I’ve been having fun. I’m developing a new show which is sort-of going to be a sequel to the current show but which won’t be a ‘part two’ that one won’t be able to enjoy without having seen the first. It’s called Anarchist Cook again, but with the addition of ‘Second Helpings’. At least that’s the working title at the moment. I’ve other titles in my arsenal (‘Extra Portions’, ‘Nicely Seasoned’, ‘Well seasoned’, ‘Urban Forager’…).
Needless to say the show is going to be another cooking show and cooking once again using unconventional methods and non-culinary appliances and equipment. So I’ve been playing around with tools, office equipment, and ingredients.
This is a single scallop, which I cooked in its shell. I placed a tiny knob of butter on it and blasted it for about a minute each side with a DeWalt DW340 paint stripping gun. Once beautifully caramelised I sprinkled it with a little smoked sea salt, a pinch of dill, some pepper and a squeeze of lemon. It was honestly one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten in my life.
I played with the DeWalt heat gun again with this piece of sirloin. Rubbed with a little olive oil and then blasted, the meat sitting in on the blade of a shovel. I made a chimichurri of sorts with olive oil, lemon, garlic, chilli and dried oregano and shaved in some raw fennel using a Stanley wood-workers plane. And then sliced tomato (sliced with a junior hacksaw).
A plumbers blow torch cooked this fillet of rainbow trout, crisping up the skin. It was simply dressed with a smear of wasabi and a splash of soy sauce.
This linguine was made using an Elpine desktop paper shredder. Perfect 3mm ribbons. Boiled in a kettle, dressed with uht cream pots, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper. And a pinch of chopped parsley.
The other fillet of trout (1st fillet blasted with heat – see above) was poached simply in a Morphy Richards Voyager 800 travel kettle. Poached trout skin isn’t as appetising as poached bass or bream skin so that was removed before the fish was dressed with a smear of english mustard (from a sachet), soy sauce, mint, chilli and cracked black pepper.
And finally, another steak again cooked in the shovel blade with the DeWalt gun. This was a Bavette steak. Once cooked it was topped with a few slices of gorgonzola and some toasted walnuts (toasted alongside the steak) before being sprinkled with some fresh red chilli and parsley.
I promise you all, ‘Anarchist Cook Two’ is going to taste really really good!
Oh, and a final note. Of course ‘Anarchist Cook’ (show one) is very good too, in fact it’s brilliant and has won awards and garnered rave reviews and stars-galore and toured the world and all that, and is still touring, so do have a look at the website HERE to see where it’s playing. There’s lots of dates still pending all over the country, as well as a rather nice mini-tour of the Scottish Highlands. The last and ONLY remaining chance to see it in London will be on March 15 and 16 at the Soho Theatre, in the main theatre space, at 8:30pm. It’s a big theatre and it’d be a pity not to fill it, so please do come if you can, and bring some/all of your friends/associates/family/work-mates… Here’s a link to tickets for those dates.
There are numerous things that get-my-goat, but one that often comes to mind is when someone uses the “I was going to…” tact to make up for the fact that they haven’t done something, somehow feeling that letting their intention be known is equal to having actually done whatever it was that they were going to do but didn’t.
“Oh, it was your birthday last week wasn’t it? I was going to get you a present”
I hate that.
But I’m going to start this entry by apologising to any regular followers for my woefully slack blogging, (I haven’t written anything since early May before I did my Anarchist Cook show at the Brighton Fringe), and now I’m going to do exactly what I’ve just complained about and tell you things I was thinking I could have done.
In my fringe show I cooked a three course meal on hotel equipment, so I thought I’d do a blog of the three recipes I made on stage. If you saw my show, and this is something that would interest you then let me know and I WILL do it, but just now that show feels too long ago to be current. Since I’ll be doing the show again in the Brighton Comedy Fringe in October I WILL do a blog about that then, and I invite anyone to remind me nearer the time.
Last weekend Matthew and I went to Glastonbury Festival. It really is the best festival in the world with a really tangible sense of raw counter-culture and in many of the hidden places, genuine anarchy. I was performing a truncated version of my Anarchist Cook show there and Matt was my guest, and with us we took the intention, and the ingredients, to make a delicious Thai Curry. It was to be made on a Trangia (by far and away the BEST camping cooker) and to be enjoyed by us and marvelled at by our fellow revellers, dissatisfied with their lot as they chomped on Pot Noodles or over-priced festive fare. We were going to cook it, and photograph it, and blog about it. But look, here it comes, another “I was going to” moment, for good as our intensions were circumstance conspired against us. An initial few days of shockingly poor weather which I may have inadvertently brought on myself* was followed by Matt having to return home early when his father was taken ill, and so we never got to cook it. Mind you, we still had some very tasty meals, some of them bought but most of them made. Nothing strikingly innovative but still probably better (and certainly cheaper) than anything for sale on the site.
During one especially fierce downpour we were trapped under my 12 year old Argos gazebo with an extremely talented comedian called Dave Thompson. He’s a very interesting man with lots of amusing anecdotes in his canon, and we enjoyed his company enormously while rustling up something from our limited larder to keep us going until the rain stopped and we could venture out to buy something hot from one of the many stalls on the site. But in the end we were so satisfied with the cold meal that we’d thrown together (both in terms of calorific requirement and palette entertainment) that we didn’t end up buying anything else and while Matt had nothing at all for the rest of the evening, Dave only ate a bag of nachos when he got back to his tent much much later and I attempted to cook a packet of instant noodles at 3:40am after doing the Mavericks late night cabaret, but ended up loosing more than half of them when I tried to drain the water away and, a little drunk, inadvertently poured most of the noodles onto the muddy grass as well. And I wasn’t cooking them because I was hungry. Rather it was more of an instinct thing due to the consumption of what I would describe as “a glut of cocktails”.
Avocados with Cockles
2 perfectly ripe avocados
1 jar pickled cockles
extra virgin rapeseed oil
crushed chilli flakes
the juice of 1 lime
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh coriander
Halve the avocados and fill the stone-wells with cockles. Drizzle over rapeseed oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, crushed chilli and corriander. Very tasty and even more enjoyable if you are backstage at a festival, sipping cider, with the distant sound of live music and the pitter patter of rain as it hits the gazebo under which you are sheltering.
We had a ball of Mozzarella torn up with ours too. Which worked.
*During my show I toasted some pecan nuts on an upturned iron and to crush them I dropped them between the pages of a Gideon Bible, dropped the bible to the floor and stamped on it. Funnily enough, almost immediately after doing it on both the friday and the saturday shows we experienced the most incredible electrical storms. I did the same on sunday, but the sun stayed out. Perhaps my blasphemy was countered by the Christian radiance of Dolly Parton who was on at the same time as me? Or perhaps it was all just coincidence.
A number of years ago, finding myself on the road and staying in soulless hotels around the country I struck upon the idea of seeing what I could cook using the non-kitchen equipment in my room. I made some pretty good food, and I filmed some of my exploits and uploaded the footage to YouTube. The film I made went viral and has been watched to-date by some 129,096 people. All over the world. As a result I made a radio appearance on ‘The Splendid Table’ in the USA, I was asked (and rejected the advance) to have the footage broadcast on Channel 4 (it was only a clip on ‘Rude Tube’ and I thought it would ‘use up’ the idea for which I had other plans), and I did a ten minute live version of cooking with irons at Robin Ince’s ‘Nine Lessons & Carols for Godless People’ show last Christmas at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London.
Acting on the momentum from the success of the Christmas show I decided to develop the idea and to create a show to perform at the Brighton Fringe, and now I’ve exactly one week before the show’s first outing.
In the show I will (attempt to) cook three plates of food (a starter, a main course and a desert) using only the equipment you find in the average hotel room, namely a kettle, iron, trouser-press, hair dryer, mini-bar fridge and so on. If you want to come and see it, and I hope you do, you’ll find me at Upstairs at the Three and Ten in Steine Street at 9:30pm on the 12th, 14th and 15th of May. The tickets are selling quite well (although I hope we get a few more for the last night, so if you ARE thinking of coming and Thursday 15th May is free, come then!), and if you sit near the front you’ll get to taste some of the food. Food which is, I promise, really rather good. Considering the circumstances.
Here’s a link. Now click it and get yourself some tickets!
Oh and here’s the poster too, which was designed by my very talented son Jem (here’s his Instagram if you’re interested)…
And I thought it might be fun to present this week the recipes that I’m going to cook at the show, but then I realised that if you do come, the surprise will have been spoilt. So I will blog about the recipes, but you’ll have to wait until my next one. In the meantime, here’s something else.
Presented with four egg yolks this weekend (having made an egg-white omelette!) I decided to make some fresh pasta. Ordinarily I’d use 100g of flour to one whole egg, but made with mostly egg yolks you’ll end up with the most amazing rich bouncy and deep yellow pasta. And I did. And with a pasta-rolling machine it really is SO easy, and so worth it too – a completely different product to the dried stuff.
I did it with the simplest sauce. Little more than garlic, chilli, raw tomatoes and herbs it really is one of my favourites.
Fresh Pasta (enough for 3)
160g ‘OO’ flour *
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
a pinch of salt
Combine the ingredients together and knead until smooth. It’s hard work and it might seem to dry. If it does seem to dry, it probably isn’t, just give it time, but if it REALLY feels too dry then add a tiny splash of water, but barely any. Then wrap it in cling-film and put it in the fridge for 30 mins before rolling it out in your pasta machine.
Divide it into quarters and roll out each quarter on the thickest setting, folding and re-rolling about eight times. Don’t add any flour save for the smallest amount just to stop it sticking. Lots of flour worked into the dough will result in slimy pasta. Not nice.
Once you’ve done that and got four nice smooth rectangles you can dust them with a bit more flour (because you’re just going to roll them out now, not fold anything into them) and put them through the rollers, reducing the thickness until pretty thin. I don’t like it too thin myself, not for tagliatelle, but I’d go thinner if it was for filled pasta.
Finally, fold the pasta in half and in half again, and again (lightly, not pressing to hard) and cut it across into 1/4 inch pieces so that when they’re tossed and jostled between the fingers you have a nice pile of tagliatelle ribbons, which you can flour a bit more and leave to dry a little while you get on with the sauce.
Raw Tomato Sauce
lots of olive oil
4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
1 red chilli (sliced)
12-14 cherry tomatoes (roughly chopped)
soft herbs, I used parsley and mint, (chopped)
First, get a big pan of salted water onto a rolling boil.
Then, pour a really generous few gluts (about 2 tablespoons, maybe more) of olive oil into a shallow pan, add the garlic and the chilli, and then put it onto a really low heat. It will take a while to heat through but watch it carefully as you don’t want to garlic to burn at all. When it starts to sizzle watch until the garlic just starts to change colour and then add the tomatoes and herbs, give it a quick mix and take it off the heat.
Put the pasta into the water, bring it back up to the boil and time it for 1 minute before draining it quickly and immediately adding it (along with the water that’s clung to it) to the sauce. Stir, add some black pepper, and then put it onto the plates. Shave over some parmesan, more pepper, maybe more herbs. That’s it. The whole thing takes about five minutes.
Now, go and book those tickets!
*if you live in Brighton the Arkwrights Deli on Beaconsfield Road is the best place for ’00’ pasta flour. It’s top quality stuff and is much cheaper than all the supermarkets.
I’ve decided that I’m going to fillet a fish and cook it on stage while doing a stand-up routine. So there. If you want to see me do it then come to The Invisible Dot in London on April 11th, NN Cafe and Gallery in Northampton on April 16th or Upstairs at the Three and Ten in Brighton during the 2014 Brighton Fringe on May 12th, 14th and 15th.
Last December I performed in a show called ‘Nine Lesson & Carols For Godless People’ at The Bloomsbury Theatre in London. It was a sort-of atheist Christmas cabaret show with a mixture of stand-up comedy, music, mini-lectures, sketches, all-sorts. Described by others as a cross-between the Royal Variety Show and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Some amazing people were on who I’d never have imagined I’d be sharing a stage with one day; Alexi Sayle, John Lloyd and a host of fascinating experts from the world of science.
Wanting to do something different to normal, and being blessed with an audience who were patient and interested and open to things more off-the-wall I wrote and performed a kind-of mini lecture all about the things one can cook in a hotel room using just the equipment that you’ll find there, (namely the iron, kettle, trouser-press, mini-bar fridge, hairdryer and so on. I’ve real life experience of doing such things and some years ago made a few little films of myself doing it. I uploaded one of them to YouTube and it went rather viral and got loads of hits. You can watch it here), and I presented the lecture whilst simultaneously cooking a pile of American-style pancakes on two upturned irons wedged between three Gideon Bibles. Fun, entertaining and two-fingers up at The Man (and that can mean Him, or The System. Or both).
The short show went well and so I decided to use the momentum and keep creating and writing and turning it into a one-man show. And that’s why I’ll be filleting and cooking a fish on stage. I’m doing a show called ‘George Egg: Anarchist Cook’, and I’d urge you to come and see it if you can, and if you can’t then urge people who you know to come and have a look. If they sit near the front they’re likely to get some free food too.
The show is still developing (rather late in the day but I think that’s the way the creative process often works – lots of thinking and jotting down things, and then a rather mad rush to the finish line), but it’s certainly going to involve live cooking and, I hope, the final presentation of three plates of food for the audience to sample at the end – and all that while talking and keeping the audience amused.
Yesterday, I bought a fish. A whole salmon. Massive. And yesterday evening I filleted it, cut one large piece off and made some Gravlax, and cut the rest into portions. I did an admirable job with the filleting, not quite Top Cat, but a pretty clean fish skeleton none-the-less. There were a few little bits I left behind but I managed to slice those off and with the trimming from the portions I’d cut I had a neat pile of salmon ‘shrapnel’ which I cooked off, sprinkled with smoked salt and enjoyed it as a chef’s treat.
Today I made a really tasty and slightly oriental-inspired plateful with some of the fillets.
Salmon with Soy Sauce and Lime Dressing – (for 4 people)
4 Salmon fillets
1 Aubergine (sliced into 1cm thick long slices)
8 or so Chestnut Mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 Avocado (diced)
A bunch of Dill
Some Alfalfa Sprouts
A few nice salad leaves
2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
3 Spring Onions (chopped)
1 teaspoon Ginger (finely chopped)
juice and zest of 1 Lime
1 green chilli (finely chopped)
Fry the slices of aubergine in some olive oil until nicely browned and cooked through.
While they’re frying combine the dressing ingredients and drop in the sliced mushrooms, folding them over to coat them. The acid in the lime juice sort-of cooks the mushrooms a bit, but they retain their bite too.
Combine the avocado with some of the dill, a little chilli, and some salt (generous) and pepper, and a dash of olive oil.
Get a good cast iron (preferably) frying pan and get it hot (though not smoking hot), oil your hands and rub them over the fish fillets and then gently place them in the pan skin-side down. THEN LEAVE THEM. Turn the heat to medium/low, season the top side and watch as the salmon starts to turn opaque from the bottom up. Slowley. It’ll take a few minutes so you can dress the plate.
Put a slice of aubergine on the bottom of the plate, then spoon a little of the dressed mushrooms next to it. Mix the leaves with the alfalfa and the radish and a squeeze of lemon juice and seasoning and put them on too.
Once the salmon has gone opaque to about half way turn it over and turn off the heat. Leave it for a minute or two and then carefully take it out. Smear a little wasabi on the skinless side and then place the fish on top of the aubergine slice. Place a pile of the avocado on top of the salmon, spoon over some of the dressing juice and finally (if you have some, I did) sprinkle over a little japanese seven spice powder (I don’t know what’s in it but it’s spicy and it has some black sesame seeds in too. Finally sprinkle over a bit more dill.