Category: Cookery

I’m learning to cook. Here is my progress, with methods and recipes.

Open source pasta sauce

Pasta sauce

This is my pork and beef mince pasta sauce recipe, heavily inspired by my Grandma’s recipe. I cook it in a casserole dish with a lid in the oven for about 4 hours. This is not quick food, but it’s well worth the wait and this recipe makes about 6-7 big portions, suitable for freezing.


  • 500g pork mince
  • 500g beef mince
  • a little olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 4 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 140g cans tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Couple of fists full of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Chop the onions and fry them in the olive oil for 5 mins (don’t brown them)
  2. Finely chop and add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes
  3. Add the pork and beef mince, fry on a high heat until it’s no longer pink
  4. Tear up the basil into little bits and add to pot
  5. Add everything else, mix well and bring to boil
  6. Put lid on pot, put in pre-heated oven at 150 degrees Celsius
  7. Cook for 4 hours, stirring once an hour or so

It’s interesting to taste the sauce as it cooks – it really does get better and better the longer you cook it. I used to cook it on a regular stove top but it required almost constant stirring to avoid burning so now I cook it in the casserole dish. Maybe your stove can go lower than mine. A friend tried it with a slow cooker (after frying everything on the stove) and said it works just fine but I’ve yet to give that a go myself. My Grandma used to just sit and stir it all day.

If you like it wetter, add some passata. You can probably leave out the brown sugar – I’ve not really been able to tell a difference with or without it myself.

Serve with some pasta, with plenty of Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

UPDATE: I’ve changed the recipe from 1kg pork mince to 50/50 pork/beef mince after some feedback from friends, and some experimentation of my own. It’s a lot tastier like this and it turns out, this is actually what my grandma used to do!

UPDATE: I’ve changed the recipe, switching out the “mixed dry Italian herbs” for actual real fresh basil leaves. My mum told me that’s what my Grandma used and it really makes a major difference to the flavour.

Vegetable Dopiaza Recipe

To briskly continue my regular series of cooking blog posts (previous post March 1st 2005) I present the vegetable dopiaza. I made one last night and it was yum, though I do admit to having been overly generous with all the spices – which I like but Louisa doesn’t.


NCFE exam

It’s my NCFE Asian cookery exam tonight. We’ve got to make a Sindhi Korma, and some other stuff. I’m looking forward to passing. Let’s hope I do.

update: Both myself and Louisa passed the practical and written exam. I won’t belittle my achievement but I will say this: whilst I’m very confident at cooking various Asian curries and breads now, I won’t be winning any positions in the kitchens at Aagrah’s or Akbar’s.

I still plan to write up the missing recipies, and anything new I try.

Follow your dreams. You can meet your goals. I am living proof.

Indian cookery episode 7, George Lucas sucks

The course was billed as Indian cookery but the guy teaching us isn’t Indian, he’s Pakistani (well he’s British, but you know what I mean). The food we cook isn’t either Indian or Pakistani really, it’s like a honkey bastardized asian cuisine (Wasim put it a lot more delicately than that when explaining to me :)

Anyway, I’m well behind in my write-ups. This week we made Seekh kebab, Nan and Chicken Jalfrezi. Ingredients and method follow:

Indian cookery episode 4 – Onion hope

This week Gosht (Lamb) Achar and Lemon Rice. Pretty easy and all went without major explosions or poisoning. The aluminium pans we’re using worry me, though I forget why.

I’ve included the recipes this week, and plan to go back and add the previous ones in too.

By the way, ghee is clarified butter. It doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge and keeps for a long time (so long as you keep it in an airtight container). It has a very high smoke point and doesn’t discolour or burn when heated up to it. It has a distinct flavour, quite different to butter.

Indian cookery episode 2 – Attack of the cloves

This week we made vegetable pakora, sindhi korma and aloo bhaji. It actually all went pretty well. I didn’t burn anything, I didn’t forget any ingredients (that I noticed), and nobody died by my hand. This might have been something to do with working directly across from Louisa this time; being able to exploit her cookery skills. The food tasted good enought to eat two days in a row too.

I think there is a kind of rhythm to cooking; a beat to which ingredients must be added, flames are adjusted and mixing occurrs. Last week I was seriously out of time. This week I felt I was almost getting it. Imagine that it’s some groovy off-beat syncopated beat and I’m only managing to keep up a simple 4/4 with it.

I didn’t have time to deep fry my pakora, which I was kind of relieved about as the deep fryer scared me to death.

Indian cookery episode 1 – The kitchen menace

I attended the first lesson of an NCFE in Indian cookery last night. My culinary skills are a little rusty. For example, I had trouble remembering how best to slice a tomato. This is probably because I’ve never sliced a tomato in my life.

Meat. That’s a new one too. I don’t even eat meat. I learned that Chicken flesh is actually *flesh*. Pink and bloody. That’s certainly more than 6 degrees separation from your McNugget.