The French would have a totally ridiculous and complicated name for this, but that’s why we laugh at them behind their backs and hate their cars.

This is what I call chicken-noir: all dark and shadowy. I cropped out the detective's hat.
This is what I call chicken-noir: all dark and shadowy. I cropped out the detective's hat.

I’m not usually a zen kinda guy. In fact, all that slow breathing and imagining oneself as an empty piece of foliage just makes me want to sing theme-songs from childhood TV shows. Loudly, and in as many inappropriate silences as possible.

No, I prefer to think of the all-too-infrequent occasions when things just go right as more like being some sort of ‘cosmic groove’, where for once the Universe has decided to fall in step with you for a short while, before going back to the ‘business as usual’ pursuit of doing unpleasant things to you with loofah-shaped bits of the dark horrible parts of the galaxy. You know…the parts with all the black holes, left over scraps of NASA and gaseous expansions and stuff.

Oh dear, reading that sentence back to myself makes me sound like I should be living in a forest and wearing a hat made from the teeth of a deer. Oh well, damage done.

This is a rather winding way of saying that the other night I made something really quite nice, completely without realizing what was going on.  I hadn’t planned on cooking (red wine and microwave popcorn with msg-powder is not a combo to be sniffed at), I hadn’t gone shopping and I didn’t have anything in mind. Things just sort of happened while I was watching the second season of Californication and somehow, two hours later I was eating something I’m actually quite proud of – mostly for its simplicity and also because it ended up being so good I wished my autopilot self had taken into account what a gluttonous bastard I am.

Stewed Potatoes with Rosemary and Lime Chicken

Ingredients (for 2)

1 large clove of garlic

1 medium-sized brown onion

½ a dried chilli (finely chopped)

a handful of parsley (also finely chopped)

1 can of whole peeled tomatoes

2 large potatoes

2 cups of warm chicken stock

olive oil

2 chicken breasts

4 or 5 healthy stalks of rosemary

lime juice

salt

pepper

What to do

Peel and then finely chop up the clove of garlic and do the same with the onion. Have your chopped chilli and parsley at the ready somewhere. In a largish pot, heat up a slug of olive oil and then add the onions and garlic. When they’ve started to fry up to a point where they’re just beginning to go golden, add the chilli and the parsley. Stir it up so that its nicely combined and then add the tin of tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to bash up the tomatoes a bit so that it settles into a sauce, lower the heat a bit and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so.

While that’s getting on, chop the potatoes into smallish chunks (about 2cm thick and you can also leave the skin on), and get the warm chicken stock ready (obviously I’d say use home-made stock, but if you’re using cubes, just taste it first – some of them are very salty and you don’t want to overdo it here).  Add the potatoes to the pot, and stir them in so that they got a good coating of the tomato, then add the stock. At this point you’ll have a strangely odd-looking potato soupy-looking affair – but fear not. Turn the heat down to a medium, put the lid on and let this simmer for an hour. By this time, all the excess liquid will have boiled away and you’ll be left with thick, rich and almost impossibly delicious silky potato-chunks in a sort of tomato gravy.

While this is simmering away, chop up the rosemary and then using a spoon, your hands or whatever blunt thing you can find, bash the rosemary into the chicken on all sides. Don’t be afraid to get rough – you really want the rosemary to get right into the fibers of the bird. Twist some salt and pepper over the chicken and then drizzle a couple of teaspoons of lime juice over each breast and leave it to get to know each other while the potatoes go at it.

Just before the potatoes are ready, heat a pan with a little bit of olive oil and pan-fry the chicken. Spoon any of the rosemary/lime juice that’s been left behind over it as it’s cooking.  Once it’s done, put everything on a plate and make sure there’s something good on TV. I know it’s all very simple, but I was really surprised by how well it turned out

Just a quick aside, I’m really beginning to appreciate the incredibly underrated power of parsley. My normal instinct would have been to do this with basil, but for some reason I went with parsley instead – and therein I think is the secret of this little number. Okay, carry on…

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You…yes you, at the bottom of the fridge. Your new parents are here.

You know its good because its all piled up and stuff. That's how they trick you.
You know its good because its all piled up and stuff. That's how they trick you.

A dear friend of mine gave me some tomatoes the other day. They weren’t from her garden or anything, they were wrapped in clingfilm and came from the bottom of her fridge. I mostly think she was trying to get rid of me and thought that I might be distracted by some tomatoes in clingfilm – similar to a 4 year-old and lego or a new Xbox game.

The reason she gave them to me was that she was doing a bit of a spring-clean and didn’t otherwise know what to do with five random tomatoes at the bottom of the vegetable compartment. Obviously I took them, mostly because I didn’t want to her to get any ideas and start throwing them at me – and I really didn’t want to look like I’d just been wooping it up at some Spanish fruit festival thing.

So, I promptly forgot the tomatoes under the passenger seat of my car (and only remembered they were there when the inside of my jeep started to smell like horribly neglected tomato ass), but I had started to think about the whole idea of leftovers, and how they always seem to exist no matter how prudently you try and use up everything in your cupboards. For example, in my fridge right now are at least five different packets/bottle/tubs of olives in various stages of usedness, about four jars of hot English mustard and two separate of now mostly unusable hardened blocks of parmesan.

This might also be because I apparently have the memory of a bat and keep buying things I already have lots of.

So, in an attempt to be prudent and try and use up some of the bread I’d bought for last week’s pasta, I started tooling around in the kitchen with the idea of making a panzanella or Italian bread salad. After about five minutes of this I remembered I don’t really like panzanella that much, and decided to make my own thing, especially when (dum dum daa) I discovered a previously forgotten pack of dukka lurking at the back of my cupboard behind a plastic bottle of powdered custard.

Dukka is a spice blend found pretty much all over North Africa and the Middle East (but usually attributed to Egypt) that’s basically sesame seeds, cumin, coriander, crushed hazelnuts, pepper and salt – all toasted separately until fragrant and then combined as a condiment – usually to dip bread into. Depending on where you are other things will be added – sometimes pepper, thyme, chilli or whatever happens to be lying around – but the essence of it is always the same. And let me tell you, it’s absolutely freaking delicious. If you look in the spice sections of most supermarkets these days you’ll find a stock of it – and I highly recommend having some of it lying around… just because.

The basis of this salad ended up being avocado pieces coated in dukka – which is a quite incredible combination that I didn’t nearly expect to work as well as it did.

...and that's what the eaten version looks like. Ooooooh.
...and that's what the eaten version looks like. Ooooooh.

Ingredients

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 carrot

1 avocado

a heel of country bread (preferably stale)

dukka spice

1 tbsp of honey

1 tbsp of olive oil

sesame seeds to finish

What to do:

Thinly slice the two peppers and the carrot (and I mean as thin as your knife can get them) and then chuck it all in a Tupperware. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of honey, put the lid on and give a good shake to make sure that it all gets combined.  Set aside.

Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and the skin. Slice it up into even, centimeter-thick slices and lay out on a board. Grind some pepper over it, and sprinkle a fairly generous amount of dukka over the avo, making sure that every slice is nicely coated.

Cut up the bread into rough chunks, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and, in a nice hot pan, toast it until golden brown and crisp.

While that’s going, get a smallish pot good and hot, and add the peppers and carrots, pouring over whatever oil/honey has stayed behind. They should sizzle up nicely and soften in about 2 minutes or so – just make sure you keep stirring them.

Once the bread is toasted and the peppers and carrots softened up, make a bed of the bread chunks on a serving plate, then lay the dukka-coated avo slices over that, then top with the softened carrots and peppers. Sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the whole thing and serve it out.

This is a fairly rich affair and so I’d serve a smallish portion of this as a starter.

The “Everybody else is doing it why can’t we?” ‘Rustic’ pasta

Let me dazzle you with my mystical sunbeams...
Let me dazzle you with my mystical sunbeams...

Okay, so this is not the first time I might have mentioned various so-called “Food trends” on this page. You can call me names if you want – poke me with a stick, set my beard on fire (okay I don’t have a beard but if I did you’d be welcome to spend a morning with it, some lighter-fluid and a box of matches), but it’s my party and I’ll make snide comments about trends if I want to.

Anyway – the idea of “rustic” food is huge at the moment: bread, stews, salads, cuts of meat – it all basically means that things are torn rather than chopped, and if they are chopped it’s always ‘roughly’ (as in: ‘Heathcliffe took Jemima roughly in the barn’), presentation is uncomplicated and …well this is probably the important bit, the flavours are always simple and ‘robust’.

Oh yes, and don’t forget the oceans of wine that goes along with it. I’m not kidding: oceans.

What it actually all means is that restaurants are trying to make their food look and taste like what you’d expect from your mom’s kitchen, which if you think about it is one of those ‘art imitating life’ situations that mostly just makes me want to jump up and down like a madman on street corners (I really don’t know why).  I guess ultimately it’s a huge win for the Italians, who’ve always been advocates for less complex dishes, simply done, where the main emphasis is letting the (usually very few) ingredients speak loudly for themselves. This is something that makes an enormous amount of sense really, and when it’s expressed like that you wonder how we ever deviated down the blind alley of Nouvelle Cuisine and plate decorations that make a full replica sailing ship out of half a lemon and enough rocket to comfortably feed a goat (yes Coachman’s Inn I’m looking at you) for so long.

I blame the French. And Marco Pierre-White. And the teletubbies – just because.

So needless to say, I’m a big fan of rustic – mainly because it allows me to be a bit more casual in the kitchen than I normally would be, and also I get to drink a lot more when I’m really meant to be cooking. Plus, this is one of those dishes that’s really quick to make. The night I made this for the blog, the whole thing was done from start to finish in under 25 minutes

You can tell it's rustic because its in a pot. On a breadboard. With a wooden spoon it it.
You can tell it's rustic because its in a pot. On a breadboard. With a wooden spoon it it.

Ingredients

¾ of a pack of smoked bacon

1 tin of cherry tomatoes

1 onion

a good handful of rocket

a hard Italian cheese (either pecorino or parmesan – but no pre-grated stuff – I’m serious, I’ll find you)

three slices of slightly stale bread (if you can get a nice country-style loafall the better, but it’s not a life-or-death thing)

butter

olive oil

sugar

1 dried chilli (chopped)

dried oreganum

ground paprika

salt and pepper

Pasta (I’d go for a simple spaghetti or fettucine – but whatever you want really)

What to do

Chop the onion very finely, and then to appease the rustic gods, slice the bacon up roughly. In a large thick pot, heat a tablespoon of butter with some olive oil, and then add the onions to soften and brown. Add a teaspoon of oreganum, the chopped dried chilli and also a teaspoon of paprika. Once it’s all browning nicely, add the bacon and give it a good stir. When the bacon has started to crisp add the tin of tomatoes and turn the heat down to a medium. Add a tablespoon of sugar, put on the lid and leave it for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring to loosen every now and again.

Now, roughly (remember this is barns and haystacks here) chop up the bread, tear the rocket into pieces, and using a potato-peeler shave off a medium handfuls-worth of the cheese. Heat some olive oil in a pan until smoking hot and add the bread and fry until golden brown and crisp, then combine the rocket, cheese shavings and fried bread in a bowl. Grind a fair bit of black pepper over it and set aside.

Boil enough pasta for four and then once drained, and add it to the sauce-pot. Make sure it’s all combined and then top with the fresh rocket, cheese and bread combination. Bring the steaming pot to the table and let everyone serve it as they will. Drink lots and make sure to tell at least two dirty jokes and a story about how once you streaked at a senior citizens bowls match.

Yes, that’ll be R109 and whatever our Lobster Bisque has let you keep of your immortal soul…

Some restaurants have criminally breathtaking views.
Some restaurants have criminally breathtaking views.

I’ve suddenly become aware, and then subsequently paranoid, that people who obsessively talk about cooking (not-so-thinly-veiled-reference-to-myself) are somehow looked at as being anti-restaurant.

You know?

It’s this vague notion that just because one is endlessly carrying on about ‘home-cooked this’ and ‘thrown together in the kitchen that’ – that somehow it’s deeply motivated by some Taliban-esque hatred of commercial kitchens fueled by a snobbery that “Oh whatever – I can do that too you know. And in less time. And cheaper. And blindfolded. And while improving my mind by catching up on my Alvin Toffler. ”

Well, it’s not really all that true (except maybe for the Crab Fettuccine at a certain restaurant in Joburg – which I actually do know how to make (and mine is better and cheaper, blindfolded etc, but that also didn’t stop me smashing theirs in and all over my face last night)).

Really. I like good food whenever and wherever I can get it – and I know that’s a stupidly obvious thing to say – but it seems that it needs to be expressed in the face of my current, completely unfounded ‘anti-restaurant’ paranoia, and here’s why. Just about everything thrives when there’s a sense of mystery (ooh aah) involved and food is no exception, and restaurants (good ones) provide that. Like those poxy street magicians: when you finally find out that he’s actually just standing on tippy-toes and not really levitating – it’s not so great anymore and that’s usually when people usually start throwing things. I seriously don’t want to live in a world where I’m not constantly and utterly bedazzled by some of the things that come out of the better commercial and restaurant kitchens. I don’t want to know how The French Connection in Franschhoek makes their completely dumfounding mussels – because that would diminish the special pleasure I get in eating them once a year.  There are some things that are beyond the skills, interest and resources of anyone who isn’t a professional chef in a pro-kitchen with access to specialized equipment and secret suppliers and all that crap – and I never want to try and recreate that stuff. I’m perfectly happy for it to be the specialized province of my favourite eating-places, which is why I continue and always will continue to eat out like some sort of permanently starving wind-up toy.

So, I know this is a bit of a sidestep for this blog, but on a recent trip to Cape Town, I was seriously reminded of the power and inventiveness of a couple of the restaurants down in the Cape – and what ridiculous fun it is just to go out and revel in food again in the best possible way. You know… you always read these romantic stories of people who revisit some pokey little French place that they went to when they were tiny and whatever, and how – 20 years later (gasp) everything’s just the same and the Lamb Borfloengeriemanaise tastes just like it did back when no-one had invented the TV yet and we all tied our shoes with straw.

For example – Neighbourhood’s (163 long street, 021 4247260) Chilli-Poppers are seriously special, especially the ones coated in crushed nachos, which briefly made me think I’d been planted face-first into a jalapeno-and-hugs flavoured bag of cream cheese-dolloped Big Korn Bites.  A Sunday spent ignoring just about everything except the huge plate of mussels from the Olympia café (134 Main Road Kalk Bay – where you will wait and the waitress will possibly try and assassinate you with her emo-ness and irreverent hairstyle, but it’s okay because it’s worth it, and yes I am totally obsessed with mussels at the moment) was possibly the closest I’ve come to leaning back and burping in someone’s face as some sort of primal signal of “Oh God that was awesome…”.

Olympia Cafe's mussels. The murderous waitress is hiding behind the pepper.
Olympia Cafe's mussels. The murderous waitress is hiding behind the pepper.

Lazari (Vredehoek avenue, Vredehoek 021 4619865) really knows the art of a well put-together breakfast and thanks to a lot of nudging in the right direction by a particularly intriguing 6ft blonde girl, I’ve been introduced to their exceptional pink cupcakes (which go down like gangbusters when you’re trying to subdue a hangover with nothing but tea and sarcasm).  The tiny Nelson’s Eye (9 Hof Street, Gardens 021 4232601) is seriously the best piece of theatre you’ll ever have associated with eating out – because at some point the volcanically tempered owner is going to have a very loud freakout at someone working in the kitchen that for all intents and purposes might as well be just an extension of your actual table. But if you know its coming, its brilliant rather than alarming, and the steak is monumental, the atmosphere comfortably old-school and reassuringly not up its own ass.

Certainly not for everybody (but a personal favourite of mine) is Panama Jacks (phone 021 4481080 for bookings and directions), lurking in the working part of the Cape Town harbour (i.e. you have to drive past at least three South Korean knife gangs to get there), where the lunch menu slaps down the normally hefty prices and delivers simple seafood grill-type cooking that’s making me spill mouth-fluid on my computer just remembering it.

Prawns mouth-fluid prawns prawns spill prawns
Prawns mouth-fluid prawns prawns spill prawns

The final mention in this completely non-definitive and utterly “I just happened to be there and this follows no pattern or form guide” Cape Town guide has to go to the Engen/Woolies combo just off Long street in the City Bowl – mostly because of the 24-hour chicken bonanza that is Barcello’s. Forget any and every fastfood cure to too many tequila shots and know that you’re now in the safe hands of the best thing to happen to late-night munchies since the invention of the late-night Burger Pie: and that’s the Double Delicious. Order it, eat it. Be free.

You. Have. No. Idea. So. Good. (tequila might be at fault though...)
You. Have. No. Idea. So. Good. (tequila might be at fault though...)

Taking Stock

Stuff. In a pot. Oh the glamour...
Stuff. In a pot. Oh the glamour...

A very easy way to get me in the kind of mood that makes me want to be unreasonably cruel to animals and homeless people, is to put me in the vicinity of this kind of exchange:

Person 1: “Wow, how do you get this soup/roast/spaghetti ‘al tretchirattollorlio to taste soooo amazing?

Person 2: “You know? I don’t really do anything – I just make it. Although I do find that if I just cook it at right angles to the meridian that bisects the setting sun and Longitudinal location of the lost city of Atlantis, it somehow makes it taste like Michelin-starred cooking every time!”

Person 1: “The Lost City of Atlantis you say?”

Person 2: “Totally. I can send my personal alignment guru around to adjust your kitchen-orientation if you want?”

Person 1: “Oh! I don’t know what I’d do without you, now lets get back to snorting this line of Knysna oysters…”

Person 2: “Yummy. Pass the cream-cheese.”

Oh. Please. Save. Me.

In the never-ending quest to add more flavour, depth and richness to our home cooking, there is a never-ending supply of TV chefs, supermarkets, manufacturers and people who need to flog books,  all offering quick fixes and shortcuts so that we too can “infuse the excitement of the Far East into our home cooking!” Ready-made sauces, shortcut spice combos, insta-flavourings and “time-saving” techniques are everywhere, like Cell C sales reps. And people from Fourways. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

But there’s a problem, quick fixes always taste like quick fixes. You mouth can spot a shortcut every single time. And that’s mostly because every single ‘FLAVOUR IN A BAG’, ‘HINT OF THE ORIENT’, ‘COOK’S SPECIAL PROVENCAL WHITE WINE SAUCE’ that you can buy is basically made from the same three chemicals. My dear friend Rebecca (http://kahnage.wordpress.com) describes it as the Woolies SaltyCreamy Effect: basically that no matter what ready-made cooking aid or instant meal you get from Woolworths, it always has the exact same “salty/creamy” type flavour. Try it – it’s all just slight variations on the same thing. And as much as I love a certain reliability in what I eat – it really gets tiring after a bit. I swear you could smear my curtains with Heat ‘n Eat Durban Curry and yup….salty/creamy drapery.

There is no substitute for sauces made from scratch, roasts basted in real juices, casseroles and pies made with home-made concentrates – and don’t roll your eyes at me, they don’t need to be laborious complicated things.  Because a lot of the time, what’s at the center of every amazing dish is really just a simple home-made stock. I’m not lying to you, it really is the easiest and most rewarding thing to do. Other than you know… winning the lottery or hitting a six or something.

Okay so obviously homemade stock isn’t automatically going to turn you into a domestic deity, but it’s a superb place to start, a little mental adjustment that basically flips a switch in your head that not all flavours come from MSG powder.

It’s retarded what a lift home-made stock gives anything you make, but it’s also retarded the mental block people have to actually just fucking doing it. I think it’s mostly got to do with the endless reams of cooking shows with fat red-faced british matrons droning on about leeks and rendered goose-fat and blah blah blah shutup shutup!  At the end of the day, stock was invented as a way to use up all the crap that’s left over in your fridge (or the medieval equivalent thereof – which usually was actual crap stored in a bale of hay).

Withered carrots that you forgot in the veg drawer? Use them! The last manky onion that somehow was hidden under the sack of sweet potatoes? Throw it in! Just had a roast chicken? Keep the carcass!!! Because that’s actually all it is, leftovers boiled in a pot, seasoned and reduced to the point where you have a rich flavour-packed liquid that’s going to, repeat after me – make anything you cook taste like it was birthed by an angel.

Throw it in a pot, boil it for an hour, strain, pour into an ice-cube tray. Use at your convenience. Seriously. Want an insta-pasta sauce? Fry some onions, pour in a tin of whole peeled tomatoes, add three frozen iceblocks of home-made chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, and you literally have pasta-insanity in 10 minutes.

Please, try it. Just once. And if it doesn’t work or improve you flavours –  feel free to call me names and throw things at my cat.

Ingredients:

Anything including, but not limited to:

Chopped up onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bell peppers, leeks, artichokes (although if you’ve left those lying around until all they’re good for is stock you deserve to be beaten with a sharp stick), roast chicken or fish carcass, herbs (dried ones are fine – thyme, oreganum, parsley, marjorum, bay leaves), salt, a sprinkle of whole peppercorns, and my secret ingredient – a teaspoon of hot English mustard.

What to do:

Throw it in a pot, fill with water, bring it a boil and then lower the temperature to a gentle simmer and leave it or about an hour and half – topping up with water if needed.

Let it cool – and then strain the liquid through a sieve or colander into ice-trays and store in the freezer. Use it for pasta sauces, potato bakes, roasts, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, soups, pies – anything. And if you can’t taste the added silky depth in what you’re making – I’ll eat this webpage.

The “I want this girl to like me” Tuna with Pomegranate Marinade.

This is one occasion where horizontal stripes will not make you look fat.
This is one occasion where horizontal stripes will not make you look fat.

Okay men, gather round. Women – you too, but mostly just so that you can get an idea of what you’re in for. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.

So, guys… if you haven’t figured this out by now, let me tell you once and for all – a bit of skill in the kitchen gets you a long way in the grueling Iron Man race that is “Trying to Get Women To Like You”. I guess it’s because they’ve got some sort of leftover primal checklist that has an enormous part of it dedicated to food, and you sure as hell want a big tick next to your name when it comes to the “Delicious In The Kitchen Means Delicious Out Of It As Well” part of the questionnaire.  Having said that, I’m not expecting everyone to suddenly become (God forbid) Jamie Oliver, because that would just be like some horrible videogame where the knives aren’t for stabbing pimps.  What I am saying is that every man should have one dish, one dazzling specialty that he can rely on to convince a girl that “Oh he’s not bad after all…”:  a Panty Dropper if you will.  Because, with one of these in the armoury, just about anyone will be immediately convinced of a) dazzling charm, breath-taking sensitivity, intelligence and general awesomeness, and b) is less likely to fake a phone-call from her Grannie “because she really needs someone to go round and help manage her facebook profile”.

Let me get this straight, this is not something you waste on Auntie Merle and her annual tour-of-anywhere-that’s-not-Vanderbijl-Park. This is not something you make for your friends when they come around for ‘Book Club’. My fellow men – this is an Alpha Dish and should be treated with reverence – kept for special occasions and used sparingly.

So, what makes a good panty dropper?

1)    An expensive, perhaps even slightly exotic main ingredient.
2)    A ‘secret’ technique that you don’t divulge – especially to the panty dropee – and even if you don’t have one, pretend that you do.
3)    A recipe that is essentially very simple, but allows you to look flash in the kitchen (lots of chopping, saucing and sizzling).
4)    And… it needs to taste fucking spectacular – obviously.

And so, because I’m looking out for the interests of single men everywhere: here is one of mine.

Ingredients (for 2)

Before we kick off, the essence and foundation of this whole recipe is the Pomegranate Molasses marinade. Now obviously pomegranates are stupidly expensive, as are Tuna Steaks – but this is what puts this recipe into the realm of ‘only bring out for reeeally special occasions’.  I’m obviously not offering this up as an everyday staple.  Also – if you can’t get fresh pomegranates, most supermarkets offer a range of syrups and concentrates – just make sure you’re getting one that’s organic, free of preservatives and not just a bunch of chemicals pretending to look like a pomegranate.

Marinade

Ten Pomegranates
Caster Sugar
1 garlic clove
half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
half a teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
a small handful of finely-chopped coriander leaves
a healthy dash of fresh-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 fresh tuna steaks

What to do:

So this is the fun part – and can also be done in advance, because it gets fairly messy. I use an orange-juicer, but just about any lemon-squeezer (even the fairly low-tech ones) will work just as well.

Cut all the pomegranates in half, and then squeeze as much juice from the seeds as you can. Ten pomegranates should give you a decent cup of juice. If there are any pulpy bits in it once you’re done, just pass it through a sieve to make sure you’re just left with nothing but liquid.

Get a saucepan over a low-to-medium heat and add the juice. As it warms up, dissolve a third of a cup of caster sugar into the juice and keep stirring. Gradually increase the heat until you’ve got a syrupy consistency that’s bubbling gently. Do not let this overheat and burn. You’ll see that it gets a silky quality after about 2o minutes of stirring on a medium, bubbling heat and that’s pretty much when it’s done. Make sure you taste at this point – ideally this shouldn’t be too sweet – a bit of fruity tartness should still be present in the molasses.

Cover a garlic clove with the salt and then, using a flat butter-knife, crush the garlic into the salt and keep going until it has combined to make a smooth paste. Add this to the molasses, along with the cinnamon, coriander seeds, chopped coriander leaves, black pepper and olive oil and mix thoroughly until it’s all combined.

Then add the Tuna steaks and, making sure that they’ve got a good covering of marinade, leave to soak for at least 2 hours.

Heat a pan (I always use a ridged one – mostly just because it gives it those totally sexy griddle lines) and into it add a bit of butter and some olive oil. Once the pan has gotten really hot, add the steaks.

Flash-fry for about 2 minutes on each side and then serve hot,  spooning some of the remaining marinade over the steaks. Serve with some steamed vegetables and either boiled or roasted new potatoes.

At this point, the rest is up to you – I can’t help you with chronic personality failures.  Just avoid conversations about how you used play Dungeons and Dragons and everything should be okay.