The cooking guide for drinks lovers

I’m a 36 year old man and I can’t cook. It’s pathetic.  I can make cocktails and this, plus the kindness of long suffering friends, girlfriends and wives, has allowed me to go through life without dying of hunger.

But times have changed.  I asked my friend and colleague Toby to help me. He wrote the following cooking guide for the drinks lover – all his words, in his style. 

And it worked. I am now cooking! 

The Two Page Mark Cooking Guide™

The Oven

It’s only got one setting that matters, it’s the one with the fan the makes it get hot. Anything with pigeon spikes is a distraction.

Yes, the top shelf is hotter. No, it doesn’t matter.

  • 230 degrees == Nice and hot. Beginning of a roast.
  • 180 degrees == General Hot cooking temperature for all of the things
  • 130 – 150 == The rest of a roast, general slow cooking. ‘forget about it cooking’

The Hob

You know this one. It’s mostly used for bacon, but many things have a home on the hob.

If you’re reading instructions that say anything other than ‘fry + adjective’ – look here:

  • Sweat = annoy the food with heat, like enough to make Alex send you passive aggressive messages, but not enough to take his headphones off. Stir like a Treacle (cocktail).
  • Saute = Really annoy food with a lot of heat, but stir like a Negroni until it gets used to it.
  • Brown = Make it hurt like it’s nicked your whisky, but not for long. Probably going somewhere else.

The Basics

THE ROAST

King of all things.

General principle the works for everything:

  • Put in roasting vessel.
  • 230 degrees for 15-30 minutes, until it looks very pissed off.
  • 130 – 150 degrees for a hour or so. Just google time vs weight.
  • 10 minutes resting out of the oven, or that bloody annoying time your not supposed to attack it.

Alternative for chicken:

  • Put in deep-ish vessel on top of a load of veg (onion, garlic carrots, sweet potato, whatevs) and some herbs if you feel like it.
  • Add wine / dry vermouth / water to it, just enough to cover the bottom, of the tin.
  • Wrap it in tinfoil like a boomerang in a glass. No escape!
  • Stick in oven at 180.
  • Forget about it. Netflix time.
  • Remember it at least 4 Old Fashioneds later, more if it’s a big chicken.
  • Mix yourself a drink.
  • Remove foil. Burn yourself and swear.
  • Extract meat and veg
  • FEAST.

FISH

Type one – Oily

See – Mackerel, Bream, Salmon, Trout, Tuna (fresh)

Cooking instructions:

  • Mostly frying or sticking in the oven at a fairly high heat (it’s up to you if you do the tin foil boomerang cover, depending if you want ‘crispy’, but there is a risk of dry fish).
  • A note on prawns – these little dudes basically need to get hot all the way through. Add them to everything. Wine, garlic. Yum. Shells on = more flavour, more mess.

Type two – Not oily

See – Cod, Haddock, all that lot. These are overpriced, go for pollack / coley / whiting.

Cooking instructions:

  • Slower cooking, usually with liquid (wine, or milk / coconut milk). ^ These generally hold together quite well and aren’t much drama. Good for curries.

Actual things to cook:

LAMB:

  • The roast ^ instructions are above.
    • Shoulder or leg are the best cuts, because they’re fatty
    • Add garlic, thyme, anchovies (just make a stabby hole with a knife and stuff them in). Olive oil the surface.
    • You can also do the boomerang cover trick.
  • Lamb in sauce
    • Neck, shoulder, random bits
    • Slow cook.
  • Frying lamb – need expensive cuts like chops, apart from that, crack on.

Chicken

  • Roasting instructions above
    • Non covered roast is best with oil on the skin.
  • Flavours:
    • Stuff with lemon, or garlic, thyme
    • Salt, pepper, or paprika / chilli on the skin.

Curries

Hmm. More involved. The key is finding a good recipe book. Most curries follow this pattern:

  • Chop lots of stuff
  • Grind some spices
  • Make a paste
  • Gently fry the paste (this cooks the onions, they’re ever present)
  • Add liquid
  • Cook until done.

Shortcuts:

  • Coconut milk is your best friend in the world. Always have some in stock
  • Thai Taste do good pastes (supermarket). That is literally 10 minutes – Paste plus heat (bit of oil) then meat / veg… mix Negroni… add coconut milk. Drink Negroni. Poke occasionally.

Good Recipe People (google stuff)

  • Nigel Slater (everything) – great writer
  • Yottam Ottolenghi (some odd ingredients, but genius veggie stuff)
  • ‘Moro’ cookbook (Sam & Sam Clark)
  • Rick Stein – bit finicky
  • Jamie Oliver – his best is Jamie’s Italy IMHO
  • Hugh Fearlessly Eats it all – if you need to know about meet.

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