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Week 12Pancake

Mark Pancake

Flippin’ heck......It’s over!
Well it’s here, week 12 and pancakes are on the menu. Not just any old pancake I may add, but some rather fruity ones with lemon curd, mascarpone and blueberries!
So, I measured out all of my ingredients and made my batter and it was into the frying pan. Now the last 12 weeks have seen a few mess ups on my behalf, and a few that weren't my fault either, but something was dreadfully wrong. I placed a dollop of the batter into the pan and it fried away but didn't look at all like a pancake - in fact it looked like a silicone implant! I shouted for my wife (who was beside herself laughing) and she told me it needed to be poured into the pan not spooned, it was like glue!
I added some extra milk and that seemed to do the trick, as I made my pancakes and even flipped them perfectly too. They were a bit thick but as I practised and made more, I started to get the hang of it.
The filling of mascarpone, lemon curd and blueberries was really lovely and the kids made short work in finishing them off.
So I cleaned my Kenwood Chef Titanium and hung up my apron, I know my wife won't let me go back to zero cooking again and although a few disasters will happen I won't be too scared to have a go and do my bit.

Week 11Toad in the Hole

Mark toad

Toad in the hole, I think I'm getting there!
Well, it’s week 11 and one week left to learn how to cook. I've surprised myself this week, as it’s the first time the whole family has sat down to a meal made by dad. Plus a bit of a bonus is the wife coming in from her day at work and I've made the tea - she was delighted.
I can't honestly say I had any disasters this week, as the batter whipped up great in my Kenwood Chef Titanium and I even cooked the sausages to perfection.
I did make a couple of minor mistakes. I used one stock cube in the gravy and I thought it was a bit tasteless so I added a further six. I then had to learn how to thicken it as it was far too runny and a bit too salty. The wine was a nice touch though - thanks Kenwood - I added some to the gravy and the rest into a glass for the Chef!
I then didn't realise that the peas that arrived on Thursday were supposed to be kept frozen, so they had been in the fridge for 4 days. Luckily they were ok, but nobody wanted to eat them!
I made some mash and “hey presto” a complete meal for the first time in my life...................feeling a bit emotional now so will leave it there ha!

Week 10Macaroni Cheese

Mark mac cheese

McClean's Macaroni....................don't mind if I do
Week 10, the end is nigh and only another two weeks before my blogs and my career as a Disaster Chef is over!
In fact, I may have even proved to my family that I can cook - even if it only a tiny bit. I have had a bit of enlightenment this week and discovered that I tend to jump over parts of the recipe and really focus on others - what I am trying to say is that most weeks I make a mistake, they are just getting smaller!
My wife took me around Borough Market in London this week, which she declares is foodie heaven, and I was blown away with all the fresh street style food and how passionate the guys selling it were.
I've still some way to go!
I tipped all my milk into my “Bel Camel” sauce this week (this is now the new name in our house) instead of gradually adding it and ended up with a pan of warm milky type sauce, so I started again and it was better.
Now I'm not a fan of pasta but it looked pretty good until the tomato stage, where it all went downhill for my tastebuds, as I can't stand tomatoes and no way are they ever something I will eat.
The end result looked great and the family declared it my best dish over the past few weeks! I think my sausage plait was my favourite but the best maybe yet to come....

Week 9Leek & Mushroom Pie

Mark pie

The pie's the limit
"Oh, that looks nice dad" said the kids; little did they know what was inside!
Yes it’s week nine and I'm starting to wonder how I ever thought I would make it past first base as a culinary god! Bring back the sausage plait - my finest hour!

It’s leek and mushroom pie this week which is, in my opinion, lacking a bit of chicken, but hey I'll go with it although I am defo not eating it!
To start off with I used the smallest pan in the drawer to make the sauce in, which incidentally I thought was called Bel Camel sauce! (I even had my glasses on when I read that – ha ha.) The sauce was up to the rim and I could hardly stir it. Afterwards, my wife told me that pan is for boiling an egg in! Oops!
Then I processed the mushrooms and leeks until they resembled stuffing, which is how I thought it should look, and it was only when I complained to my wife that it looked horrible that she pointed out I had used the blade on the Kenwood Chef Titanium and not the slicing disk! Oops again!
The whole sorry mess ended up in the pie dish and I covered it in pastry, which surprise surprise, was already rolled out! How thoughtful of you Kenwood - I thought I might have had to make that by myself!?
It looked lovely when it came out of the oven but nobody wanted to try it and my wife is still laughing to this day. I think we'll draw a line under this and pray that pie is not on the menu at the final!
Disaster Marco

Week 8Victoria Sponge

Mark sponge

Victorious not!
It’s week 8 and to sum up my cake making skills, I would have to say that I'm pretty pants!
It started off really well, just like in the previous weeks, I had all my ingredients measured out and proceeded to make my cake. Do you know what I totally fold in my flour. Yes an important task so just emptied the flour into my Kenwood Chef and beat the living daylights out of the mixture. The result was a brick like texture which looked better than it tasted, but it was so dense, a bit like my good self this week.
Anyway to improvise and to make good, I turned them into iced scones. I even tried to make the fondant icing but that too was a disaster as it was too soft and I couldn't roll it out. I even coloured it red and was going to ice them into Manchester United Football Club.  I am a bit gutted to be honest but the family said they tasted like scones and were lovely. I suppose it’s a bit of a learning curve and just proves that even if you follow a recipe you still need to get the skills right too

Week 7Upsidedown Plum Cake

Mark plum cake

Oven on, plums out, it’s week 7
It’s upside-down plum cake this week and I am hoping for more success than last week - it seems a few of us were more than a little thrown with the rogue tomatoes we received, I think it was Kenwood trying to throw us off the trail of success!!!!
So, into the mixing bowl with my ingredients - I didn't realise I had to soften the butter, I thought that's what I already had in the packet. My Kenwood Chef wasn't too happy beating up my little bricks but it soon went pale and I added the eggs, as instructed.
I wasn't sure what to do with my vanilla so I added it at the end and spooned it over my plums ( 50 Shades of Grey coming into the comp yet again!) and would you believe it, I was taken back to being a little kid and having the bowl to scrape out, it tasted just like I remember.
So, into the fan oven, which I put slightly lower than instructed (yes I am learning, albeit slowly). It smelt lovely cooking and turned out great too.
We tried it with spoonfuls of thick cream whilst it was still warm; I even dusted it with icing sugar like one of them “proper chefs”. I took the remainder down to the club for the lads who cannot believe that I am turning into a culinary that point I think we will leave it there - if my Mrs sees this she will make me cook all the time, the thought of a full meal scares the pants off me!
Week 6Sunblush Tomato, Rosemary and Garlic Rolls

Sunblush Tomato, Rosemary and Garlic Rolls by Mark McClean

In the words of Bart Simpson...Doh!

Well it’s disaster, disaster, disaster this week folks. I feel a bit miffed to be honest as in all my culinary delights up to now, I feel I have stepped up to the mark and produced something that is totally edible. Well not this week! It’s down to earth with a bang.

Sunday’s speciality is Mark's very own 'Break Your Teeth Bread Rolls'. Seriously, there is something very wrong with this recipe and I am blaming everyone apart from myself!

So here goes. I started off well, I had my little chopping board out and started preparing my ingredients. When 'her' indoors asked me what I was cooking I said, "Sundried tomatoes" - I had only read that bit initially - and she burst out laughing and said, "What are you really making?"

I have never in my life seen a sundried tomato but, funnily enough, I wasn't sent these (that's another story) so I presumed a sundried tomato was nice and red and just like those eaten in a salad! Ha ha ha.

So tomatoless and armed with only my recipe, which was slightly dodgy, I made my bread rolls and baked them for 25 minutes. I discovered afterwards when I quizzed my wife that really this is too long, especially in a fan oven...a what?! God, it’s a minefield this scary world of cooking. I've let myself down, I've let my family down and worst of all I've let the pigeons down!

Masterbaker I am not. I think we'll leave it there Kenwood.

Week 5 - Vegetarian Pizza

Mark Pizza

Mamma Mia the boy done good!
It’s already week five and after a great week away on holiday, I am up for the recipe of the week, which is a veggie pizza. I've got to be honest here; some of these ingredients are really not my cup of tea. I just don't get tomatoes; I love ketchup and soup, but not the real thing. Also, that spinach is a strange one - unless you’re Popeye. But hey, in for a penny in for a pound as they say.

I watched the online tutorial twice just to be sure, and a new attachment for the Kenwood Chef Titanium is introduced.................the dough hook! Making this dough gave my machine a new lease of life as it worked the mixture into a ball ready for rising. I thought I had done something wrong at first as the machine was moving around a bit, but it looked like a bigger version of my pastry so I wasn't worried.

I am really starting to like these tasks, and for the first time in my life the family were eagerly awaiting "Dad’s pizza" for tea. It feels kind of strange to be cooking after all these years, and I know without a recipe to follow I would be really hopeless!

I managed to sort out my ingredients and chopped and cooked my way to a pizza that looked really great - but something that I know has tomatoes in I just couldn't eat. I did eventually try it, as my son called me a wuss, and my family were really impressed. They said it tasted great. Now I know how easy it is to make the dough I will put my own toppings on in the future.

In the words of Arthur Daley, "it’s a Minter"

Week 3 - Eaton Mess

"So I am in a bit of a quandary here, do I break the egg into a bowl and then scoop out the egg yolk? This seems to work, although 'her' indoors told me of a better way using the shells to catch the yolk." 

Week 1 - Four Cheese Quiche & Eaton Plait

Mark Quiche

Arthur Daly to Jamie in 12 weeks

Starting with a four cheese quiche and an online tutorial, I'm never going live this one down with the boys in the auction hall! I'm far more at home selling cars than following a recipe, so this is a first for me.

Fifty Shades Of Grey, yes well, that'll be the colour of my hair come September - what have I let myself in for?

It looks a serious piece of kit this Kenwood Chef but I have nothing to compare it to as at 45 I am a virgin in this scary world of cooking.

OK, so here goes. A four cheese quiche, that'll be a flan with four slices of cheese in, apparently not according to my recipe.

Disaster Chef alert number 1

I left the blade guards on and processed them along with the pastry (much to the amusement of my wife!) So, let’s get the rubber out of the pastry.

Disaster Chef alert number 2,3,4 and 5

I cut my finger chopping the onion
I made a right mess of rolling out the pastry so I “glued” it in with water
Baking blind? I think I was, as I put the paper underneath the pastry and then put the rice on top! I picked it off and it took ages.

Its only 11am and I badly need a beer!

So, onto the filling, plenty of ingredients and cheese I can't pronounce, but all went well. I even found some dried chillies which I added to give it a kick. It went into the oven and out when it looked done. I'm pretty chuffed with the end result.  Two of my mates who tried it did not believe I had cooked it. Ding Ding round one, bring it on Kenwood!!!!!

Marco Pierre McClean