Mudcat Café message #3977868 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165215   Message #3977868
Posted By: Steve Shaw
19-Feb-19 - 07:47 PM
Thread Name: BS: Recipes - what are we eating?
Subject: RE: BS: Recipes - what are we eating?
No-one ever taught me to cook anything. My countless mistakes have been visited on my poor family for decades, but by now almost everything I cook goes down well. I've learned a few golden rules:

Keep it simple. Recipes with twenty ingredients are designed to compensate for shortcomings, not for ingredients to complement each other, and every extra ingredient increases the risk of failure.

Don't be a slave to a recipe. If it says fennel seeds or coriander, and you don't like them, just leave them out. My guacamole is famous, but it has parsley instead of coriander. My idea!

Timings in cookery books are generally useless. Boil potatoes for fifteen minutes until soft my arse. I won't mash glue. I never time meat. So many minutes per pound and so many over? Recipe for disaster. A big chicken two hours, slathered in butter, all but the last half-hour under foil. An average turkey, three hours. Shoulder of lamb, whack it in the oven as is after breakfast at 110C and forget it until five o'clock. Pot roasts the same, maybe for not quite as long, though ox cheeks can take way over four hours. Never had ox cheeks? Loser! Braised steaks two and a half hours. Shoulder of pork with crackling, as with lamb but give it a very hot blast at the very start and the very end.
And never buy little joints. Waste of time and they don't cook nice.

Use the very best ingredients you can find. Insipid chemical golfball tomatoes do not a decent tomato sauce make. In fact, even Italians use canned tomatoes, even in summer. I once read somewhere that the most expensive rice you can find is still cheap. It's true. And a half-teaspoon of sugar in any tomato dish absolutely transforms it. Cheap chicken is not worth eating and it's cruel.

A tiny splash of Tabasco improves almost everything.

Never mince garlic. It turns a lovely, mellow ingredient into a harsh near-poison. I never want to think that if I eat this I'll be breathing out garlic for two days, and I do use a lot of garlic.

Simple Italian pasta sauces are ruined if onion is incorporated. Meaty ragus are the exception.

Strong herby flavours in a dish mean that you have failed. I love rosemary and sage (fresh, not dried) but they can be hooligans if overused. I don't understand anyone who puts mint in peas, though fresh baby mint leaves sprinkled on pea purée on crostini (with roasted garlic, butter and Parmesan as well as the peas) are fabulous. Dried oregano in a beefy tomato dish is super, but if I find a pot of dried basil in your cupboard that's the last time I eat at your house.

I enjoy cooking, especially if have have a large glass of white wine on the go, and as long as I can listen to The Archers and everyone keeps out of the kitchen.

If you have tuna in spring water, throw it in the bin unopened. Don't serve pink salmon to your guests. Don't buy olive oil that isn't extra virgin. It's bullshit that you can't cook with extra virgin. Buy something bog standard such as Napolina extra virgin for cooking but don't heat it too much. Buy a nice Italian estate oil for sprinkling on your pizza (do that in order to not be wrong), for salad dressing and for drizzling on your pasta dish or tostada. If you need to get oil very hot, for home-made oven chips for example, use groundnut oil.

And in less than ten minutes you can have a fish finger or bacon butty that, when you feel peckish and a bit miserable, outstrips by way of huge enjoyment any Michelin-starred poncy recipe.

I'm ducking now...