I've been cooking for myself since I was around thirteen or so (I came from a semi-broken home). I learnt first from my mother and then later I expanded my repertoire somewhat while I was in Italy. So I basically cook either good Welsh stodge or good Italian food (which some claim is pretentious food
This is one of my favourite recipes, the ragù alla bolognese I learnt to make. It looks quite complex, but is actually dead easy and it's cheap to make, too.
You will need:
1 large carrot, grated
about 8 closed-cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
half a kilo of beef mince
handful of diced pancetta
half a litre of beef stock (you can get away with chicken, really)
one 400g tin of chopped tomatoes (don't bother skinning and chopping your own, really. It may be more "authentic", but it's a hassle)
about 250g passata
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 glass of a decent red wine
oregano, cinnamon, fennel and rosemary.
Fry the garlic and shallots in olive oil over a medium heat for about five minutes or so, until they go soft and a bit brown. If they go black, start over. Add the minced beef and pancetta and fry unil browned. Turn the heat up high and add the wine- cook quickly until the liquid is absorbed. Then stir in a teaspoon of dried oregano, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of dried rosemary and about a quarter of a teaspoon of fennel. Then chuck in the rest of the ingredients, turn down the heat to low and cook slowly for an hour. Stir it occassionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and top up with a little water if it gets too dry.
The end result should be relatively dry and sticky. Serve it with tagliatelle and with grated parmesan on top. If you have a lot left over, use it for lasagne or something. It's not bad in jacket potatoes, either.