Inspiration sought, C_____ related

For reasons too dull to bore you with, I have undertaken to cook an early ‘festive’ meal next week. Given the choice between ‘traditional wiv all the trimmings’ and ‘simple and elegant’ my, ahem, victim opted for the latter. I now find myself somewhat devoid of inspiration. It will not be vegetarian, and lobster/crab/scallops are out because they try to kill me these days. Any suggestions gratefully received.


Ooh, I will apply myself to this Gus

Smoked Salmon to start, & then Beef?

I will Ponder

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am, apparently, cooking a leg of Lamb tomorrow night.

It’s a Big Bugga - 2.5kg , & I want it pinkish, not red

Well, I would like it so that the Vet could resuscitate it, but the others prefer more well-done meat.

The oven here is an 'Lectric Fanny Oven, so an idea of times/temperatures will be very helpful to this Gas Girl



I’m afraid I’m no help. I just book a table these days. This might not be the occasion but Zuni chicken is magic


Ah, now while your suggestion is lovely, smoked salmon isn’t liked by the victim half as much as it is by me… Wasn’t thinking of a full-on roast so much. But beef is sort of tempting, although we then run into the problem of liking it different ways.

Which brings me on to your gigot d’agneau electrique comme des reves androidiens


Let lamb come to room temperature for at least an hour before you enoven the bugger. Do whatever fidgetting about you are planning on doing with it. Meanwhile preheat fan oven to 200 deg fan. (add 20 deg for non-fan ovens)
When you shove the lamb in, turn oven down to 170 deg fan (ergo 190 for non-fan). 15 mins per 450g for pink + 15 mins I reckon to please the wider community you can probably get away with 20 per 450g + 15. Rest it under foil for half an hour before rending it asunder.


Coo, Marjorie, that does sound absolutely splendid. Not for this occasion (I will not be cooking in my own place, which complicates matters somewhat) but that has been added to the mental files. Ta


Thanks, Gus
It was what to turn it down to, which was taxing me

BiL cremates everything, & doesn’t understand resting times, or even resting meat


Steak with Red Wine Sauce?

Have had a rather splendid Indian meal



that’s good

hmmmm, Adds to shortlist.

Fank you dere Chatelaine.

wrt the lamb, obviously much depends on the configuration of the joint, whether it had short fat woolly legs or was altogether a svelter and more willowy beast. but 15 mins plus a scant 20 should have it not too bloody for the peasants and not too incinerated for you. Just do, please, investigate it during its last 20 mins and adjust accordingly to avoid disappointment, recriminations and pins being stuck in a poppet of me.


Don’t worry, Gus

I’ll blame the oven…



To my eternal shame, I can’t remember who passed this on to me, but it’s one of those gems which is easy to prepare but looks and tastes as though you’ve spent hours on it. The flambéing, incidentally, is of the more spectacular variety (the instruction to stand well back is not lightly given!) so makes an impressive flourish if you want to show off.

###Fillet of beef with mixed peppercorn sauce
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Serves 2

1 tbsp vegetable oil
25g clarified butter (see below)
2 fillet steak, at room temperature
knob of butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
6 medium mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp green and pink peppercorn, crushed
3 tbsp brandy
100ml red wine
200ml good-quality beef stock
3 tbsp double cream

Heat a frying pan over a medium-to-high heat, then pour in the oil and half of the clarified butter. Season the steak with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and cook to your liking (2 mins each side for medium-rare, 3 mins each side for medium, depending on the thickness of your steaks). Be sure to seal the rounded edges, too. Transfer to a plate.

Add the knob of butter to the pan, then fry the shallots, mushrooms and peppercorns over a medium heat for 5 mins, until the shallots have softened and the mushrooms browned. Return the steaks to the pan. Heat the brandy in a metal ladle, light with a match then carefully pour into the hot pan, standing as far back as you can. Once the pan has stopped flaming, remove the steaks again.

Pour the wine into the pan, turn up the heat and boil rapidly until reduced by half. This will take about 5 mins. Add the stock and reduce again, this time by two-thirds. Stir the cream in to the sauce and allow it to thicken slightly. Check the sauce for seasoning, then return the fillets to the pan to warm through, spooning the sauce over. Serve straight away.

####Clarified butter
The process of clarifying butter removes the milk solids, which burn easily when frying at high temperatures. To make your own clarified butter, melt a little more butter than you need in a small pan, then drain off the yellow part, discarding the white solids left at the bottom.


Not knowing the Gusly or Guestly parameters, I might go for something like

  • whitebait or pâté or breaded fried camembert (whatever takes your fancy)
  • joint of pork; brussels sprouts sautéed in garlic butter; roast potatoes, courgettes or carrots.
  • Put the pork in a mustard glaze if you both like it.

Christmas? Roast Beef of Old England, surely. With small amounts of all the appropriate veg of choice, and a red wine gravy.

And something meringue-and-fruit to follow it.


General upshot of all these lovely ideas - and thank you all - is that I am feeling Very Hungry Indeed. I think the victim might rather like the incendiary steak. Had been flirting with the idea of duck breast with a (probably) plum sauce - not the oriental kind. Decisions, incisions… but am feeling a lot less uninspired than before, so thank you once again.


I do have to take issue with the esteemed Sparrer on that suggestion, however. I will go a certain way along the road with said bird in the matter of garlic butter; but there is a definite parting of the ways at the introduction of the sprout.

Seeing as I am over 50 and have slight wolverine tendencies at times, the Ma cannot force me to eat them; and seeing as I am widowed, I no longer feel obliged to cook them for anyone.

Baby ones, raw and finely shredded, in a lightly curry spiced mayonnaise, with toasted flaked almonds and a little very finely shredded red onion bathed in lemon juice - well, that’s by no means unpleasant;- )

Ah, sprouts. One of the grate dividers. I used to swallow them whole, to avoid argument, when I was of an age and station to be required to clear my plate no matter what my views on its contents might have been.


This is somewhat dicing with disaster, but I was wondering about going all swagger and doing a fruit souffle of some description. Easier if you are just cooking for, not eating with, the recipient, though.

Note to self: you’ve seem what a hames they make of that on Professional Masterchef. Remember how you mocked them? Aye, well.


joe me dear, seeing a recipe from you has reminded me, did you ever give those soups a go?

Oh, and another good trick with the steak sauce business - proceed pretty much as per yours for the cooking of the steak, possibly give them slightly longer initally as they will be spending less time back in the pan.
Once they are out - very finely chopped shallot, a little fresh butter if needed and fry off and scrape pan with spatula.
Then about 70ml red wine and a couple of tablespoonsful of wholegrain mustard (nothing wildly explosive, but not one of the sickly honeyed kind either) and stir like crazy. You end up with something that looks as if it belongs in the sluices of a path lab. Bung in c. 100 ml sour cream once the gharsley mixture looks as if it might be thnking about getting syrupy (don’t let it actually get to that stage), stir like crazy again, add another dollop of sour cream to taste and stir, bunging steaks back in to warm through, spooning sauce over as per. Chopped flatleaf parsley, in quantity makes a good addition at the last cream addition stage but there are them as has views on that…
This is wonderful with the smaller kind of baked potato that has had larger (the ones with taste to begin with) tomato baked in the oven with it, and very lightly cooked french beans. Or just boiled new pots and beans. It does like the baked tomato thing, though, weirdly, considering that there is already sauce going on on the plate. Maybe it was just us.


Funny you should mention that - I was just getting the necessaries together for the tomato, carrot & orange one. Circumstances got in the way before, so that’s going to be a new experience. I shall report back later…