Friday, 23 November 2012

Home Cooking With John

Today for a change I thought I would try something different on the blog, and so I have decided to teach you how to cook something. Please feel free to print this post and keep it handy in your kitchen.

This classic recipe is called 'toad in the hole'. and this is how you prepare and cook it.

Get a clean dish thing out of the cupboard. Actually forget that bit it isn't a dish it's a tin tray thing. It looks like a metal square or rectangular thing. Like you would cook a chicken in or other meat.

Next you need to clean off the bits of stuff that were left over from the last time you used it. In my case it was used for roast potatoes and there were some crusty bits still left in the thing. I shall call it a tin to save time.

Use a knife to scrape the old stuff out. Get your Mum to help you with this, as it can be dangerous. If it won't scrape clean, let the dog have it to lick, while you prepare the potatoes ready for boiling. You can buy potatoes at any good shop that sells them. Not sweet shops, tobacconists, or bakers. You will be wasting your time looking there. Get an onion as well while you are buying potatoes, it will save you a trip later. Do not worry about the onion if you don't like onions in your gravy, I find they improve the flavour though. But add to taste. Or not. You might even find you have an onion in the cupboard or behind the fridge. That's where I found one. It must have rolled there last time I used onions, Crikey that was a while ago.

Go down to the bottom of the garden. You will find the dog there. Retrieve the tin from the dog. Don't worry about the growling. That is natural behaviour. Lots of people growl when trying to get things out of a dog's mouth. I do it all the time.

I forgot to tell you to turn the oven on to heat up. Try gas mark highish or Fahrenheit something or other. Or even Celsius. My oven doesn't have fancy numbers, just high or low. I always go for high. It gets stuff cooked quicker.

When the oven is hot put the tin in it. The heat will kill any dog germs eventually. Or you could wash it. The tin, not the dog. Wash the dog tomorrow when you are not cooking.

When the tin is really hot take it out of the oven. Use the cuffs of your sleeves to hold it, because it will definitely be hot if you remembered to light the oven. You can use gloves for this purpose if you wish, but please use something otherwise you will burn your fingers and say rude words. Remember cooking should be a joyful thing to do.

Splash oil in the tin. Cooking oil is best, but any natural oil will do. Don't use the new synthetic car oil. It contains chemicals. Unless you have been inoculated. You should be all right then. I had to look up how to spell inoculated, it didn't look right. I could have said vaccinated instead. Actually I had to look that up too.

Get some sausages. Sorry I could have saved you a journey. You could have got them when you got the potatoes. Possibly in the same shop. Some butchers sell potatoes. I find a lot of shops are diversifying these days. What with times being so hard financially. If you do have to go to the shop, please remember to turn the oven off. Thank you.

picture number one
Put the sausages in the tin with the oil and burn them for a few minutes or longer at gas mark whatever, or Fahrenheit or Celsius something. While waiting for the smell of burning, mix up some batter out of a packet, with eggy water. Mix it in an empty dog food can if you haven't got a mixing bowl. Let the dog lick the can clean first though. Let us not be unhygienic here. Cleanliness. Let that be your mantra.

As soon as you smell burning and see black smoke emanating from the oven, pour the batter onto the sausages  (see  picture number one). Put tin back in oven and leave for approximately a good while.

Quickly peel potatoes and put them in a pan with water and boil on the hob until the lid rattles and the water spills over and puts out the gas. Or blows the fuse if you use electric. Take some of the potatoes out, and try again. It should be all right  this time. If you chop the potatoes really small they will cook quicker. I should have told you that sooner. If you didn't already chop them, you can still do it while they are boiling. Just stab a knife about in there. Get your Mum to help when using sharp implements. Safety first in the kitchen is my mantra, and cleanliness of course. I have a lot of mantras. I'm not even sure that mantra is the right word, but it sounds all right.

When the potatoes have nearly boiled dry they will be almost ready. This is the time to open a tin of peas. Oh blast! I should have told you to get peas when you went to the shop. Sorry about that. Maybe your neighbour has a spare tin. Anyway wherever you get them always pierce the tin before you put it in the oven, and remove the label because they catch fire in the heat. WARNING: NEVER PUT AN UNPIERCED TIN OF PEAS IN THE OVEN. ALWAYS PIERCE TIN FIRST.

The best way to pierce the tin of peas is to stab violently with the point of a sharp knife. Get your Mum to do this for you. Remember, safety first in the kitchen. Remember also: That tin will be hot.  Cuffs, sleeves!

picture number two
Mash the potatoes. If you have a potato masher use that. I don't have one. Well I do have one but I have lost it. I remember using it to change a puncture on my bike, but where it is now I just don't know. But that doesn't matter because I prefer my potatoes fluffy, so I use a fork. Add a knob of butter. Actually add as much butter as you like. Forget about cholesterol. Doctors! What do they know. I bet they have butter in their mash potatoes!

Make the gravy. Use another dog food tin. Leave some of the dog food in it for added flavour. Put an onion in there too. Chop it if you like. Add a what d'you call it? One of them little cubes. Beef cubes. Oxo that's it! Make it with hot water, otherwise the Oxo will go all lumpy. If you can't get Oxo... Well I don't know what you can do. I always use Oxo. I never have any trouble finding them in my local shop. Maybe your neighbour who gave you the peas will have a spare Oxo cube. You do need one. If you can't find an Oxo cube, you may as well stop reading this. It won't taste the same without Oxo. Everyone has Oxo cubes in their cupboard. Have another look. I can't believe this!

The 'toad in the hole' should be ready now (see picture number two). Carefully take it out of the oven. Remember, use your sleeve cuffs. Do not put the tin on a plastic surface, That would be silly. It is hot remember.

picture number three

Find a quite clean plate from the pile of washing up and serve up a delicious dinner (see picture number three). Enjoy with a pint or three of best British beer.

For a vegetarian option, leave out the sausages. Oh and the gravy! Look I will be honest with you. This meal is unsuitable for vegetarians. Sorry. Unless you don't mind batter and potatoes and peas. That might be quite nice. Possibly.


  1. Sounds and looks delicious, I must try this! Would it be alright if I use a cat food tin, I don't own a dog. Since I would have to special order the OXO stock, could I use Knorr Beef Homestyle stock instead? I have plenty of this in my pantry. Do I have to eat peas? I don't like peas, could I use green beans instead?

  2. Wanda you are tinkering with the recipe. I am sorry but I cannot condone this. What you propose is way off the mark. Next thing you will be asking if you can use vegetarian sausages! Cat food? Knorr? Green beans? No Wanda!

  3. I 'm going to have to have words with you.
    1)I can't make the recipe because I haven't got a dog.
    2) I can't make the recipe because I haven't got one of those tin thingies to cook meat in ...I'm vegan.
    3) My Mum is in England and it's a flipping long way to come to help with sharp knives.
    4)I live in tastes er well never mind but it just ain't British.
    5) You didn't give nutritional information.
    6) Geesh, a vegan girl could starve to death.
    Jane xxx

    1. I have only one word to say to you Jane: Linda McCartney ready meal. Ok four words. It's the only advice I can give you. x

  4. It seems a little complicated to make. Does it come in a box?

    1. I could put some in a stamped self addressed envelope Emma.

  5. The finished product looks pretty good. I almost gave up after seeing the first picture, can't quite say what I thought it looked like ;-)

  6. I have used the greater portion of your instructions to scrape away a leaky transaxle seal from my old VW and replace it with a new one. But your results look far more palatable. Delightful post!

  7. That's the best recipe I've read in a long time!!!! And thank you for stopping by my Dad's post. I would say you are a great role model for a dad, one of the best. Have a great weekend my spectacular toad-in-the-hole-making friend :)

  8. Love Toad in the hole, which is odd considering I am from the last stop before Antarctica.

  9. For once I'm grateful that you haven't invited me round for a meal, not with you not knowing proper oven temperatures. And what's all this about growling at the dog... isn't that illegal? Whatever, it should never be allowed. Happy weekend, John.

  10. John, I think you may be on to something here.... a cookbook with no-nonsense down to earth recipes. So after you publish your first book, a cook book is in order...
    Thanks for the recipe.

  11. Well I was truly surprised by the delicious looking ending. Really surprised:) B

  12. the gross tin thingie, the Oxo, the burnt sausages (those I didn't need instructions for cuz I'm a pro at the burnin' stuff) and I found an onion. Ain't tellin' where.....

    Batter out of a packet.....
    We have brownie mix --

    Ohhhh.....himself will be sooooooooooo happy! He's talked about toad in the hole and now I know HOW! :-)

  13. I made toad in the hole once and It was really good, but I followed a different recipe. I imagine it didn't taste as good as yours

  14. Hey John!
    I thought of you recently when I saw a video on Youtube of Billy Currington singing "Like My Dog", the dog in the video even looks like your dog!
    Check it out! I can just picture you singing that song.
    Toad In The Hole, Richard sent me that recipe from England many years ago, I've never made it! HA! (Looks good though, I'm just not a good cook, sadly.)

  15. John you are hilarious ! Thats all I have to say about this. Enjoy your meal.

  16. I love to cook and I cant resist reading a recipe. That one was very ,,,,,,erm ,, um,,,, unusual. The end result looked pretty good though. Its made me fancy Toad in the hole now. I've not made one for a few weeks. I quite often make extra batter (not out of a packet) then have pancakes for breakfast next day. Double yummy.

  17. Oh how wonderful, a recipe that Duke and I can work on together. Since this will be in the oven for approximately a good while we'll also be able to get in a quick game of fetch.

  18. You have a wicked sense of humour, very funny.