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Recipe Number Ten May 2003


It was a chance remark that my father made back in the 1950s when I was a slip of a lad and long before the urge to make a mess and create classical dishes in my mothers kitchen, size is not every thing was the off the cuff remark, and to this day I haven't a clue why he came out with it. We were at the time in the garden. The word garden would not be as described in any dictionary, as a place that flowers grew, not for my old dad, the word garden in dadís dictionary was described as fifty square feet of solid concrete and the most important gardening tool was the stiff yard brush. I at this tender age had never met anybody with a dislike to anything to do with gardening. After a lot of thought, maybe the remark was regarding the size of the yard brush that father had put me in sole charge of. Well that's what I hoped he was referring to. Size is not every thing was firmly embedded in the back of mind. In my early days of courting young ladies, size is not every thing once again reared its ugly head. This time not to be said by my dear old dad but a young lady that I was sweet on at the time, I decided to cook her an intimate meal for two. In conversation I had found out that she liked shell fish so I decided that the starter would be mussels cooked in white wine and cream sauce, I had planned on oysters but a commis chefs wages would not stretch to such items even if the old tales of the oysters were true. All was going great, the mussels were consumed, and in time I headed off into the kitchen for the grand presentation of the main course. The main course was to be a simple little dish that had been determined by the change left over from buying the mussels, white wine and half a pint of cream. It was, that classical dish and favourite of all young ladies, Toad in the hole. Unknown to me the young lady had followed me into the kitchen and as I bent over to remove my concoction of lightly raised Yorkshire pudding filled with perfectly cooked pork sausages, she stopped me in my tracks with , let me do that for you. Maybe it was the effect of the mussels, I didn't stop to ask as there for all to see was a complete failure, my toads were black as your hat and as for something that could only loosely be described as Yorkshire pudding, it was as flat as a pancake. Then the fearful and long awaited words came out, size is not everything. There was not much conversation as we tried to consume toad in the hole that tasted as bad as it looked. Needless to say I never saw that young lady again. Time has moved on and forty years have passed under the bridges of time, and in that time I have been experimenting on how to cook the perfect Yorkshire pudding. I know that many of you will have your own favoured recipes that may have been passed down from mother to daughter; but if you are a young lad of sixteen that's intending to cook toad in the hole as a special treat for a young lady, then here are a few tips that may be of help. Number one, make the batter the night before in a plastic container and after whisking it for a few minutes with a large wire whisk to incorporate as much air as possible, cling film it and leave over night in a cool place, but not in the fridge. In the morning remove the cling film and gently whisk again for a minute. The oven that you are cooking your pudding in should be of a medium to high heat. You require this to start the pudding off, you can open the oven after a few minutes and look to see if the pudding is starting to rise and at that stage you can if you wish turn the heat down a little, but remember it still requires a good heat, and must only be cooked in a oven that contains no other foods. One thing that I have found that makes a good Yorkshire, is the size of pudding tins that are used to baked it in, you can buy those large tins that only contain four on a tray, but for perfection I have containers that are made of earthenware. The most important thing with these is that they are a good inch deep and this helps the pudding to rise. Another tip is to make sure that the fat you use in the tin is only added to the tin after you have pre warmed the tins in the oven. Well I hope that these tips go a little way in helping some love sick young man cook a candlelight dinner for a young lady, at least if he follows these instructions he may have a chance of not hearing the immortal words: size is not every thing. Even so if his Yorkshire did not rise to her expectations then he could offer her the old Norfolk saying Small is Bootifull.

Forget the Yorkshire pudding and go for a dainty little dish that my commis chef Dan Addison said really works with the young ladies.

Smoked salmon, prawns and fresh Cromer crab

All of these ingredients can be bought from your local fishmonger or supermarket. You will require, depending on the amount of young ladies that you are entertaining peeled prawns, (the small bag of frozen ones will do), a pack of smoked salmon, and the dressed crabs.  Buy one crab for every two persons. You will also require a small amount of mayonnaise, a drop of tomato sauce, a lemon and one of those little bags of mixed salad leaves. To plate up this dish which can be served as a starter or with some small new potatoes as a main dish in the summer, there is just one other item you want to make this dish look stunning. You will need my secret weapon,  a metal ring.  These you can buy from any good cooks' shop. 

Plating the dish up, take a large white plate and place around the edges the selection of  mixed leaves. On to the plate place two or three slices of the smoked salmon.  Next place the metal ring in the centre, and almost fill the ring with defrosted prawns that you have first mixed in a bowl together with a little mayonnaise and a dash of tomato sauce.  Remove the flesh from the crabs' shell and gently mix together and spoon on top of the prawns  and  finish off by putting a blob of mayonnaise on the top of the crab.  If you have a sprig of parsley then pop a bit on the top, it only remains to slice a wedge of lemon and with a gentle upward movement lift the metal ring off, and there you have it, I wish that I had known of this little dish forty odd years ago.

Colin Rushmore

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