Tasty Yum Yum

Things to Drink 1: Proper Bovril

(I was really, really, gonna put up the chapter of SelaFane with Hot Lesbo Action in it, but I came down with a cold … and being a shut-in I'd avoided colds for a couple of years, so it hit me like a ton. This got me thinking about stuff to drink thro it.)

Anybody of a certain age, on a cold day, will remember cups of Hot Bovril - or, at at a pinch, OXO cubes in hot water - and for us it's like a rocket back to childhood. And, like many aspects of our childhood, it could so with some distinct improvement. So:

- Cup of Hot Bovril (or Hot OXO) to which you add …

- Big splosh of lemon juice.
- Good big shake of Tabasco
- Grind of black pepper
- A measure of Vodka
- A splosh of dry sherry

And that really perks you up and makes you feel better.

But Dave, I hear you ask, why do you put alcohol in a hot drink? Won't it boil off?


After I've calmed down a little, I respond thus: You are dumb to think alcohol boils off in stuff. Yes, alcohol has a boiling-point of like seventy degrees, but water has a boiling point of a hundred degrees, and all the water doesn't suddenly vanish when you boil it in a kettle.

You are so dumb you might as well be called Mister Dumb, on account of how dumb you are.

And now you're suitably chastised, here's some other hot drinks you can dump alcoholic stuff in:

- Tea with brandy. There's a certain interaction between the grape-based spirit and the tannins that elevate it into something other than yer Irish Coffee stuff.
- Hot milk and Scotch, with a dusting of cinnamon. (I prefer a really nice bourbon, personally, when I want something sweeter than scotch. Also, a sweet brandy like Metaxa goes really well with hot milk.
- Mulled beer. Use a really strong dark beer with any mulled-wine recipe you can think of, and it's all the better for it.

Long story short, there's nothing about the state where you're ejecting crawlingly diseased mucus out of every orifice that isn't several hundred percent better better with a healthy shot of alcohol.

That is all.

Things to Stick on Bread 2: Peanut Butter and Banana

- Take two slices of packaged Granary bread. Lightly toast em.
- Butter em with salted butter.
- Slather on a good thick layer of CRUNCHY peanut butter.
- Then (and this is the clever bit) sprinkle on a good big pinch of Herbs de Provence.

There are, of course, several things you can do with the banana - but if you expect such an obvious gag from me then you little know your man. And you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

- Slice up a banana. Ideally, said banana should be ripe to the point of mushy. Arrange on top of the slices.

At this point, a lesser bunny would be done … but oh no, not you, you're a better bunny than that! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

- Repair to your big frying pan or skillet. Heave in the slices (peanut butter and banana side up, idiot) and briefly fry up the undersides in HOT sunflower oil.
- Decant on plate. Mash the two slices together to make a sammich. Cut in half, and lightly dust with icing sugar.

Then you're done. And you're quite, quite welcome.

Things to Stick on Bread 1: Roquefort and Grape

Good thick slice of crusty Ciabatta or sourdough and add:

- Thin spread of Normandy butter
- Thick spread of Roquefort
- Grind of black pepper
- Sliced, seedless rosé grapes

Made of yum. That is all.

Tasty Yum Yum Recipes 3: Chicken Paprika Surprise Hotpot

Chicken Paprika Surprise Hotpot

You have probably gotten by now that I really, really like paprika. DO YOU GET THAT?

(This works just as well, or even better, with any old bits of cooked chicken you happen to have around, but for the sake of it we'll assume you just bought a pack of raw chicken breasts.)

Start some garlic in a frying pan with olive oil till it's crunchy. Heave in a bunch of sliced chicken breasts and brown. Just before it's done, chuck in some sliced chorizo sausage and give that a bit of a cook. Sprinkle with paprika and decant the whole mess into a casserole dish.

Add a splash of sesame oil to the pan, chuck in some more garlic. Then add, sliced and in order of stir-cooking for a bit, onions, shallots, closed-cup mushrooms, carrots and celery. While you're doing that hone your multitasking skills by sprinkling a very small bunch of basmati/wild rice mix - we're only adding a bit of extra texture - over the chicken in the casserole dish and heaving in a cup or so of chicken stock.

(Entirely optional, but Waitrose do these really nice tins of Bouillabaisse soup for like £1.69 a pop. I like to add one of those, personally, instead of or additional to the chicken stock - but you do what you like, baby. I'm not the boss of you.)

Back to the pan. Drizzle and stir in dashes of Worcester Sauce, Mushroom Ketchup, more paprika and a sprinkle of chives, black pepper. Decant into the casserole, give it all a good stir, add a splash of beer and stick in the oven at something like 180 degrees. Or 160 if you have a fan. I would love to have a fan. I would pet him and squeeze him and call him Fanboy George till he don't move no more.

Then go off and have a quick Sherman in celebration of your singular brilliance, and/or whatever else floats your boat or rocks your socks until the cooking's nearly done.

Now comes the surprise. Boo. I do apologise. I'm so ashamed.

You should have kept the frying pan, with all the lovely, gooey detritus of the activities above. The cooking bits of the above, not the quick Sherman, you horrific pervert. Heave into this some scallops - the ones without roe - and fry them up, adding a bit of beer/stock/water to create a lovely liquor. Just before the hotpot in the casserole's done, dump in the contents of the pan and stir them through, then cook it all for a little bit more.

Whack on plates, stuff into your face with crusty sourdough and Normandy butter. That is all.

Tasty Yum Yum Recipes 2: No-alarm Chilli

Dave's Chilli That, on Reflection, Involves No Alarms Whatsoever

I like stuff that tastes savoury and vaguely spicy, not stuff that tastes hot. Deal with it.

All quantities, when I remember to give em, are for two normal people or one gluttonous porker who should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. Caution: Does not contain beans. I hate beans. I loathe their pasty texture. Beans can fuck right off. Onwards:

Chop three or four cloves of garlic finely. Chop a big onion slightly less finely. Chop a couple of shallots somewhere in between. Get two big flat mushrooms, peel em if you like, take off the stalks and chop them about as fine as you chopped the garlic. Chop the mushrooms themselves about as big as the onions. Bunch of fresh chillies, mild as you like or hot as you can stand, I care not. Seed and chop em as per.

(You can add a finely chopped carrot if you want to bulk it out or you just still feel the need to chop things up. Knock yourself out, Sunny Jim. Who am I to tell you what do do?)

Pan-fry the garlic and the bits of mushroom stalk in olive oil until the garlic, at least, is nice and brown and crunchy. While you're doing this, brown around 250g of lean mince in the largish saucepan in which this godawful mess will ultimately percolate.

When that's done, heave the onions, shallots and chillies into the frying pan, and dump half a tin of chopped tomatoes into the saucepan with the meat. When the onions are softened, heave in the chopped mushrooms, get them coated with oil, and leave it all to fry until generally golden brown.

While that's happening, turn your attention to the trusty saucepan. Crumble in a couple of OXO cubes and add a good belt of nice strong-tasting brown beer - about as much as the water you'd have added if you mixed em up with water. Now heave in a good splash of Worcester Sauce. Now heave in a good splash of Mushroom Ketchup. Now heave in a bunch of paprika, and as much chilli powder as you desire.

Heave in the lovely garlicky, oniony, mushroomy mess from the frying pan. Fling the frying pan at the head of your valet, or major-domo, with stern instructions to give it a good clean. Give everything in the saucepan a good stir while heating till it boils furiously. Clutch your left eye in screaming agony as a gob of something shoots out of the pan and hits it.

Turn the heat down, you fool, so that it bubbles away good-humouredly and whack the lid on. Check every half a minute or so to stir the juices back in. You know you're done when you check and hardly any juices have bubbled to the top.

Now comes the hugely complicated and strenuous bit. Turn off the heat and let the saucepan stand. Ideally, it should stand for hours, overnight, even a day - so if you were planning on serving it to the ravenous horde in the next few minutes then you're fucked, quite frankly. Even so, turn off the heat and leave it to stand for as long as you possibly can. Then, before serving, reheat the mess until it's piping hot, adding a dash of nice, strong-tasting brown beer if it gets too desiccated.

Whack into a couple of bowls. Top with grated, really strong Vintage Cheddar, a sprinkle of parmesan and black pepper and paprika. (You can then stick the bowls under the grill for a bit, if feeling extra swank and poncy and don't mind the burns from forgetting the oven gloves.) Serve with tortilla chips, which you use to scoop it up and stick it in your gob.

That is all.

Tasty Yum Yum Recipes 1: Ragout a la Dijon

One of the many failings of poncy recipes, out of books and whatnot, is that they often do not give the slightest thought to how the man on the street, or the woman on the Clapham omnibus, can make them for themselves. It is in the interest of making some small reparation, for this shocking state of affairs, that we provide the following recipe in this occasional series.

All quantities are for two; all ingredients other than the bleeding obvious to taste. In the interests of safety and hygiene, we recommend that you take the following precautions before commencing:

1) Always wash your hands before starting and after touching raw meat, and likewise the utensils and relevant surfaces that come into contact with it. You can live dangerously, but food-poisoning looms.

2) Get off the street and the Clapham omnibus, you fools. The proper place for cooking is a kitchen.

Ragout a la Dijon

4 Pigs' Kidneys
2 or more large Onions
Largish Closed-cup Mushrooms
Wild Rice/White Rice Mix
Various herbs, condiments and suchlike that we'll mention as we go along, including, of course,
Dijon Mustard
Half a Bottle of Cider

Chuck the kidneys in a saucepan with a couple of bayleaves, mixed herbs, salt and cold water. Heat the pan incredibly slowly, until the water begins to gently bubble and turn over. This gives you time to chop up all the other stuff. Chop the garlic finely rather than crushing, for reasons that'll become obvious. Chop the onions coarsely. Leave the skin on the mushrooms, rinse them and pretty much just split 'em - we're talking good rough peasant food here, however ultimately poncy. Don't forget to rinse the starch and crap out of the rice, or you'll live to regret it. You have been warned.

By now, your gently simmering pan of kidneys should be a nauseating froth of leaked-out fat, blood and vestigial urine. Marvellous. Heave the whole lot down the sink except for the kidneys, which should now be firm, greyish and strangely attractive. Cut the meat of the kidneys off the inedible core in little bite-sized chunks, pretty much the same size as your split mushrooms - you'll recognise the 'inedible core' like a shot, believe you me.

Get out your big cast-iron frying pan or skillet - what do you mean you haven't got one? Okay, use that aluminium thing that looks like it's made out of tinfoil - but whatever you do don't use a wok. We're talking about the entirely other, supposedly unhealthy kind of frying than is done in a wok. Wok fans will have to wait for some other time. Bastards. Start your rice boiling and forget about it. A steamer with a timer's better, and plus you don't have to spend the rest of the evening with the pan scraping off bits of glued-on rice. Why am I wasting my time talking about bloody rice? Everybody knows how to do rice ...

Set your garlic frying until it's crunchy in butter, and olive oil to stop it burning - or just a bit of oil, if your arteries just went clang. Heave in the onions, shallots and bits of kidney, and fry on a moderate to high heat until golden and, well, fried-kidney looking respectively. At this point turn the heat down a little and heave in the mushrooms, turning them to coat them uniformly with the remains of the oil, and then fry them till they're soft and glistening. Yum.

Now comes the fun bit. Turn the heat down a bit more, chuck in the half a bottle of cider. Crumble in a stock cube, mixed herbs, Cajun seasoning and a couple more bayleaves, stir everything through and leave to bubble for a while. Go and read a book or something. I recommend one of mine.

After it's reduced a bit, stir in a couple of teaspoons of Dijon. You can add a bit of cream if you like, but I can never stop the bastard from separating, myself. Reduce it gently until its rich and messy. (Keep tasting the sauce and - if all else fails and it still tastes ghastly - add a half-teaspoon of sugar. Nobody tastes it but it triggers pleasure-receptors and lets 'em at least choke it down.) Fish out the bay leaves, slap it all down on plates on top of the rice and you're done.

Serve it with glasses of the same kind of cider you used in the cooking - and, incidentally, never, ever cook with anything you're not willing to drink. Finish the meal with white ice-cream and calvados - and make damned sure nobody gets so much as a taste of it till they've cleaned their plates.

For the morning after, incidentally: Stick the left-over rice in a covered bowl and leave it in the fridge for kedgeree. The traditional English breakfast is, of course kedgeree, lamb's kidneys and a flagon of small ale, but, bearing in mind what was eaten the night before, if you want to try it then you're on your own.