"So What Sort of Thigs Do you Cook?"

Tuesday 16/8/2005

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Diary and Notes

I have decided, after some consultation and deliberation, that what I need is a 'signature dish'. This realisation came about because of two things: Firstly, I was reading the prospectus of Manchester City College (where I shall be taking an art course in September) and they were advertising their cookery school using the signature dish of their top student from last year - a dish that was in almost every respect an ordinary beef stew with some beer added, so I wont be doing a cookery course there I think - but the main reason for wanting a dish to call my own is that when I tell people I enjoy cooking (and the response I am talking about almost invariably comes from women) they always ask the question "So what sort of things do you cook?" as though, being a man, I am only allowed to know how to cook three things in total.

It's along the lines of that really irritating and always impossible to answer question "So what sort of music do you like?" as though you are only allowed a limited few things to listen to.

So in response to women asking me what sort of things I cook, I have decided that I shall choose a signature dish from my Nosh-Blog hundreds at the end of the year. I shall make it over and over again to perfect it to the point at which it could win three Michelin Stars and call that my signature dish - and today's dinner will certainly be in the running.

Yes, after yesterday's ennui, today's dinner was a true masterpiece. It had everything; it was exceedingly delicious, it looked great, was completely original and had that slightly unusual aura which sets some dishes above others in the interest stakes. Yes my chumly dudes, this was quite something else.

I'm not saying it was the best dinner on my blog, possibly not by a long way. I do think as the sort of dish you'd cook for a St. Valentine's dinner or a late night seduction this would be hard to beat (as long as she's not a vegetarian of course - but then who wants to seduce a pasty, thin, slightly sickly, weak and underweight eco-fascist anyway?). So this may be in the running for my signature dish - and the next time a young lady asks me what sort of things I cook, I will have a response ready prepared.


A note on other peoples' signature dishes which may explain exactly why women always ask "So what sort of things do you cook?" when what I really want them to say is "Ooh, you must be very good with your hands and I love creative men who know how to butcher a chicken" Before ripping off their clothes...

I asked around to see what other people said was 'their dish'. Most men I asked claim their signature dish is either spaghetti bolgonese, made with a jar of Ragu or Dolmio, or chilli con carne using a packet seasoning (but I should add that every single one of the six or so said something along the lines of "But I add a little bit of extra xxxxxx", or "Mine's better than everybody else's because I xxxxxx the xxxxxx first" and then beamed with pride at his unparalleled ingenuity and skill). All of the women I asked (four) said their signature dish was a Sunday roast - thus confirming that no matter how society has moved on, any British woman who cannot cook a roast dinner to perfection must hold her womanhood cheap in this proud isle of ours.

Cake Blog

Knickerbocker Glory Sundae: From Sainsbury's. I have been wondering of late where to word sundae comes from. Is it Sunday misspelt? (These sorts of things worry me and keep me awake at nights). For those who are also interested in this oddity I checked the OED which says that the first recorded incidence of the word sundae was in 1897 in W.H.Bonham's modern guide for soda dispensers. In 1904 the New York Times gives a recipe for a sundi and also in 1904 the Minneapolis Times suggests adding a little sundae to some lemonade during the hot spell. The OED also suggests it is a misspelling of Sunday - come about because ice cream sellers would dress up left over Sunday ice cream on Mondays to ensure it sold - or that it was normally only sold on Sundays to get around some archaic religious legislation or even that the name is spelt sundae so as not to upset religious folk who would object to it being called a Sunday as that's a holy day. Well, everything is cleared up nicely there don't you think?


  • Marmalade Lamb Shanks
  • Potato and Celeriac Mash (1/3 celeriac, 2/3 potato, butter and pepper)
  • Spinach (steamed very quickly with a drop of olive oil)


    Marmalade Lamb Shanks
    2 Lamb Shanks
    1 tsp Olive Oil
    1 Orange
    1 Lime
    200 ml Orange Juice
    200 ml Light Chicken Stock
    4 Cloves
    3 Bay Leaves
    1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns
    1 Tbsp Roses Lime Marmalade


  • Brown the lamb shanks in a little olive oil all over - make sure they get a really good browning. Add the cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves and allow these to infuse the oil for a few minutes then pour in the orange juice and chicken stock. Remove the zest from the orange and lime and add to the pan (reserving a little for garnish which should be steeped in hot water to plump and soften them). Slice off a little orange and lime also for garnish and squirt the rest of the juice into the pan. Simmer very gently for at least 2 hours turning every now and again. When the lamb is almost falling off the bone remove and keep warm. Strain the sauce to remove the cloves, zest etc. and turn the heat up and reduce the sauce until it is very thick (almost syrup consistency) then stir in the marmalade and allow to dissolve. Drizzle the sauce over the lamb and garnish with the zest and orange/lime slices.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for two people