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Recipe Number Thirty Three - February 2006

The Wafer Thin Mint

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It was at a recent visit to the local bottle bank and as the empty bottles of wine and spirits clattered into the colour-coded containers I spotted an old mate, Chris, and on greeting him and exchanging best wishes for a new year I noticed that he was only carrying a empty jam jar.  I then remarked that I thought that he was taking the recycling lark a tad too far.  He smiled and told me that he had already been and unloaded all the empty bottles of Christmas falling over water but as he was driving home this lone jam jar had escaped his attention and was rattling around on the floor of the car hence his return.

It was not long before the chitchat soon came round to a passion that both of us have in common, namely the fishing for pike.  Now for those of you that hold this passion, or even have a inkling for sitting on a river bank on a freezing sub-zero day in January (with your rod frozen to your hands and the fact that your feet have probably got frostbite due to the fact that you last felt your toes over two hours ago) will, of course, understand the immense pleasures and the very reasons that we love it.  Pike fisherman are, without question, a breed apart from other fishermen that fish for other species.  Unlike carp that are happy to swim around sucking up their food from the bottom of a lake, the pike is a predator - six hundred razor sharp teeth all pointing backwards, its body is camouflaged to match the area that it stalks it’s prey, it's a loner, a sea wolf, and over thousands of years has developed all the technology of a German U-boat, preferring to be on their own, concealing themselves and hiding in thick weed, ready to lunge out at a great speed and engulf the prey.

One of the things I have noticed with pike fishermen is that they tend to resemble in their mannerisms the fish that they fish for.  Like the pike, they prefer to fish alone, and then they tend to go to great lengths to conceal the whereabouts of any large pike that they have encountered.  A typical chat between two pike fishermen would probably go like this: “been fishing lately Chris? Can’t remember the last time I went.  Last time it was just a short spell on the old Gaywood River.  Whereabouts on the river?  Oh, just turn left by the bridge and certainly no more than two hundred yards on the left hand bank.  Catch much Chris? Not really just a small one

Now what Chris should have said, if he had told the truth, should have relayed as: “yes, I went fishing yesterday on the Gaywood River.  I had over three hours fishing and on arrival I turned right and walked over a mile on the right hand bank and I had a cracking day by banking a twenty pound pike.”


As Chris headed off I decided, and armed with all his misleading information, to head for home and grabbed my pike fishing gear and took a trip to the river.  On arrival, I float fished a great big old mackerel in the area that I suspected Chris had been fishing but after an hour I decided to call it a day, thinking maybe Chris had done a double whammy on me and had been telling the truth after all.

As I drove home, I had time to reflect maybe the pike had filled themselves up with food and just could not eat another morsel and that's why they didn't want my big old mackerel.  Then I remembered the old Monty Python sketch: “The Wafer Thin Mint”.

Two years ago at Christmas time we used to make good sized mince pies all handmade and served warm, but I noticed that as I offered them out to my customers after a three course meal many would say “sorry Chef just can’t manage another thing, but I will pop it in a serviette and I will eat it later”.

I decided to make much smaller mince pies - half the size of the larger ones, and now as I take them out into the restaurant at the end of the meal I have noticed that although my customers had consumed a three course Christmas dinner, on seeing the dainty size of the mince pies there were very few that refused.  Surely a case of The Wafer Thin Mint. The Wafer Thin Mint is, of course, a very good marketing tool, as we push our trolleys around our favourite supermarket.  The Wafer Thin Mint is there for all to see in the disguise of what is known in the trade as a two for one, or even better it takes on the form of “buy two and get one free”.  “Look at that darling, buy one get one free.  We will have a bit of that, but darling you don't like chocolate peanut butter”.   Now I thought would The Wafer Thin Mint work for me or, more importantly, would it work on Mr and Mrs Pike? There was only one way to find out.  I headed off to the local supermarket that had a fresh fish counter and on arrival decided to buy only the smallest fish that they had on offer.  Just the job - they had a sign on the sardines saying half price.  Could they be offering me a Wafer Thin Mint?

So armed with a bag of the smallest fish that they had, I headed for the river and prepared to offer my Wafer Thin Mint as bait.  Slowly the bait trotted through the swim that over many moons I have caught a pike from.  Then It happened, a large pike had decided that although he was stuffed full to the point of bursting he had just spotted my little offering.  In his mind he must have thought “that looks nice but I have been a naughty boy and rather made a pig of myself, but so what I might just manage another little mouthful”.  Yes folks the old Wafer Thin Mint had done its job and had worked again.


The Wafer Thin Mint
Also known as the Almond Tuiles

These little biscuits are easy to make and great for serving with ice cream
What do we need to make these wafer thin biscuits?
30g of plain flour, 30g of icin sugar, 1 egg white only, 30g of melted but cool unsalted butter, and a few drops of good almond essence.

Line a couple of baking trays with non stick baking parchment, then in a bowl sift the flour and icing sugar together.  Then mix in the egg white and cool melted butter and a few drops of almond essence. Use a tea spoon to drop a blob of the mix on to the baking parchment and spread as thinly as possible with the back of the spoon.  Don't forget to leave a good space as the biscuits will spread during cooking.  Only bake one tray at a time in a preheated oven 220C /425F.  Cook for around 3 to 4 minutes until the edges of the biscuits are a nice golden brown with the centre still pale.

Immediately you remove the biscuits from the oven lift, them from the baking tray with a palette knife.  At this stage, when they are still warm, roll them around a wooden spoon handle to make a spiral,  After you have removed them from the handle, place on a wire cooling tray to cool.  The mix will make 10 to 12 biscuits.  Store in an air tight tin.

So ladies - there you have it.  And remember when hubby next makes a comment like, “cor love that big old plate of stew and dumplings was bootiful, can’t eat another thing”, then its time girls to bring out your secret weapon - The Wafer Thin Mints.


 Colin Rushmore

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