The Cheaty Cook

The Cheaty Cook


Hi, I’m Barry Dagman an this is me book. It’s all about cooking cos I am reckoned to be a flash hand at pasta and left-overs. I’ve called it The Cheaty Cook cos I have found some short cuts and I’m prepared to let youse in on em.

I understand this book is not for everyone, so I have got a list of hints for you if youse are considering buying it.

First, my spelling is not that great - which is something I have in common with Shakespeare (True!)

Second, If you have five herbs in your pantry - then you’ve got more than me.  I have Salt, Pepper, (yeh, I know they’re not herbs, I’m not that dumb) curry powder, chilli powder, tubs of mixed spice and mixed herbs, seasoned salt and a jar of garlic. For years, I thought Oregano was a Latin dance!

If youse are a vegetarian or worse, a vegan, then half this book is wasted on you.  Just have a quick look at the veggie pages an put it back on the shelf.

If you don’t drink, drop this book an run!

If you are looking to pinch recipes, go to the doctors an pull a page out of the Womens Weekly like me mum does.

But if you haven’t got a clue - then I am your god!  I have been experimenting since I was seven, when I made a sandwhich out of all me favourite red stuff.  I remember tomato sauce an rasberry jam were 2 of the ingredients.  HINT:  Don’t try that at home!

In this book I will tell you how to scrounge stuff you need, what to do with leftovers (my favrite chapter!) what to do with vegetables other than avoid them, how to make a sauce (seriously!) an explain how  making a casserole is pretty much a guarantee of getting laid (that bit’s for the blokes, but I guess it works for chicks as well).

I am gunna assume youse have just been chucked out of home, so I will start with a list of stuff you MUST HAVE. 

I am gunna assume you have no money to waste an traffic fines to pay - so we’ll be cheap an I will send you places you hoped to avoid forever!  Yep!  Welcome to the world of op-shops an garage sales for the financially underwhelmed.

I hope you have fun with this book.  I hope you buy it!  Just to make sure, I have fitted it with a alarm device an it will explode in yer pocket if you sneak out without paying an please recommend it to your friends but don’t lend it to them - make the buggers buy their own copy cos I am hoping to be financially overwhelmed one day.

Yours Truly,

Barry Dagman

Here's an excerpt from my book    

(Note:  the BOOK is full of pictures - but this preview isn't, because it's not designed that way on the website.  To get all the pictures - you'll have to buy the book).

The Cheaty Cook’s GOLDEN RULES:

#1.     Stop worrying!   If cooking was difficult, nobody'd do it. 

#2.     If you muck it up, it's only one meal.   There's lots of others.  You aren't cooking for the Queen.

#3.     If you are adding something (salt, flour, water, wine) add just a bit.  You can always add more, but you can't take it out.  I reckon this is the #1 rule but I put it in too late!

#4.     If you are cookin stir fry, nevva call it ‘Chinese’.   If there is any form of oriental person nearby, they'll think you're nuts.   When me mum cooked somethin that wasn't immediately obvious, (like beans on toast) she'd call it 'Mum’s Surprise' an often she was as surprised as anyone.  Don't name your food, then you won't have arguments.

#5.      Most things taste better with a bit of alcohol.  Either added to the meal, added to you, or added to yer guest!  Or all 3!

#6.      If you start cookin an you haven’t got a clue what you are gunna cook, STOP.  Look in the cupboards an the fridge an see what you’ve got.  A meal generally centers round the protein bit (that’s Meat or Fish)  so see what you’ve got an see what you can put with it.  Get it all out an put it on the kitchen bench.  Put away what you don’t need.  Why?  Cos halfway thru, you’ll scream:  “I thought we had onions!”  an then you’ll chuck a hissy-fit worthy of a Masterchef Contestant. 

#7.       As you use a thing, put it back in the cupboard.  An untidy kitchen bench is a great place to muck up a meal.

#8.       If the meal has got cold when you dish it up, microwave it for 30 seconds.  Warm the plates up if you are dishing up a hot meal.  (5 mins in the oven will do it.  NOT the microwave!)

#9.       Keep yer leftovers for next time.  Use Cling Film.  Use the plastic boxes that got donated to you….!

#10.     Get some labels and Mark What Leftovers You Put in the Freezer!  Cos next week you will go:  “What is this weird lump of frozen stuff???”

#11.     Have fun and be inventive!  Surprise yerself!  (and everyone else).

#12.      If you stuff it up, order some take-away, an better luck next time.

* * * * *

  Chapter 4:                                                                                 MEAT


Vegetarians, you had your go in the last chapter.  Now it's our turn:  Us Blokes are gunna cook MEAT!

MEAT comes off dead animals.  In my fridge, that's Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken, Bacon and Fish.  If some of you have relijus stuff and you can't eat beef or pork, fine!  Skip that bit.                  Have you ever noticed how chickens get eaten by everybody?  Even some vegetarians will still eat chickens...  I guess chickens don't have a Strong Union!  But I am gunna confess something:   If we had to kill our own meat, I'd be a vegetarian, too.  I like cows.  I think sheep are stupid, but I wouldn't want to kill one.   But, all wrapped up in plastic in the supermarket, that's fine.   All I see is tasty meat and I want some.

And this is how we do it.

Once again, I'm struggling on how to put this in some sort of order and this time alfabetical won't work.  So I'm gunna go for size.  Starting at the biggest thing I’ve cooked and working down.


BBQ Whole Lamb:     If you are Greek or Italian, at some time or another, that hive of humans youse call rellies has swarmed over to your place and you've put a lamb on a spit.  It's very impressive and it usually gets burnt cos ‘BBQ’ translated from the original ancient caveman language, means "burnt dinosaur".   But nobody ever admits it.   We all go "yummmmmm" an try to spit the carbon out onto the flowerbed while nobody's looking.   Dogs!  Dogs are great at clearing up the bits, (just don't give them bones or fat).

Try this:   When you're cooking on a spit, cover the ends of the legs in foil so they don't burn so quick.   Cut off the cooked bits so the underneath raw meat gets a go.  There's no law says: It's 2 o'clock so start carving NOW!  You can have a plate marked 'here's some that I cut off earlier'.  Heh heh!   I musta bin listening to them cooking shows more n I realized!


ROAST JOINTS:       If you ever look in a cookbook, you'll see that they'll go:  "Meat this big, cook this long, on this heat.”  Well, balls to that!    Look, when in doubt, ask yourself:   "What would a cave man do?"  

Smell!  A cave man would go "that smells good, Ugg will look an Ugg will taste!"  and then Ugg will get a quick bite in before his girlfriend Shreekee, notices an smacks him around the head with his own club!

Look, meat smells when it's cooked.  It smells great!   You need to allow about 3+ hours for a roast of solid meat (pork, beef, lamb) and about 2+ hours for chicken cos it's hollow an cooks quicker.

Cheaty Cook’s Hint:

Try different stuff what you don’t know.

These are a couple of chicken joints from a chicken shop (you usually find one near the supermarket and the supermarket often sells stuff like this, too).

This was covered in a sort of netting to hold it together.  I roasted it and then I cut the net off before I sliced it up.

These 2 bits cost $5 each and fed the 3 of us.



How to make meat really good:  (I don't understand this, but it works.   It's like working on your car ....  See, you don't really know how an internal combustion engine works, but you generally know enough to know that this bit goes on that bit, and then it works!)

I'm gunna teach you a cookin term, so listen up!   You already know Boil an Grill an Fry,  here's Braise.   Sounds like a hero in a girl’s magazine story!   Yeh?

Braise is:   Cook it quick and hot on the outside whilst it’s still raw on the inside.  Then you finish by cooking it slowly in the stew, or casserole, or oven, etc.

(Whilst we’re on the subject:  Sauté  is:  A gentle fry to brown it off.  Often used to describe frying onions: “sauté the onions.”) 

Anyway,  that’s what you do with your meat - Always!  Braise it!

So, this is what we do:  get your meat in the oven in a roasting tray or dish.  If you are gunna cover it with any secret herbs and spices, do it before it goes in.  Then cook it for about half an hour on Scorching!   That’s the setting just before Thermo Nuclear, which is what Sheree usually cooks everything on.   Don't have the meat covered, and keep an eye on it - I don't know how big your joint is (an I don't wanna know!)   You want to get it cooked on the outside and still bleeding if you stab it.

Now it's ready for proper cooking.   Put a cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan with the meat (that keeps the meat from drying out) an, some stock powders sprinkled into the water and on top of the meat.  If you are cooking Lamb or Beef, use beef stock on both, cos they don’t make a lamb stock.  (Or use a box of Stock Juice instead).

(If you are cooking a pork joint, see Pork - cos it’s different).

Now you cover it.   If you don't have a lid, use foil to cover it and cook it slow, in a regular oven on a low setting, about 125 degrees centigrade.  (You'll find this one on the dial).  Cook it for 3+ hours….  Then just let it sit there.   It's the hanging about and resting bit that makes it go good.  True.

Don’t rely on the times.  Be like my mate Ugg, smell it and test it!  Stab it with a knife, if it bleeds, it’s not done.

Overcooked, undercooked or cold:   The solution is the same.   Slice it up and put it in the steamer for a few minutes.   Steam it through and it gets warm and tender.  If it hasn't cooked enough, this'll fix it.  (Or put the slices in with the gravy for a few minnits).

Never, ever, cook meat in a microwave (unless it's to quickly reheat your meal).  Don't care what they say, don't do it! 

Meat juices in the bottom of the pan:  see roast veggies in the last chapter an see gravy in the sauces chapter, and pay more attention cos I won't be there to stop you throwing it away and then going: "Bugger, I needed that!"


CHICKEN:     This is more versatile cos you can do more stuff with it than any other meat.  It's pretty cheap and you can do anything with it.  Hint:  just don't eat it undercooked.  And it’s dry if overcooked.  (Dry chicken - steam it, curry it or give it to the dog).  

Chicken can be boiled, fried, roasted, cut in slices, minced, skewered and put on kebab sticks an BBQ’d


ROAST CHICKEN  is the easiest thing to do in the whole world and I still managed to muck it up!  I was trying to cook it fast - and you can’t.  So I gave up and cooked something else.                  (see Leftovers for the full story) and then I covered this poor chook and let it cook slowly, the way nature intended …

This is the chook, cooking too fast!  So I covered it up to stop the outside burning and turned the heat down. 

Just press the foil round.    Don’t burn your fingers!



Cheaty Cooks Hint:  if you don't want to cook it yourself, the supermarket sells a hot cooked chicken for about $11 an sometimes it even has stuffing, which is a bread and herbs mix, stuffed inside the chicken.   Tastes pretty gooood, but yours will taste better. 

If you are doing a stir fry or risotto or curry, use left-over chicken.  

Chicken is the best left-overs in the world, you can just eat it out of the fridge without doing anything to it.  You don't even hafta put it in a sandwich unless you want extra food groups.

You can get chicken bits from the supermarket: wings, legs, breast, cut up slices of chook, and minced chook.

All ready to use, and you just have to decide what you want to do.

(See my chapter on leftovers.  You can’t get it wrong.)


Fried Chicken:  One of Elvis’s favourites.  Killed him, mind.  But he died happy!  OK:  Grab yourself a bit of breast.  Yeh, Chicken breast!  Or Chicken thigh.  Stop giggling, you’re out of high school, now!

If it’s thin or bite-sized, you’ve gotta fry it real quick in hot fat.  (I always use olive oil).  Anyway, dump the chicken bits (breasts or thighs) in breadcrumbs.    You can do the job properly and flour it, dip it in egg and then in breadcrumbs, or do what I do and cheat!  Just dip it in breadcrumbs and push HARD to make them stick!      Done in less than 10 mins!

DON’T make your own breadcrumbs!  You can buy a big bag for a dollar or 2 in the supermarket.  It’s near the salt, on the bottom shelf.

If you are frying the breasts, turn the heat down a bit because they need to cook in the middle.  No more than 10 mins.

Chicken Surprise!    So called because I had no idea what I was doing! 

I found chicken thighs in the fridge, cut them up into bite size chunks and floured them.  Fried them in olive oil. 

When they were nearly done, I added mushrooms and cashew nuts.  Then a spoonful of oyster sauce and plum sauce.

Boiled the beans separately.


This took 15 mins, I fry pan and 1 saucepan.  It was delicious!

Chicken Nuggets:  you can buy these frozen, ready to cook.  They are rubbish!  Do your own using chicken thighs.  Takes 5 mins longer, tastes 100 x better!  (see above).

Chicken Cordon-Bleu.   That’s chicken legs with butter and parsley sauce inside.  You buy them frozen.  Actually, they’re not bad!  Cook them in the oven and don’t over-cook them, or they dry out.  Quick and easy meal!

Ugg says: When they smell good and the butter starts running out - they’re done!

Chicken Casserole:   Chicken casserole will get you laid, unless you're dating a vegan from the planet Vega, in which case, it could get you laid out!  And it’s the easiest, cheatiest thing in the world.  Get bits of chicken (not wings, they’re too fiddly).  Use thighs or breast.

Cheaty Cook’s Casserole:   I recommend the lumps from the fresh meat section.  Fry them up quick - remember our hero: Braise!  Put the fried meat and its juices in a casserole dish.  Pour a tin of chicken soup over it, or one of those Chicken Sauces in the big jars.  Choose one you like.  Again, I recommend the one that’s On Special!  Add a few extra veggies, cos they never have enough:  sweet corn, peas, onion, capsicum, mushrooms ….  Any of these.  Maybe add a bit of white wine.   Put it in the oven and cook for a couple of hours on Medium heat.  Sniff it, Caveman!  Sneak a taste.  If it’s done, either serve, or if it’s too early, turn it off or down and let it cool off.  Then you just re-heat it before you want to serve it.

Cheaty Cooks Hint:  It’s actually better if it’s allowed to go cold and then gets re-heated the next day.  I have no idea why….

If you can, make the casserole the day before you want to eat it!  It’s a great meal to do at the end of a chicken meal as a way of using up the leftovers and adding a few extras.  Then bung it in the fridge and you have tomorrow’s dinner all ready!

Cheaty Cook’s Casserole Hint:  Use left-overs from a roast chicken.  Much quicker!


Chicken Ravioli:         Like Casserole, but without the wait -time.  Add the boiled ravioli (1 saucepan for the ravioli and another one for the meat and sauce) and then drain the pasta and mix it with the meat & sauce.  Cook together for about 2 minutes.  Don’t stir it much or the ravioli will break.

Chicken Risotto:         Look under Rice for the way to do this.      

Chicken Kebabs:        Bloody easy to do and very dear to buy pre-done.  Buy a packet of the Kebab sticks for about a dollar in the supermarket in the kitchen section.  Soak the sticks before you put the meat on.  Buy chunks of meat (any sort really!  Chicken, Steak, Lamb.  Not Pork, it dries out) an skewer them.  Then marinate them or paint with oil (not engine - you nutter!  Canola or Olive Oil!) and BBQ them.  Don’t over-do it cos they cook quick and turn to leather!   Nothing worse than seeing Granny bite into her Kebab an pull her dentures out.

I don’t mix veggies with mine cos it cooks at different speeds and yer bit of onion is likely to become carbon while the meat is still raw.

Marinade - if this is sugary, it will burn, so avoid plum sauce and sweet n sour sauce.  Go for soy mixed with olive oil.  If you want it sweet, paint it with the sweet sauce when it’s nearly cooked.



Pork Joint:   Nearly all Pork joints have crackling.  That’s the skin left on.  All other meat comes as just meat.  This is what you do for the crackling:

The skin needs to be scored.  The shops pretend to do it, but they don’t do it well enough, so get out your sharpest, strongest knife and cut strips into the skin.  You mustn’t go down to the meat, just cut through the skin to expose the fat underneath.  Hint:  Dry the skin!  Then rub oil into it.  Yep, get your hands mucky and give it a good rub all over with fat.  I use olive oil.  Nobody ever agrees what is best, so use what you want and if you don’t like the result - do it different next time.  Then sprinkle LOTS of salt on the skin.  Then leave it in the fridge till tomorrow. That’s the bit that makes it work.  Don’t cover the meat in plastic - keep it dry.


You cook it hot for about 15 mins and then turn the temperature down to about 120°C.  Don’t cover it.  Now, what’s supposed to happen is the skin is supposed to go all bubbly and golden and be crackling and taste like crunchy salty greasy wonderfulness.  What really happens is that some of it will, some of it will get burnt and some of it will go like shoe leather. 

And at some point in time, you will probably go:  “The cracklings cooked but the meat’s still raw!”

 Yep!  This is common.  If this happens, just get it out and gently slice the crackling off the joint.  Put the crackling to one side and then continue to cook the Pork joint slowly.  This time, all wrapped up in aluminium foil with a cup of water in the bottom of the roasting dish.

My guess is that in an hour’s time when you want to dish up - it still won’t be ready.  This is what to do:  Slice it up before you dish up the veggies (always slice the meat first, or the veggies go cold waiting) and then steam the pork slices or dunk them in the gravy to finish them off.  It’s good as magic!


Pork Chops:  If you are cooking pork chops (or pork steaks) watch out, cos it’s easy to over-cook it and once again, turn it into rubber that you’d be happy to use for a spare tyre.



Here’s some Pork Steaks that I found at the bottom of the freezer.  I defrosted them slowly with about half a cup of water poured into the tray, cos they’d dried out.  Then I Braised them and let them cool off while the veggies cooked, then warmed them through in the gravy.  This is what it looked like with me Special Orange Sauce (gravy with marmalade).  The pork was cut up into strips and very tender! Look carefully:  Just a little bit pink on the inside - not much.  You don’t want it rare.




CHOPS:     Lamb Chops:  cook em hot and cook em quick and then rest em, so they tender-up.             

Cheaty Cook’s Hint:  Under cook them just a bit. Re-heat them just before you dish up.

Chops cooked under the grill is good.  On the Barbie is good, (but you might want to wrap pork chops in foil cos they can dry out).    Nothing you can do about it  except hope you have hungry friends that don't care.  Hint:  this is where your sauce disguises stuff!  Pour a sauce over it and they’re not likely to notice!


STEAK.      We all cook steak, I mean, it's what being Australian's all about!   Bugger this 'Chuck a Shrimp on the Barbie' stuff.   Now a steak is a man’s meat.   There are 2 ways to get it wrong:   Undercook it or burn it, an oh, here's a 3rd way, boil it (don’t do that).  So relax and enjoy cooking your steak cos it’s hard to stuff up. 

Few hints:   Red wine goes good with steak, so pour yourself a glass before you start cooking.  A stubby is good too.   Often it's good to marinate it for a while, I mean the steak, not the stubby!   I soak mine in a mix of olive oil and water and season salt.   On the Barbie, cook it hot and quick.  Soon as it’s almost done, remove it and put it on a plate or something.  Those aluminium trays are good for storing the cooked stuff while the other stuff cooks. 

Hint:  Don't put it on the edge of the Barbie, cos then the meat keeps on cooking and you end up with shoe leather.

Fried Steak can be fried in a frying pan.  Same thing:  hot and quick.   Use them fat splatter catchers I told you about in chapter one (yeh, go back and look.  I'll wait.)  Steak fat is not good for you.   Cut it off and chuck it.  (It tastes like thick arteries and heart disease).

Don't let the dog get it.  Mine's a greedy sod and doesn't mind pushing the bin over to get fat, bones or a chicken carcass.  Last Christmas, she celebrated with a kilo of Cadburys Roses she stole off the coffee table.  Why she's still alive is a mystery to me!  For about a week we found poo with pretty shiny wrappers - all round the garden!


Steak Kebabs: See Chicken Kebabs and copy!


RACK OF LAMB:      Used to be a cheap cut til they started serving it in restraunts as posh food and now it's too dear so don't bother.   Get chops instead.


LAMB SHANKS:   Same thing, too dear for what it is!  Cheaper to buy a joint of lamb and use that. Sometimes it’s on special, then it’s worthwhile. If you get Shanks, cook it like a small joint and roast it. 

Lamb Shank Stew:   Boil the shank slowly and then let it cool (still in the pan).  Cooled overnight in the fridge is best.  Then pull the meat off the bone and use the meat chunks and the water you cooked it in and most of the fat that’s formed on top of the water, to form the base of your stew.  This will be lovely! 


SCHNITZEL OR SNITZEL:    same thing, cepts one is spelt the German way cos they like to think they invented it.  I ain't gunna argue, I'm just gunna cook it.  Snitzel is thin meat, coated in egg and breadcrumbs and fried.   The best way to turn Snitzel into leather with crumbs, is to cook it slow.   Fry it hot and fast one side, then turn it and fry the other.  Have plenty of fat in the pan or it will stick to the bottom.

Cheaty Cook’s Hint:  Don't try to make yer own snitzels.  Buy them ready breaded, but not from a boxed pack in the supermarket.   Those ones use a sort of meat-mince and it tastes fake. Get yours from a butcher or the deli, cos they use real chicken breast or thighs.  (The thighs are tastier but not so pretty).   There’s Beef snitzel, Lamb snitzel and Chicken snitzel.  Treat them all the same.

PARMA:          This is snitzel with a covering of tomato paste (or tomato chunks or leftover bolognaise sauce) and then sprinkled with a lot of grated cheese and put under the grill for 5 mins.  Don’t time it - keep an eye on it.  Don’t over-cook it (back to shoe-leather) and serve and eat immediately.

If the rest of the meal isn’t ready, hold this off at the ‘cooked snitzel’ stage and do the Parma topping when the rest is just about ready to dish up.  


SAUSAGES:      All sorts.   These are not just yer standard snags in bread that you get outside Bunnings for 2 bucks on a charity stand. 

For a really quick eat, you can wrap sausages in a plastic bag and microwave them! (Not high - they’ll explode!)  True! Or cut them up an add them to a tin of soup.  Fry them an then fry eggs in the same fat, they taste great.  Add baked beans, maybe toast or fried bread (use up the last of the fat to fry the bread).

There's lots of other sausage types.   Try salami, eat it cold in salads, or add to the top of yesterday's pizza to cheer it up a bit.  Try Kranski, I like the cheese ones and I cook it in the microwave (still wrapped in plastic.   It's cooked when it starts to bubble- about 1 minute) and put it in a bread rolls with BBQ sauce.   You find Kranski in the deli section of the supermarket on the shelves next to the foreign cheese.

Sausages make great left-overs and like chicken, you can just pick it up an eat it.

Sausage skins:  cooked sausages (salami, kransky, etc) often have skins that some people can’t eat.  To get these off easily, dunk it in a pan of boiling water for nearly 1 minute.  (This is enough to loosen the skin without actually heating the sausage).  Pluck the sausage out and score the sausage from end to end on both sides, then peel it with your fingers.  Easy!


BACON:          What a shame they don’t have Halal or Kosher bacon!   It could end the problems in the Middle East.   I see Abdul an Mosha sitting in a cafe, both eating their bacon sarnie an discussing who's politicians are the most stupid and then peacefully going home to different sides of the West Bank.  

Now here's a question I bet you hadn't thought of:  if you live in the East side of the West Bank, what's your address?  What..? Number 47, North St, West Bank East?  And what about your banking institution, eh?  What if they had a Bank West bank branch out there?   Would that be the Bank West bank, West Bank, branch?  Don’t start me on using the East West Bus company and how confusing that would be - getting directions!  (These are local Melbourne cultural references, if you don’t understand them, ignore it or move here.  No worries).

And now I ‘spose you want me to tell you how to cook bacon.  Easy, fry it.  Put a little bit of fat in the pan to cook it - don’t rely just on the fat already in the bacon - especially if She’s gone and bought the stuff without the fatty ends! End of story.  

Once again, do it fast and not for long and use a fat catcher or it'll splatter everywhere.  Bacon fat tastes brilliant, so try to cook something else in the fat.  Try tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, bread.   They all soak up the taste.


OTHER MEATS:     Of course there's other meats, like cold meats, ham an stuff.  You don't cook them, you put them with salads and in sandwhiches.   Then there's Duck and Turkey, just treat them like big chickens.  Duck is fatty and turkey dries out and chicken tastes better.  Try different stuff: you'll like it! Well, most of it!  Try it anyway and find out.

Cheaty Cook’s Hint:   I know I said Try Different Stuff, but I understand if you give Brains and Tripe a miss.  (Me too!)


MINCED MEAT:       This is endless.   You can make just about anything out of minced meat:

 Soup, stew, curry, shepherds pie, risotto, stir fry, and burgers can all be made with minced meat.     

Open a can of soup in and use this as a base for your chicken / beef / lamb meal.

With the meals, you can either stir the mince in - or you can dump it in the frypan in bite size balls (yeh, don't bother with that ‘rolling in flour and getting it pretty and round’).   Just mix in some flavor, like seasoned salt or some BBQ sauce or some garlic paste and dump it in the pan and let it cook into solid lumps. 

Real good to do this in curry, stir fry, bolognaise and risotto cos it gives it some substance, not just mushy mince.


This is me frying up rough-n-ready meatballs. 

Approximate shape, dump them in the olive oil, remove them an cook everything else in the same oil.    Then put the meatballs back in       and mix it all up and serve! 

In this pic,  I am cooking up Bolognaise.  All the ingredients are shown, except the spaghetti.

When the meat’s done, I’ll add the capsicum, mushrooms, onions and probably more garlic and a splot of red wine.  Then I’ll toss the meatballs back in for a final warm-through.

Dish it up on top of the cooked spaghetti and give it a good dusting of parmesan.

The spaghetti bit is in a different saucepan and it’s boiling up on the cook top!  This is just the bolognaise bit.  (Somebody asked!)

See the white plate - that’s some meatballs that I did a few minutes ago - cos there wasn’t enough room in the pan for all of it.  Now - these eaten on their own, with toothpicks, make great finger food if you are having a party. 

Cheaty Cooks Hint:  Make sure the meatballs that you use for finger-food are cooked through (not undercooked).  Maybe add a little flour to the mix cos you don’t want them breaking and getting trod into the carpet!


To find all these recipes,  look in me ‘How to do Stuff’ and ‘Leftovers’ chapters, an all will be revealed.


Now, we’ve done Meat and Vegetables!

Let’s face it, that’s the basis of everything we eat (ok, not breakfast!)  So if you were paying attention, you will have noticed that it’s not frantic - it’s relaxed.

See, on Master Chef and all those other cooking shows it’s  “2 minutes to go - just 10 seconds - now put the food down and step away from the bench or we’ll shoot you!”

Real life isn’t like that.  They’ll wait another five minutes.  People are so glad you cooked, they’ll let you get away with burnt bits and all sorts of stuff.

Timing!  A lot of the success of a meal is about timing.  And you will have seen that a lot of food can be turned off, put to one side and rested whilst the other stuff catches up.

Or it can be steamed or micro-waved to give it a quick boost.

One of the hardest meals to cook is boiled egg, toast and coffee, because it all has to come together at the same time with minimum room for error.  Doing a roast meal is easy by comparison!


Cook.  Have fun.  Don’t poison anybody and you’ll be a success!  


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