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Sunday, 24 April 2011

A Boy Named Sous - Chef

 You know what it's like. You come in from work; the commute home's been a bugger, the day at the office couldn't have been worse, and on top of it all the missus has gone on strike. Well, who can blame her? For the last how many years you two have been married she's been magicking up meals for you, the pets, ramdom friends you've brought home and her mother in law (that's your mum). Does she get any thanks or recognition? The Hell she does.

Not surprisingly she's had it up to here, and she greets you with a pinny, cookbook and an ultimatum. For once in your miserable existence you're to cook supper.

I'm not sure how you would score this in terms of domestic disasters in your household, but I guessing in many it could be a deal breaker. After all who is it that puts the cat out at night, fills the car with petrol, washes it and takes it to the garage for the "let's hope it's not too expensive this time" service?

It is the man about the house who does all this. As well as pushing the shopping trolley behind the missus in Tesco's, or sitting patiently in the car, after the last time you "helped" you ended up having a flaming row at the check out about that bottle of scotch you sneaked into the trolley when she was deciding on what tasteless cereal would best get you out of the house and out of her hair in the mornings.

Oh, I forgot to mention putting the rubbish out, usually the day after the dustmen have called. But still you do your share and what thanks do you get? Zilch, Zero, a round, fat O.

And now you're expected to prepare and cook the supper.

It's not for nothing you're employed as chief strategist at Wallbent, Wallball and Wallbark, specialising in off world strategies, and the razor edge brain, and incisive wit that earns you enough to pay the interest on your wife's credit card shifts into top gear. A quick call to the local pizza parlour or Indian take away will sort this out; and along with the promise of a long weekend away, after the local football derby you can't miss, will have the little woman back where she belongs - in the kitchen.

Unfortunately the cordless phone is ripped from your hand as you're about to place an order for two Vegetarian pizzas with extra chilli, olives, capers, anchovy (not meat) and  mozzarella, with a side helping of garlic bread and large Coke. The desperate and, if she'd accepted, financially ruinous offer of a romantic meal for two at the new French restaurant in the High Street is turned aside with scowl and you find yourself confronted by a pile of potatoes, some onions, garlic and vegetable stock. Apparently that's all that's in the house since you decided to take your mates to the golf club in  the car on her shopping day.

Your beloved and, until recently, domestic goddess leaves you to contemplate the ruins of your life.

It is at this point that I, your fairy godfather, appears ready and able to restore domestic bliss to your shattered household with my new recipe book "Meals Men can Manage to Make and not Mess Up (Easily)".

Potato and Onion Bake

This is simplicity itself, requiring no advanced cooking skills like using the oven, setting the thermostat to the right temperature, that sort of thing. It is all cooked in one large pan on the hob. Think indoor BBQ, without the smoke and smell of paraffin.

You'll need a few largish potatoes, a couple of medium sized onions, some garlic, fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano), butter, olive oil and salt and pepper, and vegetable stock. (I know, it's quite a lot to get your head around, but it'll be OK. Trust me.). Oh and a knife - a sharp one!

Right, we have our large pan (skillet), into which you pour a generous helping of olive oil (the stuff your mum used to pour warmed up into your ears). Slice the potatoes and onions thinly, finely chop up the garlic, and herbs  and lick the snick you managed to inflict on your finger.

First, a layer of sliced potato goes in lining the pan, then a layer of sliced onion on top of the potato, topped with the chopped garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and some of the 'erbs you chopped, a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat until you've used all the ingredients (Think program loop on a Sinclair ZX80).

Now gently pour in the vegetable stock and  turn on the hob  to a moderate heat. Cover the pan with a lid - if it fits so much the better and pour yourself a congratulatory glass of wine. You're on your way to getting you life back.

Whilst this bake is delicious on its own, some do complain that it's just potato and onions, with a bit of flavouring. They expect to see some colour added  - green is the default here.

Whilst the concoction is bubbling away contentedly, hunt down some broccoli or similarly greenish veg, bring a small saucepan of water to boil and plunge the green stuff in for about five minutes. You could add another veg, green or another colour, but I don't recommend it at this early learning stage because of timing issues. One veg is cooked to death, the other gives a new meaning to "al dente". 

And there you have it. Served up tidily on a plate, with the veg, a paper kitchen towel, knife and fork and a glass of wine, this will win the heart of a lady, and with any luck, your wife as well.

 

4 comments:

Steve said...

I'm storing this one away for future reference. Forget "Dear Deirdre" - you da man!

Marginalia said...

Dear Steve, thank you. I can confirm it is a wife pleaser.

Other helpful recipes can be found in my other volume, unfortunately out of print, but available in any good charity shop,"Men,Mothers and Mascarpone - a guide to Italian cuisine."

...louciao... said...

I turned over the cooking duties to my husband and he took them on with relish! Not to imply that he only cooks hot dogs.

I'll be sure to keep an eye peeled for your Italian cookery book. I think I have its companion, "Mama Mia's Meatballs: An Italian Mother Reminisces About Raising Her Sons."

Marginalia said...

Dear louciao, you must be of Italian stock with your name ending.

I find tomato relish a favourite with my wife.