Tag Archives: cooking tips

Tooty’s Tapas Cakes

Tooty the Chef has endured the presence of a Spanish ‘Bizcocho’ cake mix in his cupboard for several years. His late wife bought it in a branch of Mercadona  yonks ago, but failed to use it because her propane oven was guaranteed to burn the bottom of the resulting cake. Although, by the time he decided to throw caution to the wind and risk a horrible burning smell permeating the structure of his modern cottage, buried deep within (or actually at the very edge of) the South Downs National Park,  the mix was two years out-of-date, he bravely ‘went for it’. As expected the base was burnt and the cake failed to rise. No result. The second attempt, though, was a work of genius – naturally. Tooty mixed up the goo, added eggs and all that other stuff, then (instead of pouring it into a baking tin) he pulled eight tapas bowls from the kitchen cupboard and baked it in them…

They even popped out of the tapas bowls in one piece – and not even slightly burnt!

“Not too bad,” I hear you gasp in wonderment. But he wasn’t finished there. He then proceeded to coat the bases of four cakes with Membrillo…

He quickly followed with a heavy smearing of caramel fondant…

Then it was a simple matter of slapping the naked four cakes on top to form a kind of sponge thing…

Okay, they were a bit chewy, but they tasted nice, despite the fact that he didn’t have any sugar in the house – except a half-tub of soft brown sugar that was (at the least) five years out-of-date. So, all in all, when all things are considered, another triumph for Tooty the Chef!

 

A Top Tip From Tooty the Chef: Cooking When Drought Starts to Bite

It’s a furnace outside. The garden has withered. The lawn is brown – especially where the dogs piss. The ceiling fan is spinning like a demented loony. You’re hot and very bothered. Even the water from the cold tap feels warm. And you have to prepare THIS for dinner…

Desperate times demand drastic action. Cue the answer from Tooty the Chef. When heat and flies make your kitchen seem like an absolute hell-hole – stay cool and strike back by exposing your own!

 

Tooty the Chef’s Quick Tip: Sell-By Date Due

You’ve noticed that a packet of sauce in your cupboard is in danger of becoming obsolete overnight: whatta ya do? If you’re anything like Tooty the Chef, you’ll smile with eagerness…

…coz that means you can use up that freezer-burnt fish in the bottom drawer, and those floppy veggies in the fridge…

In this case Il Maestro placed some equally ancient American long grain rice in the  rice cooker…

…and steamed the rest  on top.  Then, following the customary ‘ding’ from the rice cooker to indicate that it had done it’s thing, it was simply a case of mixing up the fish sauce with milk; boiling it stupid; then pouring it over the rice / veggies / fish combo. The result? Well the result was so good that it got eaten before the camera came out of the bag!

PS If you don’t have a rice cooker – get one!

Gastronomic Desperation, with Tooty the Chef

When it’s the end of the week; your supplies have dwindled alarmingly (probably because you hate shopping); and you are a reluctant cook, chances are life has become almost intolerable. Or at least rather annoying. If you could afford to eat out, you would; but it’s that time of the month again, and the coffers are somewhat less than bulging. Step in, Tooty the Chef…

…He can make something fabulous out of almost bugger-all. Just follow his lead and you won’t go far wrong. For example, on this particular occaision he found all he had available to cook were a few slices of frozen pork. Not choice cuts at all, but with lots of fat that he needed to cut off and chuck in the bin. So what could he do to make them palatable? Well veggies were required, obviously. In this case he rustled up these…

Already, in these early stages of culinery desperation, an idea was forming in his aging brain that would result in a meal that, should he pull off his daring plan, could thrill the masses; excite world leaders; and have most chefs dashing their ladles to the kitchen floor in abject defeat. So he dug out the remnants of two different colour types of rice and held them aloft in expectation of triumph…

Success was certain, he was…er…certain – especially when he withdrew the famous Chinese Rice Cooker from the cupboard – along with the aluminium seive-like thing that sits above the rice – that is assuming anyone would desire to cook more than rice alone – like veggies, for example – and want to do it cheaply and efficiently by utilising just the one cooker…

See, Tooty the Chef even has green credentials. But, anyway a few minutes later progress had been made…

Now the wonderful thing about rice cookers is…they need no attention, and they turn themselves off! Wonderful for morons and genii alike – and everyone in between, of course. Then it was a simple matter of chopping the pork into tiny squares and frying them gently in olive oil. Oh yeah, I forgot, he also sprinkled a bunch of mixed Italian herbs in with the veggies before switching on the rice cooker. A small, but vital ingredient.

So, slightly later than Tooty had anticipated, the cooker went “Ding”, and he was able to mix the rice and veggies together in an amalgam of wondrousness…

Slapping portions on to individual plates, he placed the cooked pork artistically upon top of the pile…

There, does that look nice – or what! Exuberant colours too. Then, in a moment of gastronomic brilliance, he remembered a pot of apple sauce in the fridge that was on the brink of going out-of-date. The result?

It dosen’t come much scrummier. And you can do exactly the same. It’s not difficult, even if you hate cooking. But you will need a rice cooker. First rule of Tootiness: Never be without a rice cooker!

Tooty the Chef’s Rubbery Custard Surprise

It’s not often that Tooty the Chef turns his amazing gastronomic talents to the subject of sweets; but when he does, it’s going to be worth the effort. Well in theory anyway. The Rubbery Custard Surprise started well enough. Our resident  silly hat wearer rolled out some puff pastry into thin layers…

He then estimated the surface area required to fill the mould at varying depths; cut the requisite  four differing sizes out of the pastry; then baked them…

For some reason he had expected them to expand in every direction. They didn’t. As they grew upwards, they shrank sideways. But he cared not one jot – just as long as one of them fitted in the bottom of the mould – which it did, of course…

Then it was time to tackle the tricky part: making the custard thick enough to set, but not too hard that it  required a pick axe to get through. Here he was only partially successful. Going heavy on the custard powder, and light on the milk, the custard was set before it had begun boiling. Nevertheless Tooty the Chef pressed on and dragged it from the pan into the mould…

At this point there was to have been another layer of puff pastry; but for reasons that will become clear, the great nosh-maker went straight to the cooked slices of apple…

…which he coated liberally with cinnamon. The following picture explains the loss of a pastry layer: he needed it to fill out the huge gaps in what would have appeared the third layer. Oops…

Unable (probably because of his age) to learn from his mistakes – or ‘creative hiccups’ as he prefers to call them – he produced  another floppy custard brick…

…finally topping it off with the third (fourth?) layer of pastry…

…which didn’t quite fit.  Hopeful that a hour or two in the cold might make it all sag slightly, and therefore fill the mould correctly, Tooty proceeded to the fridge…

Although appearing confident, the Wok-Master had an inkling that this was not going to be a tour de force in the realm of custard, so whipped up a fabulous stir-fry…

…that would leave his victims so full and satisfied that they wouldn’t notice this…

Oh dear, he forgot that his propane oven burns the bottom of pastry at the drop of a hat. So he pretended that the brown bits were cinnamon. He also provided a knife and fork to eat it with. But at least he didn’t need a hammer and chisel: it could have been worse. Pity it looked so dull and tasted so  bland. Or should that be termed ‘subtle’?

Tooty the Chef’s Tips on Presentation.

Here’s a very simple tip to follow from Tooty the Chef…

It really doesn’t matter how you slap the grub on the plate: just make sure that the cutlery matches the accompanying drink. Or vice versa. The guests / recipients will be so impressed that no one will notice the food…

Hoi Sin stir fry, by the way. Tasty.

Throw Something Together Quick with Tooty the Chef

If you’re anything like Tooty (unlikely, but there must be one or two) you too will be the forgetful sort who arses about doing inconsequential stuff when you should be preparing that meal you so hate cooking – but have to because no one else will. Well, guess what, that happened to Tooty, only today. There he was, thoroughly enjoying himself, doing something that didn’t need doing, when the clock chimed – to remind him that time was of the essence. Something needed cooking, and it needed cooking now. Enter Tooty the Chef…

No time for planning: action was needed. And action it got – whatever ‘it’ was. Straight out of the fridge, an onion was rapidly diced…

This was quickly followed by some breakneck carrot shaving…

and dicing into quite large lumps. As were some sweet potatoes…

Already an idea had burst with incandescence from the fertile mind of the aging gastronome..,.

Pork fillet and pre-made puff pastry. Tooty the Chef was gonna make a pie sort of thing. So it was time to trim off the nasty fatty bits of the pork fillet…

…and cut it into slices…

…which, in turn, were reduced to lumps approximately twice the size of the sweet potato chunks…

…coz everyone knows that meat cooks waaaay quicker than sturdy root vegetables.

Next up, the pastry invited an assault of the rolling pin kind…

Sadly this meant that Tooty the Chef had to re-injure his problematic shoulder by reaching high into the wall cupboard for some flour…

…which resulted in unprintable expletives that might have included, “Bum”, “Arse”, and “Deary me, that did hurt so, I don’t know what to do.”

But, naturally, he quickly overcame the agony, and before you could say: “Forget it bladder: I’m not going to the toilet until this job is finished”, his quicksilver fingers were rolling out the pastry…

Then a thought struck. It was a fundamental sort of thought. It went: “Ugh, whatta my gonna cook this in?” Time to go searching the cooking crockery cupboard that his late wife kept so well stocked, and which he is yet to clear out…

Please note fabulous yellow trousers. From this angle, I bet you’re glad he no longer cooks sans ligerie. Well there were quite a few bowls and stuff that were microwave and dishwasher-proof. But only one that was oven-proof. Like it or not, all the ingredients would have to fit inside it. Using the bowl as a template, Tooty the Chef cut two circles of pastry… 

One, he placed in the bottom of the bowl…

After all, he did describe this as a ‘pie sort of thing’, not actually a pie.

A decision was then required. What spices to add to the ingredients? Hmmm, tricky. So he tried pot luck and selected some Spanish stuff intended for chimichurri… 

…which he mixed in with the onion, sweet potato, carrot, and pork. He then rammed the whole lot into the bowl…,

…and laid the second circle of pastry on top – whilst using the left-overs to seal the edge and create a wonderful central decoration that wouldn’t have disgraced Leonardo Di Vinci…

Here it is in a moodier light…

The speckles in the pastry are some of the spices that stuck to his hands. He didn’t wash them off before applying the top: he doesn’t approve of waste. Naturally the bowl was eased into a pre-warmed (and maxxed-out) oven, for (he estimated) fifty-five minutes…

Fifty-five minutes later…

Yum, or what! A drop of beef gravy, and voila...

See, cooking aint so bad. It doesn’t have to take hours. Give it a go. Let your imagination loose. Take a chance with the ingredients. The result will always be palatable to someone – even if it’s only the dog. He hates to admit it, but Tooty the Chef has found that cooking can almost be rewarding.

Tooty the Chef: Remember Him?

Does this ugly mug look familiar?

The apron seems to have gone Absent With Out Leave, and the hat looks decidedly kitchen drawer-worn; but, yes, it’s Tooty the Chef. And look, he’s set the counter top with some ingredients…

Hmmm, let’s see what he’s prepared for his latest fabulous gastronomic concoction. Well inspiration came when his local Waitrose offered a pair of leeks at a reduced price – due to their age and less-than-pristine condition. Instantly his fertile mind slipped into high gear and he began to imagine what could be done with half a jar of macaroni; the dregs inside a bag of grated cheese; and some bacon medallions that had been sitting at the bottom of the fridge for three weeks. Well it was obvious really: macaroni/leek/bacon cheese! So whilst he boiled the macaroni and steamed the leeks…

…he lay the bacon (and some sliced peppers) on some olive oil in his famous Roasting Thing…

…and waited. When, eventually, the macaroni was sufficiently softened, and the leeks appeared most-way cooked, he stirred them together with some cheese sauce. Then it was simply a matter of pouring the goo on top of the bacon/peppers combo; then scattering the grated cheese on top of the lot…

…and shoving it in the maxxed-out oven (of course), This was followed by some sodding about for twenty-five minutes, until the meal was cooked good and proper…

Yep, despite all his frailties, the culinary cretin is back…

And this time he’s keeping his buttocks to himself!

Tooty the Chef’s Turdacious Trifle

You may not be aware of the fact, but Tooty the Chef does like a good trifle. He doesn’t make good trifles, but he does like them, which keeps him trying and trying again to make one of his own. Here are the photographs that tell the latest sorry tale.

It was obvious, from the start, that only alcohol would provide the necessary ‘something extra’ that a good trifle needs, but when Tooty the Chef went looking in the cupboard beneath the microwave ovens, all he could find was Gin, Brandy, Vodka, and Chichon. Obviously the first three were no-nos; but Chinchon looked hopeful – until he realised that both planned recipients of the trifle hated aniseed. So alcohol was out. Instead he proceeded  without a plan. Well a sort of plan that included using up stuff that had been laying around for quite a while. First of all (instead of sponge fingers) he used almond fingers – adding some black cherries…

…and strawberry jelly suffused with the juice from the black cherry tin and some cranberry drink, upon which he sprinkled ground almonds…

To this he added some raspberry jelly, made with more cranberry drink…

…which he left overnight in the fridge. The following morning he boiled up some custard…

…and threw a quarter bottle of ancient almond extract in, with a few cake decorations that were only seven years out of date. Sadly the expected swirls of colour never materialised; but the extra sugar content must have boosted the temperature, because as soon as he began to add it to the solidified jelly, the solidified jelly de-solidified itself, and the custard sank onto the resulting liquid. Naturally panic set in, and the mess was quickly returned to the fridge…

…which meant that the remaining custard became congealed and lumpen…

Then fortune smiled upon our favourite gastronome: the jelly re-solidified in record time, allowing him to splat lumps of custard between the sunken islands in the raspberry ocean…

Then it was simple matter of whipping up some Dream Topping (not real cream – it’s too fattening – and he didn’t have any)…

…and slapping it on top of the cooled, solidified custard…

…with a dusting of sugar crystals for effect.

The result?

Quite nice actually – but there were too many almond fingers, which almost sucked the lower levels dry.

So what did Tooty the Chef learn from this?

He learned that before he attempts another trifle, he is going to visit a purveyor of cheap sherry. Clearly only proper alcohol  will suffice.

 

 

 

Tooty the Chef Wallpaper: Worm Casserole

Of course there are no worms in Tooty the Chef’s Worm Casserole – after all, despite their undoubted wonderful flavour, worms just wouldn’t feel right in a casserole. And they would probably melt and become horribly gooey too. No; it is what the great gastronome added to a regular Pork Casserole that has inspired the name. Sliced peppers. After six hours in a slow cooker, sliced peppers look remarkably like colourful worms. And they wriggle convincingly too…

Very Klingon, I think you’ll agree. And check out those dumplings. Not out of a packet of ready-made dumpling mix; but actually crafted from beef dripping and flour by Tooty the Chef himself. His talent is amazing. Better still, he keeps the left-overs in the fridge for a couple of days to marinate further, then serves them on a bed of cous-cous. Is there no end to this man’s creativity?

Tooty the Chef Wallpaper: Black is the New…err…Rice

There are few things in life more exciting than selecting which rice should go with a particular meal. Well actually there are. Waiting to parachute from an airplane would probably edge it. And pinning the throttle as you launch from the start gate at your local motocross grandprix must run it close. But, as a fabulous gastronome, selecting rice is right up there with scuba diving  with Tiger sharks. On this occaision Tooty the Chef thought that as a compliment  to sweet and sour chicken, Thai Black Rice couldn’t be bettered – especially  when he steamed peas and adami beans over the rice cooker…

And, of course, he was entirely corrrect.