Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kitchen Confidential (or thrills, spills and lentils)


You already know about my unhealthy obsession with Come Dine With Me and food in general. I have also said I'd never do the programme because no one comes out of it looking anything other than grasping and desperate or incompetent and clueless. I have no idea what I'd cook and while I enjoy cooking I don't think I'm especially skilled at it. I also fear a disaster in the kitchen which once on tape would haunt me forever.

True I do sit around thinking about what I'm going to eat next or even tomorrow. If I have a random ingredient to use up I spend a ridiculous amount of time trawling the internet and poring over my cookbooks to find a suitable recipe. Usually I find one that requires yet more ingredients so I end up with even more in the cupboard which I'll need to use up at a later date. This is why I make banana cake so often - we buy a lot of bananas and if they go a bit soft or spotty I won't eat them. The plus side is I don't like cooked bananas so Hubbie and our friend Jan are the main beneficiaries of my baking prowess, so I don't end up piling on the pounds and I appear altruistic.

When Hubbie cooks a special meal for me he will find a recipe that requires at least 12 ingredients (only 4 of which I have in) and I end up with bottles of rose essence, mustard seeds, desiccated coconut and curry leaves to use at a later date. The meal is always delicious and far more inventive than anything I would try, but then it is an annual effort so he does go to town a bit.

Of course cooking almost every day means there will be occasional mishaps and some of them are so bad they put you off that foodstuff for life.

Here - in no particular order - are some of the many disasters I have had in my years of cooking:

1. While rushing around in the world's smallest kitchen preparing food I dropped an entire bowl of homemade potato salad on the floor before a picnic with friends. Only one of them witnessed it and she is no longer in the circle so can't tell anyone when they might have tasted floor food.

2. The options were to steam for 30 minutes or to zap in the microwave for 10 minutes so for ease I did that latter and this meant we had an exploding rice filled lotus leaf with our beautifully marinated and steamed fish.

3. During an experimental phase with fruit and curry I made an ill-judged decision to put grapefruit in chicken curry. To quote Ross and Monica's dad Jack Geller, "it was not good."

4. In an attempt to use up a box of mangos left by my Dad for my son (which he didn't like) I decided to make my own sorbet / ice cream. I managed to do the stirring every few hours bit for most of the day then forgot and left it overnight. Lets just say it needs to be taken out of the freezer a few hours before eating in order to break into it - yes it is a bit too frozen.

5. I had a pot of quark that I had used about one spoonful of and needed to finish so I had the genius idea to make mushroom pate with it instead of greek yoghurt. The taste was pretty good, but it was quite sloppy. Of course my guests were far too polite to comment on the runniness of the starter.

And the ones that I got away with:

When working in the staff kitchen in Sainsburys I managed to seriously burn the sponge pudding so I poured some lemon icing over it and was astounded at the compliments I got for my "treacly citrus pudding." 

I found a load of seeds and nuts that I'd bought while pregnant and not finished so I adapted my usual cookie recipe to include them. The results were not to my taste, but by all accounts they were a hit with Hubbie's work colleagues. 

Only today I halved the quantities in a recipe for cookies, but a miscalculation meant I added double coconut into the mix. We have yet to find out what the consequences of this error are as the mix won't be cooked until it's been in the fridge overnight. 

Fingers crossed it won't be so bad it'll go into the first list !

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