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.
2 steaks of your choice
2 shallots, very finely chopped
150ml double cream
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.