Steak au poivre

Or Pepper Steak. Simple enough concept, but check the internet and the gastronomes get pretty heated. It doesn’t have cream. Yes it does! It only has red wine. Brandy, you fool! Pepper should only be applied to one side of the steak. Oh you moron, its both sides.

I could go on. Basically I had two small fillet steaks, some brandy, cream and not enough peppercorns. In fact you’re supposed to have green and black peppercorns. Which I had. I bought the green ones by mistake thinking they were capers, for something else. But they’re pickled so I forgot about them.

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Homemade McDonald’s Hash Browns (Kind of)

Making homemade versions of ‘fast’, or ‘junk’, food (which term you use depends largely upon your personal viewpoint – but I suspect those who use the word ‘junk’ protest too much; they decry a big fat burger as the food of the devil when actually they secretly yearn to slaver over a large piece of meat stuck between two buns). I digress.

And so I will start again. Making homemade versions of ‘fast’, or ‘junk’, food is something of a hobby for me. An infrequent hobby, but a hobby none-the-less. I’ve made sweet and sour pork balls, fish and chips, Wendy Burgers, Chinese Chicken Curry, pizza (of course).

Of all these the Chinese Chicken Curry was the best – it actually was just like you’d get from a Chinese Take-away.

Anyway I thought I would play safe for my next fast food recreation and try recreating McDonald’s Hash Browns.

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Not a McDonald’s Hash Brown…

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Supper Club Solutions – Sirloin Steak with Fondant Potatoes and Braised Bok Choy

I was discussing money-making schemes the other day. You know the kind of thing – creative thinking. Blue-sky discussion. There’s a box, right over there. Now go get in it and then step out of it, whilst thinking.

One idea that came to mind was supper clubs. How could you make money from that? Provide support to people who want to start one? Recipes, equipment, online networking?

While I was sitting on the sofa playing with the new Xbox One (it’s great – you yell at it instructions and it does stuff e.g. ‘Xbox On’ and it switches on. I’m trying to teach it the command ‘Xbox More Wine!’ but it isn’t quite there yet. Any I have (shock) completely lost my train of thought. What was I prattling about…

…oh yes, while watching telly a woman was explaining why she held supper clubs. She was single and liked cooking but didn’t want to cook for one. So she started a supper club. What surprised me was that generally the people who came didn’t really know each other.

And people do it for different reasons – making friends, looking for love and of course people who like eating. She had some tips – keep it simple; you don’t want to spend all evening in the kitchen. Offer something to eat as soon as people turn up, otherwise they will drink too much and you could end up with a fight/orgy on your hands. And don’t expect reciprocation. Not everyone likes cooking!

Anyway, I have no intention starting a supper club. Much too much hassle. But I know what I would serve up if I did. It would be my go-to favourite dinner. Meat and potatoes with a bit of greenery (to keep the health police quiet). Sirloin Steak with Fondant Potatoes and Bok Choy.

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Shallot Tarte Tatin

Another week, another business trip. Coming to be a habit. This time it was Amsterdam. I’ve come to form the opinion that the Netherlands and England are very similar – wet, windy, bad traffic and super-expensive cabs.

But two major differences; firstly drivers actually try to avoid cyclists (in the UK it would seem they are deliberately targeted) and secondly Holland is very flat (which is obviously why there are so many cyclists).

If people drove in Amsterdam the way they drive in London (or even worse Italy) there would be cyclist carnage.

Anyway my Easyjet plane arrived (flying is becoming increasingly similar to getting the train – it arrives, people get off, you get on and off you go). However as we all piled on people began noticing a strange rattling noise coming from the plane. Given the engines were running it was one hell of a rattle to even be able to hear it.

Everyone tried to appear nonchalant but in the end the chap in front of me turned and said

‘I hope that isn’t the engine.’ To which I replied

‘No way, it’s that tractor thing they are using to re-fuel the plane.’ At this point the man in front of my compatriot turned to us and stated (somewhat gleefully)

‘Oh no, that is the engine! It always does that. I get this flight every week and I asked the stewardess months ago about it. She said it’s something to do with one of the jet’s fins. Totally safe she said.’

So with that we got on the plane. Seriously. Dodgy jet fins spinning at thousands of revs at 22,000 ft? Think about that.

Anyway I wanted home, risk of death or no. I was thinking about this: Shallot Tarte Tatin.

Now this thing looked to me like it could be fraught with difficulties and peppered with potential pitfalls. And of course that just made me want to make it.

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This is a tarte tatin. Seriously. It all works out though…

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