Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kitchen Person


Do you cook? Do you like to cook? Are you any good?

Watching a lot of Masterchef recently, I'm always amazed when they come up with something really interesting from the pile of random ingredients they're given for the initial invention test. Sometimes of course it's a disaaster, other times it's truly amazing. I just know that as good a cook as I am, I couldn't do this.

If someone stuck me in front of chicken liver, marjoram, oizo pasta, cherry tomatoes, maple syrup and Blu-tack and asked me to come up with something I'd be stumped. Given time, I'm sure I could whip up something amazing, but not just like that. I think I'd go into freefall. Liver in a Blu-tack sauce. Mmmm!

About 15 years ago, Mrs F-C, me, and my then sister-in-law who ran off to become a lesbian (long story), did a cordon bleu cookery course.

It was all hugely competitive. Mrs F-C missed some sessions due to travelling, my sister-in-law got bored and fizzled out after a few weeks, but I stayed the course. It didn't take long to settle into it. Once you can follow a recipe and get your timings right, it's really no problem at all.

The teacher loved me, and week after week held up my veloute sauce or my chicken a la king as a shining example of how it should be done. Mrs F-C was furious. The guy who arrived on his moped with everything beautifully packed up, cooked really quickly then packed it all away again perfectly, blanked me the entire course. We were still there draining the cooking wine and haphazardly washing up long after the lesson had ended.

Anyhoo, I didn't go back for part two because it involved finding muslin and buying fresh fish, etc., and there was no way that could be sourced on the isle of Dogs on a weekday back then. Canary Wharf was but a pile of bricks.

Now, I enjoy cooking and I'm confident enough about it. It's a question of being bothered, but if you can, it's all rather satisfying. That said, there's no way I'm going on Masterchef like my pal GKW. He's good. He eats goat and squirrel. I draw the line.

So what's your signature dish?

12 comments:

Helen said...

My signature dish is a Spanish Liver Casserole (handed down to me from an ancient 'Aunt' in the seventies, you know one of those Aunts that's not really one, but you called all your parents friends Aunty or Uncle). Anyway, it's delicious ... if only I could persuade anyone else to eat it with me!

A Kitten in a Brandy Glass said...

I can cook, and about ten years ago I went through a phase of being quite ambitious in the kitchen (making my own mayonnaise, pickling stuff, making jam, etc.) but I had housemates at the time, and they were always an appreciative audience. Now I've become much lazier and rarely cook anything that takes longer than 15 minutes.

This is my signature dish, however, and is generally what I make for guests, unless they are strange people who don't like aubergines.

Ishouldbeworking said...

I took over all the cooking from my Mum when I was fifteen as she was so bad at it, and I've been cooking ever since. Puddings are a passion, and my signature pudding is my collapsed chocolate souffle with raspberry sauce and amaretto cream. In my fantasies I hear Greg Wallace saying "I get the melting richness of the chocolate, the tang of the raspberries, and the slightly acid sweetness of the amaretto cream. This is a superb pudding."

*sighs*

LF Barfe said...

If I have a signature dish, it's making wholemeal base pizza from scratch, but my main signature is being able to make an acceptable dinner out of pretty much anything. Ideally, an onion and a tin of tomatoes will be available, then we're in business. Helen, I'd love to try your Spanish liver casserole. People who get sniffy about offal are missing out on fantastic cheap tasty food.

As for making mayonnaise, etc, I'll go through the rigmarole of anything if my results are better, but in that case, I defer to Hellmann's.

LF Barfe said...

On the subject of aubergines, I once offered to make moussaka for a guest. He said "Great". On his way through the kitchen, he said "Easy on the aubergines for me". I replied that aubergines were a large part of moussaka and that he should have said he didn't like them at the start. We're still friends and he ate what I gave him.

Graham Kibble-White said...

I made chicken, mash - and here was the killer - bearnaise sauce for John and Gregg in the invention test. John was excited by my ambition, Gregg wanted to know: "Is it going to be golden, Graham?".

When I presented to the duo at the end, John said my sauce was a bit eggy.

It was a journos-only affair, and thus never to be televised, but they did say they would have put me through to round two (the professional kitchen) had it all been for real.

Later on, the MasterChef PR sent me a copy of John's book on beef. Inside, a dedication from the man himself, pointing me to the page with his bearnaise recipe on it.

I'm interviewing them again on Monday.

Graham Kibble-White said...

I made chicken, mash - and here was the killer - bearnaise sauce for John and Gregg in the invention test. John was excited by my ambition, Gregg wanted to know: "Is it going to be golden, Graham?".

When I presented to the duo at the end, John said my sauce was a bit eggy.

It was a journos-only affair, and thus never to be televised, but they did say they would have put me through to round two (the professional kitchen) had it all been for real.

Later on, the MasterChef PR sent me a copy of John's book on beef. Inside, a dedication from the man himself, pointing me to the page with his bearnaise recipe on it.

I'm interviewing them again on Monday.

TimT said...

A colleague of mine was on the last series of Masterchef - he had to get through an interview and a cookery audition to make it to the televised stages.

Unfortunately he got one crucial piece of timing wrong and was roundly humiliated by Greg and John before being ejected at the first opportunity. I suspect it's marked him for life.

Five-Centres said...

I couldn't stand the rejection, but Hels, that liver casserole sounds marvellous. I'm offally fond of liver.

Helen said...

Here goes then:
Aunty Freda's Spanish Casserole
1/2 lb pig's liver, 2 oz lard, 6 cooking apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly), 1 tin Campbells condensed tomato soup, 1 sliced tomato, 1 lb plain seasoned flour, 1 large onion sliced, seasoning.

Cut the liver into cubes and toss in seasoned flour until well coated. Melt the lard in frying pan, add the sliced onion and the liver and lightly fry, turning the liver until all the edges sealed.
Transfer both into casserole dish.
Add the thinly sliced apples, covering the liver and onions. Put the sliced tomato on top and then pour and spread over the tomato soup all over. Cover the casserole with the lide and place in pre-heated oven at about 190 for 1 1/4 hours.
Sorry about the imperial measurements but it's from the 70s. Also, tastes even better when re-heated.

Five-Centres said...

Liver, lard, tinned soup. I can quite see why it's no everyone's cup of tea, but I trust you that it's nice. I might embark on it.

Helen said...

I did think that as I was typing it out, but trust me, it's lovely and so cheap to make. I have also made it with pork for the rest of the family.

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