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Recipe Number Fourteen March 2004

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This time of the year we, at Rushmore’s take our winter holidays. The first few weeks in early January, after the great Christmas and New Year rush is over, is when the restaurant normally goes slow.  Mrs R is left in sole charge of deciding our destination and I am the first to say that over the last few years she has done us proud: riding a mountain bike across the alps, free falling from ten thousand feet or deep sea diving in shark infested waters have, I am pleased to say, not been on her holiday list.
Armed with ideas, a note pad and a list of hundreds of special deals that were being offered on the travel programs off the telly, she set aside a morning to sort out our holiday once and for all.  Mrs R. finally struck, what she said, was a good deal with the travel agent and on arriving home told me the news. You are off to northern Africa. She must at that time have noticed the look on my face. I asked, “What jabs do you have to have?” Her reply was slow in coming, as she knew of my thoughts on being used as a human pincushion. “Only a few,” was the answer and it was at that point that yellow fever came into the conversation. But  then I remembered the reason why I allowed Mrs R. to be in sole charge of picking our holiday designation. Oh yes, just in case the holiday went pear shape, then it was all down to her.

In the following weeks tales from customers that had been to our holiday destination only confirmed my thoughts. They all told me of their tales of that part of Africa, in fact one person said that his wife, because she was a blonde had become very much the centre of attention. He went on to say that hands seemed to be coming from all directions; well Mrs R. is not blonde and more important and to the point, thank goodness nor am I.
Oh ye of little faith, write out a thousand lines. I should have complete faith in my wife. Yes Mrs R. has succeeded in pulling it off again. The four star 275 bedroom hotel looking just bootiful in the warm morning sunshine, and only a stones throw from the private golden beach and the deep blue sea. For those of you that have never been to Tunisia, and enjoy seeing a bit of country side that you have just spent hours flying to and for those people that don’t always B.BQ their bodies each day on a beach with hoards of other people; then all I can say is put it on your list of places to try.
The day came when it was suggested that we travelled a few miles to the local market that was held each week. Due to the heat the market started early and by midday it was all over and done. So it was an eight o’clock start and we were off. It was explained that the local traders liked to barter, and so you don’t except the first asking price. As we alighted from the coach and walked towards the market it was almost as if we had been dropped into a film set from Ali Barber and a thousand thieves. Camels, donkeys loaded with vegetables, and brown-faced sheep seemed to out number people by ten to one.
It was a little bit concerning to start with but then after a few minutes you lost any fear. Stall holders selling a vast range of goods, mainly leather, and lots of earthen- ware. Of course their music filled your ears, while the scent of spices and herbs filled your nose and men dressed in long robes smoking water pipes sat drinking coffee at a roadside bar. It is then you realise that you are not walking through the Tuesday Market Place in Kings Lynn. It was the decision of Mrs. R that I would do any bartering that had to be done, and I must confess that many a good bargain was struck. However all good things have, it seems, a way of coming to an end. In my mind’s eye I can see him now. An old man dressed in a tatty brown robe, a long grey beard and his face almost covered by a red and white checked head-dress that allowed only his eyes to be seen. For a split second I thought that we had stumbled across Lord Lucan. Then the bartering started: it appeared that he had taken a bit of a shine to Mrs R. of course I tried to explain that she was not for sale, but this guy seemed intent on doing a deal. So I thought it was best that I put my hands firmly in my pockets until his bartering had finished. Two goats, four grey-faced sheep, and maybe a donkey were being offered. As his hand was being offered to me to cement the deal, the thought of swapping Mrs. R. for a little bit of live-stock, came as bit of a shock. But then it all became clear. He was not going to give me the live stock at all in fact the deal turned out to be that he wanted them off me in exchange for taking her off my hands. So it was after the international hand sign of friendship was given to him, we said our goodbyes and he went on his merry way and we decided to leave the market and return back to the hotel for a spot of lunch.
A lot of the food we tried was offered with couscous and I must admit it’s one of those ingredients that I have not bothered with before or included in my menus. But having tasted the flavours that these chefs have created by adding spices, then couscous will be offered on the restaurant’s vegetarian menu from now on.


Makes four burgers:

These couscous burgers will take around 35 minutes to make and require at least 15 minutes in a refrigerator. Place 6oz of couscous in a mixing bowl, add 8fl oz of boiling water and leave for 10 minutes or until the water has been absorbed by the couscous, then with a fork fluff up the grains.
Next you will need a frying pan, a little oil, one aubergine diced fine, one small onion diced fine and also the flesh of one red pepper  which you will also dice finely.  Place the pan on the heat pop in a spot of oil and cook the vegetables listed, to this you can add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, and 2 teaspoons of ground coriander and lastly a little grated lemon rind, stir these well in as you cook.

Once tender drain off the oil and add to the couscous. Now in the bowl you should have the couscous and the spiced vegetables: stir the mixture well together and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 5 tablespoons of natural yoghurt, and 1 egg lightly beaten. Again mix well together and now for the best bit: with clean hands divide into four portions and shape into burgers, once you have done this place on a plate, cover with cling film and pop then in the refrigerator for 15minutes or so to rest.

In a frying pan put a little oil and bring up to a medium heat, gently add the burgers to the hot oil and shallow fry until golden brown turning just once. You can serve them with a nice tossed salad with a dressing or mayonnaise. I hope that you enjoy a little taste of Northern Africa by the way this dish requires sunshine and a blue sea to be enjoyed at its best. Mrs R. is now already watching the holiday programs on the telly, I think I’m wise to play very safe and leave it to her to pick our next holiday destination don’t you?

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