A jar of martini olives, a bag of salted peanuts and a bottle of vodka stashed in the freezer are all essential tools for the socially ambitious man about town. Face it, though, these days you are going to have to deliver a lot more to earn your entertaining cred.
You don't have to turn your man cave into Martha Stewart's house. A few pieces of equipment and a cluster of trusted recipes you can ace are all you need. But you'll have to stock your pantry and fridge strategically.
Enter Ian Stone.
This 42-year-old former US Marine created The Bachelor's Kitchen to help clueless men figure out what they need to score in the kitchen.
"It's not rocket science," he says.
"Face it, though, these days you are going to have to deliver a lot more to earn your entertaining cred."
"If you're a guy, your job is to hunt, forage and provide. This should be totally in your lane. Most guys have a tremendous sense of pride. They want to be proud they can provide for their wife or girlfriend."
Yet the cooking mojo just isn't there for a lot of men.
"They don't want to make an error," Stone says.
"Who wants to make a mistake 45 minutes before your date shows up?"
Stone began cooking for himself while a student at New York University. Later, he started shopping in restaurant supply stores because he could buy professional-grade equipment for less. Friends started asking him for help.
"So, I started drawing up a list of things you definitely want to have, a list of things that would be nice to have, things that would be useful for more interesting dishes," he says.
Stone, who married last year, started up The Bachelor's Kitchen about six years ago to share what he learned. The website offers lists of "essential" equipment and ingredients, recipes and menu ideas. He also has an e-store selling equipment, including a 39-piece set called "The Basic Bachelor".
His tone is very personal and direct. What to do when you've ruined a dish? Don't worry about it, "this is part of learning, so get used to it happening from time to time. Just admit defeat and order pizza or Chinese."
Recipes are delivered in a similar style.
For artichoke bacon dip, "put EVERYTHING in a food processor, blend until all the big stuff turns into much smaller stuff (about half a minute), then cook at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, uncovered in pan or oven-safe dish."
"Everything," by the way, is one can of artichoke hearts, 4 slices of cooked bacon and 2 teaspoons salt.
Stone is a big fan of cooking extra portions and freezing leftovers.
"It doesn't take any more energy to boil an extra half-kilo of spaghetti and make double the sauce," he said.
He's also no snob. Store-bought rotisserie chicken, canned baked beans and packaged noodles all get the thumbs up.
The bachelor's shopping list:
- Thickening cream
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Whole dry powdered milk
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Plain yogurt
- Preserves and jam
- Cans of crushed tomatoes
- Canned salmon
- Dried mushrooms
- Hard cheese
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- AAP / Chicago Tribune