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"Tales of a
Norfolk Chef"
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Recipe Number Thirty Seven June 2006
Toffee & Banana Crumble

For details on
my book
"Tales of a
Norfolk Chef"
Click Here

Arriving home at Rushmore Towers one night after a busy night in the restaurant one could only describe the feeling I had, as I eased my body out of the car, as being totally cream crackered.  Was this one of the side effects of getting on in years and - more to the point - what could one do about it?

I sat and read the latest gossip from the newspaper.  Slowly I unwound with a nice glass or two of a very nice Pinot Noir and a few puffs on my old favourite pipe and it was at that time of the wee hours that I decided I would raid the fridge for my late night binge.  Normally this would consist of a good lump of cheese, a few sliced tomatoes topped with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a good drizzle of spicy olive oil, then a good spoonful of sweet pickle, and half a packet of those crunchy cheese biscuits that Mrs. R. has hidden at the back of the cupboard - perfect food for a hungry chef, or is it?

Over the years, I have meet many chefs and we all have two things in common.  One is the fact nobody ever asks a chef home for dinner.  The other is our lifestyle.  When it comes down to consuming our daily intake of food there is a misconception with the general public that all chefs live on the finest foods known to man - smoked wild salmon fished from a little river in the Highlands and smoked with loving care by Jock a one legged Scotchman over hand picked oak twigs scented with 12 year old single malt whisky.  This would, of course, be a starter and for our daily main dish we all live on rare breed fillet of beef that's fed on the salt marshes.  This, in turn, is cooked pink and served with a light shallot and herb infused sauce topped with baby asparagus that still has the morning dew on its bright green tips.  Now for all you that believe that this is the case then you will also believe that little people live at the bottom of the garden.  The truth is that normally a chef will not sit down to eat a meal at any set time of the day.  His energy is maintained by eating on the hoof as he moves around the kitchen tasting a spoonful of fresh tomato sauce.  Testing and scraping the remains of a pasta sauce from a saucepan goes along way to keeping chefs working long hours without proper set meal times.

I suppose, in a way, add to this the long double shifts that the chefs body is submitted to over many years, then its no wonder that on occasions chef wonders why he feels a tad bit under the weather.

The next morning, as I stepped out of the bath and looked through the steam at my reflection in the mirror - only to see the full Monty - I noticed that all the parts were still there but sadly not in the right places any more, and certainly that's not the body of a young man that ran along Heacham beach skinny dipping at midnight many moons ago.

What is needed is a plan of action - a bit of exercise - a few press ups.  May be it would help if I had a bike.  I remember an old friend saying that he thought that Norfolk was flat until he bought a bike.  So after I had dressed, I headed off outside to see if the old Post Office bike that Mrs. R. used for her paper round was in working order.  Sadly not.  Then I remembered that my old friend was selling his mountain bike and it came to pass, after an hour of bartering and using all the dirty underhand tricks of the bartering game that had being taught to me by a one handed man that I had met when I was on holiday last year, I finally became the proud owner of a bike.

The great day had arrived as I proudly pushed my newly acquired bike out into the car park at the restaurant.  The sun was shining, the sky was a deep blue as I tucked my trousers into my socks.  I recalled it must have been at least ten years ago since I last cocked my leg over but its like they say, once you have done it you don't forget it - riding a bike that is.  And so, with me firmly mounted on the beast and peddling like mad I headed off towards the North Beach, gathering speed as I went and I must say enjoying the experience.  It was the next day that the pain kicked in and on closer inspection of the problem I decided that a new softer saddle may be the answer.  After a week the blisters had healed and I was back riding my bike again.  I can recommend riding a bike to keep you fit.  It gets the blood pumping through your veins.  So if you are in Heacham and see a red faced chef puffing and gasping for breath on a bike, don't worry its only me enjoying myself and trying to get fit.

Toffee and Banana Crumble

1 x 7oz tin of condensed milk
8oz of puff pastry (you can use a short crust pastry if you wish)
8oz plain flour
4oz unsalted butter
4oz caster sugar
3/4 bananas

Start this lovely sweet by making the toffee.
Pop a tin of unopened condensed milk in a deep saucepan of water and boil
for three hours.  Make sure you keep the tin covered with water at all times.
Leave the tin to cool and that's the toffee sauce ready.
Next pre- heat your oven 180c 350f or gas 4.

Find a 10inch flan tin roll out the puff pastry and line the flan tin.
You will need to bake the pastry blind and this can be done using
greaseproof paper and dried beans.  This will take 15 minutes to cook.

Next job is to increase the oven temperature a tad.
To make the crumble rub the flour and butter together into fine crumbs,
then add the sugar, chop the bananas and lay into the pastry lined flan tin.
Open the toffee sauce and pour over the bananas.
Then sprinkle over the crumbs and bake in a warm oven
until the crumble is golden brown.
Serve the pudding with a great old spoonful of whipped cream
or with a jug of rich custard.
After you have eaten this bootiful pudding don't just sit there -
go and get on your bike!


Colin Rushmore

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