retro recipe: fancy sandwich dominoes

Firstly, before we even get to the dominoes!

We are taking part in Situ Live at Westfield London on Saturday between 2-4pm where we will be doing our very first product demonstration for the Instant Vortex Dual Basket Air Fryer, which I’m sure they’ve given us just so I stumble over the name. We have no idea what we are doing having never done a sales thing before but lordy, it’ll be fun and there’ll be free food, so please do some along. We’ll sign anything that isn’t going to make our fingers sticky. Us being in London does mean next week’s blog entries will be pushed back a day or two, but fret not, they’ll be coming.


Did I choose this recipe simply because it had the word dominoes in it and I thought it may get you all in a tizzy with the thought of dough laden with cheese and oil and wonder? Maybe. But all I’ll say is, steady the buffs a little: although these sandwich dominoes are actually rather pleasant, they aren’t going to beat the taste of anything that you can pull from a greasy box.

This recipe for sandwich dominoes is the next in our little trip through old recipe books and I shall confess something right from the off: this recipe is very much a compromise wheeled in at the last moment to replace something I just could not face eating this week. It isn’t a spoiler to tell you that it comes in a moulded jelly shape. But so do I, and here we are. However, I did try and select something that was faintly edible but unusual this week and, deciding to give old Sonia a week to catch the dragon she’s been after, turned to ‘The Best of Salads and Buffets’, published back in 1992.

Perhaps that’s the most bewildering point about this book, actually: it’s published in 1992, so came out when I was eight, yet so many of the recipes look entirely alien to me. Admittedly I wasn’t cutting about hosting many dinner parties at the age of eight: I was far too busy pretending I was on the Crystal Maze or stotting my head off my bedroom door attempting to do a cartwheel in my bedroom to Could It Be Magic by Take That. Mother, if you’re reading this, the clues were there, no? I’ve got a very faint scar across the top of my forehead from that one and I’m fairly sure if you looked at the door you’d be able to see an imprint of my lips.

I tried to do some research into the author of the book with the aim of inventing some backstory for the author but, a shade mysteriously, I can find very little about the chap who penned it. I like to imagine he lived a merry life full of parties and buffets where people could coo over his wares and slap him on the back for spending an hour making flowers from radishes, before he finally passed away content and happy. I bet the queue of visitors wanting to pay their respects at his funeral ran out of the church and down the street, though if they were anything like me they’d be turning up at the wake just to see if there was one final splendid buffet to be snaffled. To be fair, he was probably buried with his body set in aspic and squeezed into a giant fish-shaped mould for one last flourish. I do hope so.

Finding a recipe that didn’t involve eight hours of preparation and the use of every utensil in our kitchen was a chore indeed so, in the interests of brevity, I settled on the sandwich section. Let me tell you: I could cheerfully live on sandwiches for the rest of my life if I had to and I consider them to be one of the greatest food delivery systems there is. If I ever found myself in one of those classic action movie moments where I’d raced from a picnic to the edge of a cliff to stop Paul falling to his doom, only to find myself with him clinging onto one arm and the other arm holding a cling-film-wrapped cheese sandwich that was warm from the boot of the car, well, it would be an impossible choice indeed. Do I let Paul go before I had a chance to reach down into his pockets with my teeth to check if he had a sachet of salt to hand, or drop him straight away and risk a slightly unflavoured sandwich? It’s little wonder I can’t sleep at night.

And I jest of course, I’d save Paul every single time without fail, because you have to think about the long term here: an alive Paul can make me many more sandwiches, after all.

Now you might think you can’t really present sandwiches in any unusual ways but reader, you’re so wrong. You don’t know how wrong you are! For example, Nigella Lawson does a croque monsieur bake in Nigella Express which is quite possibly one of the loveliest things you can put in your gob of a morning. But you expect nothing less than perfection from Nigella, so that’s an easy win. In this ‘Best of Salads and Buffets’ book however they come up with two ‘attractive’ ideas: the sandwich skyscraper and the dominoes. The sandwich skyscraper is simply four sandwiches stacked on top of one another and then the entire thing ‘iced’ in cream cheese, so instead of a selection of sandwiches you’ve simply got a warm, anonymous, white cube to tuck into, the mystery of the fillings never revealed until it was cut open. As above, I love sandwiches, but I don’t think we need to go down the gender reveal route to add excitement.

The alternative were these dominoes which are really nothing more than several sandwich fillings stacked ever so neatly and cut into these attractive shapes. Before I get to the recipe, such as it is, a word about dominoes. Growing up in the middle of Tumbleweed, Northumberland didn’t leave you a lot of things to do in the evening when you were young and hadn’t discovered wanking. The village elders, in between waving their fists at cars going faster than the average man could walk and spending two years debating on the right type of swing for the playground, would occasionally put on something called a domino drive. Most of the village, including us youngsters, would be shepherded into the village hall to play dominoes, working your way around the tables and up the ranks until victory was yours. Well no it was never mine, I never had the right type of brain to play strategically nor the heart to tell old Thelma she was breaking the rules. It’s hard to be authoritarian when you’re 11, respectful of your elders and unsure whether someone’s knocking on the table because she has nothing to play or a degenerative essential tremor. Between that and the beetle drives, it was a roaring time. Paul is still mystified by the idea of everyone getting together to roll dices against one another and draw bloody beetles – unsurprisingly perhaps given his childhood was a whirlwind of twoccing cars and putting together the waltzers with a prison-grade roll-up clenched between his teeth – but it was bloody good fun. Might be overselling it with ‘bloody good fun’ but I’ll tell you this: the old joke about how you get 70 old ladies to shout ‘fuck‘ at once (you get one old lady to shout ‘house‘) is very true: there was utter acrimony against whoever won that beetle drive and the naff little shield that was given out to first place.

Explains why, a couple of weeks later under the ruby light of a blood moon, we stuffed Thelma’s wolf-fleece jacket with straw and assorted herbs then sacrificed her to the beetle Gods in a swirl of flame.

Goodness me, that wasn’t so much a diversion as a cathartic trip down memory lane – but I make no apologies. Let’s do the sandwich dominoes then!

sandwich dominoes

See the recipe for sandwich dominoes to explain why they look a mite frozen…

sandwich dominoes

Can you imagine dishing that up to guests? Here, have you tried our sandwich dominoes? No, but have you tried going clean? 

sandwich dominoes

Turns out if you cut the sandwich dominoes just so, a tiny little rye vagina – a ryegina, if you will – will appear to ruin the shot

fancy sandwich dominoes

Prep

Total

Yield 12 sandwiches

I'm going to level with you: this is an absolute faff. They suggest making a batch of these ahead of time to 'spoil your guests' but given the state of my kitchen after I'd made them, chucked the first batch out, made another batch and waited diligently to carve them up, I'd be in no mood to receive guests. In fact, at this point, I'd be asking people to leave and then crying into whatever pint of hard liquor I could find.

So, to that end, although I'm going to show you how to make them, I suggest if you don't want to fart about making them so frou-frou, the individual fillings would do very well served on a Ryvita or similar. This made enough for twelve dominoes so I'm saying three each as finger food. Haha, finger.

Final thing - it's bloody hard to take a photo of these because of the boring colours. In the book, they seem to suggest serving them with a garden trowel of paprika close to hand. Presumably that's so you can hurl the powder into someone's face when you need to shut them up. But who'd do such a thing? 

Calorie counts are approximate. Depends on your bread, what cheese you use and whether or not the chicken that laid the eggs was a heavy smoker.

Oh! And you'll note that they look a little frozen in the picture. I'll explain that in the recipe.

Ingredients

  • five slices of rye bread - we use Schneider Brot (Gesundheit!) from Tesco but I know for an absolute fact that Lidl and Aldi do an equivalent - but if you're stuck, use any heavy bread
  • two hard boiled eggs
  • 300g of Philadelphia Lightest
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • pinch of black pepper (they use white pepper, but who does that, honestly, might as well not bother)
  • one teaspoon of strong mustard, though I'm not sure how you measure the strength of mustard: presumably if your teaspoon comes out of the jar looking like Uri Geller's been having dark thoughts then that'll do)
  • they recommend a pinch of saffron but these are austere times, feel free to choose heating your house over this step
  • one teaspoon of tomato puree
  • pinch of paprika
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • one teaspoon of dried mixed herbs, or a tablespoon if you're chopping it out nice and fresh

Instructions

  • peel your eggs and discard the whites by eating them before anyone else gets a chance
  • beat your cream cheese with a pinch of salt until it's nice and fluffy then divide into four bowls
    • in the first, add the pepper and mustard and mix
      • in the second, add the egg yolk and beat into the cheese
        • in the third, add the tomato puree and paprika
          • in the fourth, mix the lemon juice and herbs in with a pinch of salt
            • on the fifth, let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens
  • alright calm yourself down
  • spread the cheese mixes across four slices of bread and stack them ever so neatly on top of one another, then pop the final slice on top of the stack

Now, this is important: whoever came up with this recipe clearly had access to a laser cutter because they suggest slicing it up straight away. Do not do that: it'll ooze out the sides like well, something that isn't nice to talk about. Instead, wrap the whole brick firmly in tin foil and pop in the freezer for about an hour. Once lightly frozen, take it out and with a sharp knife, slice into dominoes. Arrange on a plate and be ready for people to gasp in admiration at your astonishing skills.

Or, make the fillings and whack them on a slice of bloody toast like a normal person.

DO NOT DO what I did and stick it in the freezer for seven hours because you meant to put it on for an hour, but Paul was at work and the sunlight on your face was making you frisky so you took yourself off for some alone time and fell asleep.

Mmmhmm.

Notes

Recipe

  • if you do end up freezing it to the point where you could use it as a murder weapon, let it defrost naturally - if you do what we did and microwave it, you'll regret it

Books

  • despite this blog post, we're actually excellent cooks these days and you can see the fruits of our labour in our wonderful second cookbook, which is full of delicious recipes and lots of nonsense: order yours here! 
  • mind, book one was talking, and book one was talking first - 100+ slimming recipes that'll really make your bull run: click here to order
  • want to keep track of how you're doing and marvel at cartoon versions of us - try our weight loss planner: here

Tools

  • nothing to say other than you'll need a good sharp knife - I asked Paul what he uses to sharpen the knives he plunges into my back every night and he recommends this very simple knife steel - I'm just shocked he doesn't just buy new ones when the old knives get dull, given that's what he does with his clothes

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Sola's just been done for GBH and aggravated assault and we have to pay to get her out of the country before the rozzers get her.

Courses retro, sandwiches

Cuisine mystery

Here, if you are just after a normal sandwich to fill your hunger-hole, why not try our egg, cheese and pastrami endeavour? You can find it here, fussy-knickers.

Mr. Haze, is it way too loud?

Jx

recipe reacharound: lemon and garlic chicken stew

I feel I must apologise right from the get go with this recipe reacharound for Instant Pot (don’t worry, non-pressure-cooker method also included) lemon and garlic chicken stew: if there are far more spelling errors and lapses in grammar than you might expect, then blame Paul. Our Mac keyboard, after years of fighting bravely against splashes, spurts and sploshes, has given up the ghost. Well not entirely, but the enter key has stuck down and is refusing to budge. Paul, in the absence of me clucking around and making recommendations, ordered a new keyboard which ‘is just as good’. It isn’t. It’s like he’s bought it from Fisher Price. The keys are tiny and rounded and just terrible. This may work when you have the deft twiglet fingers of Paul Anderson, but I don’t so much type on a keyboard as fist it into submission. It’s left me typing like my Nana sending her first email and to top it off, the keys don’t squelch like the old one did. It was like typing on a sauna sponge towards the end.

It serves me right for leaving him unattended, of course. But needs must: I go away for a few days every month to stay with friends in Liverpool which gives Paul a chance to enjoy an unadulterated bathroom floor / marital bed, which he does so enjoy. He pays lip service to our eternal love by sending messages to say he misses me terribly but we both know he has the time of his life without me, even if most evenings seem to end with him sobbing into a rough effigy of me made from my back hair and dipped in beef dripping.

One of the best things about these little trips away is that I get to have a good long drive, and all the fun that entails. I’ve said it before, and been loudly and angrily reminded at least nine times a week since, that I enjoy driving. That’s not a lie. But see I also very much enjoy willies, yet if I were to have sausage every night I might switch to a fish supper. Too much of a good thing can be tiresome, but luckily the 180 miles or so to Liverpool is just the right amount of road to cover off all my favourite driving moments.

I should open by saying that I am, these days, a very considerate driver, or at least I do try my very best to be. For a few years after passing my test I drove everywhere as though I’d just stolen the car but nowadays I’ve come to the realisation that you’ll get where you need to be far less stressed and with fewer cyclists to peel off the bonnet if you just stick to the rules of the road. The same seemingly doesn’t apply to other drivers however, and there’s two patches of the A1 where this becomes a problem. For a local example, just outside of Durham there’s a four mile patch of roadworks where switching lanes is forbidden and there’s a strict 50mph limit.

That doesn’t stop seemingly every single regional sales director in the North East getting into their company-owned BMW or Audi (and listen I know that’s a lazy stereotype, but tell me I’m wrong) and appearing two inches from my back bumper, waving their arms around dramatically as though they’ve just opened the glove box to find a box of wasps swarming out. Given I’m generally behind another car and therefore there’s nowhere immediately apparent for them to dash into, I find it bewildering, and it’s honestly all I can do to remember not to take my foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down just a shade. This seems to excite them even further and obviously must be discouraged. And hey, I’m not averse to having an angry man rammed up behind me, but I do ask that they buy me a drink first. I mean I don’t but I’m trying to sound classy.

180 miles, according to Google, should take around three and a half hours: but it never does, and I’m never quite sure why. Four hours can pass and I’ll be no further than Darlington, looking bewildered at Waze to see if I’ve somehow routed myself through Aberdeen via a selection of farm tracks. I blame service stations: they’re like the sirens of the motorway to me. For those interested, you’re looking at stopping at Durham, Barton Park, Wetherby and Birch Services if you’re wanting a cup of tea without the chance of diphtheria to keep it spicy. Barton Park is a good one because no-one ever uses it, presumably put off by the fact the owners have set the prices of fuel as though they roleplaying in a Mad Max movie. I digress.

I love it all me. The chance to get indignant with the ladies in WH Smith when I buy a can of Monster and a Freddo and have to hand over my car keys in part-exchange with a promise to settle the remainder after. The truckers all wandering around in filthy hi-vis gear looking like they’d punch you through a wall if you dilly-dallied for a moment at the Greggs counter. The opportunity to peruse the absolute tat they inexplicably sell alongside the fags and chocolate: a light-up beanie hat, a book about equine diseases, a DVD boxset of walks around Kromer. Hell, I even like a quick toilet stop (any excuse to stretch my legs) (up past my ears) because there’s always a degree of joviality and hur-de-hur whilst waiting in the queue to do some 3-D printing. Plus, I refuse to smoke in my car so if anything, I treat the rare bursts of driving as a break from smoking rather than the other way around. Explains why I’m always gasping for air by the time I’m circling J22 on the M62.

Still, if I get bored on the way down, whoever is in charge upstairs (or more realistically, no-one) will throw some dramatic weather at me for the drive. I could leave my house in the middle of a heatwave and inexplicably end up peering owlishly through a snow-covered windscreen by no later than two hours in. It’s as inevitable as day following night: I don’t think I’ve had a single journey westward where I haven’t thought of calling Paul to finally tell him the PIN on our bank cards just in case I lose control of the car and tumble away into the fields. I mean, it would give me the opportunity to press the big red SOS button that sits behind the interior lights – I’ve been itching to do it but I’m petrified that it’ll automatically call the emergency services and they’ll dispatch an air ambulance out to me, only to find me perfectly alive and furiously trying to light a cigarette in the helicopter’s downdraft. Though to be fair, knowing my car, it’ll probably just start playing ABBA Gold.

That’s the other thing I enjoy: the chance to listen to my music and have a right good singalong as I do. If I have Paul with me he’s always tutting and clawing melodramatically at his ears with forks whilst I effortlessly segue between Steps, Billie Eilish, Muse, some Swedish Eurovision entry and Chapter 42 of Red Dragon narrated by Alan Sklar on Audible. When I’m by myself I get to go full me and I can’t deny it is amazing. Many a time I’ve been caterwauling away as I leave a car park to the bemused faces of coaches full of people clapping and wondering whether I’ve got a fox shredding through my back tyres. The world is a stage! By the time I arrive at any destination I’ve got a voice like I’ve been gargling glass but it’s worth it.

There’s a whole another entry to be written about the other things I do in the car to entertain but I shall save that for a couple of weeks from now, because LORDY this is a long one. For the record, it took me a modest five hours twenty-eight minutes to get home today, and that’s not bad going at all.

To the recipe for the lemon and garlic chicken stew then. This is a rare reacharound where we haven’t had to change too much for the recipe – indeed, all we have done is up the onion content to make the sauce a bit more ‘stew-like’, but this is a genuinely delightful dinner that must be recognised.

lemon and garlic chicken stew

Only 370 calories for this lemon and garlic chicken stew with rice too!

Definitely use chicken thighs for this – cheaper, and it flavours the lemon and garlic chicken stew perfectly

Five photos and this was the best one: Paul loves his lemon and garlic chicken stew

lemon and garlic chicken stew

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Now look, if you don't have a pressure cooker you mustn't fret because this is easy enough to make in the oven, and we've catered for your failures in the recipe bit. But if you do have an Instant Pot at home, this is the perfect recipe for it: you chuck it all in and let the machine do the hard work. And if you're the nervous sort who pales in terror at the idea of a pressure cooker fret not: we are going to do a guide to them shortly. We were gifted our newest Instant Pot by the company, but you'll see from previous entries that we have been long-term devotees. Let's do this.

Ingredients

  • 750g of chicken thighs
  • 1tsp salt
  • two onions, chopped finely
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 185ml chicken stock
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • juice from one lemon
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • white rice - we used about 100g each

Instructions

Pressure cooker

  • select saute, add a bit of oil and chuck in the onions, cook for about 5-10 minutes or so until they start to brown
  • add everything else to the pot save for the cornflour and give everything a reet good stir
  • put the lid on, make sure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and press the high pressure and select fifteen minutes
  • when finished, release the pressure (it's perfectly safe)
  • cook the rice however you want it
  • scoop a cupful of liquid out and stir the cornflour in, making sure there's no lumps
  • remove the chicken using tongs and add the cornflour mixture into the rest of the liquid, stirring until the sauce is thickened
  • serve the chicken on top of the rice with the sauce poured over

No pressure cooker

  • saute the onions in a casserole dish, then add everything (plus another 50ml of stock) bar the cornflour and cook on low for about two hours in the oven
  • once the chicken is cooked, add the cornflour and allow the sauce to thicken
  • serve

Notes

Notes

Recipe

  • just one note - don't be tempted with chicken breasts - you want thighs. If you're fussy, you can buy the boneless and skinless thighs in all supermarkets now

Books

  • we've done some terrific things with chicken in our second cookbook which you will love: order yours here! 
  • and wait til you see what I do with my cock in book one: click here to order
  • we've also got a planner: here

Tools

  • we honestly can't fault the Instant Pot - we use the Instant Pot Pro because it does everything we need and doesn't look like Sputnik - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still
  • get yourself a good set of silicone-ended tongs, they'll steer you well and they are perfect for cheekily grabbing your partner's nipple during frolics and fun times - we use these

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as my mother is demanding a decent care home when she hits ninety. She won't be getting one, but the fuel to get my car down to the river to push her in ain't cheap.

Courses stew, instant pot

Cuisine under pressure

I know! What a hero. Now if you want to take a quick look at what other Instant Pot recipes we have, and listen lady, you simply must, you can take a look by clicking here!

I’m like a dream within a dream that’s been decoded!

J

recipe: bummus with sausage

Bummus with sausage: I mean, honestly. You’re going to have to hear us out on this one: we bloody love houmous here at Chubby Towers Reborn and in the absence of the inclination to go to the shops and buy some, bummus was born. It’s a houmous made with baked beans which, depending on how strong your stomach is, will either delight or disgust you. It’s me taking my shirt off but in spread form, which, to be fair, if I’m taking my shirt off I’m usually in my spread form anyway. There’s logic here though: a houmous is usually made from chickpeas and what are haricot beans if not the gym-jacked sister of the chickpea? We aren’t pretending for a moment that this is a recipe for purists so please don’t shout at us, but listen, if you’re in a pinch for ingredients and you want something tasty, the bummus with sausage is for you. Recipe below.

Of course, you may be thinking that this is twochubbycubs, and we’re known for our smut and crappy puns, so of course we just came up with ‘bummus’ and worked backwards. First of all, how dare you, and second, of course we did. But it works and it’s so very us!

But it did make me remember a message we got over six years ago via the twochubbycubs page from a self-righteous woman in Cambridge (hi Cath!) who took it upon herself to message Paul to tell him she was shocked he had gone to Cambridge University because he was so uncouth and vulgar with his mannerisms and that we would never amount to anything if we carried on in the same vein. You see, her son had gone to Cambridge and he was ever such a good boy, whereas Paul, with his mouth like a sewer and his clothes fished from a river, was clearly degenerate. I pointed out on that blog entry that being a Cambridge student is no barometer to good behaviour and that I had once been asked by a lad who went to Cambridge to pee in his bum, so you know, whatever. I stand by that.

There’s been a few times over the years when we’ve wondered whether we should change the tone of the blog to make it a bit more ‘acceptable’ and it’s a fair thought: we would probably sell a few more books if Pascal and Canesten could sit little Hedgefund and Waitrose No.1 down after family lacrosse and hoot and chortle their way through our pages. But, meh: we’re nine years into this schtick by this point and I don’t think I have it in me to cook a recipe with aubergine and not squeeze eighty-seven dick jokes into it.

It is crazy though when we think back to six years ago and where we were. We had no idea then that this would ever spin out to become such a big thing and even now, it still feels utterly surreal to be writing about having bestselling cookbooks in the Sunday Times and hundreds of thousands of you sitting with one of our books in your kitchen. We’ve seen The Slimming Foodie and Slimming Eats go through the same experience and it is exhilarating to watch good people make a dream come true. Forgive us the treacle but it’s true. It’s been pointed out to me a couple of times that whenever I talk about twochubbycubs and its achievements that I always downplay everything and that is purely because it still feels alien to me. But that’ll pass, and we remain bloody proud of our achievements! And on that note, and I know we’ve been teasing something for aaaages, we have a big announcement coming very soon on the cookbook front. WHAT COULD IT B3? Swish!

Anyway, going back to the original point: Cath and her self-righteous little message to Paul telling him he would never amount to anything. We do hope she’s still reading at this point. I mean, they always are: they’ll say they’re never reading the page again and then you’ll spot them in the active members list waiting for someone to slap them on the back and tell them how right they are so they can feel ever so clever. We’ve waited almost six years to do this, but we wanted to reply properly to you directly so you really felt like your message was acknowledged…


Love you Cath!

Let’s get down to the bummus with sausage then, because it honestly won’t keep for a moment more.

bummus with sausage

It does look a bit goatsee, this bummus with sausage, but it’s tasty AF

We used vegetarian sausages for this bummus with sausage but if you want meat, go for it

Chilli sauce is just the thing to top this bummus with sausage, but feel free to leave it off

bummus with sausage

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 bagels

Bummus with sausage: might as well send this directly to Slimming Hurled right now because we are aware it looks totally gopping but you know what, it tastes bloody good and that's the end of it. We have included the bagel and sausages in the calorie count too so for 375 calories, you're getting a full meal! 

Of course, the calorie counting is done via the NHS calorie check and Nutracheck and is meant as an approximate guide. Your experience may very depending on the sausages, beans and bagel you choose.

Ingredients

  • one tin of baked beans, any you like but we use Branston because they're the best and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise
  • a teaspoon of chipotle paste
  • four vegetarian sausages (or use meat if you want)
  • four bagels

Instructions

  • toast your bagels and fry off your sausages
  • tip half of the beans into your blender
  • tip the other half into a sieve and wash the sauce off
  • add those in with the others and the chipotle and blend until smoothish
  • assemble your bagel

Notes

Recipe

  • you can mix this up by adding other bits and pieces - garlic and ginger would go well, or even keeping it plain
  • chilli isn't a bad shout either

Books

  • there's over 100 attractively photographed recipes in book two - you must try it: order yours here! 
  • book one has a recipe for four different houmouses and they're great: click here to order
  • we've got a planner too: here

Tools

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Goomba smokes only the finest cigars.

Courses breakfast

Cuisine breakfast I say

If you do try this, show us!

You know, I’m something of a food scientist myself!

J

recipe: fantasia cocktail (salad, but fancy)

A fantasia cocktail awaits you at the end of this retro recipe, which sounds utterly magical until you realise it’s really just a fancy salad. But, having made it, we can confirm that it is both tasty and fairly low in calories. In my new quest to find recipes of old I am inexorably drawn once more to the comfortable, modest busom of Sonia Allison, the utter maniac from the previous retro recipe entry for cheesy bananas on toast. I was going to try out a Fanny Craddock recipe but the book hasn’t arrived so, and you’ll understand this is a sentence I thought I’d never say, I’ll be saving the fanny for later.

What caught my eye about this recipe is the way she presents it: in a giant wine goblet. Now I know there’ll be people out there already mooing and wanting to shake me by the shoulders and say there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not too dissimilar to a prawn cocktail, and listen, perhaps you’re right, but prawns are absolutely gopping so you can shove that argument. No, I’ve never sat down to a plated salad and pushed my tomatoes around with a tittylip and imagined how delicious the meal could be if only I could pour it straight into my mouth or see at a moment how it would look all layered up in my belly.

I suppose we ought to be thankful she hasn’t served the bloody thing on a teaspoon because lord knows she’s tried to do that with most of the other recipes. Teensy tiny mouthfuls of food all served on an array of shiny teaspoons. I’m not suggesting for a moment that she was on the gear but I can’t conceive of any other reason why one might own so many bloody teaspoons. Check the underside for scorch marks, I say. I mean we’ve got three teaspoons to our name and two of those were only recently acquired from a Premier Inn breakfast. Maybe I’m onto something though: maybe this book was at the start of her dangerous slide into addiction and that’s why she ended up doing the Microwave for One book: she’d pawned everything else. Someone ring Cash Converters and see if they’ve got an AGA kicking around from 1982.

Everything that doesn’t fit onto a tiny teaspoon has been stylishly decanted into a seemingly never-ending pile of serving dishes that are shaped like the food they contain. Got a salad that’s heavy on lettuce? Why not impress your guests by serving it in a giant ceramic lettuce leaf! Have you tried serving your eggs from a giant chicken – your visitors will barely be able to eat for laughing uproariously and slapping their legs. Spaghetti bolognese (or spaghetti neapolitan as she rather primly calls it: I bet Sonia voted leave so hard she cracked her pencil in two scratching in the ‘X’) is served in a dish painted with spaghetti as though she is expecting a party of visually impaired folks to turn up unexpectedly and she wants to leave clues. It really is a colossal amount of tat.

Perhaps I’m only jaundiced because it brings back memories of a bloke in Doncaster who I ‘visited’ in my late teenage years. He promised me a rough time and no mercy, what I actually got was gently troubled in his living room. And even that’s stretching it, although you mustn’t worry, it tends to snap back after an hour or so. Anyway, his rough butch exterior didn’t quite marry up with the exhaustive and highly visible collection of Clarice Cliff cookware and plates that he had dotted around his entire house. It was like making love in a nursing home whilst peering through a kaleidoscope and I can’t pretend I had a great time. Mind you, nor did he – at one point I exuberantly kicked a leg out as though I was Edele from B*Witched doing the Riverdance bit from C’est La Vie and knocked a saucer clean off the side table and onto the floor. We agreed there and then that it was perhaps best I left as we were never going to be best friends.

I have no regrets even now: I might have wasted a good chunk of my disposable income on the train tickets but I did steal a fancy looking spoon rest off the side as I departed, so we’ll call that a win. I used it to keep my change in for a couple of years before it was lost – Mother is probably holding onto it so she can sell it at the right moment and nick off to Greece.

But it is certainly an era of cookware that has passed us by. Frankly, unless someone can find me an entire set of those soup bowls that had the recipe emblazoned on the side, I’m happy with that.

Shall we get to the fantasia cocktail then? For the novelty we did indeed serve this up in a wine glass like Sonia suggests, but I don’t think it will impair the flavour too much if you serve it on a plate. Oh and just one further note: Sonia suggests using tongue, but you’d expect that from a goer like her. I can’t bring myself to eat tongue, not least because I know where my own has been, but if you were so inclined you can pick it up in most major supermarkets. Not for me though: I don’t like to think that my food can taste me as I eat it.

fantasia cocktail

Hosting a swingers party? Try this fantasia cocktail to get the conversation started!

fantasia cocktail

Remember, you don’t need to serve it in a glass, a plate will do just fine for your fantasia cocktail

fantasia cocktail

You’ll note I put my key in a bowl for this fantasia cocktail photo – it just seemed somewhat fitting

fantasia cocktail

Prep

Total

Yield 4 glasses of salad

I mean, let's not pretend that this fantasia cocktail is anything more than a salad in a wine glass, but it's a good salad none the less and the homemade dressing actually had a good bit of kick to it. If you were so inclined you could swap out the dressing for a ready made one and no-one would be any the wiser.

We have worked the calories out via the NHS app at roughly 350 calories, but of course it depends on the meats and cheese you use. So do make sure to double check.

Ingredients

  • one large little gem lettuce (a contradiction I know, so feel free to use two little little gems (I ought to explain, that doesn't mean use a tiny lettuce either) (fuck it, use an iceberg lettuce for all I care) (why use lettuce at all - just cos)
    • of course, you're not making a honeymoon salad here, which is lettuce alone
      • get out
  • 225g of small ripe tomatoes (Sonia says use firm tomatoes, but firm tomatoes are always watery and tasteless, so listen to me), sliced fine
  • 225g of chopped cooked chicken
  • 125g of chopped ham or tongue
  • 225g of cucumber, sliced fine
  • 125g of button mushrooms, sliced fine
  • a green pepper, sliced so fine you blow my mind
  • one teaspoon of mixed herbs
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 125g of mild cheese - we used a mixture of Gouda and Edam

For the dressing

  • six tablespoons of mayonnaise (full fat, mind you)
  • one teaspoon (level) of mustard powder
  • two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Or, controversially, just buy some salad dressing.

Instructions

  • line the bottom of your glasses with lettuce leaves or finely chopped lettuce
  • layer the tomatoes on top
  • season with a bit of salt and pepper
  • add equal amounts of chicken into each glass
  • in a separate bowl, add the sliced cucumber, mushrooms and pepper and douse with the vinegar, herbs and another pinch of salt
  • spoon that mixture on top of the chicken
  • top that with ham and cheese
  • top cat, the indisputable leader of the gang
  • whisk all the dressing ingredients together, thinning with water if needed, and then pour over the top to (in Sonia's words) moisten your ingredients
  • serve, and then present yourself alluringly on the banquette so one of your neighbours can have a go to say thanks for such an amazing dinner
  • get yourself a reputation on the street for being a filthy slattern who steals husbands
  • turn to a life of crime 
  • fall from grace
  • end up making a book of Microwave for One meals

The circle completes!

Notes

Recipe

  • as mentioned, you can swap the tongue for ham
  • after dinner, you can swap the tongue for pork if you're nasty

Books

  • we have a few salads in our second cookbook which is a treasure and contains nothing served in a wine glass other than your dear author's morning gin: order yours here! 
  • the berry cheesy salad we made (well, tried to make) on James Martin is in the first book, and it's really quite delicious: click here to order
  • want some motivation and wish we were there to help assist you with your weight loss - why not try our planner - it's like having us with you only without Paul blowing pastry crumbs all over you: here

Tools

  • I have nothing to really put in here today save for this ABSOLUTELY GIANT WINE GLASS I found on Amazon - I think this would be perfect for the school run, but then that's why I'm not a school bus driver

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Paul's boobs need another layer of scaffolding

Courses salad

Cuisine retro recipes

Now, if you’re in the mood for another salad, may we point you in the direction of our fabulous mixed bean salad? Worth a try!

We could have been stardust.

J

recipe reacharound: salty spicy sweet potato fries

Well, hello there: here for another reacharound? My arms, they ache! But nevertheless, we’re taking a look back to 2017 and updating one of our most popular sides, the salty spicy sweet potato fries! Before we get to the recipe, however, I must update you on how quickly and efficiently Goomba made a mockery of my lovely post about him a few days ago. I must warn you, however: the tale, which I’ll endeavour to keep brief, does contain quite a bit of talk about dog plop. If you’re squeamish, or indeed aware that the meal accompanying this recipe does look a little bit like he’s had a stab at digesting it already, simply boop Goomba’s nose on the photo which I’ve customised for you below and you’ll be whisked straight to the salty spicy sweet potato fries. But, know this: by clicking on his face you’re actually telling him how much you dislike him. I can’t believe you’d be so cruel.

Can you believe they did that? Let’s quickly gossip about them like we used to do on the blog of old. I mean, you clearly can’t trust someone with that level of fussiness in their lives, can you? I bet they couldn’t wait for their dinner, that’s why they clicked. Might as well have come and kicked Goomba right in his nipsy.

Though, I’ll ask that you don’t, because lord knows it looks like a chewed halftime orange at the moment. See, our poor baby has gastroenteritis, which is creating a double worry for me because I have to google how to spell it every single time. Part of me wishes it was rabies: easy to spell and we’d save on the water bill. Either way, from now on and because we’re amongst friends, we’ll refer to him having the shits. He came home from daycare yesterday (a feat in itself, although I knew training him to use a bus would pay off) and totally ignored the wonderful dinner I had carefully prepared for him. He’s on raw food from Rawgeous and I’m not going to lie, there’s been several times when I’ve looked at his dinner and then my own miserable repast and considered swapping them over. I reckon frying and adding black pepper to most of his meals would render them suitable for humans, but he’d probably take my ankles off if I tried.

We chalked down his lack of hunger to the fact he’d probably filled himself up chewing his way through Paul’s Smart car seat cushions (hope he doesn’t get a taste for that, given it’ll be 90% farts and 10% bodily secretions from burly lorry drivers) on the way home. He took himself into his crate for a lie down and most of the evening passed without incident. We’re currently rewatching 24 and almost at the end of series five and things are getting tense: I’m cutting back to 50 cigarettes a day just to get through the episodes in a timely fashion. The current threat is a nerve gas which causes folks to splutter, retch and ultimately die with some fetching pink foam crusting their lips.

Well, Goomba was clearly inspired, and no sooner had the clock started ticking on our fifth episode of the evening when this almighty, eye-watering stench hit us both. I’m telling you now: I could cheerfully stand downwind of a fire at a rendering plant, that the firefighters were tackling by spraying slurry onto from a helicopter, and still consider myself lucky that at least I wasn’t back in that living room. Peering behind the sofa we realised that Goomba had taken it upon himself to open the valves at one end of the living room, walk to the other end, across our hallway, into our bedroom and all around our bed without pausing to nip off. You know in old detective movies (and the stonecutter episode of The Simpsons, which is where I get all my cutting-edge references from) when the detective ties a dripping paint can to the underside of the narc’s car so the drip trail reveals where he is heading? Well imagine that but instead of a dripping paint tray you’re using a cement mixer full of foamy brown coffee. It was everywhere. He’s only a small dog so I assume he had someone take over halfway through. Probably Sola.

Naturally, as a kind and considerate husband, I volunteered poor Paul to clean it up. Which makes me sound like a terrible partner but you have to understand, I absolutely can’t deal with dog poo. I can’t. Not many things make me gip (luckily) but the thought of that actually makes me retch, so that’s Paul’s job unless I’m walking the dog alone and even then I have to hold my breath for the entirety of the picking up exercise. People bump into me in the street and mistake my blue lips as a sign of a lack of fitness and it really isn’t: it’s just me trying not to pass out face-down into whatever sinful mess Goomba has turned his dinner into. Paul set about cleaning up whilst I went to find Goomba, who, bless his heart, looked absolutely terrified (and almost translucent). We’ve never shouted at him and we weren’t going to start now: I can’t get my head around people who punish their dogs for crapping inside. It’s not like they do it deliberately and I’m fairly sure if you accidentally shat yourself in public you wouldn’t expect someone to hit you on the nose with a newspaper afterwards. Unless that’s your kink, and if so, good for you! Dare to dream.

I carried him across the river of stink he had left behind and took him outside to see if there was anything else left in him and, thankfully, there wasn’t anything billowing from that end, but he promptly vomited all over our yard. If he had ran back in and pissed in our wash basket he would have got the full house and won a speedboat, but by this point he was clearly very unwell. We called the emergency vets who, after running us through a questionnaire that by all accounts should have ended with me having the chance to win £1,000,000 with a set of lifelines, recommended that we keep an eye on him. I think she must have sensed our ‘new Dad’ anxiety and upgraded us to bringing him in. Thank heavens, because we were flapping: I was two beats away from faking a heart attack just so we could borrow the air ambulance and Paul had his bank card ready to slap down on the reception desk accompanied with a cry of ‘DO WHATEVER IT TAKES JUST MAKE HIM BETTER’. Springers are notorious for eating anything they find on the floor and although we keep a very tidy home, you never know if he’s managed to find a slipper or a piece of Lego or a load-bearing wall to chew on.

Paul rushed him at top speed to the vets five miles away – took him four hours in the Smart car – whereas I stayed at home so I didn’t distract the vet with my wailing and banging my head on the wall in panic. Happily, the vet decided that the dog hadn’t ate anything he shouldn’t have and clearly just had a stomach bug. I found this out by messaging Paul to ask ‘how is he’ only to get a response of ‘Romanian, bearded, really fit‘. Turns out he was talking about the vet. I ever so gently suggested he concentrates on the dog and he reassured me that pretty much as soon as he got to the vets, Goomba was running around happy as a chip. But of course he was. Long, expensive story short, he’s got the shits, and he’s having to stay inside and feel sorry for himself. I tried tucking him into a spare duvet and sticking This Morning on for him like my mum used to do for me when I was off with pains in my ovaries or whatever I’d made up to get out of PE. He was having none of it, of course, and took himself to his crate to look forlornly at me and choke down some plain chicken.

Oh, the final brown cherry on this heavily-iced cake? Once he had settled in his crate we were getting ourselves ready for bed when we spotted he had also been sick – and significantly so – on our bed. My side too, which hurt. As we hadn’t spotted this earlier it had been given enough time and opportunity to sink through the first duvet, then the second (we sleep with the windows open all winter – we’re like the Bucket family), then the sheet, then the mattress topper and then for good measure, a good way through the mattress. Super! We had to turn the mattress over, which is always terrifying because the sound of 100,000,000,000 tiny screams in the midnight silence is haunting, and then try and cuddle our way through sleeping on the wrong side of the bed with a duvet so thin you could trace the person underneath through it with little difficulty. I woke up at 4am to check Goomba hadn’t shat his arse out again and, upon returning and seeing Paul had cocooned himself in the quilt in my absence, just decided to stay up.

So, readers, it’s been a day. My mother summed it up perfectly when I told her what had happened (and the subsequent £180 vet bill – thank God for insurance):

Fuck me, that’s one expensive shite

Can’t argue with that. You can tell she’s retired now, she’s back to swearing like an angry pirate again.

Right, shall we get to the salty spicy sweet potato fries? All those people who skipped straight here will be back in a moment. Smile and pretend you like them!

Oh hi! Gosh you look pretty. Have you been working out? Shall we have some dinner? Let’s try these spicy salty sweet potato fries!

salty spicy sweet potato fries

Every mouthful of these salty spicy sweet potato fries will leave you winning, we promise

salty spicy sweet potato fries

Do not be tempted to skip the nuts (good advice for a lot of things) – they add texture and flavour to the salty spicy sweet potato fries

salty spicy sweet potato fries

only I…can live forever…in these salty spicy sweet potato fries

salty spicy sweet potato fries

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

These salty spicy sweet potato fries, covered in sticky sauces and nuts (rather like me on holiday), are absolutely bloody amazing and I won't have a bad word said against them. You could probably make this recipe using normal potatoes but if you're going to do that, you might as well come round and tell me you hate me to my face.

We've upgraded the recipe a little as when we first published it, sriracha was a pain in the arse to come by. And to spell. Now you can find it everywhere, and we've swapped the satay and hoisin sauces for their 'dipping' equivalents - much nicer, trust me. They can all be found in your local Tesco'sse'sesse'sses.

Ingredients

  • 1kg of sweet potato fries (we use the McCain Signature ones because they crisp up rather than going to mush)
  • 2 tablespoons of satay dipping sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha or hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of hoisin dipping sauce
  • 40g of roasted salted peanuts, half chopped fine, half chopped coarse
  • three spring onions, chopped 
  • sprinkling of chilli flakes
  • 1kg sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp satay sauce (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha (1 syn)
  • 2 tbsp hoisin dipping sauce (3 syns)
  • 15g dry roasted peanuts (about 4 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced

Instructions

  • cook your sweet potato fries in the oven until they're nice and crispy and then tip into a bowl
  • tumble them around in the sauces with the finely chopped peanuts and then tip onto a plate
  • top with the rest of the peanuts, spring onion and chilli flakes

Notes

Recipe

  • you can make your own sweet potato fries if you want - slice up a load of sweet potatoes, tumble them in oil, wince because I used tumble, cook in the oven - calories will drop, but honestly for the sake of a quick dinner it's not worth it
  • a good friend of mine got me into crispy chilli in oil and it goes perfect on a dish like this, it's a very savoury, umami flavour rather than chilli - if you've never tried it you are genuinely missing out - you can order it here

Books

  • does it need to be said - book two is still the very best if you're wanting slimming recipes: order yours here! 
  • let's hear it for book one too - the cookbook that started it all: click here to order
  • we've got a planner too: here

Tools

Courses side dishes

Cuisine vegetarian

 

Goodbye forever!

J

recipe: smoky beef wraps

The first thing we need to get out of the way with these smoky beef wraps is whether or not it should be smoky or smokey. To me and my permanently-befuddled mind they both look correct – and listen, I pulled my own smoky beef wrap out of a house fire in the form of Paul once (citation needed) so I have experience but the Internet assures me that smoky is the correct form. Unless someone fancies getting Susie Dent on the blower, we’ll continue with smoky and if I am wrong, well, write me a letter. Christ though, if this was a smoky bologna lasagna recipe I’d probably need to get taken away on a stretcher breathing into a paper bag.

Before we get to the recipe there’s the small matter of my usual chatter. I thought I’d give you an update on Goomba, the dog who clearly I don’t love very much because I always forget to update his Instagram. He’s never going to get that Huel x Spaniel collab at this rate, but really, in my defence, setting up an Instagram for a dog was nothing more than a folly on my side. I can barely bring myself to update this blog more than twice a year, documenting every moment of his life was certainly never going to happen. Anyway, he’s past the cute puppy stage so we’ll be trading him in for cigarettes and scratchcards soon enough.

Now before you do actually send us a letter, that’s very much a joke. Six months on and I, for all my puff and bluster, simply could not imagine him not being around. I deferred on getting a dog for many, many years – partly on the grounds of making sure we were financially able to support him, but also, it’s such a big responsibility. I’m someone who doesn’t wear his wedding ring just in case I get a scorch mark pulling it off my finger too quickly if I ever get a better offer. Taking on a dog is a true commitment. Our cats aren’t as tying (though no less loved), given they only seem to come to us when they want feeding or to scratch our faces open for having the temerity to buy the cheap cat-food. Both of our cats are outdoor cats and it isn’t uncommon not to see them for a day or two whilst they go off on their own adventures. It wouldn’t sting quite as much if only Sola didn’t flick the gas on as she exited out the cat-flap.

But, and it almost goes without saying but this is me so I’ll spin it out for 500 words more, I’m beyond glad we took the plunge. We have in Goomba what I consider to be my dream dog (after Beethoven, Hooch from Turner and Hooch and Chance from Homeward Bound) (never Shadow though, always thought he was a sanctimonious old fart) – he’s perfectly trained, always enthusiastic and for the most part, keeps his dog-farts to what I would consider a reasonable level. On the subject of fog-slicers we have learned one key thing since taking the dog on: they absolutely mystify him. If either Paul or myself let a knicker-rattler go in his presence he will sit bolt upright, turn his head in that inquisitive manner Springers are known for and then frown until he believes the danger has passed. Equally, if he’s fast asleep and he accidentally clouds the issue, he will wake with a start and stare at his arsehole in absolute terror, as though he can’t quite believe what has happened. It is genuinely hilarious and luckily, given he lives in a house so full of farts we dare not light a match lest we blow the roof off, he’s always amused.

There’s also the small matter of leaving a room and him treating your return like he hasn’t seen you in months. It does wonders for your confidence that every time you go for a crap and come back he bounds around with his tongue lolling around as though he can’t quite believe you managed such an expedition on your own. His response to Paul returning from work is incredible to see – he hears the tinny whirr of the Smart car at the end of the street and goes to the window to await the sight of Paul clattering over the lawn with the shopping. Then he’s off out the back door like his arse is on fire to greet him at the gate. A day isn’t complete until he’s jumped up and torn a new hole in whatever Sports Direct special coat Paul is wearing that day. Thankfully he has cut back on the weeing when jumping up which is a relief to me, although Goomba did register his delight at going for a drive with Paul the other day by climbing over and taking a long, luxurious sit-down piss all over Paul’s lap. I like to think Goomba is with me in thinking Paul’s aftershave (Cerutti 1881, applied in the same fashion a clown throws a bucket of confetti) is an abomination, but I can’t rule out classic puppy exuberance.

And finally, we have managed to get him past his phobia of water, which is a relief because it was rather embarrassing having him out-camp us by mincing around any puddle like an especially fey horse. We take him to the beach most weekends so he can run around and fill his ears with enough sand to recreate the beach experience at home and Paul absent-mindedly skimmed a stone into the sea. Goomba, previously so water-phobic that I found a leaflet for pet catheterisation in his crate, went steaming in to collect it only to run straight into a not insignificant wave. He promptly disappeared but in the time it took me to loudly scream (I had to, I didn’t have my glasses on to do my traditional Madge from Neighbours ‘HARRRRRROLLLLD‘ joke) he reappeared and swam back. I mean I make it sound like he crossed the Channel, it must have only been about ten metres, but the sheer panic coursing through me in those seconds made me realise how much I did love him so. Put it this way, had the situation escalated, I would have had no compunction about sailing out to rescue him on a face-down Paul. It’s OK, Paul’s naturally buoyant on account of all the hot air. Anyway, once I’d been bought a calm-yerself-down-you-hysterical-slag ice-cream and another for travelling, all was well, and Goomba couldn’t stay out of the water.

You might be thinking, James, surely if the dog is wet it’ll make your fabulous car smell of wet dog? Well now, don’t be silly: we take two cars because there’s no chance he’s going to make my car smell and pittle on the passenger seat. Plus, there’s Goomba to consider too.

Right, from dripping dog to smoky beef – an effortless segue I’m sure you’ll agree. Let’s do these smoky beef wraps without a moment more of paws. PAWS! Do you get it? Because PAUSE as in delay but also PAWS because Goomba is a dog and has paws! That’s it, get the Sunday Times back on the phone, there’s another bestseller incoming!

smoky beef wraps

If you’re wondering, you don’t need to wrap your smoky beef wraps in those blankets they give people who have just finished a marathon, but it helps

smoky beef wraps

This isn’t the first time I’ve had smoky beef wraps this close to my face, either

smoky beef wraps

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 wraps

If you struggle making wraps, please do take a look on Youtube. I'm as cack-handed as they come but once you know the technique, it's a doddle. As with all of our recipes, you can leave bits out of this or add in - the pineapple isn't necessary, but it does add a lovely contrast of flavours. Unless you're like me and slightly allergic.

As usual, we have worked out the calories via the NHS calorie check and your result may be different - different wraps and mince etc will result in a changed amount. Do make sure to work it out yourself or treat it as a rough guide.

Ingredients

  • 400g of lean beef mince
  • four whatever wraps you use
  • two tablespoons of soy sauce
  • one red onion, half finely chopped, other half sliced into thin moons
  • one little gem lettuce
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 500g of sweet potato fries (we use McCain's Signature ones because we're so fancy it hurts)
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • four tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • chill sauce for a drizzle inside if you want

Instructions

  • pop your sweet potato fries into the oven and cook until crispy
  • pop the finely sliced onion into the vinegar - it'll take the tang away
  • pop off Sis
  • gently fry off the chopped onion and once softened, add the mince and cook until brown all the way through
  • whilst that's doing that, finely chop your lettuce and pineapple and keep aside
  • once the meat is browned, add the soy sauce, paprika, chilli flakes and pepper, give it a good mix and cook for a minute or two more until a bit sticky
  • once everything is ready, assemble - you want a pile of sweet potatoes, mince, chopped lettuce and pineapple drizzled with some chilli sauce
  • wrap up, eat them, enjoy

Notes

Recipe

  • although we have used sweet potato fries (plain) in the recipe, eagle-eyed folks will spot that we have used our spicy, salty sweet potato fries in the photo - the next recipe reacharound will redo these, but for now, you can find the recipe for those here

Books

  • our Fast & Filling cookbook has delicious recipes coming out of its bum in all honesty, and the reviews are second to none: order yours here! 
  • but we mustn't forget about book one - the book that started it all and every page a delight: click here to order
  • our planner must also be considered, if you're looking for some extra recipes and somewhere to log your successes: here

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as we could always use an extension on Chubby Towers.

Courses wraps

Cuisine spicy, smoky

That’s a wrap! But also, speaking of wraps, may I suggest our chicken tikka wraps for a lovely alternative? Well I’m gonna, you’re not the boss of me. Take a look here.

OUT, am I‽

J

recipe: cheesy bananas on toast

The idea of cheesy bananas on toast is either going to have you licking both sets of lips and taking yourself off to the bathroom for some ‘me’ time or dry-heaving into your elbow and taking yourself off to the bathroom to have a calm-down-poo. Either way, you’re getting the recipe right here and right now and for once, I promise, there shall be no prattling on. Straight to business.

Well, no, not quite, I do need to clarify that I haven’t (as variously suggested on Facebook):

  • suffered a head injury (well, he sometimes scrapes it with his teeth, but that’s not important right now);
  • become pregnant (not for the want of trying, but again, that’s not important right now); or
  • given up on life (not whilst I’ve got joy in my heart and a decent life insurance on Paul).

See, in amongst all the free copies of our cookbooks on our shelves, which I absolutely must get round to giving away, we’ve got some proper old classics. Books from a time where it was considered acceptable to suggest rock cakes were for the boys of the family and women shouldn’t occupy their thoughts any further than what to cook Father when he returned from a gruelling 36 hour shift clipping t’children round t’ear down t’asbestos-and-cigarettes mine. There’s a certain homeliness to a lot of the recipes and if it wasn’t for the dangerously high levels of offal in seemingly everything, or the tendency to suspend anything you could possibly imagine in aspic (and mind I haven’t seen good aspic since I deleted my Growlr account), we’d give most of them a go. Indeed, part of the new ideas for the blog is to dig out some long-forgotten gems and hence this banana and cheese beauty was born.

My favourite of all our old books is ‘A Pleasure to Cook’ by Sonia Allison (though, clearly without the steer of a good proof-reader, the spine simply reads ‘A Pleasure to Cook Sonia Allison’ – you’d hope she wouldn’t mind) (thank goodness the book wasn’t called Eating Out) – it’s awash with all sorts of nonsense but the best recipe is for a simple sandwich called ‘The Man About Town’. She’s clearly taken leave of her senses at this point, stuck a bit of bread down with some lettuce and then whacked a full back joint of roast chicken with legs attached on top, before sitting another slice of bread on top. To add to the fanciness she suggests sticking a ‘cutlet frill’ on the end of the legs, which mystified me immensely. My idea of a cutlet thrill is not looking behind me when I walk down an alley at night, but no, turns out it’s those frou-frou paper caps you stick on the end of the bone, like the world’s least-effective condom.

A bit more of a dive into the world of Sonia Allison reveals she was also the author of ‘Microwave for One’ which features possibly the most depressing cookbook cover you can imagine:

I mean, haway. You just want to reach in and tell her everything will be OK, don’t you? I’m not sure what troubles me more: the dinner setting for one, the you-know-it’ll-be-her-fourth glass of pomaine or the fact she has set the microwave across from her on the table so she can stare into the abyss whilst she eats. I imagine it’s how she set her hair. Not going to lie, I absolutely want this book to try and recreate a recipe for this blog, so if you have it at home and you can find it under your eighty-seven cats, please do drop me a line and I’ll happily take it off your hands.

Anyway! Here we find ourselves 600 words in and without a recipe, so let’s get to it.

If you’re going to accuse me of posting this cheesy bananas on toast purely to show off my fancy Le Creuset side-plates you’d be absolutely bang on. 

cheesy bananas on toast

The cheesy bananas on toast is actually genuinely delicious – so please do try!

cheesy bananas on toast

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 2 slices

If you're still not sure, let me talk you through this: sweet and salty go together very well - so it stands to reason that cheese and banana should work. But this absolutely won't work with that crappy plastic cheddar from the corner shop, you need extra mature cheddar, preferably the stuff with tiny salt crystals in. 

If you like all the constituent parts of the recipe, then give it a go. You can sack off the tomatoes if you're a fan - swap them out for chopped chives.

We have worked the calories out via the NHS app at roughly 240 calories, but of course it depends on the size of your banana and the brand of your bread. So do make sure to double check.

Ingredients

  • two slices of wholemeal toast 
  • one medium banana, mashed
  • 25g of extra-mature cheese
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • salt

Instructions

  • listen, I'm not gonna fib - I sort of feel if you need a recipe here, you might need to swap us out for Sonia Allison's Microwave for one, but nevertheless:
    • toast your bread
    • top with mashed banana
    • top with grated cheese
    • top with chopped cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt
    • grill until golden brown, texture like sun

Notes

Recipe

  • controversially, Paul doesn't toast his bread before putting it under the grill, but you must understand that this way lies ruin and should you really trust a man who can watch both players on a tennis match at once? No I think not

Books

  • our second book sold like absolute hot-cakes, which is no surprise when you look at how much we all love a cake - it gets excellent reviews and you can do no better, trust me: order yours here! 
    • a plea: if you have bought any of our books, please do take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, we will love you forever and it helps us out so much
  • the first book is a bit cheaper and still an incredible bible if you're looking to lose weight with delicious recipes: click here to order
  • our planner will help you on your way - loads of space to keep track of your weight loss and lovely pictures of us to be getting on with: here

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as us whores must have our trinkets.

Courses breakfast or lunch, I don't care

Cuisine retro

Right, must get on.

It’s not me, it’s you, don’t call me.

J

recipe reacharound: one pot sausage and beans

If you have leftover sausage from our previous recipe for speedy sausage and leek skillet – and listen, we both know that you don’t – then you could chop them up and stick them into this one pot sausage and beans, one of our older classic recipes. This is a recipe reacharound, where we go back to check on the recipes of yore to make sure they’re still up to snuff and to re-photo them. It makes me cringe when I look back at what we used to consider acceptable as a photo – there’s one recipe which we’ve actually taken down because the food looks more like something a surgeon would pull from an infected wound than it does delicious food. But this one pot sausage and beans meal deserves some love and given there’s nothing more to it than frying off sausages and bubbling them in a pan with a few other ingredients, it’s a good place to start.

It’s funny looking back at that old recipe, though – it is one of our older holiday style blog entries from when we took a glamour-filled weekend away in Peterborough. Take a read here, it’ll open in a new tab. It’ll perhaps come as no surprise after reading that if I tell you I haven’t been back. Paul occasionally nips down to remind his fragrant, wonderful mother that he exists and indeed, spent a merry week there not so long ago. He had only been in town twenty minutes before he felt someone reaching into his pockets to try and grab his wallet. Thankfully being married to me and my miserliness has taught him to never let his wallet out of his sight and he was able to shoo away the literal cheeky beggar before he lost out. Being a sensible chap he went to tell a local policeman who looked disinterested and said ‘aye, it happens a lot round here’. Brilliantly reassuring.

You don’t get that sort of apathy from Vera mind, she’d have you down the station and shouting hmm pet in your face before you could even think about calling for a lawyer. It’s to my eternal chagrin that my mother has handed in her cuffs and is no longer a policewoman – 87% of any conversation I have with her is accusing her of being Vera, and that all ends now. Back to calling her Rainie Cross.

Anyway, we mustn’t dawdle – the point of these reacharounds are that they are meant to be snappy redos – so here we are: the one pot sausage and beans for your approval. We served ours on a jacket potato (calories not counted for that) but this does just as well on chips or even on its own, as a kind of super-thick soup. A quick word on the potatoes: if you choose ‘buttery’ potatoes (most supermarkets have them) you won’t need to slather them with butter after. We use Vivaldi potatoes from Sainsbury’s because we know not what we do, but there’s plenty of brands out there. Now, if you’re reading this and thinking what a ‘stupid cow’ I am for suggesting there’s such a thing as a buttery breed of potato I’ll say only this: you’re wrong. You’re so wrong! You don’t even know how wrong you are. But it’s OK, you’re pretty/hung (delete as appropriate).

Mind you, no home-baked potato ever tastes as good as those jacket potatoes that have been sitting in those potato ovens in staff canteens since the turn of the millennium. We used to have one back when I worked (using that term exceptionally lightly, my way into work involved going past a gay sauna and I often came in late – then turned up for work) at One North East and I swear I almost turned into a potato. Because I’m such a people person, and I once lent her my Mach 3 to sort her moustache out, the dinner lady used to save me the biggest potato and throw on a quantity of tuna mayonnaise that you could have comfortably rendered a house with. More than once I had to schedule a meeting with myself in one of the boardrooms just so I could have a doze after lunch. It’s little wonder the Tories shut us down, looking back. Anyway: recipe.

one pot sausage and beans

Served on top of a jacket potato, this one pot sausage and beans is proper filling.

one pot sausage and beans

I do like how the steam looks coming off the one pot sausage and beans here. There’s something hypnotic about it all.

one pot sausage and beans

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 massive dollops

We have changed a couple of things from the original recipe here, namely adding a carton of chopped tomatoes and some chickpeas and removing the Oxo cube, but honestly, something like this can be adapted any way you fancy. We just chucked whatever shite we had kicking around in the cupboard into it.

Paul's top tip for jacket potatoes is an oldie-but-goodie though: pierce all over, put in a massive bowl with a big drizzle of garlic oil and some sea salt, tumble about and then bake in the oven.

As usual, we have worked out the calories via the NHS calorie check and your result may differ - it really depends on the brands of sausages you use. Treat it as a rough estimate.

Ingredients

  • one tin of kidney beans in chilli sauce
  • one large white onion
  • one clove of garlic (minced)
  • four reduced fat sausages
  • one 200ml carton of chopped tomatoes
  • a good glug of worcestershire sauce
  • a little dollop of Marmite if the thought doesn't repel you
  • a tin of chickpeas

Instructions

  • stick your jacket potato in the oven if you're having one
  • about forty minutes before it comes out, fry off the onion in a little oil
  • cook your sausages whilst the onions are frying off, then slice them thinly
  • once the onions are softened, add your garlic and gently fry off for a minute
  • add your beans, chickpeas, glug of worcestershire sauce, Marmite if using and tomatoes
  • simmer for as long as you bloody well dare

Notes

Recipe

  • chuck in a tin of baked beans here instead of the chickpeas and tomatoes and it'll be lovely
  • fancy having your arse remind you that you need to be kinder to it - add a glug of chilli sauce

Books

  • our Fast & Filling cookbook has so many fabulous recipes in I can't even, but there's a tremendous chilli recipe in there if you like beans: order yours here! 
  • of course, twochubbycubs the cookbook is still a wonder in and of itself: click here to order
  • losing weight and flying right - try our planner: here

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as us whores must have our trinkets.

Courses sausages

Cuisine dinner time

I know right! All that for 260 calories! Want another potato topper? Don’t we all love. But coronation chicken done our way will warm your cockles! Click here to try that.

Goodbye forever!

J

recipe: super speedy sausage and leek skillet

Super speedy sausage and leek skillet time. Now, in the spirit of openness and honesty, I’m not entirely sure what a skillet is and should probably avoid using it, but let’s roll the dice. All I know is Paul made this for dinner the other day and it was bloody glorious, so here we are.

Before we start: if you’re just starting out on your diet and you want our book, it’s currently at time of writing £8 on Amazon or 99p on Kindle – that’s a steal! Click here to order that.

Speaking of Paul, it’s our anniversary tomorrow – twelve years of marriage. We’re not planning on getting gifts for one another because who needs that extra level of administration in their lives (plus Paul’s birthday is 8 January, and Valentines is the month after, so frankly that’s all my goodwill spent), however Google reliably informs me that the gifts for twelve years are silks and pearl. That’s easy then: I’ll blurt on his neck and dab it off after with a silk handkerchief. No wonder he looks so young!

Google also suggests that twelve years is almost 4400 days, which is just a bewildering amount of time, not least because Paul must have spent a good two thirds of them moaning at me for piddling on the bathroom floor, snoring too loudly or not observing the sanctity of our marriage. A stickler for the rules, always. But see I remember when I was young and six weeks felt like an eternity, or the weeks leading up to Christmas passing like cold treacle. You could throw a stone and hit the edge of what I considered my future. I could never imagine such a horror as being 25, let alone 36, and yet here I find myself, wincing at 95% of my Spotify Suggestions for being too ‘loud’ and making thankful ‘oooh‘ noises when we approach a particularly comfortable looking bench when out walking the dog.

You know when it hit home though? We were at our mates for New Years Eve and when the clock hit midnight and the big London firework display was kicking off, Paul turned to me and said ‘we should go next year’. Not sure why, if he wants loud explosions and pyrotechnical effects he only needs to step into our back yard, but he has said the same thing to me every year for twelve years now, save for the night I spent crying into the toilet whilst I tried desperately not to pebbledash the wall behind me thanks to some undercooked chicken. And every year we agree we will do it and then we put it off and at this point the only way I’ll see it is if they tip me into the Thames after my acid cremation. That’s what Paul and I have decided on by the way: rather than burning the body after death they dissolve you in acid and flush you down the toilet, though I imagine it’s a shade more glamorous than that. Makes sense: I lived through the foot and mouth crisis and I know what 1,100kg of beef smells like when it’s on fire. I’m doing you a favour.

This may read like I’ve got a touch of melancholy and I really haven’t – I’m actually quite content with my position in time – I can grow a salt and pepper beard and continue my slide into being a Daddy, for one. I own two pairs of slippers (padded for inside and waterproofs for outdoors) and smoke a pipe, so I’m halfway there already. But I have realised that time is hurtling by without a care for my procrastinations and I absolutely need to pull my socks up and course correct all the things I’ve been letting slide. This is as close to a ‘new year new me’ post that I parodied in the last entry but here we are. There’s a bit in Bridget Jones where she gives up smoking and shaves her legs in the bath and that’s where I am now, and if that just so happens to lead to me getting knobbed by Daniel Cleaver then that’s all the better. I always thought he was the better choice: Mark Darcy was such a wet weekend. Controversial but true.

To that end, after I’ve finished typing this up, I’m going to book a hotel for New Years Eve in London – if anything, the cost will give Paul and I something to moan about until we hit the thirteenth anniversary: the present for that is fur. That’s easy, he can fall asleep on my chest and spend the morning coughing up my chest hair.

Before we get to the recipe, I just wanted to set out how the blog is going to work going forward. Because this is now my full time job – Christ – I’m probably going to update it more than four times a year. As part of that, although most of the recipes will continue to be low calorie, we’ll also be posting other stuff that we’re cooking. For example, one of my (nineteen) resolutions of the year is to learn how to bake bread, because that is the rock and roll life I lead now, but I’ll be sticking those online as I go. I’m not going to promise that each recipe will come with the usual 2,000 words about absolutely nothing relevant, but it should mean that I get a chance to write more. In reality, I’ll probably update three times and then take up swimming. But, a boy can dream.

The super speedy sausage and leek skillet, then.

speedy sausage and leek skillet

As you can see – the speedy sausage and leek skillet doesn’t look like much, but it tastes good!

speedy sausage and leek skillet

The speedy sausage and leek skillet freezes surprisingly well, but don’t be adding the fried egg before you freeze it, obvs

super speedy sausage and leek skillet

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

One of those recipes which you can throw together without really thinking, which is always a plus in these workaday world. We have worked out the calories via Nutracheck and of course, they are a rough estimate: it all depends on what sausages you use, as some are more calorific than others. We've used Tesco reduced fat sausages for this but feel free to swap it out. This recipe is based on a Gousto recipe that we tried during the Christmas holiday and we've gussied it up a smidge to make it a bit more slimming. As is our way!

Ingredients

  • two medium leeks
  • four large eggs
  • 800g of potatoes - we use Vivaldi potatoes from Sainsbury's because we think we're better than you
  • 8 reduced fat sausages
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • a bunch of chives, finely sliced

Instructions

  • slice the leeks in half lengthways, then slice horizontally into little half-moons
  • dice the potatoes (skin on) into small cubes
  • place the diced potatoes into a large pan and cover with boiling water, sprinkle in a little salt and bring back to the boil over a high heat
  • cook for 10-15 minutes until tender, then drain
  • return the pan to the hob over a medium-high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, until softened
  • meanwhile, score each of the sausages with a sharp knife and remove the skins (chuck the skins in the bin, or  give to a hungry dog)
  • add the sausage meat to the pan and stir regularly for 5-6 minutes, breaking them up with the spoon as you go
  • once the sausages are cooked, add the potatoes back to the pan and cook for another 6-8 minutes
  • stir through the mustard and then add half of the chives to the pan, stir again, and serve onto plates
  • put the pan back over a medium heat and add a little more oil
  • crack the eggs into the pan and cook or 2-3 minutes
  • serve the eggs over the hash and sprinkle over the remaining chives

Notes

Recipe

  • if you're buying fresh chives, make sure you stick the rest of the plant in a wee pot on the windowsill and water it from the bottom - don't let those bastards at Big Chive get you down
    • they really know their onions, after all
      • oh do one
  • if you're not arsed about the calories, swap the sausages for higher fat beasties and you'll be living the dream
  • doubly so if you add chopped chorizo in with the sausage meat, just saying

Books

  • our Fast & Filling cookbook has been out for a year now and still gets excellent reviews: order yours here! 
  • the original cookbook is also a delight and if you're wanting a good place to start, it's here: click here to order
  • and if you're on a diet, you can track your progress using our diet planner: here

Tools

  • the mandolin slicer that we always recommend is currently cheap on Amazon and absolutely worth a few quid - though please exercise caution with those fingertips of yours - you can buy it here

Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as us whores must have our trinkets.

Courses dinner

Cuisine one-pot

Easy! If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial than the speedy sausage and leek skillet then can we recommend our one post sausage and boston beans served on top of a jacket potato? Because it’s fancy, just like you. Click the photo below to go straight there, though the updated recipe will be posted in a few days!

All our love etc

J&P

new year new me hun xoxox

Urgh: let me make one thing as clear as possible. If Paul or I ever slip into one of those slight mental breaks where we ever consider a ‘NEW YEAR NEW ME’ post, accompanied by some hokey jpeg of a two pairs of footprints walking on a beach, then we give you permission to clatter us about the head until blood trickles from our ears and you’re content we’re in pain no more.

Thing is, I was going to call the post ‘the twochubbycubs comeback’ but then you’d all expect me to say something crass like ‘and I’m not referring to my holiday breath‘ and going forward, we’re just not going to be that type of blog. I mean that’s an out and out lie, of course, we know what sells and it isn’t videos of Paul looking wistfully into the distance telling us his boring work stories.

I think the last time we updated the blog I’d just handed in my notice to concentrate on doing this blog full-time, which is both terrifying and exciting all the same. Being a kind and generous soul who didn’t want to lose his Christmas bonus, I completed three months, handed back my office chair and woke up last Thursday to realise that goodness me, I’m actually going to have to put some effort in here. This is an entirely alien concept to me, given I half-arse everything I do, including half-arsing. So really, I’m only at quarter-arse when you think, though perhaps you should stop thinking about my arse so much, young lady. Luckily Christmas arrived to interrupt my existential crisis and plus I’m locked in a sisyphean battle with LinkedIn who won’t allow me into my account to do the one thing I’ve been waiting to do FOR TEN YEARS: change my profession from ‘trademark whore’ to ‘Full Time Author / fannies about with the press releases’. Raging.

Speaking of Christmas though – and I mention this as it will inform a lot of the blog content for the year ahead – I did manage to successfully overcome fifteen years of letting my husband down with what I (modestly) believe is the best gift ever. See, at the start of 2021, Paul had returned to almost being as wide as he was tall. Given he’s only 2ft 3″ and sleeps in an empty box of Cooks Matches, it doesn’t take much, but even so. He was a very unhappy man, burying his tear-sodden face in whatever takeaway slop he could order. Even someone as self-concerned as myself couldn’t miss the fact he was down in the dumps. We had a frank and honest chat where he told me he would lose the weight through the year, and to his absolute credit, he has. He’s skinnier now than when he was on This Time Next Year breathing Snickers-fumes into Davina’s immaculate hair. Part of our chat was me getting him to write down everything he’s always wanted to do but never felt able to do, whether through feeling self-conscious or because they don’t make a harness big enough for his fat arse. He made the list and I, in the absence of ideas on what to buy a man whose most interesting hobby is picking his belly-button, stole the list back in November. Since then I’ve managed to book him the opportunity to do every single thing on that list in the year ahead and managed to do it in such a romantic way that it hides the fact I really wanted to do most of them myself and this gives me a perfect excuse.

So, 2022 will be what we are cheesily (how many syns) calling the Year of Paul. And you know, for all the treacle-thick mushiness of the name, that’s a year that is so, so overdue. For all that I razz him out on here, and take the endless piss out of him in the books, he goes into work each day so I can now work from home following my dream. What this means for the blog is that after a year and a half of not being able to do much together thanks to COVID, we’re now going to have all sorts of opportunities which in turn will create more entertaining blog posts. Though I’ll give you a sneak preview of the skydiving entry: it’ll just be me screaming for a solid one minute. Oh and I’ll probably not go into too much detail about the colonic.

To accompany the blog entries will be far more regular recipes – all slimming friendly as before – and once I finally break and get a new phone, far more interesting videos and all that stuff. Now that this is my full-time job, I can’t coast along anymore! All that kicks off in the New Year, and we’re excited to get started. Thank you for sticking with us whilst we totally forget about the fact we run a slimming blog, by the way!

Here’s to new beginnings!

Mwah!

J&P

PS: did someone say book three coming soon? Surely not!