AN INTRODUCTION BY MEESTER GRAHAM
Let me introduce myself... I'm Meester Graham, zee amazingly famous French chef. Well, Ok, I'm not really called Meester Graham, I'm not famous and I'm not French either, but who cares! It sounds better than Fred Smith (and that's not my name either!!)
Years ago, I found myself living on my own for the first time and discovered that I couldn't live on tins of Baked Beans for he rest of my life. It was quite a revelation, let me tell you!
So necessity found me clawing through cook books and discovering that it was a whole new scary world of simmering and braising and marinating and loads of other stuff I didn't understand.
And I swore that one day I would do something about it and write tasty recipes that described the preparation and cooking process in full, as if I were still that 'alone-for-the-first-time' young guy who didn't know a spatula from a spittoon!
If you suddenly find yourself on your own through bereavement, a split up, or just simply leaving home and living on your own for the first time, and you need to start cooking for yourself (or maybe for young children too) then you've come to the right place here at ChocolateAndChestnuts.com
You'll find everything you need from how to cook and egg right up to a beautiful Filet Mignon with Sage and Rosemary (truly delicious, I promise you!).
You don't have to become an expert overnight. Just take it a step at a time and, as you become confident with the easy recipes, dare to move forward a bit and try something a bit more complex. Every recipe has an "Easy-Hard" scale so you will know beforehand whether it is likely to test your culinary skills.
The only assumptions I have made about you, the visitor to ChocolateAnd Chestnuts.com
, is that you know what an egg is, and that you can tell the difference between the sharp end of a knife and the blunt end! Because of this, you may find some of the recipes a little elementary. If this is the case, don't worry because it means that you have a head start on some of your fellow site visitors. Even visitors who have some basic culinary skills will find that this site contains plenty of useful ideas and short cuts that they have not come across before.
There are so many things you need to know when you first start cooking that I felt it would be helpful to note them on this site in a light-hearted manner. Your guide throughout is Meester Graham who began by dropping eggs on the floor instead of in the pan. However, with a little patience and practice, he is now a competent provider of hot, tasty, nutritious meals and is glad to impart his knowledge to you.
Each recipe includes a "Graham's Hot Tip" to help you avoid making the same mistakes he did. Take note of them! Many of them are little gems that professional cooks and chefs understand intuitively, but which aren't obvious to the uninitiated. In addition, many of the common Hot Tips are repeated here
While browsing through the site, you may well spot some French influences. This is because French family cooking relies upon good, simple food prepared and presented in an uncomplicated fashion (It also may have something to do with the fact I spend six months of the year in France!!). Whatever the reason, you may soon discover that you prefer this 'Continental' approach which, in fact, makes meals simpler to prepare.
I have avoided using 'ready-made' concoctions except that I welcome the use of sauce mixes and gravy mixes which are ready (or almost ready) for use. I have included a few basic sauces and stocks on the site but when you are adventurous enough to want to produce all your own sauces, you are ready for a more advanced course of cookery.
At ChocolateAnd Chestnuts.com
I have tried to include as wide a variety of recipes as possible. Whilst simple methods of preparation and cooking are the keys to success, I have included a few slightly more adventurous dishes and, for that reason, I have marked all recipes with a scale of difficulty and a scale of cost.
Recipes marked with a "joyful crowd" (on the left) are ideal if you plan to entertain, whilst those marked with the "bright idea" man (right) are excellent if you want to prepare something just a little bit out of the ordinary. With a little practice, you will find that most recipes become second nature and that, like Meester Graham, you will soon be a competent, if not expert cook.
Above all, HAVE FUN! Cooking shouldn't be a chore... once you are past the 'beginner' stage, it should be a mixture of creativity and pleasure.
Good luck and "Bon Appetit"!
P.S. Spelling, as you may have already noticed, is in 'International English'