Not last October but the one before, I happened to be in Melbourne at the same time as Tim Ferriss. I’d ’email-met’ Tim online via a mutual friend and had written a guest post for his blog. So I was delighted when he agreed to meet for a drink.
I’ve been a massive Tim Ferriss fan since I stumbled across his first book, the 4-Hour Work Week, in mid 2009. At the time I was designing chocolate biscuits for Arnotts, the largest biscuit (cookie) manufacturer in Australia. As far as jobs went, it was pretty great. I was developing new Tim Tams. I got to eat chocolate AND get paid for it. But I was yearning for more.
I’d already set a goal of working on my own business full time. But it seemed a long way off.
Until I read the 4-Hour Work Week.
The book was an inspiration. Maybe I could follow my dream and make it work. In January 2010 I took the leap, quit my job and started working on Stonesoup full time.
Apart from being a huge fan, I did have an ulterior motive.
Not long before, he had announced his latest book project, The 4-Hour Chef, where he was planning to teach people how to learn any skill by using himself and cooking as an example. Given I teach people how to make their cooking more simple and fun in my online cooking school, it seemed like a no brainer.
In hindsight, not exactly. Tim and I did have that drink in Melbourne. We had a great old time. I tried to convince him I was the right girl to teach him to cook. He gave me tips on calming my nerves before public speaking (basically have another drink – excellent advice!). We had a few laughs.
I followed up by sending him one of my online classes. And that was that.
As time for publication of the 4-Hour Chef drew closer, I did feel a little disappointed that he hadn’t been in touch. But when details of the book revealed it was learning to cook like a ‘pro,’ I didn’t feel so bad.
As you know my style is simple home cooking, not fancy 5-star ‘professional’ chef type food.
So you can imagine my surprise when my pre-ordered copies arrived and I saw my name, a few lines below Heston Blumenthal, on the ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ acknowledgements page.
Wow, I was in Tim Ferriss’ book! And not only my name, one of my recipes as well (Cashew Nut Pesto, page 212). Yay!
9 Lessons from the 4-Hour Chef
Even though I have a degree in food science and read cookbooks like novels, I picked up plenty of new ideas and tips from the 672 pages of the 4-Hour Chef. Here are some of my favourite new tips as well as some I hadn’t thought about in a while…
1. Leftover egg whites can be used to make a great hair conditioner.
Combine 2 whites with 5 tablespoons full fat natural yoghurt. Apply to hair and let sit in a towel turban for 30 minutes. Rinse. I’m yet to try this but love the idea.
2. Smell your food like a dog.
This isn’t a new one for me but it’s super important. Flavour is less than 10% taste and more than 90% smell. So by smelling your food before you eat, you’ll radically change how you experience flavour.
3. Not all taste buds are located on the tongue.
Apparently taste receptors have been found in the throat, roof of the mouth, small intestine, and stomach. So maybe the wine makers and judges who are spitting out have it all wrong after all.
4. To counteract hot food, drink whole milk.
Or cream. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chillies, is soluble in fat and not in water. Yoghurt or coconut milk will do the same thing.
5. Unusual (but apparently delicious) flavour pairings to try.
:: cayenne pepper and salt on mango
:: cinnamon and chilli powder on vanilla ice cream
:: soy sauce on vanilla ice cream (this one is mine… I’d forgotten how good it is!)
:: cinnamon on bacon
:: almond butter on hamburger
6. When using a ladle remember ‘double dip, no drip’.
To avoid drips, fill the ladle then tap the bottom of the ladle on the surface to remove any excess liquid or sauce.
7. If in doubt set your oven to 350F (180C).
Most times it will work out fine. Except if you trying to ‘slow cook’ something.
8. Each type of protein has a herb that will never fail you.
fish = fennel or dill
beef, pork or lamb = rosemary
lamb = mint
eggs = chives or tarragon
chicken = all of the above
9. Having a Plan B removes much of the stress of cooking.
Ferriss confesses to being the ‘king of freaking out’ in the kitchen until he realized that he needed a backup plan. The first and last rule of the 4-hour Chef…
“If you f**k it all up, you can always order takeout”
More notes about the 4-Hour Chef
The 4-Hour Chef isn’t just about cooking, it’s about teaching you how to learn new skills quickly and easily. It’s definitely not your regular cookbook but there’s a bit of ‘something for everyone’.
If you’re a novice cook, the ‘Domestic’ section does a great job of breaking down cooking into 17 lessons based on specific dishes. The instructions are clear and the ingredients lists are short… A man after my own heart.
If you’re more a Bear Grylls wanna-be, the ‘Wild’ section will appeal. It’s all about hunting and survival stuff. To be honest I skimmed most of this.
The ‘Scientist’ section is a great introduction to the classic food science principles as well as some more modern ‘molecular gastronomy’ techniques. It’s fascinating stuff but to be honest I wasn’t inspired to cook anything from this section. Not my style.
Finally the ‘Professional’ section gives some great insights into what it takes to be great chef. Loved the ‘classics’ recipes in this section. Although I can safely say I won’t be trying the ‘carp a l’ancienne’ which has not 5 ingredients but 5 whole pages of ingredients (about 150 ingredients total).
Cashew & Cauliflower Mash
Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ Coconut Cauliflower Curry Mash from the 4-Hour Chef.
Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables. These days I most often eat it grated and raw as cauliflower ‘rice’ or roasted like this salad with quinoa. It also makes an excellent mash that will satisfy any carb cravings without the guilt.
With the richness of the cashews and coconut milk, it’s a deeply satisfying meal in a bowl. My new favourite comfort food!
Enough for 2 as a main or 4 as a side
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florettes
1 can coconut milk (400mL / 14oz)
2 handfuls cashews + extra to serve
1. Place cauli, coconut milk and cashews in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil.
2. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until cauli is no longer crunchy.
3. Mash with a stick blender or a fork and some muscles. Season.
Nut-free – just skip the cashews.
different veg – feel free to try different root veg such as parsnip, sweet potato, swede (rutabaga) carrot, turnips or a combo.
curry mash – add in a ‘large’ or ‘3 finger’ pinch of curry powder when seasoning.
carnivore – serve as a side with your favourite grilled sausages.
mexican mash – (stealing Tim’s idea here) replace cauliflower with sweet potato. Skip the coconut milk and cashews and simmer chunks in water until soft. Drain and mash with 2 chopped chillies, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve with coriander leaves (cilantro) on top.
greener – serve on a bed of baby spinach or with chopped parsley leaves.
ps. I’ve used affiliate links so if you buy Tim’s book you’ll be supporting Stonesoup as well. So thank YOU!
I’ve also set up a ‘Stonesoup Recommended‘ page if you’d like to checkout other ebooks and books I have purchased, cooked from and LOVE. I really value YOU as a Stonesoup reader so please know that I don’t take freebies and only recommend products I truly believe in.