Chocolate Pecan Pie

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For those of us who write about food, being invited to go and eat somewhere is fairly commonplace. Sometimes it’s a new restaurant, a cookbook launch or a street food market. Sometimes it’s an event tailored especially for food bloggers, which can either be tedious beyond belief or the perfect place to meet new drinking buddies. Most of these invitations come with freebies of some sort, which you repay with a plug  – a tweet, Instagram photo or, if you have time, a blog post. Although these events can be fun and do have their uses, they also come with the risk of sapping the fun out of eating out.

Which is why the best invitations of all are those that come from friends.

In this world of promotion and social media, it’s easy to forget that there is joy in just eating out for the sheer hell of it. Enjoying food, sharing time with friends and just having a good time. It’s why most of us (bar an unscrupulous minority who are in it for the free goods) started writing about food in the first place: because we love it. Before hashtags, sponsored content and reviews, there was just dinner. And it was joyful.

So I spent Sunday afternoon at a south London barbecue in the garden of some very good friends. One just happens to be one of the best chefs in London, but don’t let that distract you from the story.  We sat under a huge parasol chatting, drinking, cooing over the baby and eating olives. The sun was out and we had nowhere else we had to be. Six hours later, realising we had work in the morning, we wandered home full, a little drunk and very content. My friend cooked a shoulder of pork that spent a couple of days in a dry rub, before being cooked in beer, smoked and then finished on the barbecue. I knew it was going to be a cut above sausages and burgers – let’s face it – but nothing prepared me for how much I was going to love that pork. Three days on and I still dream about it.

My usual contribution to a barbecue is prosecco and dessert. The first is universally accepted as is, but the second can be a bit of a struggle when there are multiple guests with different dietary requirements. Fortunately this time, the brief was wide open, which I interpreted as an excuse to make my favourite chocolate pecan pie.

There’s not much more to say about it other than it being a classic pecan pie with the addition of chocolate chips.  The only anomaly from the general rules of pie-making is that I don’t blind bake the tart shell. I have done in the past, but I find that a slightly softer, less cooked pastry works better with the filling; the flavours seem to permeate into it somehow. The pastry on this particular example is not my best, as I forgot how difficult it is to make pastry by hand in a hot kitchen when your food processor has gone on strike. These are moments when ready-made shortcrust is forgivable, if not preferable.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Serves eight. Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz.

For the pastry
175g plain flour
Pinch salt
1 tbsp icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
A little water

For the filling
3 large eggs
150g soft light brown sugar
200g golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
30ml olive oil
200g toasted pecans, roughly chopped
150g chocolate chips

To make the pastry by hand: sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Gradually add the water, a little at a time, until it comes together in a smooth dough.
To make the pastry in a food processor: pulse together the flour, salt, icing sugar and butter until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. With the motor running, gradually add the water until it comes together in a smooth dough.
Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190ºc. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use to line the inside of a pie dish. Crimp the edges and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, golden syrup, vanilla extract and olive oil until smooth.  Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.  Scrape the filling into the pie dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. When ready, the filling should be mainly set but with a slight wobble in the middle. Allow to cool completely before serving.

One year ago: Blueberry and Lemon Breakfast Scones

Pad Thai

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A few months ago, my patience with Thai restaurants wore thin. I found myself out for dinner in another bamboo-and-buddha decorated establishment, surrounded by curries with no spice, cocktails with no kick and sweet chilli bloody everything. The final straw was when they asked if we wanted to order any – I shit you not – Thai TAPAS. Enough was enough, I thought; where had all the good Thai restaurants gone?

Sure, they exist. If you’ve ever had the larb gai at Kaosarn or the pomelo and chilli salad at Smoking Goat, you will know that good Thai food is out there when you know where to look.  These seem to be the exception rather than the rule, as everywhere else seems hell-bent on churning out anglicised dishes, quite far from anything you would expect to see in Bangkok. Jungle curry for the masses.

Has it always been this bad? Or have I just been critiquing for too long? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hark back to the days when you had to visit a backstreet boozer to get Thai food in London (although I did enjoy an occasional visit to the Hobgoblin in New Cross for this between lectures at Goldsmiths), but the food was generally half decent: largely home-cooked food, cooked by Thai chefs in a couple of woks in a pub kitchen. Before gastropubs became de rigeur for every London neighbourhood, this was what you expected when somebody suggested ‘dinner in the pub.’ It seems that as we embrace global cuisine more and more, and more great restaurants open; more bad ones come along with it.

The dumbed-down version of Thai food that is served up with regularity in Thai restaurants across the country, has come to be what we now think of as being Thai food. Supermarkets have quickly followed suit, offering a number of ready-cooked dishes along the same lines: soups and curries that taste of little more than coconut milk and breaded seafood slathered in that ubiquitous bright red, sugary sweet chilli sauce. You might wonder why I don’t just avoid these restaurants if I don’t like them, and you would be right that perhaps I should just do that instead of using a whole blog post to complain about it, but it’s the principle: we shouldn’t have to pay good money for shit food. Also, I don’t want to be the one who pulls a face next time I’m outside of London and somebody suggests going for Thai food.

But until things improve, I am that person. Or at least an optimistic version of that person who is seeking out hidden gems and badgering others for recommendations. I know that there are people out there for whom food is second to company when it comes to eating out, but I will never be somebody who can willingly go out for a bad dinner, even for my very best friends. So, for now, friends, if you want to eat Thai food with me and can’t face queuing at Smoking Goat, we’ll cook it in one of our kitchens and experiment until it is just how we want it. I have a bunch of really good cookbooks we can use. To start us off, here’s a pad Thai recipe. You bring the wine.

Pad Thai
Serves four.

250g dried noodles
100ml fish sauce
100ml tamarind sauce
100g soft light brown sugar
½ tsp chilli powder
120ml vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
220g small cooked prawns
250g leftover roast chicken, shredded
2 eggs, beaten
120g beansprouts
4 spring onions, finely sliced
75g roasted peanuts or cashews
Finely chopped coriander, to serve.

Soak the noodles in cold water until they are plaible, drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, tamarind, sugar and chilli powder. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat and add the garlic and stir fry for a few seconds before adding the noodles and a couple tablespoons of water.  Stir fry until the water has evaporated and then add the sauce. Cook until the noodles are al dente.

Add the rest of the oil along with the prawns and chicken.  Stir fry until both are cooked through and add the eggs and scramble through the noodles.  Be careful not to overcook. Add the beansprouts, spring onions and nuts, then remove from the heat and garnish with the coriander.

An Ode to Banana Bread

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Before you say anything, I realise that the world reached banana bread saturation point a number of years ago. You could be forgiven for rolling your eyes just a little upon reading the title of this post, and for thinking that I’ve finally run out of inspiration for adding another banana bread recipe to the myriad of banana bread recipes already out there. You could indeed be right, for I have two banana bread recipes on this site alone; but the reason I am adding another one is more or less the same reason I bought another black vest yesterday despite having three or four identical to it at home: I know a good thing when I find it.

So bear with me.

The truth is that this post isn’t really about banana bread at all, it’s about my current obsession with trying to use up what I have in the fridge and cupboards before buying more food. Despite my best efforts to keep an organised pantry, it has become so out of control in recent weeks that cupboard doors have to be opened with extreme caution in case piles of half-full packets, precariously balanced jars and hastily-labelled tupperwares come tumbling down. I have been haphazardly buying food without checking what I already have and suddenly realised that I was becoming the foodie equivalent of a bag lady. The other day I found three bags of risotto rice, all opened. It had to stop.

One Saturday afternoon, I completely emptied my cupboards and took stock of everything in them. I threw out anything past its best, condensed everything into single packets and put everything back in a way less likely to injure me next time I opened the door. I then sat down to plan my meals for the week and, instead of simply devising recipes based on what I would like to eat, I planned meals around the surplus ingredients I had in the cupboard and only bought what was needed to supplement what I already had. Common sense, I know, but it’s easy to act contrary to this when you’ve spent years cooking and eating on a whim. I also don’t need to tell you that this brought down the cost of my food shopping enormously, right? You know this already.

The idea for banana bread didn’t come from a surplus of over-ripe bananas, as is usually the case, but from a want to use up other things I had lurking in the cupboard: ends of bags of different flours, stubs of different butters, a bit of brown sugar, a bit of white sugar and half a bag of pecans. The reason that there are so many different banana bread recipes out there is simply that you can throw in pretty much any ingredients and it will still turn out fine. There isn’t much of a precise science to it, which gives you room to experiment.  If you understand the basic ratios of baking ingredients, the supermarket shelves offer endless possibilities. You might even find yourself buying bananas just to deliberately let them blacken so that you can make more banana bread.

This recipe below is for a basic banana bread, which is why it looks so plain on first glance. Here are a few notes on substitutions you might find useful:

  • The flour can be substituted with any flours that do not contain rising agent, but do bear in mind that the less refined flours will give a coarser texture. That being said, banana bread made with spelt flour is lovely. If you do use self-raising flour, omit the bicarbonate of soda.  If you wish to add cocoa to the banana bread, add 60g in place of 60g of flour.
  • The nuts can be substituted for other similar dry ingredients or omitted altogether.  If you want to up the quantity of nuts, you may need to add a little extra buttermilk to loosen up the batter.
  • A small quantity of wet ingredients can be added to the batter (e.g. a tablespoon of rum) without altering the mix too much. If you wish to add much more than this, it would probably be best to find a different recipe.
  • Substitutions can be made for those with dietary requirements; e.g. gluten-free flour, margarine, egg replacements and dairy-free milk.

 

Banana Bread
Makes 8-10 slices. Adapted from a recipe from Peyton and Byrne: British Baking

125g butter, at room temperature
200g sugar
2 eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
60ml buttermilk
200g flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g chopped, toasted nuts
Demerera sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180c.  Grease a medium loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the mashed banana and buttermilk.  Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and fold until just combined. Finally, fold in the nuts.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with the demerera sugar.  Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until risen. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack. In an airtight container, this should keep for about five days.

One year ago: Blueberry pancakes.

See also:
Banana, rum and coconut bread
Vegan double chocolate banana bread

Peanut Butter Brownies

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Searching for the perfect brownie recipe can be a bit like searching for the perfect zone two flat: stressful, tricky, fraught with disappointment and likely to give you the suspicion that others, far more successful at the task, somehow know something that you don’t. Just when you think that it’s never going to happen for you, the worlds align and the right thing comes along. You preen it, tweak it, make it exactly how you want it and show it off to everybody you know. I jumped for joy when given my keys for the first time, and my excitement was no less palpable when I discovered Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Brownies when scrolling through the Guardian recipe archives one afternoon.

Much like estate agents, cookery writers are all bravado when claiming that they have the exact thing you’re looking for. Just as I trawled around every available flat from Brixton to Brockley, and Deptford to Denmark Hill; I have done the rounds with the ‘Ultimate’ brownies and ‘Foolproof’ brownies without any real degree of success, finding just as much disappointment in a tray of dry cake as I would upon finding a ‘luxury ensuite’ is nothing more than a shower tray wedged into a cupboard (yes, this has happened.) I’ll stop with the property comparisons now, but I will tell you this: this is the only brownie recipe you will ever need.

Felicity Cloake is a girl who really knows how to do her research. If you haven’t read her “How to Cook the Perfect…” column, the idea is that she chooses a dish, cooks a number of different recipes and then amalgamates all of the good bits to create the perfect specimen. For her brownies, she drew upon the expertise of Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, Prue Leith, the Ballymaloe Cookery School and Alice Medrich; a veritable round-up of experts if ever there was one.  They are exactly how, in my opinion, brownies should be: moist and fudgy, and with a dusty and slightly crisp crust, and nothing at all like a slice of chocolate cake. This is achieved through using very little flour and whisking the eggs to get air into the batter, much in the same way that you would a flourless chocolate cake.

These brownies are, of course, wonderful when made exactly to Felicity’s recipe, and I do this often, but, much like the magnolia walls in my flat, I see them as an opportunity for creativity.  In the past I have tarted them up with salted caramel, kirsch-soaked cherries and vanilla cheesecake – although never all at once. These peanut butter brownies are made in much the same way as you would the more ubiquitous cheesecake brownie; by swirling peanut butter buttercream into the brownie batter before putting it into the oven, which firms as it bakes. Due to my allergy, we never have peanut-based desserts at home, and the ones I make for my husband, I can never taste. He had a birthday last week and his office has the rule that whoever has a birthday provides the cake, so I made him these to take in.  When I asked him how they were, he said: “Like Snickers, but better.” Which doesn’t help me out much as I’ve never had a Snickers, but you get the idea.

Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies
200g dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
300g soft light brown sugar
3 large eggs, plus one yolk
60g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
60g cocoa powder

For the peanut butter buttercream
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
65g icing sugar
200g smooth peanut butter
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180ºc and line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, then set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, or using a hand whisk, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the speed up to high and mix for five minutes until the batter has increased in volume.

Using a large metal spoon, fold in the melted chocolate. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and fold into the mixture, being careful not to knock out too much air whilst doing so. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin.

Beat together all of the ingredients for the peanut butter buttercream and spoon tablespoonfuls over the top of the brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl the buttercream into the batter, try not to swirl too much as you want discernible pockets of each, rather than a blended mixture.

Bake the brownies in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. They should be set at the edges and wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool fully in the tin before attempting to slice. Don’t worry if they sink a little in the middle, that’s how they get so squidgy.

One year ago: Strawberry, Almond and Coconut Baked Porridge

Other chocolate recipes on More than Just Toast:
Fried Nutella and Strawberry French Toast Sandwich
Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Emergency Chocolate Mousse

Emergency Chocolate Mousse

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Trust me, you need this emergency chocolate mousse. All I’ve been hearing about lately is people suffering from baking disasters: collapsed choux buns, sunken cakes, curdled custards and burnt biscuits. We must be in the midst of an epidemic.

The symptoms of this peculiar affliction begin slowly; caused by a slightly dodgy oven or a slapdash approach to measurement. Sometimes it’s a missing ingredient and you decide to ‘wing it,’ sometimes you’re too busy looking at other people’s bakes on Instagram and have a lapse in attention. It escalates quickly and, before you know it, you are in the throes of disaster, crying into your charred creation, angrily throwing it into the sink or, in extreme cases, sitting in the corner of the kitchen, covered in flour, rocking back and forth muttering about how Mary Berry made it look so easy on television.

I succumb to this on a regular basis. Even for those of us for whom cooking is a hobby, it can still be a massively stressful experience as, now more than ever, we are expected to share our food with others and, even more frighteningly, on social media. The worst bout of disaster for me came when I tried, and spectacularly failed, to make a tray of gin and tonic jellies for a Band of Bakers event. I came home before the event to collect them and they were still liquid, even after 14 hours in the fridge. I had ignored the symptoms, you see: I have a terrible track record with gelatine and booze is notoriously difficult to work with. I threw the whole lot down the sink and needed a remedy.

It was not the first time that the emergency chocolate mousse has been my saviour, it has managed to cure me of dessert-related meltdowns on several occasions in the past. Of course, if you balls up your planned dessert royally, you can just go to the shop and buy one, and I thoroughly advocate this; unless, of course, you write a food blog and run a baking club, in which case you had better turn out something homemade or your credibility will plummet. Or so my inner fears go at these moments.

The best thing about this mousse is that it takes hardly any time to make. The second best thing is that you can buy most of the ingredients from the corner shop which if, like me, you’re a bit of a way from a supermarket and don’t have a car, is a godsend. After my failed gin and tonic jellies were so unceremoniously dumped, I managed to get to the corner shop, buy ingredients, make the mousse and chill it, all within an hour. It also tastes pretty good and, more importantly, homemade. If you have a posh corner shop, or at least one that sells more than booze and crisps, you can get creative with what you serve with the mousse. I spooned mine into little individual cups and served half with some fresh strawberries they had in that day, and the other half with sweets from the pick and mix stand.

Of course, you may be one of those lucky individuals for whom nothing goes wrong, but if you’re susceptible to the odd bout of baking disasters, I would bookmark this page and make a note of your local shop’s opening hours. At least until they discover a vaccine.

Emergency Chocolate Mousse

Note: if you don’t have these exact ingredients to hand, don’t worry about it. 300g of any chocolate will suffice, and if you don’t have brandy you can sub it out with any other whisky or liqueurs you have in the booze cupboard – or leave it out all together.

150g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
50g white chocolate
3 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brandy
250ml whipped cream

Break all of the chocolate into small pieces into a glass bowl and place it over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until it melts and then set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, then fold in the cooled chocolate, being careful not to knock too much air out of the eggs. Gently fold in the brandy and whipped cream.

Either divide into individual serving dishes, or serve from the large bowl.

Serves four. Adapted from a recipe by Gino D’Acampo.

Vietnamese Prawn Noodle Salad

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It’s the same old story, or at least it is for me: I come home from a holiday, all sun-tanned, rested and full of good intentions, and declare that I only want to eat the cuisine of the country I just arrived home from. If you go right to the back of my food cupboards, you could probably find enough evidence to guess everywhere I’ve been on holiday in the past five years.

Cooking these dishes at home is easy enough, especially when you live in London and have access to speciality food shops for almost every country in the world, but eating out is a little trickier. Mainly it requires research: if you’ve just arrived home from a holiday exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza, walking into the first Mexican restaurant you find back home is unlikely to recreate your holiday gastronomic experience, because, let’s face it, a lot of restaurants in the UK offering ‘foreign’ cuisines are crap. That being said, if you do your homework, the more authentic places can easily be found (incidentally usually away from the tourist spots.) When I came home from a trip to Vietnam in 2009, I went straight to the Kingsland Road in, what was then a far shabbier, Hoxton to find the best place to satisfy my new-found love for Vietnamese food. Almost everybody I know has a favourite restaurant on the Kingsland Road, and most are fiercely loyal to theirs. I actually have three that I always go to: Mien Tay for pho, Song Que for grilled meats and the Tay Do Café for their tofu with chilli and lemongrass, which is, hands down, the best tofu dish in London.

If south-east Asian food is your thing, it is easy to be satisfied in London; with noodle bars and bahn mi stands in most neighbourhoods. Most are cheap and authentic, and many let you bring your own booze. The one thing that I have to say here, though, and my only real sticking point: the salads are never hot enough.

South-east Asian salads are typically shredded vegetables, and occasionally green mangoes, with a soy-lime-fish sauce dressing, some roasted nuts and a lot of chilli. It is easy to be fooled into thinking that they are completely innocuous, for they look like nothing, but they often pack more of a punch than most of the stir fries and noodle dishes. Once, I watched open-mouthed as a street food vendor threw a handful of chopped red birds-eye chillies into my comparatively small salad, seeds and all. In UK restaurants, the salads are far, far tamer. All of the elements are present and correct, but they will add considerably fewer chillies, presumably to better suit a western palate. I mean, they’re not wrong, for I have many friends who start panting on eating the tiniest bit of sriracha; but I do find myself underwhelmed by most of the salads I’ve had in London. The best one, for me, was the pomelo salad at Smoking Goat on Denmark Street, which was probably the closest to anything I ate in Asia.

This recipe is one that I developed some time ago. The vermicelli noodles makes it part south-east Asian salad and part summer roll filling, but I’ve come to like it very much. The dressing follows the main principle of south-east Asian food: balancing the sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavours. I almost typed ‘perfectly’ on to the end of that sentence and then realised that the perfection in this balance is found in your own personal taste. As you will have already gathered, I like a lot of heat in my salads, so have added five birds-eye chillies: two in the dressing and three in the salad . Do scale this down if the mere thought of it is making steam come out of your ears. Similarly, if you are a braver person than I (or you’re cooking dinner for my husband,) then add in one more. I tend to remove the seeds but, again, do keep them in if you wish. If you don’t like prawns, sub in any other leftover cooked fish or meats, or leave it out altogether.

My inlaws came to visit recently and we had this as a side dish alongside some bream baked with ginger and spring onion. And a lot of sriracha.

Vietnamese Prawn Noodle Salad

For the dressing:
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
90ml lime juice
2 birds eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated

250g fresh vermicelli noodles
75g beansprouts
1 large carrot, cut into thin batons
1 cucumber, deseeded and cut into thin batons
3 birds-eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
300g cooked small prawns
2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

Stir fry the noodles according to packet instructions, along with the beansprouts, and transfer to a large bowl. Add the carrot, cucumber, chillies, prawns, basil, mint and coriander. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.

Serves two as a main, or four as a side dish.

Steak Diane

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Last week, whilst simultaneously trying to cook dinner, answer my emails and tackle a mountain of washing up, I joked on Instagram that, were I ever to write a book, it would be called “Quick Dinners for Busy People: What to Eat When You’re Knackered.” This book would be filled with recipes for the overworked; the people who barely see daylight and fall asleep on buses; and would nourish them with something quick and easy before they fall face-first into bed. I don’t know why I was surprised to find that many people liked this idea, we Londoners do have the longest working hours in Europe and live in one of the most congested cities in the world, after all. Once I find the time, I might write it.

The way I see it, the problem is twofold: being pressed for time will lead you to cook for convenience rather than love; and being tired will inevitably drain your creativity. Many people I know, people who ordinarily love to spend hours in the kitchen cooking up a fabulous three-course lunch, will gladly eat anything as long as it takes under ten minutes, doesn’t involve sharp knives and can be eaten in front of the television. I know now why supermarkets sell so many of those packets of instant tortellini. When you social media feed is filled with other, less time-poor, people making their own bone broth, baking bread and meticulously shredding vegetables for wonderful salads, it is easy to be embarrassed by your own lacklustre performance in working your way through the entire Pizza Express cook-at-home range for the second week in a row.

These days I seem to be on a quest to find interesting dinners that I can cook quickly and easily. A lot of this involves forward planning: visiting the butcher, fishmonger and local greengrocer at the weekend so I’m not stalking the aisles of supermarkets and convenience stores during the witching hour; and using my freezer where I can. Being that we are a household of two, and most recipes feed four, we have the luxury of leftovers for an easy packed lunch or next-day dinner. If, by some small chance, I have a few spare hours at the weekend I will batch cook and freeze individual portions; but this rarely happens.

You might be wondering how all of this is relevant to a recipe for steak diane. Well, aside from the fact that I love a good retro steak dish, I discovered when I cooked it for Valentine’s Day last month that it is also very quick to make. Once you have cooked the steak to your liking, the sauce takes no more than a couple of minutes to prepare and cook. If you have oven chips on the side (which I did, don’t judge,) you can pretty much make the whole dish in between spreading them on a baking tray and your oven timer going off. I used rib-eye steaks, bought from my local butcher, William Rose in East Dulwich, but it will work just as well with your favourite cut. Get all the stuff at the weekend, then cook it for a decadent Monday night supper.

Steak Diane

2 steaks of your choice
50g butter
Olive oil
2 shallots, very finely chopped
150ml double cream
75ml brandy
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Small handful chopped parsley
Sea salt and black pepper

Cook the steaks to your liking on a griddle and set aside.

In a large frying pan with high sides, melt the butter in a little olive oil over a medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for a few minutes until translucent but not browned.

Turn up the heat and add the cream, brandy and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil. Add all but a little of the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Quickly remove from the heat.

Add the steaks to the pan and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Serves two.