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™
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’
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.
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
Type one – Oily
See – Mackerel, Bream, Salmon, Trout, Tuna (fresh)
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Roasting instructions above
- Non covered roast is best with oil on the skin.
- Stuff with lemon, or garlic, thyme
- Salt, pepper, or paprika / chilli on the skin.
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.
- 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.