This is a thick tomato soup made with plum tomatoes and chopped basil leaves to give it an Italian flavour. The bowls of soup are sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and garnished with extra basil leaves. Just serve with lovely, fresh crusty bread.
4 x 170g (6 oz) steaks, (rib eye, sirloin or other good quality steak)
For the Béarnaise Sauce
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
2 egg yolks, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
115g (4 oz) butter, cut into small pieces (½ cup, or 1 stick)
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
fries and peas
For the steaks
Heat a large frying pan/skillet and add the butter and oil.
Season the steaks then add to the pan. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes each side for medium rare, 3 minutes for medium, 5–6 minutes for well done. Or BBQ. Transfer to a hot plate, cover and let the steak rest for a couple of minutes.
For the Béarnaise Sauce
While the steak is cooking, put the vinegar and shallot in a small pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer to reduce to about 1 tablespoon. This will only take a minute or two. Strain and leave to cool for a few minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with some seasoning. Whisk in the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of warm water. Place the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and add the butter, a knob at a time, stirring until each knob has melted before adding the next. Continue stirring until the sauce is shiny and thick. (The sauce will remain quite thin for a few minutes and then start to thicken very quickly.) Once it has thickened, stir in the chopped tarragon.
Spoon the sauce alongside the steaks and serve with fries and peas.
1 x 400g tin (½ x 796ml/28 fl oz can) chopped tomatoes/diced tomatoes
1.8 litres (3 pints) good chicken stock (7½ cups)
85g (3 oz) spaghetti
400g tin (540ml/19 fl oz can) cannellini beans/white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
140g (5 oz) frozen peas (1 cup)
fresh basil to garnish
Peel the vegetables and dice into small pieces, about 0.5cm (¼ inch). Heat the oil in a large pan, add the vegetables and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, uncovered, over a medium–low heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then stir in the tomatoes and stock, and bring up to a simmer. Break the spaghetti into small pieces and add to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Finally, add the beans and peas, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Serve garnished with basil leaves and accompany with crusty bread or rolls.
The first reference to a shepherd’s pie appeared in the late 1800s and since then there has been a debate as to whether it should contain lamb or beef. I’ve grown up with the idea that a shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, and cottage pie with beef. Regardless, the traditional recipe can be quite bland so here I have added some extra seasonings to liven it up.
450ml (15 fl oz) lamb stock (beef can be used as a substitute) (2 cups)
800g (1 lb 12 oz) potatoes, cut into large chunks (5–6 medium)
40g (1½ oz) butter (3 tbsp)
Serve with Chantenay/baby carrots and any other seasonal vegetables.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the meat and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add remaining oil and, over a low heat, gently cook the onion and celery for 10 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the spices, flour and tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes.
Gradually stir in the stock, then return the lamb to the pan. Season, bring back to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and leave to steam dry for two minutes.
Preheat grill to medium. Mash the potatoes with the butter and season to taste. Tip the lamb mixture into the ovenproof dish and top with the potato. Grill until the potato is turning golden (about 10 minutes).
This is a lasagna recipe that I stumbled across many years ago and that has always been a great family favourite. The dish has three layers of pasta, a meaty tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese, topped with Parmesan.
9 lasagne sheets (De Cecco, is my favourite brand)
450g/1 lb mince beef/ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 × 400g cans/1 × 28 fl oz can chopped/diced tomatoes
156ml/5½ fl oz can tomato paste
½ tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
450g/1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated*
25g/1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
* In the U.K. the prepackaged grated mozzarella cheese contains only cheese and anti-caking ingredients. In Canada it has a lot more additives, so I buy the block mozzarella and grate it myself. Just pop it in the freezer for ten minutes before grating to firm it up.
A Caesar salad can be served as an accompaniment.
Deep sided frying pan/skillet or sauté pan
A 4 litre (32.5 x 22.5 x 5 cm/13 x 9 x 2 inch) ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Over a medium heat, brown the meat in the pan, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and season. Fill the tomato paste can with water and stir into the mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Many brands of lasagne pasta require no pre-cooking but I have found they benefit from cooking for a short time anyway. A baked lasagne using uncooked pasta isn’t as moist. De Cecco needs to be pre-cooked.
So bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a glug of olive oil. Drop 5 of the lasagne sheets into the water one at a time (they need to be cooked in two batches or they will stick together while cooking) and boil for 4 minutes. Remove the sheets with a pair of tongs and rinse under a cold tap. Lay the individual sheets on a clean tea-towel. Repeat with the remaining four sheets.
Spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of the lasagne pan. Layer 3 lasagne noodles, a third of the remaining meat sauce and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat twice more. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake, covered with foil, in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes. Then let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
1 organic stock cube/1 tsp chicken bouillon mixed in 300ml/10 fl oz hot water
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
200g/7 oz spaghetti (my favourite is the De Cecco range)
Half a small Savoy cabbage or other green leafed vegetable, finely shredded. (Savoy cabbage in Canada can be very pale and so I prefer to use something like kale. The dark green colour works well with the spaghetti although it does sound an unusual combination.)
In a large bowl mix together the pork, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, lemon zest, finely chopped onion, half the garlic and half the sage, a pinch of the crushed chillies and plenty of seasoning. Once everything has been well combined, shape into 30 meatballs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs in batches to brown. Remove.
Add a little more oil to the pan and add the chopped onion and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add the remaining garlic and sage, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, stock, sugar, a pinch of crushed chillies, and season. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce a little. Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil, adding the cabbage or other green vegetable for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain.
Serve the spaghetti alongside the meatballs and sauce.