Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: The Fourth Doctor, Romana II
Edited by: dr_whuh/buckaroobob
Summary: The Fourth Doctor learns that a kitchen can be comfortably small, that he can be a suitable sous chef with the right master chef in charge, and that he might actually like walnuts.
Author's Note: Written for kerravonsen for the 2014 fandom_stocking effort. Written for kerravonsen for the 2014 fandom_stocking effort. She mentioned liking recipes, and it occurred to me that she might like to see how the Fourth Doctor and Romana would work together culinarily. If you squint, you might see a bit of romance.
Disclaimer: As always, the characters are the sole property of the BBC and their respective creators. I assert no copyright and take no coin, but am grateful that the BBC lets me play in its sandbox.
“So this is where you’ve been, Romana. I shouldn’t have thought to find you here.”
The Doctor looked around the kitchen with what could only be described as distaste, although a close observer might also have descried curiosity and possible unease. “It’s rather uncomfortably warm.”
“That’s because I’m baking. The oven is on, and so is your scarf. And your coat. No wonder you’re uncomfortable,” Romana replied. Her own coat was carefully hung up on a peg next to the kitchen door. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a neat bun, her shirt sleeves were rolled up past her elbows and she had a chef’s apron on that was just a little too large for her. She was, the Doctor thought, altogether adorable, something he would never dare tell her.
Instead, he sniffed, “ I always wear my scarf.”
“No you don’t.” She turned around to a set of glass front cupboards that the Doctor hadn’t recently seen in the kitchen, and retrieved two bowls. Opening a drawer, she brought out a set of measuring spoons and a couple of big wooden spoons.
“Well, I almost always do.”
“That’s truer. But if you’re going to stay here, I’d rather you take it off. I don’t want it to get into the chocolate. And the coat, please.” She pointed at a peg.
“I’m not at all certain that I’m going to stay,” the Time Lord said. “I’m not terribly fond of kitchens — chocolate?”
“Yes. I’m making double-fudge brownies,” Romana said.
“Why on earth are you doing that?” He unwound his scarf, draped it on the peg, then threw his coat over the scarf.
“Because they’re going to be delicious. Here. Put this on.”
It took a moment for the Doctor to put his apron on; Romana had given him the one she should have worn, so of course, it was a bit of a muddle for him to get his curly head through the small yoke, and the straps tied just under his big arms, making him feel a bit awkward. “Romana, I think we should switch aprons.”
“No, thank you, I’m quite comfortable,” she said. “Over there on the counter, the cookbook. Could you bring it over?”
“This is an American cookbook,” the Doctor said, flipping through it. He disapproved.
“Just because they spell atrociously and call tarts pies doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally have excellent taste in baked goods,” she retorted, measuring out three quarters of a cup of flour. Some of it got on her nose, and the Doctor restrained himself from reaching over to wipe it off. Really, quite adorable.
“It’s American, so, no. It’s the smaller one. Or you could say 175 millilitres of flour if you wanted to measure properly.”
“Wait, are we pre-Decimal Day?”
Romana rolled her eyes. “That’s money. This is measurement. Really, you spend so much time in that little country, you ought to know these things.”
“ I do know these things. I just didn’t know when the TARDIS had landed us.”
“Well, we’re not cooking outside the TARDIS, so that shouldn’t matter,” she said quite reasonably. “ I have the flour. Read me the recipe; what else do I have to get?”
“Hmm.” He sat himself down on a kitchen stool and thumbed down the page. “Right; you need four squares of unsweetened chocolate. They should be the one ounce squares. Or 28 grams”
She went back to the cupboard, reached up on her tiptoes, and got the package of baking chocolate. “Next?”
“You need to get three quarters of a cup of butter, three eggs, and one and a half cups of sugar — oh, my, they’ll be very unhealthy brownies, do you really think we ought to eat something so unhealthy?”
“Absolutely. That’s the whole point of chocolate brownies,” she said. “Scoot, I have to get to the fridge.” She edged around him, and he caught a whiff of vanilla.
“Are you wearing a cooking ingredient?”
She looked a bit embarrassed, but continued over to the unsurprisingly capacious cooler. “The vanilla bottle top was sticky, so when I opened it, I got some on my hands.”
“Ah. Well, it smells very nice,” he said. “Vanilla always does, don’t you think? How much should we put into the brownies?”
“You mean 10 millilitres.”
She fought a smile, and largely won, then leaned into the fridge to retrieve the butter and eggs. “We need a half cup each —”
“ — or 125 millilitres —”
“Yes, or 125 millilitres, of semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts.”
“Oh, I don’t think I like walnuts.” He sounded quite doubtful.
Romana stopped in her tracks. “You don’t like walnuts?”
The Doctor wasn’t looking at her, but at the floor. “Well, I can’t be sure. I don’t believe I’ve ever had any.”
“Oh, surely you’ve had Walnut Whips? Or a Cadbury bar?”
“Well, now, as I said, I can’t be sure. You know, my memory gets awfully threadbare sometimes. I do like a good sweetie now and again, particularly the jellies, but I can’t recall whether I like other types of cakes, biscuits, or candies. Or any of their ingredients. I believe it’s because I’m getting old.” For a moment longer, he stared gloomily at the floor.
Just as Romana was beginning to think she would have to shoo him from the kitchen before he made her gloomy, too, the Doctor looked up at her with the manic grin she loved. “ I suppose this is as good a time as any to find out.” He stood up and loomed over her. “Where are the walnuts and the chocolate chips?”
She tilted her head up at him and smiled. “The same cupboard where the chocolate was.”
Now it was his turn to edge past her. “Why is the kitchen so small?”
“ I wouldn’t know. It’s not my TARDIS,” she said.
“ I suppose it’s a good thing we work well together, eh?”
“Mmm,” was her answer.
She went to the stove with the chocolate and butter, pulled a medium-sized pan out of her apron pocket and put both things into it. “It’ll just be a moment while I melt the chocolate and the butter in this little pan. I have to watch it carefully, and keep the heat low.”
He settled back on the stool to watch her. Just before he could get antsy because he wasn’t doing anything, she finished stirring the butter and chocolate together, and took the pan off the heat. “Now it’s your turn.”
“My turn?” His eyebrows rose.
“Here, take this whisk,” she said briskly. It, too, came from her apron pocket. “Now that the chocolate and butter mixture has cooled a bit, I want you to whisk it together with the sugar. Here. Use this bowl.”
“A hand whisk? We could use an electric mixer, you know,” he grumbled, beating at the chocolate and sugar with cheerful ferocity.
“This is a classic recipe,” she said, somewhat orthogonally.
He continued whisking. “Should something else go into this?”
“As it happens, yes,” she said. She grabbed the other bowl, and found yet another whisk, broke the eggs into the bowl and whipped them up until they were satisfactorally frothy. She added the vanilla with a delicate hand.
“Now we’re going to combine what’s in this bowl, with what’s in your bowl,” Romana said, sounding a bit professorial as she proceeded to do just that.
“When do we put in the flour?” the Doctor asked.
“Right now. Be careful, you don’t have to over mix it. Just mix it until the flour disappears into the chocolate. And then we add the chocolate chips and the walnuts.”
“Which I’m quite prepared to like,” he said. “I’ve decided that.”
“Very good,” Romana said. “Oh, do be careful. You’ve gotten batter all over.”
“There’s still enough,” he said, putting one finger into the mix and tasting it experimentally. His eyes lit up. “This is really quite good.”
“It will be even better once it’s cooked. Here’s the pan.”
He eyed it. “Eight inch pan. Or 20 centimetre; it probably doesn’t matter. You greased it!”
“Yes, I did. It’s supposed to be greased.” Romana plucked the bowl of batter from the Doctor’s grasp. “And we pour this into the greased pan, then put the pan into the oven, which, as I said, I’ve already got on.”
“How hot? No, never mind, I see it here in the cookbook. Do we have an American stove, too? If so, it’s 350 degree Fahrenheit. If not, I’d say it’s probably 180 degree Celsius in proper measurement.”
“You just said that it’s all the same, you know,” she said, standing up straighter as she closed the oven door. Her hair had come partially undone, and she pushed it back behind her ears. “Now we wait.”
“ I don’t like waiting at all.”
“Well, you’ll have to. These take 35 to 40 minutes.”
“American minutes or British minutes?”
“Gallifreyan. Which comes to about the same in Earth time, I should imagine. Come here.” She grabbed his hand, her little one cool and comfortable against his larger palm.
“What are we going to do now?”
“We’re going to wash up. A good cook does that, you know; cleans up after herself. Or himself.”
Romana washed up, and the Doctor dried everything and put them away. “Do I put the whisk and the pan back in your apron pocket?” he asked, and was rewarded with a tiny headshake and a purse-lipped “Of course not! Put them in the cupboard with everything else.”
Just then, the oven timer went off.
“Do we eat them now?”
“First I have to check to see that they’re cooked. I have a toothpick here, and I’ll stick it in. We don’t want to overcook them, because that would dry them out and they wouldn’t be properly fudgey, you see, so the toothpick should come out with just a little batter still sticking to it.”
“There’s quite an art to this, isn’t there?”
She nodded. “Oh, yes — and they’re done; hurrah!”
Shortly thereafter, both of them were licking chocolate from the ends of their fingers after having consumed two each of the 25 or so brownies that resulted from their labor.
“You know,” the Doctor said, “This is really quite a delightful little kitchen. We should do this more often.”
“Romana, I do believe you’re a wizard with chocolate.”
She smiled. He smiled back.
Really, she was quite adorable. And he would never tell her so.