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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

La Soupe

Smoked pork ( a knuckle works great)
Two slices of bacon
Thyme and bay leaf
Canned tomatoes
Tomato paste

A mild large chili (or not)
A little olive oil
Salt and pepper
Steep the beans overnight.
Cut the vegetables into medium dice. Twice the size of the beans.
Crush the garlic and strain the tomatoes.
In a suitable pot heat the olive oil and add the bacon which has been cut into strips. When that begins to sizzle add all the vegetables and allow to cook on a medium heat until the flavors combine. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the beans and allow to cook in the vegetables and the oil for a few minutes. This will help the flavor. Add salt and pepper and thyme and bay leaf. Let cook for a few minutes and then add just enough tomato paste to give it a little color. Add the tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon.

Add the flour and combine the whole thing with a good wooden spoon. You need just enough flour to give the soup a little body, too much and you will ruin it. i would say about a heaped t/soon per pint and then an extra one. Combine this whole thing until you smell the flavors. Then add water, the juice of tomato and the ham hock.
Allow to cook for quite some time preferably in a slow cooker. When cooked remove some of the beans and strain them. Using a wooden spoon or such crush these beans and add them back to the soup. Correct seasoning , including garlic and serve. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves and the thyme branches.

-The amount of diced vegetable should be equal to the amount of beans.
-If the soup is too thick add some water or stock until you get the consistency you want. -Remember that as soon as this soup cools a little bit it thickens.
-Make notes on the amounts of vegetables etc. so that next time you will have a better idea of proportions and you won't need detailed recipes.
-I wash the beans before steeping them under running water and then I use the steeping water as stock.

You can enhance this soup by adding spices that you like. I added a little cumin to this but you can add paprika, chile powder, curry powder or anything you like. You can make it into a garlic and bean soup, a squash and bean soup. If you do add spices then add them just before you add the tomato paste.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Marinated Flank Steak.

When it is not correctly cooked, flank steak is one of the toughest pieces of beef. When it is overcooked it is inedible. This piece weighed about one pound and it was marinated in some red wine, olive oil , peppers and thyme and bay leaf for about 18 hours. It was then seared and roasted to medium rare , then left to relax for 10 minutes.
Then it was sliced into thin slices and served with cheese mash and braised cabbage. The sauce was made from the marinade.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vegetable Array Baked In White Wine With Bockwurst

Old Menu And Photos The Savoy Hotel In London Circa 1965 / Old Menu And Photos

The Savoy Crew Under Chef Auguste  LaPlanche circa 1965

The Main Kitchen

The Cold Fish Station

The vegetable station 'entremetier'

The roast station

Mr. Trompetto as I remember him.

Chef in the kitchen at the Savoy Hotel
Chef in the kitchen at the Savoy Hotel in December 1966. The Savoy is a large hotel on The Strand. Designed by T.E. Collcutt it was built by Richard D'Oyly Carte in 1884 next to the Savoy Theatre where he was famous for his Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Cesar Ritz (who later founded the Ritz Hotel) was the first manager and August Escoffier was the first chef whose pots and pans are still kept at the hotel. . In 1965 Silvino Trompetto was appointed as the hotel's first British born Head Chef.

Back  In The Day
At The Savoy. 

The following photos are from Mike Smith. One of my colleagues at the Savoy at the time. 

Chefs LaPlanche and Trompetto

I had left home in April of that year and I was just settling in to this new world of foreign languages and strange ways. Nineteen years of age. Not a happy time.
The kitchens here were huge, cavernous and very noisy with lots of activity. Some of the stoves were still run on coal and the place was very hot. Looking back it was a little like the engine room of the Titanic that we see in the pictures. The kitchens dated to 1889 and although good for that time today they would be considered inefficient and wasteful. They have recently been redone I think. Still, it was a great place to learn and I learned a lot of things that are no longer either done nor taught to this day in Hotels.
The list of famous people who stayed in that hotel is mind boggling

This is an old menu from the Savoy Grill. The Savoy had two kitchens; one was the restaurant and one was the grill. The rivalry between the two was heavy. This is a menu from '71 I think and I had long gone. The menus that were there when I was there still had shillings and pence. This one has the currency that came after that.

Amazing to see the prices here and also the old fashioned cuisine. There was no room for imagination or improvisation. Everything had to be done by the book. The guests knew how to eat and they would order things that had to be looked up in the repertoire to know what they were. All that has changed now of course.

My chef in the restaurant kitchen where I worked had worked with Auguste Escoffier when he opened the Savoy; His name was Auguste LaPlanche and he was already an older man when I got there and not very far from retirement. He eventually retired and the chef of the grill was appointed the chef of restaurant kitchen. The restaurant kitchen was the most prestigious of the two for many reasons. All the cabarets were done from the restaurant kitchen as well as all the banquets. There were some very big names performing in the cabaret at the time

The new chef's name was Silvino Trompetto and he was a legend in London. Tall and regal in his white chefs jacket, he cut quite the  figure in the Savoy Kitchens. Mr. Trompetto had previously been the chef of the Savoy Grill kitchen which was one floor below the Restaurant Kitchen. He did not get along with Mr LaPlanche and stayed away from his area. He was not the first choice to replace Mr La Planche. A new chef was brought in from France but he died of a heart attack within a few weeks and then Trompetto became Chef des Cuisines. The atmosphere change in the kitchen was immediate. Being lowly commis we it didn't affect us directly but the sous chefs and the chef de parties were under the gun.

The original chef of the Savoy was Escoffier. He was one of the most renowned chefs in the history of the industry before Bocuse came into the picture. and his picture is on the W/W diploma. He was the original Celebrity Chef without the hoopla. He was the Laurence Olivier, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley  of the culinary scene .

This was my first step into truly international and sophisticated cuisine after I had left the Gresham. The whole place was very intimidating and very serious except for a few little tricks they used to play with the new and very nervous arrivals. The Queen and Winston Churchill and all the celebrities used to come to The Savoy in those days. It was truly the most famous of all the London hotels.
As soon as someone new started they would be asked to make something which of course made them very nervous because they didn't want to mess up their first day. Little did I know that only very accomplished cooks were allowed to prepare food for the guest. New people were not allowed to until they had learned how to make it in The Savoy.

Anyway, the new fella would be asked to make a dish of some sort and he would proceed to do so hoping no one was watching and that he didn't mess it up. Very nervous indeed. Halfway through the preparation someone would come over and whisper very seriously into his ear "be very careful with that son, it's for the Queen ". This had the desired effect of reducing the person to a nervous wreck and he was was baptised.
This happened to me. The new person from Crumlin cooking for the Queen................. or so I thought, until they started laughing.