It’s only bloody Martin Platt off Corrie!
I thought I knew how this would go. I chose The Artist Formerly Known As Martin Platt’s cookbook because I expected it to be lolz. Known for having played a man who was married to Gail, Coronation Street’s Gerbil of Doom, he’s only gone and reinvented himself as a foodie.
And so I imagined that we’d open with this nice little anecdote about Rita:
Barbara Knox (Rita Fairclough) was seated next to me and I asked her what she was eating. She immediately said, “Oxtail soup and chips!” “Together?” I asked. “Oh yes,” she said demurely. “Have you never tried soup and chips?” Hmmm. I tried it, but I still prefer my Oxtail soup with a large chunk of brown bread. I do like a woman who knows her own mind though.
And then we’d be filled with wonderment about the story in the intro where Helen Worth, aka The Actual Gail Platt, apparently introduced Martin to Simon Hopkinson, (the foodie’s favourite chef, whose Baked Papardelle with Porcini and Pancetta is legit to die for), and gasp as we remember that Dame Gail is allegedly as posh as Pam St Clement in real life.
And then I’d make the food, and we’d all be like “well, that was actually quite good and weren’t we wrong to pre-judge him on his former soap status and didn’t we all learn something about popular culture and reinvention and, more importantly, ourselves?”
But no. I learnt nothing about myself, except that I still get embarrassed when serving up dreadful food to people who I’ve invited to dinner. Even after all the practice.
Will was away, and as he’s normally in charge of cocktails I let Martin Platt take control. His recipe for Newkie Brown Punch apparently always got the party started, and how could something which sounded this wrong not be right? Even though, as Joe pointed out, “a Brown Punch doesn’t really sound like something you’d ever want.” The book doesn’t have a picture, so you’ll have to make do with the ingredients list which, frankly, will create a hellish enough mental image anyway.
It was filling, didn’t taste of booze, and each mega-cal mouthful felt like a delivery of diabetes. Mine got compared, variously, to the following:
Starbucks eggnog latte
A bowl of congealed sick
But to give Martin his due, it kind of did get the party started. It was drinkable, a talking point, a mild diversion from the glasses of fizz and entry-level small talk. And, as Lizzy said: “I can’t believe you’re adding a whole can of condensed milk.”
Martin’s Spring Vegetable Soup With Lettuce
We sat down to the starter, Spring Vegetable Soup With Lettuce. “I think this is probably going to be the best course,” I trilled nervously. “You can’t really go wrong with a soup, can you,” said Peter, my friend Joe’s boyfriend, who I had never met before but who I had just forced to drink something that was the colour of Emily Bishop’s hair.
My version. Cute mini Le Creusets, right?
But whilst you can’t go wrong with soup, you can go awry. It was….ok, a fresh and slightly crunchy bowl of vegetables in a slightly creamy liquor. But the addition of the juice of one whole lemon sent it over the edge – what could have been a zingy twist overpowered the soup base with a breathtaking sharpness. Joe left most of his. “I’m always a bit funny with food,” he demurred politely, despite having told me before he had no special dietary requirements. He would be in for a rough ride.
Martin’s Lancastrian Hotpot. Looks delicious. If only.
For bubbling away in the oven was, of course, a Lancashire Hotpot. And, whilst trying to say encouraging things about the starter (“so much of your five a day”) I already knew it wasn’t going to be a rich, thick jus just like Betty RIP used to make. Half an hour earlier Martin’s recipe had made me add yet another 650ml of vegetable stock to an already pale and watery pan, diluting it to be thinner than the current plot about Nigel Havers and Gail Platt. (As if that silver fox would ever go near the copper hamster.) (We love you Audrey! xoxo)
My version. At least it was steaming hot
“I think hotpots are a Lancastrian myth – I’ve never seen one,” Peter said, his family from the North. “Not like this, anyway,” I thought, staring at the limp bowl of soggy potatoes. “Still, at least the meat is quite tender,” I practically sobbed.
We drank more wine. “I’m so sorry about this, I am actually a really good cook,” I found myself bragging sadly, dreading the monstrosity that was coming for dessert.
Martin’s Jam Roly-Poly
It was meant to be the pinnacle of all puddings, a custard-covered comfort to soak up the champagne. Instead it looked like this:
“It’ll probably taste nice,” said Joe, hopefully. The poor boy had barely eaten all night.
“At least your custard looks good,” added Peter, stirring my thick jug of Birds as I almost wiped away a tear.
And it actually wasn’t too bad. There was simply no way the quantities of liquid Martin suggested could have made a pastry that would roly into a poly. So, if you pretended it was just a big rock cake, it almost wasn’t a disappointment, the prestige raspberry jam from Melrose and Morgan almost saving the day.
We drank more, moving onto spirits, filling our empty stomachs with an entire Rovers worth of booze. “Can I get a bit more of that bread?” Peter asked. We all hacked off a chunk.
Then we remembered the leftover Newkie Brown Punch. And this happened:
Cue Coronation St credits. The end.
Cost of ingredients: £42.78 not including items already in storecupboard
Pudding ** (the custard and jam were nice)
Overall 2/10 (for lol factor about the cocktail)
Published by Hodder and Stoughton. Original photography by Amanda Haywood