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Recipe Number Thirteen February 2004

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What a month December was.  We at the restaurant  worked flat out and it goes with out saying its all down to the hundreds of customers that we hope have enjoyed their Christmas parties at Rushmore’s Restaurant.  From very early in the month the restaurant was full to the rafters, I estimated that I have carved up to fifty turkeys, that have been served up with hundreds of little sausages wrapped with bacon, many gallons of turkey gravy, and around sixty pounds of sage and onion stuffing, plus at least two bags of potatoes had to be peeled by hand each day to provide the roast potatoes for the turkey meals and then the sacks and sacks of Brussels spouts that have turned the tips of my fingers a strange colour of green must not be forgotten. I have lost track of the Christmas puddings that we steamed and the bottles of brandy that have been poured into hundreds of gallons of thickened milk to make a delicate brandy sauce. Mince pies had to be baked freshly for lunch and dinner. These little treats that we serve warm with coffee not only take time to make but have in my estimation used over thirty pounds of mincemeat and an incredible amount of butter, sugar, and flour in the production of these tasty morsels.

Roast Norfolk turkey is of course only one of many main dishes that's offered on the special Christmas menu that runs along side the normal extensive full a la carte menu. Operating the restaurant at this very busy time of the year and trying to keep up a high standard doesn't go with out its problems.  It’s shear hard work from early in the morning, working straight through the day, arriving home around one o'clock of the next day, only to grab a few hours sleep and then to arrive back at the restaurant to start it all over again.

It seemed that it got harder to keep up with the pressure as Christmas Day loomed. My commis chef, who will remain nameless, has worked his little socks off as also have my front of house staff.  But maybe because Dan, the commis chef, has at times had to put up with me flipping my top a few times (oops I have mentioned his name) and the fact he has not seen his Playstation for a week or so makes him my right hand man. Unfortunately this has had an effect on him. Take the lunch that we were preparing for forty guests, one of the starters on the menu was the brown shrimp fishcakes, that were to be served with a lime butter sauce.  I knew that his arrival was imminent, if only by the noise of the metal chains that are designed to keep out flies not commis chefs.  These were working a treat as he attempted to come through the kitchen door, tripping over the half empty mop bucket that he had left by the back door on his departure the night before.  His foot must have come in contact with the bucket and as he propelled himself forward in an incontrollable motion he came in contact with the chains; they in turn had wrapped themselves around his neck.

“Please come in” I said, as I glanced at the clock.  It indicated to me that he had only just made it on duty with thirty seconds to spare. “You've arrived then? When you feel like it and in your own time if you please we require twenty portions of shrimp cakes.” It normally takes Dan a few minutes to get into the swing of things, but this particular morning it seemed that he had found a new lease of energy from somewhere and before long he had mashed his potatoes seasoned them to perfection shaped them into fishcakes; and then into flour, finally gently egg washed and dipped them into freshly made breadcrumbs to produce the shrimp cakes that were required for the lunch service within the hour.

“Well that's that job done. What’s next on the list?” It was at that time I just happened to spot a bowl full of brown shrimps on the side of the table, it was also at the same time that a strong feeling came over me, it involved the use of a very large rolling pin and Dan the commis chef. He had made the shrimp fish cakes to perfection, but had forgotten to include the brown shrimps.  It was only after a few sharp words were exchanged and my trying to explain what my old head chef would have done to me if he had caught me, that Dan decided to start again. This time he promised he would add the shrimps and all was forgiven.

At the time of writing this cookery column we were only a few days off Christmas day.   It was after a long day of serving lunches and dinners that I became aware on the drive home in the car that all was not well with Mrs R. Her normal chirpy chatter seemed to be not there. On arriving at Rushmore towers I decided to confront her. “What’s up?” I asked.  “I can’t do it any more,” she replied. “It’s only a few more days to go and then we can take a break,” was my offering back. “No, I am not talking about the restaurant, I am talking about the paper round.” For all those that know Mrs R. she has been involved in her early morning job for as long as I can remember, leaving the house at an unearthly hour in the morning, in all weathers as well. Within a few minutes her mind was made up. No more will the sight of Mrs R. in her yellow reflective jacket and the old ex post office bike be seen again. Life at Rushmore towers has returned to normal as much as possible, and Mrs R. has gone back to being her chirpy self, and with the light at the end of the tunnel in sight we at the restaurant are looking forward to the New year and Easter so we can start carving turkey again.

The Commis Chef’s Fishcakes

Fishcakes have been a great favourite of mine. My mother used to make them for Sunday tea using a tin of John West salmon.  Mother pan fried the fishcakes in a little butter and once cooked placed them on a large plate in front of the open fire to keep warm.

For two persons: peel and boil six good sized potatoes, add to this about half the amount of uncooked salmon trimmings; pop this into a saucepan and simmer until cooked.  If you talk nicely to your fishmonger he should be able to provide you with the salmon trimmings. Once cooked, drain off the water and gently mash the salmon and potato together.  At this stage you can add a little salt and pepper and if you have some a little chopped dill or parsley won’t go amiss.  Allow the mash to go cold and with the aid of clean hands lift out the amount that you require to shape into the little fishcakes.  You can, as mother used to do, fry these in a pan in a little butter turning once.  But the commis chef likes to roll them in a little flour, then into an egg wash that is made by using one egg and a little water then gently roll them in the fresh breadcrumbs.  If you use this method  you will have to cook them in your deep fat fryer for a few minutes until golden brown, serve with melted butter and a little lemon juice.  I wonder if you could use turkey as a filling???

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