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The best and worst half-baked recipes from Ready Steady Cook

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Ramona Andrews Ramona Andrews | 15:45 UK time, Friday, 5 November 2010

On the BBC Food website, a large of portion of our day involves transforming chefs' recipes into a linguistically palatable form. So it's with some sadness that we announce our favourite programme for bonkers ingredient combinations and insane dish structures, Ready Steady Cook, is getting the chop. Though we moaned about the weird ‘carpaccios’, sweet couscous ‘cakes’ and all the bacon sandwiches and tempura of anything you care to mention, today we're lamenting our former daily diet of ‘you can’t be serious’ and ‘no, not again’ recipes. So we’ve been trying to find the craziest Ready Steady Cook recipe that’s ever been cooked up on the show.

Ainsley Harriott in Ready Steady Cook

What is he like?!

There are some serious contenders. Deep-fried Stilton pizza springs to mind. If deep-frying baked goods appeals, there was a rumour of a deep-fried baked beans Ready Steady Cook recipe, but seeing as I can’t find it in our recipe database it may just be a recipe editors’ myth. And it's not just main courses that have had the fat fryer treatment, take a look at deep-fried strawberries and ice cream.

And did we even mention those ‘risottos’, ‘caviars’, ‘tarts’ and even ‘cappuccinos’? Not exactly what they say on the tin.

To give the 'red tomatoes' and 'green peppers' their dues, there have been some speedy yet impressive dessert dishes that made regular appearances on the Ready Steady Cook menu, such as floating islands, crème brûlée and Baked Alaska. James Tanner certainly stirred things up with his Baked Alaska with orange and Boursin four series ago – we had to call the recipe Baked Alaska with garlic and herb cheese, but it still sounds like an accident with the dessert trolley and the cheese course.

If all that isn’t enough to get you going, how about Brian Turner’s Big Cook, Little Cook-sounding 'Mr Carrot' on creamed carrot? A boiled whole carrot plonked atop a bed of puréed carrot.

However, despite all this, Ready Steady Cook has a place in my heart, even if some of the recipes don’t have a place at my table. Watching as a student, the programme first got me interested in food and inspired me to have the confidence to try out new combinations of ingredients. With 21 series, 40 episodes a series and 10-15 recipes a show, of course not all the recipes will be to everyone’s taste.

The other thing is that all the many combinations of ingredients have been great for our recipe database. Type three random ingredients into the search box and chances are you’ll find something you like. Let’s see... tonight I fancy sweet potato, thyme and venison...

So tell us, what’s the most ‘out-there’ Ready Steady Cook recipe you’ve come across? Is there is anything that we've missed off our list?

Ramona Andrews is the host of the BBC Food blog and messageboard.


  • Comment number 1.

    RIP RSC. So many memories! Suzy salt and Percy pepper will remain with me always. It'll go down in daytime TV history as the place where Fern Britton and Phil Vickery got it on. And who could forget it was the launchpad for James Martin's career, when he still wore a dubious bandana and did nothing but spin sugar!

  • Comment number 2.

    I thought it had been axed when Fern Britton left. Can't believe that anyone every tried to make anything from it.
    Was it really to blame for James Martin's TV career? enough said then really.

    Here's to some better programming.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd love to see some of the recipes before the editing team turned them into palatable English. :-)

    I was never keen on RSC... this may be because I only ever tended to watch it when I was home ill, recovering from colds and flu, with the tv on all day as distraction. Over the years, I came to associate the music with feeling distinctly under par. And the recipes didn't encourage me to feel above par.

    I suppose what I really disliked was the frantic running about and slamming of pans around on the hob - it's not my idea of a happy kitchen experience. But what really sticks in my mind is the utter lack of interest Ainsley displayed in most of the guests. He certainly asked the questions, he never seemed even slightly interested in the answers.

    Byebye RSC... odd that the initials also represent the Royal Shakespeare Company... :-D

  • Comment number 4.

    It really was a very frantic show! All that running about made me want to switch off. But there were some strange experimental ideas - I never saw the deep fried stilton pizza being made. Has anyone ever actually cooked it? I can't imagine what it must taste like...

  • Comment number 5.

    There has been a lot of discussion on our messageboard celebrating the almighty Ready Steady Cook (

    I agree with messageboard posters that the show was great for kick-starting chefs' and TV producers' careers (and introducing various 'foodie' couples) as well as inspiring a nation to experiment in the kitchen. Could it be said that it changed food programming in the UK? Here are a few highlights of the comments:

    meto: It was on at "school coming home time" (4.30pm - while dinner is being made) and is probably the signal programme that showed interested kids what could be done with fresh bought items vs. microwaves. OK it's on at 1.45pm now - though who that is supposed to be targeting? Sure, some things wouldn't work... but your blog is incredibly harsh. Are you sure you're presenting a balanced view?

    kari48: I loved it when Fern presented it, half-and-half with Ainsley. Don't forget it brought out the culture of celebrity chefs whose celebrity and restaurants weren't heard of then and should be grateful to RSC for kick-starting their careers! I know someone who was on it and she said it was one of the best days of her life!

    fiorella: RSC has provided years of foody info in one way or another - even if it just got kids interested in food programmes while waiting for their evening meal. It has been a successful programme for years on the Beeb - whether you liked it or not. You criticise this? And yet are happy to promote the most ridiculous blogs?

    hickybank: After watching the new Hairy Bikers show perhaps it's not so bad after all. Bring back Ready Steady Cook I say.

    karadekoolaid: The show is great (I've seen it on cable over here) because (a) it's a competition (b) it obliges the chefs to be creative (c) it proves that good food (well, sometimes!) CAN be prepared in a very short time if we put our minds to it and (d) it makes us think outside the box! Deep-fried stilton pizza, however...I think not!

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm a great fan from the Netherlands. I use to watch the program directly at BBC ever since i was 16 years old, together with my father. But since a while now we have it on dutch television.
    I have my own family now, but my dad and i still watch the show together while talking to eachother on the phone.
    i have allways hoped that i would get the chance to watch the show live, ore even join it with my own foodbag. Verry sad to here that it is going to stop. I will miss Ainsly.
    Thank you!

  • Comment number 7.

    As to peculiar tempura recipes, I'm still waiting for someone to do battered chunks of eel so that I can exclaim "O tempura! O Morays!" in despair :)

  • Comment number 8.

    Count Arthur Strong was on the show but got his own shopping bag (chewing gum, half a bottle of vodka and a packet of odour-eaters) mixed up with the one for the show

  • Comment number 9.

    Ready Steady Cook was certainly an institution and doubtless created a love-hate relationship with many. However the world moves on and a new format would be welcome. Most people probably watched to learn new ways to cook something and to get new ideas about familiar dishes. Also it was so refreshing to see real chefs in chefs whites in hygienic 'kitchens' showing us lesser mortals how it is done. No serious cook ever prepares food without an apron or cloth in a professional kitchen or at home; so what is so special in programme producers' mindsets about showing celebrities in their designer clothes and bouffant hairstyles, and sometimes excessive jewellery? This display of vanity certainly does not improve their cooking technique, nor the programme, and is, I fear, somehat ridiculous.
    We need regular cooking shows and so miss RSC, but the Market Kitchen format is good. So please may we have demonstrations by cooks and chefs sensibly attired in hygienic clothing. Guest cooks are interesting if carefully interviewed and certainly provide interest.

  • Comment number 10.

    If it is not too late before you close this correspondence, may I add my comment to the 4th January blog...........My wife became seriously ill some time ago and I perforce became her carer - that is, the chief bottle washer, etc. I knew little about cooking. But watching RSC on a regular basis I not only became proficient in our home cookery, but also developed an interest in experimental cookery in the sense that I was able to create tasty dishes from basic ingredients without the need to follow slavishly a recipe written by others. Tasting is all important of course and a knowledge of basic fresh ingredients is an essential facet of cookery. I have nothing but gratitude for the concept of RSC. It taught me to cook, and now, after four years, my wife has fully recovered, thank goodness. My greatest delight is when I cook something special she sighs and says "my goodness, that was a tasty dish, thank you". Finally may I heartily endorse the last blogger's comment "Also it was so refreshing to see real chefs in chefs whites in hygienic 'kitchens' showing us lesser mortals how it is done. No serious cook ever prepares food without an apron or cloth in a professional kitchen or at home; so what is so special in programme producers' mindsets about showing celebrities in their designer clothes and bouffant hairstyles, and sometimes excessive jewellery? This display of vanity certainly does not improve their cooking technique, nor the programme, and is, I fear, somehat ridiculous".
    Please may we have another programme somewhat similar, but seriously aimed at home learner chefs. RSC may you RIP, despite your occasional faults. After all, none of us is perfect.

  • Comment number 11.

    #10: It’s never too late to add a comment to one of our blog posts. Your story about learning how to cook watching Ready Steady Cook while your wife was ill is truly inspiring. I also hope to see more great shows covering basic cookery skills on the BBC.


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