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


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.


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:


  • 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.
  • Flavours:
    • 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.

Meet The Maker series: Mark interviews Alexandre Gabriel from Cognac Ferrand, Citadelle Gin & Plantation Rum

“Taste, with the capital letters … It’s not drinking to get drunk, it’s not drinking to look cool. It’s drinking for pleasure.”

Mark speaks to Alexandre Gabriel, President of Cognac Ferrand (creator of Citadelle Gin and Plantation Rum) about life, drinks and everything in between.

“You can rebuild the world with a bottle of rum until 2 in the morning … ”

Filmed at London’s Oxo Tower by the fantastic Alex Blogg

New Event Announcement – Worldwide wine tasting (a journey through the world’s unexpected wine regions)

A SPECIAL Drinks Galore event in support of the 70 TechBikers, cycling 200miles Paris to London for Room to Read, you are invited to taste some fine wine, and hear an incredible story – all proceeds go to charity.   

Find out more and book tickets here

For 18 months Fearghal left everything he knew behind and cycled the globe – over 30,000km through some of the highest, driest, remotest, wettest, poorest and hottest places on earth. In doing so became one of the first Irishmen to circumnavigate the globe by bike.

Mile after mile what kept him going was a thirst for adventure, and a thirst for new wine. Using his years of wine tasting experience as a base, he experienced new countries and ever changing terroirs, but in each he found wine, and not just any wine … great wine.

Ferg will introduce us to this wine, and take us on a journey in and around the regions he passed through while we taste. All you need is you, we’ll provide the rest. And remember, each ticket helps Room to Read build more libraries and schools in the developing world