Keeping things straight in the kitchen.

Eat Something | November 01 2013

“Coming down, I’ve got three New Yorks, one mid, one mid-rare, one mid-well, three bakers, one Cordon and a Hunter Schnitzel! Then let’s go on those two mids I called, like, ten damn minutes ago! I also want two squeezers, go on table 12.”
Get all that? Easy, eh? Now imagine you’re six hours into your ten hour shift, your feet hurt, you have burns on the tips of your fingers, and you’re pretty sure the Chef is, at any moment, going to come unglued on you for something you’re not even sure is your fault. Then you hear “Okay! Table 10! Two Cordons, one no sauce, salmon with rice, one Rib Eye. Oh my god! Well f***in’ done! And give me those squeezers for 12 before I do something we will both regret!” That’s a pretty typical two minutes in a busy kitchen. So obviously memory is pretty important to a cook and even with the many, many brainaltering
transgressions of my youth, I am still able to keep most of my orders in my head and execute them perfectly. With the penalty of having a frying pan tossed at your face, or worse, you learn very quickly that remembering orders is critical to survival in the kitchen.

Taste…mmmm. Season, salt? pepper? Then the secret ingredient… Yeah, right…almost had me there, eh? Secrets are just that, at least in the world of Chefs.

Then there are the recipes that we need to learn. By the time I graduated cooking school, I had in what was left of my memory banks about 30 different consommé garnishes. Yes, garnishes for consommé.
Why we needed to know that sliced crepes floating in a clear soup even exists, or that there is a name for
it, I will never know. Then the sauces; oh the sauces. Hundreds of different sauces, all in French. I left
wondering how long until I would forget probably 60% of the sauces I learned about, studied, and ultimately memorized, just in case they were on the test. Turns out it took about as long as it took me to kill my second beer at the pub where I drank with the guys I had just graduated with. Over the years I’ve spent in restaurants I’ve developed a few recipes of my own and in this issue I’d like to share my recipe for creamy mushroom soup. First, peel mushrooms. (Or wash them, although I prefer to peel them…they grow in cow s**t after all.) You’re going to need a whack of them (a whack is a bit more than a bunch, but less
than a load) to make enough soup for a good lunch. Now get a brick of butter and fire it into your soup
pot (definition of “fire it in”; standing at the appropriate distance to avoid it landing on the floor).
Put the pot on a medium low fire and start mincing an onion while the butter is melting. If you suck at cutting onions, then do it ahead of time so you have time to recover. Fire the onions onto the butter and stir a bit. Chop up the mushrooms while listening to Slayer. Metallica works too, but Slayer is recommended. Now fire the ‘shrooms on the onions. Stir, season; salt pepper. Get a jug of milk (4L)
combined with 1 litre of 35% cream. Put on medium high heat. Stir mushrooms and onions. Smell…mmmm. Add some sliced up garlic (some is enough to keep the vamps away but not enough to intimidate your girl / boy
friend). Stir the cream / milk so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. Go do something else. I don’t care what; something. Now the ‘shrooms, onion, garlic, and butter are all cooked together, turn up the heat a bit and stir. Soon you will see some brown stuff on the bottom of the pot. That is good. Now dump in some white wine and scrape up the brown stuff with your spoon (the technical term for this ‘stuff’ is Fond, but no one will remember that one). Turn the heat down a bit and go grab a coffee.
When the wine has reduced to kind of syrupy, dump in about a cup or so of flour and cook it a bit, stirring with your whisk. Now, with the whisk in one hand, slowly pour in your hot milk / cream and start whisking. Turn the heat up a bit, smell…mmmm. Drink coffee…mmmm. Whisk till it’s combined, then just whisk it once in a while. As it approaches the boiling point it will thicken and will require attention so that it doesn’t stick to the pot and burn on the bottom. Once you see bubbles coming up, turn it down
and stick your immersion blender in and give it a good blending.
Taste…mmmm. Season, salt? pepper? Then the secret ingredient… Yeah, right…almost had me there, eh? Secrets are just that, at least in the world of Chefs.

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