#10 Learn to cook one thing well

Or lots of things if you enjoy cooking, but if you don’t, have one special dish up your sleeve to impress your friends with.

Your Dad used to be a chef, so he can help you with this.  As can your Mum (I wish I had her patience when it comes to breadmaking…)

Cooking a dinner is a great way to show your friends you appreciate them, and of spending time with them, without spending loads of money.  In fact, I’ll guarantee, that if you’re thrifty (great word!)  you’ll be able to cook a three course meal for four of you, for less money than it would cost you to pay for just yourself in a restaurant.  Tell your friends to bring the wine!  (You are cooking after all!)

Picture this Lottie, it’s 2012, your ma and I are loose in London, she’s a student, I’m a director-facilitator-artist-actor (still deciding.)  The rent is high, the income’s low and the council tax is crippling.  Do we cry?  Do we moan?  No.  We make soup. We’ve become experts.  Armed with £5 Tesco value hand blenders, we are a stainless steel force to be reckoned with! Everyone loves a homemade soup.   Mama Poncho’s specialty is Broccoli and Stilton (make sure you get her recipe), my favourite is Tomato-Chorizo.  It’s SO easy. Have it as a starter, or a main!  It goes like this:

1 carton tomato pasata

1 red pepper

100g Chorizo from the deli counter

1 onion

Jar of black olives

Can butter beans

½ tsp Paprika

Salt and pepper to season

1 clove garlic

A dashen of olive oil

(I’ll teach you how much a dashen is.  I made it up as a way to measure oil pouring.  It’s more than a dash, a nice healthy amount in the bottom of the pan.  Oh and mini life lesson… it’s fine to make up words to describe things that there aren’t already words for.  Just make sure you explain them to people so they know what you’re on about.)

1.  Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Fry the onion and peppers first, then a couple of minutes later add the chorizo, followed by the beans and the olives with the paprika.  Add the garlic last.  Garlic only ever needs cooking for a couple of minutes, or it goes bitter.

2.  Divide the fried mixture in half.  Put half to one side, keep half in the pan and add the passata.  Blend to the max with a hand blender.  Re-add the rest of the mix and warm through.  Add salt and pepper to season.  Et voila!

I fear I may never be a professional recipe writer Lottie, but I’ve done my best.


The Soup Years

(Slightly worried about the lack of soup in this photo…  Sure there was soup involved.  Probably after the wine starter)

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