I was invited to take part in a cooking evening at The Central Street Cookery School as part of the launch of American Dad Season 8 on DVD. The evening was great fun which included a step by step lesson on making a truly beautiful burger, delicious BBQ slow-cooked-in-ale ribs and smokey butter corn on the cob that I would happily have given up my first born child for (You can see the recipes at the bottom of the page or view here).

We had a great surprise upon arriving, with the presence of Stan, the Dad of American Dad, actualised in 3D as an actor to promote the DVD whilst we cooked!

Interspersed between the cooking sessions I was treated to a viewing of the first two episodes of American Dad Season 8, Hot Water and Hurricane.

Hot Water was first to be shown and turned out to be a strange homage to Little Shop of Horrors, though I can’t image there is that much of an intersection between these two fandoms. Stan, stressed from the trials of the everyday is coaxed into buying a hot tub. After a while in the showroom he happens across a (clearly evil) abandoned hot tub that comes with its own vague warning from the salesman of offending item’s shady past.

Stan brings the hot tub home and is immediately lured into its hot waters with a song. A few songs and 15 minutes later and the hot tub reveals it’s true identity as an Audrey II rip off and Stan begins the battle for Francine’s life, in musical form. It ends in such a bizarre way, which either parodies the way sitcoms have little continuity between episodes, or is an example of the way sitcoms have little continuity between episodes. However still a lot of fun, and nice to see American Dad paying homage to one of my favourite musicals.

The second episode Hurricane explores the increasing depths of Stan’s ineptitude when it comes to well, pretty much anything. A hurricane is coming to town and Stan and Francine instantly have conflicting ideas of what to do. Francine wants to leave whilst Stan wants to hunker down and endure the storm. It’s pointed out that Stan, whilst being a perfectly capable husband and father most of the time*(*debatable), in a crisis he always makes the worst decision. Even so the house is still divided on whether to follow Mum or Dad. Interestingly Hayley supports her father every step of the way, which is strange because I always thought they were at constant odds, and there is no reason given for this blind faith. Perhaps the writers are demonstrating this appalling ability to make exactly the wrong decision in difficult situations is passed down in the genes? Anyway, the episode ends with a bear and a shark in the same room, so I’m happy though I do have to question this trend of putting the wholly acknowledged incompetent male on a pedestal. It’s happening everywhere at the moment especially in Hollywood and the rise of the Frat Pack movies this summer.

Even though this episode is pointing out that it’s ridiculous to have Stan as your lead character, because he’s impossibly thick and self-involved, Stan and many like him remain a steadfast feature of our media. Why is that? Even if, everything Stan does is supposed to be an ironic statement on the prevalence of male incompetence, why are we constantly making shows about it?

Food for thought, though definitely not as tasty as that corn.

American Dad Season 8 is out now on DVD at Amazon.

We will leave you with some photos from the night at The Central Street Cookery School and some of the recipes from the evening!


Recipes

Burgers with fennel-roasted tomatoes and crispy new potato wedges

For 2 burgers

Ingredients
200 g good quality beef mince (not lean)
120 g chuck steak
half an onion, finely grated
2 thick slices of onion (rings)
2 slices Emmental
4 medium salad/new potatoes
10 cherry plum tomatoes
1 tsp coarsely ground fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt
ground black pepper
sunflower oil
olive oil

2 good quality burger buns or fresh bread rolls

Cos lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, spring onions

Preparation
1. First make the burger patties. Gut any sinew away from the steaks but keep the hard fat. Roughly chop the steaks into about 2 cm pieces. Then, using a sharp knife cut up the pieces to form a coarse mince. This will take quite a while.
2. In a bowl, mix the mince, chopped steak, grated onion and a small pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well together but don’t overwork.
3. Empty the bowl onto a clean work surface and form two round patties. Flatten the patties out and push a dimple in the centre. Rub all over with oil and place onto a plate in the fridge,
4. Next the potatoes. Set the oven to 200°C. Wash the potatoes but leave the skins on. Cut into wedges. Dry with kitchen roll and tip into a roasting tin. Pour over about 1tbsp sunflower oil, sprinkle over some sea salt and mix until evenly covered.
5. Distribute the potatoes evenly in the roasting tin, trying to avoid them touching as much as possible.
6. Place in the oven for 30–40 minutes until crispy at the edges. Use a spatula to turn them over a couple of times during cooking. It doesn’t matter if they stick to the pan and have to be shoved off as this will create crispier edges. When cooked, place onto kitchen roll and keep warm.
7. Slice each of the tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle over the fennel, oregano, some alt and pepper and olive oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes. When they look nicely roasted (crinkly and starting to colour) take them out, tip into a bowl and dress with a little more olive oil.
8. Take the burgers out of the fridge. Get a large frying pan or griddle pan really hot, then turn down to medium (or use a medium-hot barbecue). Place the burger on the heat. Cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, depending on how you like it (6 minutes total should be medium-rare, but push the burger with your finger to check). When you turn the burger place the cheese on top.
9. In the same pan, or on the grill, place the onion slices next to the burger. Turn at the same time as turning the burger.
10. Slice the rolls and assemble your burgers. Place the onion slice on the bottom, then the burger and cheese.
11. Serve with the potatoes and the tomatoes either inside the burger or on the side with a crispy, fresh salad.

Barbecue ribs with barbecue sauce

For 1 rack (2 people)

Ingredients

Ribs
1 rack pork spare ribs (approx. 1 kg)
350 ml American craft style pale ale
1 onion
2 sticks celery
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries

Sauce
1 medium onion diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
50 g of ginger, peeled and diced
2 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
50 g of tomato puree
100 ml of soy sauce
50 ml of Worcestershire sauce
50 g of black treacle
150g of soft brown sugar
vegetable oil

Preparation

1. Turn the racks curved-side down, have the wider end facing you. Peel the edge of the translucent membrane away from the smaller end of the rack to form a small flap. Pull this towards you, so the membrane peels off the bones.

2. Depending on the size of your large pot or saucepan, cut the rack into 2 or 3 pieces so that it fits inside. Place the ribs into the pot, pour over the beer and top up with water to completely cover the ribs.

3. Add onion, celery, bay and allspice to the pot.

4. Bring the pot up to a simmer, then place a lid on it and leave to cook for about 1 hour or until the ribs are tender. Once tender, remove the ribs from the cooking liquid and set aside to cool. Leave the pot liquor over the heat to reduce by about one third.

5. For the sauce, in another pot, heat about 2tbsp vegetable oil then turn down the heat to low/medium.

6. Add the diced celery, onion, garlic and ginger with paprika and cayenne, place a lid on the pot and cook over a low heat until soft and melting.

7. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover with water or the poaching liquor from the ribs.

8. Warm to dissolve sugar.

9. When the sugar is dissolved bring to the boil then simmer until reduced to thick, sticky glaze.

10. Remove from heat but keep warm.

11. To finish the ribs, once the ribs are cool, cut away from the bone so that you have individual ribs. Using a pastry brush, paint the ribs with the barbecue sauce.

12. Place the ribs on a medium hot barbecue. After a few minutes turn the ribs over and glaze again. Repeat until nicely glazed and then serve with extra sauce on the side.

Corn on the cob with smoky butter

Ingredients
2 corn-on-the-cobs with husk on
50 g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp smoked paprika and sprinkle or cayenne or 1 tsp ground chipotle
½ tsp sea salt flakes

Preparation
1. Mix together the butter, paprika/cayenne/chipotle and salt.
2. Form into a roll, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge.
3. Place the cobs onto a hot barbecue, husks and all for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until the husk is burned all over.
4. Remove from the grill and allow the husk to cool so it can be removed. Get off as much as possible.
5. Cut slices of the butter place on the hot cobs to melt. Serve.