Steak Diane

Steak Diane is a restaurant classic from the past but it is also one of those dishes that will never really go out of fashion.

I used rib-eye steak, because I think it has the most flavour, but you can also use sirloin or rump.

First, you have to make the sauce.


4 or 5 chopped white mushrooms
A finely diced shallot
A crushed clove of garlic
2 tablespoons of Cognac or other brandy
A nice big knob of butter
A big splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley
1 glass of white wine

Sauté the shallots, garlic and mushrooms in the melted butter until softened and them add the Cognac and flame. Then add the white wine and reduce a bit. Add the Worcestershire sauce and cream and continue cooking. Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the mustard and chopped parsley.

Keep the sauce warm while you cook the steaks as you like them. Myself, I prefer them rare to medium.

Serve with some nice chunky chips and a green salad or some green beans.

To drink, it has to be a decent red wine, maybe a Bordeaux, something from the Rhône or a good Burgundy from one of the more full-bodied appellations.


Mussels with cider and cream

I bought a bag of mussels on the way home from work last night, all nice and clean ones.

I had shallots, garlic, cream, cider and some persillade so it was a simple matter to cook the shallot and garlic off in some butter, add the mussels with the cider and cream and steam them for a few minutes.

A dollop of persillade was added and mixed in and that was it.

Some crusty bread and the rest of the cider to drink completed a lovely simple supper.

Pork with apples, cider and cream

This is one of those dishes where the West Country meets Normandy, but this is an English version. Cider and cream are common to both Normandy and the West of England, so the dishes that use these ingredients share a common set of flavours.

The ingredients are;

Cubed pork leg or shoulder
2 peeled and sliced Cox’s apples
A half pint of cider (I used Weston’s medium dry)
A finely chopped onion
A small tub of single cream
Half a pint of vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Dried sage
English mustard powder, mixed into a paste with some milk.

Sauté the onions in butter and add the apples, carry on cooking and add the cubed pork. Keep on cooking until the pork loses its pinkness and add the cider and cook it for about five minutes.

Add in the dried sage, salt and pepper and the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for about an hour until the pork is cooked.

Add in the mustard, some of the chopped parsley and cream and cook on a medium heat, stirring so that the sauce becomes smooth.

To go with this, I made some mashed potato with whole-grain mustard and some frozen petits pois with chopped spring onions and sliced lettuce, cooked with butter and a small amount of water.

You could also cook this with chicken pieces, or maybe rabbit too, in which case the cooking time would be a bit shorter.

Although this is an English dish, I think that it is best accompanied by a bottle of wine. You could drink a rich white wine, maybe a Viognier or a Gewurztraminer, but we had a red Burgundy, a Côte Chalonnaise from the Cave Buxynoise, the Domaine des Pierres Blanches 2005 .

This is a good example of a southern Burgundian red, a 100% Pinot Noir with good structure and depth and well-defined red fruits on the palate.

Eton mess

This is one of Nicola’s favourite Summer desserts and it is so simple.

All you need are;

Shop-bought meringue nests
Whipping cream
Vanilla sugar

First make a coulis by blending some of the strawberries with some vanilla sugar – about 2 teaspoonfuls of sugar will do.

Then whip the cream, but only as much as thickens it and gives it some air, not to stiff peaks.

Put some coulis in the bottom of your serving dishes and break one meringue nest per person into each dish. Spoon over some whipped cream, add some of the fruit, some more coulis, some more cream, a few more berries and finally some more coulis to finish.

I prefer to do it like this, because if you mix the meringue, coulis and cream together, the meringue tends to dissolve into the more liquid items. This way, you still have crunchy meringue pieces.

You can also make this with just strawberries, but I like the contrast between the different Summer berries.