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Recipe Number Three  September 2002
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 The metal chains that hang from the back door of the kitchen, designed to keep out the flies, were pushed apart and in came Mr. H the butcher. In his arms was the supply of meat for the restaurant for that day.

“Cor, it aint half hot in the kitchen.”

“ Is it?” I replied, “I don’t think it’s too bad.”

His visit was quickly followed by Coles the fish monger, pushing his way through the chains as if it was a personal thing between man and the dreadful construction of fifty loose hanging chains. Once he and his box of sea bass, sea trout, and the half ton of samphire was fully safe in the kitchen, the long awaited words came out .

“Cor, it aint half hot in here!”

“It’s not too bad.” I replied.

After he had departed in his van with air conditioning and all the mod cons, I slowly turned to the commis chef. You remember the one, now famous for his tattoos, looked him in the eyes and said “Is it hot in here?”

“Well chef,” he gasped to reply, “it's a bit warm, don't you think?”

“Well lad you may be right, just a little bit warm, just a tad warm.” It was then I went down one of my memory lane trips. Warm you say? I will tell you what’s warm. You should have worked in the kitchen when I first started, with a full kitchen brigade of ten chefs all working over a old coal fired oven. The long oven that was along one side of the kitchen was known as the black monster.  It was one man’s job through out the day to see that this fire-spitting monster was working to full power and woe betide him if the heat dropped when service was on. Many a time the head chef shouted at the top of his voice “Victor!” and Victor would come running with a long steel poker in his hand and, under the threat of death, he would bring the black monster back to its full power.  Life in those days offered very different cuisine to the food we offer to day. Especially if you dined in the 50s and 60s hotel dining rooms. It was in the days when it was edged in stone that cabbage had to be cooked for three hours. We all knew, as commis chefs, that the correct colour, if you wanted perfection with cabbage, was that of an old army ground sheet. Thank goodness the 1960s recipe for hotel cabbage has been lost in the pages of time, although a few chefs may still have a copy. One of my jobs was, each day, to make two fresh soups, and with a good supply of chicken bones, cream of chicken was a soup that was easy to make, also crème du barry a soup made from cauliflower was another soup that could be made quickly if you were in a hurry. Soups in the 50s were spoiled by the reputation of the soup called Brown Windsor and only the British could come up with a name that instantly puts you off wanting it. Seemingly made from wallpaper paste and gravy browning, it had the whiff of old bones and a pinky brown tint of stage make up. But as we all know a real fresh homemade soup can be a pleasure to eat and with that in mind I have a recipe for

Homemade Fresh Tomato Soup  

 50g butter

2 med onions peeled and finely chopped

2 celery slicks finely diced

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

700 g of ripe tomatoes skinned and chopped

pinch of sugar, salt, pepper,

750ml of a chicken or vegetable stock

5 to 6 basil leaves

125ml of fresh cream  

 Heat the butter in a good size saucepan, put in the chopped onions and add the celery allowing about 20 minutes for these to cook through.  Add the chopped garlic and put into the pan the skinned and chopped tomatoes followed by the salt pepper and sugar. A word of warning - don't add too much of the seasoning at this stage as you can always add more later on.  Now you can add the stock and the basil leaves.

Cook for 15 minutes over a good heat giving it a stir now and then. Remove the basil leaves and gently put into the liquidizer and then back into a clean pan. Stir in the fresh cream and gently reheat taking care not to let the soup boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with fresh bread.

Colin Rushmore
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