About The Agony Chef:
It has tried-and-tested recipes in it, isn't a cookbook. It's made up, but it isn't a novel. Agony Chef, the mysterious Delilah, is a witty advice-giver, food-lover and a bit of a know-it-all who seems rather like the alter ego of author Kate Sidley, but isn't her, actually.
There's no problem, big or small, that sardonic advice, a good pun and a well-chosen recipe won't solve.
The Agony Chef, a unique concept in cookery books that puts hilarious, fictitious agony aunt columns alongside delicious, real recipes.
Learn how to control an errant husband with passive-aggressive cooking; discover the mysterious etiquette that applies to the newly facelifted; indulge in the marvellous magic of make-up; make a pasta dish so delicious that your guests weep and beg for your hand in marriage; find answers to the trickiest modern day questions:
What should I cook for my obese aunt? How do I welcome my fiancé's gorgeous ex? When did a food aversion become an acceptable replacement for a personality? And many more...
Read the exclusive extract below.
'When things go awry, reach for the carbs,’ said Buddha. Or maybe someone else with a tummy. Whoever. The point remains: certain foods are very comforting. Break-ups, bereavements, work problems, family fall-outs – there are few crises that are not improved with the appropriate culinary self-medication.
I’m not saying it’s a cure; more of a palliative. But one should take comfort where one finds it, and better the doughnut than the gin. Or, in extreme cases, both.
The diet police are very anti the idea of comfort eating. They perpetrate the bizarre notion that one should only eat when hungry. No, I don’t understand it either. Why suffer when you can eat and feel better?
Comfort food is a more complex notion than people might think. Having researched the subject thoroughly, and comforted myself and many others, I have identified the following essential attributes of comfort food:
Simplicity – Complicated food will not do. While pondering the cruel and transient nature of human life, the eater should not need to think: ‘I wonder what that pink thing is.’ And don’t even think of making something that your guest has to wrap or fill or grill herself.
Warmth – A warm and soothing mouthful is comforting; cold food is not. The possible exception is ice cream, which has two other comfort-food attributes going for it – it’s creamy and very fattening.
Even so, ice cream is useful only in very particular crises, so while you might use it to comfort a recently ditched girlfriend, it is not suitable for bereavement.
Softness – When you are feeling weak and depleted, the last thing you want is to gnaw at a rib or crack open a walnut. Comfort food must go down without too much effort. Squishy meals are usually popular. Think mashed potatoes and gravy.
Nostalgia – The foods of our childhoods bring comfort (strangely, this holds true even if your childhood was pretty miserable). No one is soothed by an asparagus foam topped with peach caviar within a chilli chocolate shell. We want bangers and mash!
High-carb content – There is nothing like stodge to soothe. After a particularly harrowing break-up (he was clinging to my ankle, begging; it was awful for me as you can imagine), I discovered whisky
Really, the perfect breakfast – low GI and so very comforting. I’d still be eating them, in fact, but the whisky portion started to increase rather and whilst I was feeling well comforted by then, driving became a problem.
After four years, my boyfriend has ditched me. Apparently it wasn’t me, it was him. He felt it wasn’t fair to me to continue. He had a problem with commitment. I was too good for him.
And a whole bunch of other nonsense he got off the television (apart from the last one, which isn’t nonsense, I am too good for him).
About three minutes after he moves out he ‘meets’ some new woman. Coincidence, don’t you think? Clearly she was on the bench for some time. Makes me furious!
So here’s my foodie question. No less than four of my girlfriends are in a similar boat, so I’m hosting a break-up bash. It’s not a pity party. More of a comfort and empowerment session for the newly single.
Please give me two recipes to suit the occasion – a main course and a decadent dessert.
I’m sorry to hear about your troubles, Sandy, although it does sound as if you are well rid of the man. What a jerk. You must be rather bitter about the whole thing. I remind you, though, of the maxim ‘living well is the best revenge’.
Go out there and be happier, stronger, prettier and more successful than ever, preferably with a much better-looking, richer guy. In the shorter term, you might consider signing up to a bunch of mail-order companies and spam websites in his name.
I’ve considered your needs carefully, and I have the perfect recipe:
40 (yes, really, 40!) clove garlic chicken.
You see, when you are with a man, you can’t guzzle down the garlic, because you’re worried about the fumes. Now you’re on your own, you can eat whatever you like! It’s largely symbolic really, because the garlic is so well cooked that it doesn’t actually smell particularly strong.
As for the decadent dessert, well, there are so many options.
One can go for classic stodgy comfort food – bread and butter pudding, for instance – but I think your friends will be more in the mood for that combo that many women instinctively reach for in times of need – chocolate and booze.
Boozy Chocolate Mousse
- 300 g good quality dark chocolate
- 3 eggs, separated
- ½ cup cream, beaten
- 2 Tbs Grand Marnier (or a suitable liqueur of your choice)
- Whipped cream and orange slices to serve
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over gently boiling water. Remove from the heat.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and pale. Gradually stir in about a quarter of the melted chocolate.
Return the mixture to the remaining chocolate in the double boiler, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.
Spoon the mixture into stemmed glasses or demitasse cups and chill. Top with whipped cream, orange slices and gorgeous young men. Yum!
This extract was published with permission from Pan Macmillan SA publishers.
To purchase a copy of the book, head on over to Kalahari.com.