treat eaten as is, but becomes something special when frosted with a simple icing - vanilla glaze, cream cheese, maple frosting, or even chocolate fudge frosting.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

I always find pumpkin spice a welcoming flavor combination, whether it is autumn or not. Here, I have combined them to make a smoothie, or perhaps more accurately a milkshake. It adds a little flavor to a morning drink of milk, as well as some extra vitamins and nutrition. Since the pumpkin is already puréed, this drink does not even require the use of a blender. Just place ingredients in a cup with a lid and shake.
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
1 cup milk
2 heaping Tablespoons pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Blend all together until smooth. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Flower Cake

Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing mothers out there! Today I made a simple Mother's Day cake and cupcake creation. It is made to look like a flower. Just use any cake recipe you would like (the two layer size) and bake it in one nine inch round pan and twelve cupcakes. Then decorate as a flower - choose two bright spring colors and use one to frost the cake - the center of the flower. Then use the other to pipe swirls on the cupcakes for the petals. If the cake is for a special occasion, add an inscription on the cake in the center. It's a really simple cake design but one that looks really cute. It is also easy to serve - give everyone a cupcake then cut the center cake into wedges. I used a vanilla cake and vanilla frosting in purple and yellow.
Unfortunately, this is the first mother's day I am away from my mother and I cannot share this cake with her. But that's why rain checks were invented. 
Happy Mother's Day - especially to my wonderful mother!! :)