"Oh, Im just a pastry chef." I reply.
"Wow.....thats so fancy" he exudes, and my day is made.
This tiny comment lifted my spirits so high. Obviously the poor boy has NEVER worked in a kitchen before. The only thing fancy about any restaurant or cafe I have ever worked in has been the front of house. Back of house however, you are working long hours, with a huge list of things to do, and never enough time. I remember the first time at the age of sixteen when I did a shift in a kitchen and I blushed the whole day at the language used by the men. Let me tell you know......none of it was "fancy."
Sometimes it is wonderful though......cooking cakes for a living. It does get very exhausting though. Now that the cold weather has settled in I have been very tempted to head right home after work and curl up in bed with a glass of wine and watch some shows. Its such an easy habit to fall into, and before you know it you're in full blown hibernation mode. This at times is lovely, but Im trying to avoid it as much as possible....and the winter blues that come along with it. So lately I've been making a conscious effort to do a few creative or inspiring things when I finnish work for the day.
Yesterday I headed to the Victoria Markets after my shift, in search of some treats. I walked in just as the market was about to close and it was chaos. Everyone was trying to sell the last of their goods before they packed up for the night. I ran around from stall to stall buying prawns, mussels, tomatoes, bread and herbs and then left the craziness behind. My head was still ringing with the calls of "Everything 50 cents" which had inspired me to buy more baby carrots than I could possibly get through (who can pass us 50 cents a bunch?)
When I got home I cooked up a huge pot of seafood soup for my housemate and I. We sat huddled up in winter jumpers and scarfs and chatted about our day while we ate our feast. It was wonderful. I'll share the recipe with you....and I hope it chases away some of your winter blues too.
You will need:
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Half an eggplant
- chilli paste to taste
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 jar of tomato pasta sauce (if you have made your own I take my hat off too you)
- 5 cups stock (fish) or water
- 200g uncooked peeled prawns
- 200g of sliced calamari
- 1kg of mussels (debearded.....thats totally not a word, but it should be.)
- Half a bunch of parsley
- Half a bunch of fennel
- Half a bunch of basil
- Olive oil
What to do:
1. Slice onion and crush garlic. Fry gently in a pot on a low heat until translucent.
2. Dice the eggplant and tomatoes into small pieces and add to the pot.
3. Add chilli paste....this is such a personal thing I dont really want to tell you how much to use. I have this brilliant Peruvian Chilli paste that a boy from Peru gave me and I add it to everything, but just use whatever you have or normally buy and add a little. If its not hot enough you can always add more later.
4. Add pasta sauce and stir. Let the eggplant cook down a little.
5. Add stock and let simmer for half an hour.
6. In a food processor, process together all the herbs along with some olive oil (and possibly a little water if its dry) to make a paste. Stir half the paste through the soup....taste. Add more accordingly.
7. In a small frypan, fry the prawns in some olive oil until nearly cooked. Add to the soup.
8. Add mussels and calamari to the soup and bring to the boil with the lid on.
9. The soup will be ready when the mussels have all opened.
10. Remove the soup from the heat and stir through some fresh basil.
11. Serve with bread......and dont eat any of the mussels that didnt open....