Chef was a 5ft 1inch thunder-storm.
She was electric, caustic, irreverent, foul-mouthed and harder than a bent coffin nail.
She kept her hair shaved tight back and sides and sported a jet-black 2 inch tall ‘full-hawk’ on top. She was insanely beautiful and ran The Kitchen like a rock-star, she was one of only a handful of people I have met in my life that commanded my unconditional respect – I would have gladly walked bare-foot over broken glass if she had asked….which she threatened me with on several occasions.
I never knew any other Chef before her – no Ramsey, Pierre-White or Roux – my interest in Culinaria didn’t extend past my local chip shop at this stage and after all I wound up in her kitchen by mistake! So, Chef stamped herself on my DNA as the definitive Head Chef and remains there to this day. Everything I know right down to how I move in my kitchen is as a result of her barked, suggested, purred instruction and my inability to take my eyes off her as we battled through a thousand insane services together.
She was magnetic. She always wore a pristine white kitchen tunic that was more like a nurse’s uniform than chef’s jacket, front buttons undone to a dangerous level and she always wore jet black underwear…..always. This kept the kitchen ‘alive’ and sent shivers down the spines of any and all new waiting and bar staff – she styled herself this way very consciously because it had an affect and very big one at that – Chef used her sexuality to its utmost and The Kitchen ran like a dream because of it….she also threaten to turn one new head bar-man into a eunuch by removing his balls with her shoe.
During the time I spent with Chef she taught me a lot, not just about food, cooking and how to survive a professional kitchen but also about life – before this I had been pampered through University with zero exposure to the big bad world but now I was ‘in the weeds’ and needed a mentor not just in this kitchen but in life.
Life lessons would be delivered over what we ate as chefs in The Kitchen, Chef would be responsible for what that was and one of the most memorable was her beef and mustard pie topped with a soft and crispy mash. On its own this dish could bring about world peace, it is the epitome of comfort food and was the dish we were eating when I delivered the bombshell that I was leaving her…………………….
♠Beef and Mustard Pie♣
Prep time: 30 mins ♦ Cook Time: 30 mins ♦ Total time 1hr ♦ Serves 4
♣WHAT YOU NEED♥
1lb minced steak
1 Small bunch of fresh Thyme, Parsley and Rosemary
1 clove garlic
1 large carrot – cut into small, rough dice
3-4 slugs of Worcestershire sauce
2 tps anchovie sauce (or one anchovie fillet)
1/2 glass white wine
100 mls beef stock (but chicken will do)
1 medium white onion
4 large rooster spuds
1 tbs English Mustard
♠HOW YOU DO IT♥
Peel, boil, cool and mash the spuds – use a ricer if you can and season well with salt , pepper, nutmeg and a huge knob of butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you feel.
Finely diced the onion and fry with the carrot until just soft. Finely chop the herbs and add into the onion and carrot mix.
Add the minced steak to the pan with the onion and carrots and brown really well all over. Then add in the wine and stock and reduce until you have a working sauce.
Next add the mustard, Anchovie and Worcestershire sauces and simmer on a very low heat for around 10 minutes – taste and adjust the seasoning.
When you’re happy with the minced steak add it to a baking dish (the Falcon range are the business by the way) then top with the mashed spuds. Get as rustic or as artsy as you want here – I tend to just run a fork through it…unless its my Shepards Pie…I get a bit more girly with that.
The pie can now hang around for a couple of days (or even frozen) until your ready to cook – when that time rolls round then brush the pie with melted butter grate over some Gruyère Cheese and a final ‘sneeze’ of Cayenne pepper then just sling the pie into a pre-heated (180c) oven for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with mushy or garden peas – I’m a mushy guy myself……………
FANCY A BEER?
TRY THIS: ABBOT ALE