My name is Max.

You might have seen me in my flame-retardant trackie pants, spraying up the underpass on the nearest spaghetti junction and wondered, “is that blood or paint all down his front?”

Here you’ll find out that it was actually marinara, and how to make it.

There will be a recipe for every kind of meal you’ll ever need to make. Not just breakfast, lunch and dinner, oh no, but also the “last-minute dinner party” meal, the “I forgot he was vegan” meal, and that “unexpected Rottweiler” meal.

See you around the way.

– Max

Aunt Celia’s Chocolate & Hazelnut cakes

Hello all,

Max here. The taint in the fruitbowl.

This week I’m taking a break from the phoneboxes to share one of my aunt Celia’s recipes, her Chocolate and Hazelnut cakes.

Chocolate and hazelnut are an established combination, time-tested and true. Every fool knows those two things go together. Like Salt and Vinegar or Cherry Lambrini and Bicarb from the corner shop.

This cake is made all the more special to me for its rarity. Celia was rarely in the baking mood and so you saw a blue moon more often that one of these cakes.

They were such a delight, and the uncertainty of their arrival helped me understand her decision when Celia would later commit her life to preparing for the rapture.


Take an oven tin, butter it up like an elderly heiress.

Mix your icing sugar, flour and ground hazelnuts.

Mix the butter once melted into this mixture.

Separate your eggs and whip the egg whites before adding these and stir into a batter.

Continue reading “Aunt Celia’s Chocolate & Hazelnut cakes”

Grandma’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

You find me in my matchbox, pacing my hunger pains.

A big pot of soup is, as my grandmother would say, “a roof over your stomach. A warm cloak against economic cold.”

My great-grandmother died when my grandmother – the oldest of nine – was 11 years old and too young to be brought to trial. As the eldest daughter, granny was expected to take on all of the child-rearing duties, grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking. She did all of this while attending school and then working full time.

Gran learned how to make a little food go a long way. Vegetables were cheap, so she cooked a lot of them. When I know that I have to keep fed on not much money, I fall back on my grandmother’s recipes.


    1. Prep your vegetables, washing, draining and chopping as needed.
    2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
    3. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic.
    4. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften.

Continue reading “Grandma’s Minestrone Soup Recipe”

Grandpa’s Bourbon Glazed Roast

I remember the first time my grandfather taught me something about food.

I was a small boy, staying with Gran and Gramps during one of my father’s holidays. After a meal I was about to scrape some leftovers from my plate into the bin when my grandfather stopped me.

“We don’t never put nothin’ to waste in this house,” he said shortly, and led me by the hand to the dog bucket. The bucket was where leftovers were put each day for my grandparent’s two dogs, Rough and Tumble.

“Never, ever, throw it away. If you’re not going to eat it, give it to the dogs. It’ll be their turn soon enough.”

And he was right. And so today’s recipe is for Bourbon Glazed Roastmeat.


  1. Set your oven to a low heat, around 150°
  2. Pour 4 shots of bourbon in a shallow oven tray.
  3. After shaving the fur and removing the collar, season the meat as desired, set into the bourbon and wrap the tray in foil.
  4. Find something to do while the meat roasts for at least 3 hours. Whoever said watching paint dry was boring never sniffed the fumes.
  5. Take meat from the oven, remove the foil, and leave to cool to room temperature.
  6. After this time set the oven to 200°
  7. Separate as much of the fat from the meat as you can.
  8. Cut the remaining meat into dice-sized chunks and return the tray to the oven.
  9. Roast for a further half an hour, turning 2-3 times until crisp all over.
  10. In the time between turning the meat, set a pan over a medium heat. Add whatever condiments you have available, ketchup, honey, soy sauce, all of it. Add another couple of shots of the bourbon. If any remains in the bottle, it is to go down the drain before the devil tempt my grandfather and the rush of poison make him chunder evil liquids.
  11. Stir and raise the heat under the pan until the mixture is thick and bubbling. We are aiming for the consistency of syrup. Pour this over the meat for the last ten minutes in the oven.


  • 4 minibar sized bottles of bourbon or 125ml approx.
  • I kilo meat, fur removed
  • All condiments in cupboard


These Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes made me who I am today

Hello again,

Let me tell you about my weekend.

Friday night I watched the freight trains. Saturday I snuck into a cinema, sat front row and laughed my head off at a Hammer horror matinee.

On Sunday, having been ejected from the N29 mid-route, I was forced to trudge my way home on foot. As I passed through a particularly leafy part of North London I found myself suddenly in the midst of a farmer’s market, having wandered carelessly into the shambolic series of stalls.

Faced with the silent, ruddy expressions under those flatcaps, I purchased a pound of tomatoes and made my escape.

Tomatoes! The ingredient with a thousand faces! The tomato can be raw or cooked, peeled or pureed; it can wheedle its way into salads and sauces, like a particularly deft identity thief concealed beneath oversized sunglasses at passport control.

This dish is filling without being stodgy, flavoursome without being overbearing, and so simple even someone blinking away a pharmaceutical blur can make it!

So, as amphetamines settle onto tongues, lets begin stuffing these tomatoes in preparation for the inevitable comedown.


First we behead the tomatoes. If you think of the point that tomato meets stalk as the “head” then we slice that off.

We proceed to scoop out the insides. I recommend a sharp spoon for this, using a scoop-and-gouge motion. (Do check my notes regarding spoon sharpening in the addendum)

Now, don’t think we’re putting those pulpy tomato guts to waste. They are going into a pot with some risotto rice and seasonings of your choice. Cooking the rice as normal until ever so slightly al dente, we spoon the whole lot back into the hollow tomato bodies and cauterise the wound with parmesan to bring this Franken-tomato together.

Once in the oven the tomatoes will shrug off their former crisp vigour, slouching into an elderly corpulence. On the outside the skin peels and cracks, inside the rice and juices embrace one another. Thicker now, softer, yielding, compliant.

Ingredients (per tomato)

  • 1 large tomato
  • 25g risotto rice
  • ½ red onion
  • ¼ courgette
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • herbs to taste

Uncle Teddy’s Spag Bol

Hello and welcome back,

Today I’m making a simple meal of Spaghetti Bolognese that will satisfy a hungry horde. It’s cholesterol free, low in fat, high in fiber, and good for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-agonisers and it’s lick-the-bowl delicious.

The Spag Bol was the speciality of my uncle Teddy.

It’s a long time ago now, but I remember my Uncle well.

Smoked like a chimney. Never without a packet and a spare for after. Wore suspenders when belts were the fashion. First man in town to wear a Chelsea boot. Quite the jude. He had the frame for it. A right clotheshorse. Tall. Skinny as a rail but wiry. A swimmer.

He was always at the local pool, getting giggles out of all the lasses whenever he went by. Half of ‘em in school with me and all in love with him. Then there was that business in the steamroom. The lifeguard kicked up quite a fuss and no one knew exactly what was what. Mum wouldn’t talk about it, but I saw the word they scratched into Teddy’s Mercedes.

Teddy left. All I have now is a second hand smoker’s cough and this recipe.


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce1 teaspon chili powder

Continue reading “Uncle Teddy’s Spag Bol”

Uncle Teddy’s Lamb Racks


Today I’m making a simple meal of Roast Lamb Racks

I think of my uncle Teddy whenever I cook a lamb roast. After he left I didn’t see him until I was a grown man visiting him in the ward at the Royal Free.

The surgeon opened him up, took one look and sewed him right back up.

Get a pestle and mortar and throw in some salt, pepper, mixed herbs (or pick ones if you’re fancy) and pour in some oil. Crush garlic in a press. Mix it all up. That’s your paste. You can do this all in a food processor if you have one but you’ve just doubled your washing up.

Teddy would lay out his racks, bone-side down, fat-side up, on the counter.

He’d start slicing up the fat with a sharp knife, then he’d rub the paste all over and into the cuts.

Leave them there for as long as you can handle it. Teddy used to take me down the boozer for a couple so you can open a bag of ready salted as your aperitif for this meal.

When you get back turn the oven on hot (the numbers were worn off the cooker at Teddy’s) and put the racks on a tray, wrapping them in foil and keep drinking to the gameshows on the telly until you wake up and remember to take them out.

Serve them hot from the oven tray to a plate, swearing and sucking your burned fingertips at each serving.

Ingredients (for each rack)

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Rosemary, to taste
  • Sage, to taste
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Aunt Theresa’s Eggs Sardou

If there is something good I can say about my Aunt Theresa, it’s that she could make one hell of a lunch. She needed to, given my Uncle Howard’s chronic intemperance, which left him unable to ingest solids before noon, and unwilling to do so once the pubs were open.

Each day Theresa would make certain that the meal in-between my uncles liquid extravagances made up for the absence of the other two.

Eggs Sardou is made by topping creamed spinach with butter-fried artichokes, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Now, for anyone looking for a quick hangover cure-all, let me direct you to this dish’s simpler cousins; the eggs Benedict, Florentine and Royale. This dish is strictly for the clear-eyed and sober.

Mastering it will leave you able to poach the perfect egg and cream spinach fit for any king or finicky alcoholic.

We start with the spinach. Leave a pot to heat on the stove (medium heat) while you dice the red onion and garlic. When the pot is heated, throw these in with a sizeable chunk of butter. Fry them quickly, stirring constantly, till soft. Now add the flour and milk (do mix these in a jug beforehand.)

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Aunt Agatha’s Birthday Cake

When I was a child I loved the birthday cakes that my Aunt Agatha made and decorated for me. At my parties I was always really proud to show off my birthday cake to my friends. In the weeks running up to my birthday I used to look through my aunt’s cake decorating book and choose the cake I wanted.

I know, I sound spoiled, but my Aunt’s way with icing was such that no demand was too much for her.

My aunt Agatha used to say a cake took just as much work as a baby, was just as messy, but thank the lord they didn’t take so long in the oven. She would never have any children of her own. She made plenty of cakes though, and uncle Pete never seemed happier than when she was serving him the first slice.

After Pete passed on, Auntie Aga would tell me a little something about those first slices. Apparently there was a little extra something in the icing that kept uncle Pete nice and tame.

I wonder now if that was why my mother was asking for auntie’s “recipes.”

My Aunt would smile, mutter something about foreign spices, and chop out a line on the coffee table while my father took his eye from the keyhole and tiptoed away as quietly as he could in his stocking-feet.


    1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan
    2. Line your baking tins(s) (I usually use 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins or a 20cm x 30cm rectangular tin, depending on the shape of cake I want to make).

Continue reading “Aunt Agatha’s Birthday Cake”

My Greek Gran’s Goddamn Greek Salad

Max here,

This week you find me foraging for berries in these bleak black tunnels of this monolithic heat tank. My grandmother on the Grecian side of the family had a wonderful garden. Her rock cakes were just the thing for errant little ‘uns to be scoffing as we chased each other through the tall grass. (Tall enough to hide in from each other, but short enough for granny to spot us when lunch was ready.)

My memories of those days in her garden are hazy, as are the details of that hot August day when I found that poor man bloodied under my fists. But I have a clear image of my grandmother, whipping ingredients together with hands that felt like parchment paper, and a wooden spoon ever ready to swat at prying hands.

She taught me how to make this simple pasta salad, a light yet filling meal for those balmy summer days.


  1. Tip the pasta into a pan of boiling water (don’t forget salt!) and leave to boil.
  2. When the pasta is near-ready, add spinach to the water and set a timer for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain into a colander, shake and leave to dry
  4. Half the cherry tomatoes and mix in with as many black olives as will outnumber the other ingredients, like the aftermath of an inevitable race-war
  5. Add feta.
  6. Season with black pepper.
  7. Add the pasta and spinach, serve as cold as the seat reserved for my father on opening night, and let everyone help themselves.


    • 400g pasta of choice
    • 200g baby spinach (remember, it really cooks down.)
    • 250g cherry tomatoes
    • 150g black olives
    • 250g feta cheese