I’m tossing up what I’m going to cook for myself over the weekend. The chilly weather is being very persistent. A thick, flavoursome stew is tempting, but then, so is a tender, juicy steak, Diane-style. Writing about “Lucky’s” expertise at table-top cooking and his masterful presentation of Steak Diane has whetted my appetite. The idea of flaming the steak is drawing me closer to the pan. I might have to sip on a brandy or two while I make up my mind!
In the meantime, I’ll tell you a little story.
When managing the restaurant at Noosa a few years ago, as well as waiting on the tables, I helped the chef prepare certain dishes.
It was a Saturday. I’d prepared a stack of sweet crepes. I filled them with a mixture of shredded coconut, bananas and dark rum, ready for the evening, when they’d fulfill their role as part of the dessert selection. Come time for their serving as dessert, they’d be presented with whipped cream. Just before opening at , I finished making and filling the crepes. Once the chore was completed, I placed them on shelves on the right-hand side of the cold room, which at all times was reserved for desserts and ingredients pertaining thereto.
The restaurant cruised up the
The tall gums along the shores of the riverbank, silhouetted against a silvery sky, stood as proud protectors directing our path. The evening’s ambience was palpable and tangible.
Come time for dessert, I buzzed each table, taking their orders. To my joy, the majority of diners chose the Rum & Banana Crepes. I'd made a stack of them. Stepping into the galley-kitchen, I opened the coldroom door and reached to my right. The shelves were bare! Not a banana crepe was in sight!
“Where’re my banana crepes?” I cried. “Phil! Did you move them?”
“No…I’ve not touched them,” answered Phil, the chef.
“Jill!” I exclaimed to the kitchen-hand. “Did you move my crepes? I finished making them just before we opened…and I put them all here!” I said pointing to the now empty shelves. " I must be going crazy! Crazier than usual!” I continued.
“No…I’ve not touched them, either,” said Jill. “Oh….Oh….” She stopped mid-step and mid-sentence.
“Oh! My! God!”
On our menu as one of the entrées were Seafood Crepes. Crepes filled with prawns, fish, scallops, squid in a creamy sauce and then topped with a cheese sauce, finished under the salamander/grill/broiler.
I looked to my left. The shelves were filled with Seafood Crepes!
I went through the orders and then visited every table that had ordered the Seafood Crepes, offering my apologies and explanation. Not one person noticed that they’d received Banana and Rum Crepes topped with a cheese sauce instead of Seafood Crepes!
I deducted the cost of the crepe entrees off the relevant orders. One lass at a table of eight, laughingly told me, “I love your seafood crepes. I always have them when we come here. That’s why we brought our friends along with us tonight. We wanted them to try them!”
It’s amazing what a little moonlight,soft, romantic music and candles will do to diners while cruising along a river!Banana Crepes
1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
Whisk the flour and the eggs together in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the milk and the water. Add the salt and butter, and beat the mixture until smooth. Heat a griddle or frying pan to medium. Give it a very light spray of cooking oil. Drop the crepe mixture onto the heated surface. Using about a 1/4 cup of batter for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. "Thin is in" when it comes to the layer of batter.
Cook each side until the golden brown brown (about 2 minutes for side one -- batter will bubble; and 1 minute for side 2). Gently remove and place on a plate. Place waxed paper between cooked crepes to prevent sticking. This will make 8 crepes. 2 crepes make a serving.
3 large bananas -- sliced
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons banana liqueur (optional)
4 Tablespoons dark rum
1/2 cup walnuts
3/4 cup shredded coconut
Filling: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir to make a syrup. Add cinnamon, bananas, shredded coconut and stir once more. Gently pour rum and banana liqueur over the bananas. Flambé the sauce to burn out alcohol. Add the walnuts, divide mixture with your eye into four portions and spoon each portion over a crepe. Close crepe, top with whipped cream.
6 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
I cup of Guinness stout
1 cup of fine red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. While the meet and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Gently pound beef fillets to achieve a thin, even thickness. Season flour with salt and pepper. Preheat a sauté pan with oil over medium heat. Lightly dredge beef fillets in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. When 2 tablespoons oil is hot, add beef fillets to pan. Cook until well browned on both sides and medium rare (approximately 4 -5 minutes on each side). Remove and reserve, keeping warm. Drain excess oil from pan; return pan to heat. Add 2oz butter, 1/2 teaspoon minced shallots and 1 crushed garlic clove. Sauté briefly; do not brown. Remove pan from heat and carefully deglaze pan with brandy. Return pan to heat, flame, and then simmer. Reduce liquid by 1/2. Stir in