Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cooking For Blokes

Subtitle: Earn her respect and the key to the bedroom by cooking her a simple meal (with the utmost respect to girls of all ages).
I called to a friend's apartment (they used to be flats when I lived in one) a while ago. He warned me in advance that if I wanted food - the invitation was for casual dining - it was Chicken Korma or nothing, cause that was the jar of sauce he had and he couldn't cook anything else except... one other thing, can't remember what but he didn't have a jar of that anyway.
It got me to thinking about how many blokes go through life handicapped by the inability to cook a decent healthy meal: it is merely a laziness of mind and body. So I thought, stick out some simple recipes that even brain surgeons will be able to cook. It's purely a community service. Why should guys be allowed to stand in front of a cooker and flutter their hands about in front of their faces and claim: "I've no idea how to even boil water." Or some such bo***x (hint - too many letters for botox).
So here goes: Lesson One, Spaghetti Bolognese for morons.
one pound of minced beef (best quality you can afford).
one chopped onion or a pepper (red or green) or both.
one OXO cube - not necessary if you've got good quality meat but nice all the same (in US this might be a problem - it's a sort of stock cube).
a handful of mushrooms
basil leaves - fresh if you have them
salt and pepper to taste
a dollop of Mascarpone cheese or soured cream (optional, takes the edge off the tomato sauce)
one jar of a branded spaghetti sauce like Ragu or Dolmio or Newman's Own - whatever.
You can leave anything out except the minced beef and jar of sauce and you can add anything in the cupboard that you think will enhance the flavour once you've tried the basic recipe and know what flavours you are dealing with. I usually vary the type/brand of sauce every time as this subtly changes the flavour of the dish and prevents your palate from getting bored.
Brown the mince in a heavy saucepan or frying pan. Add the OXO. Season. Add basil. Add onion. Cook until onion begins to soften. Add jar of sauce.
Now, put some pasta on the stove and cook per instuctions on the pack.
Add mushrooms to the meat sauce. When the pasta is ready, serve it all up.
This tastes great the following day. Microwave leftovers with a baked potato (also cooked in the microwave).
The sauce is also great as the base fo a Lasagne.
Cook this for the mot (Dublinese for girlfriend/wife) and amaze her at your culinary skills.
By the way, the cook never washes the dishes. That's a rule.
PS I wrote this from my perspective so I made it a boy/girl thing. But it can just as easily be reversed or changed to boy/boy or girl/girl. Like the recipe, you all can mix and match.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spolier Alert

I went to see Robin Hood the other day as I thought it was a safe (Hollywood blockbuster) bet, even though reviews have been luke-warmish. But I was wrong. It really is something that might have been propelled from the wrong end of a camel. I heard that Russell Crowe threw a bit of a knicker fit when a journo had the temerity to suggest that his accent might have sounded a little Irish. Perhaps it was Russell's tribute to the late, great Marlon Brando whose accent in The Missouri Breaks swerved alarmingly through Irish, English, Australian and other modes. Or perhaps he simply wasn't bothered. After all, we should be honoured to offer up our tenners if he deigns to swish across the screen, and especially if he gets his tits out. But his accents were appalling. Yes there was Irish, but I also spotted Liverpool and Yorkshire in there as well. That is, apart fromt he generic non-BBC, regional accent with which he had been coached.
Usually you don't need to actively work on suspension of disbelief in a movie: they've got you in a theatre in the dark and you're loaded up with popcorn and fizzy drink. However, with R. Hood esq. I found myself questioning that suspension regularly as they trampled all over the legend (as we've heard it to date) and attempted to re-make the Hood persona into a character fit to carry several sequels.
Had the climactic battle not happened right at the end I definitely would have laughed out loud. And then walked out. So, we've got the French landing on a beach beneath towering cliffs - that's okay if you feel the invadees deserve whatever advantages are going. Then R. Hood esq. (our hero) deserts his post with the archers - this part of the legend they left in tact as he was portrayed as an actual archer with a bow and arrows and everything hooray! - and charges on horseback (he presumably learned to ride expertly after stealing a nob's horse in France) after the cavalry. Somehow, though he left last, he arrived at the battle at the head of the charge. Having abandoned his bow he then proceeds to hack the living daylights out of the expert swordsmen arrayed against him, with a sword. But the real laugh arrived in the form of Maid Marian, in form-fitting girl armour (probably it was a full body chastity suit thingy - they all had them back in the dark ages) at the head of a band of munchkins on toy horses. Okay, they were supposed to be rebel children on ponies but they just looked so comedic and out of place that my resistance to hilarity ran out of steam.
Oh, and one last thing. the eegit in t e Sunday Times (Cosmo, you know who I'm talking about) tried to claim that this was a good movie, well acted and well scripted. The acting was lazy and the script was execrable. But Russell did get his tits out, girls. Maybe that's why Cosmo (the guy not the mag) gave it four stars out of five.