Friday 16 March 2012

My turn to cook

In our household, my wife Jane does most of the cooking. This is primarily for practical reasons - she is self-employed and works from home, whereas I am usually out and about doing my thing as a lecturer in IT Service Management. Last year (for health reasons) I moved to an 80% contract at work, which means that most weeks I get one day when I'm not working. This is my opportunity to get into the kitchen!

This post is about the meal I cooked last Friday.

You can see straight away that I'm an omnivore, can't you? I love vegetables, but I also love meat.

This is what I cooked:

Starter (not illustrated!): Olive Tapenade on toasted home-made bread

Main course: Grilled beefsteak escalopes, seasoned with black-and-red pepper (the red being cayenne); potato and celeriac gratin; and home-grown Purple Sprouting Broccoli in Roquefort (blue cheese) sauce.

Dessert: Pears poached in white wine, flavoured with cinnamon and cloves.

Wine: Domaine les Yeuses, cuvee le Sirius, 2008 (from Majestic wines)


Using a meat-mallet I beat the steak escalopes thin and marinated them for about four hours with the black-and-red pepper and a little oil. I cooked them briefly on a very hot griddle.

One and a half each, in case you were wondering!
For the gratin I sliced up a couple of large potatoes and half a Celeriac; layered them into a dish which had been rubbed all over with a clove of garlic; covered them with a pot of Elmlea (low-fat cream), and grated on top a good amount of Parmesan cheese and a small quantity of Nutmeg. Then into the oven at 150C, covered with foil for about an hour, followed by a further 20 minutes with the foil removed to brown the top.

My other vegetable dish was the broccoli in cheese sauce. Since the PSB is quite delicate and cooks rapidly, I made the sauce in advance and poured it over the broccoli once it had been cooked (boiled for about 3 minutes) and drained. The sauce was made by the usual roux method using butter, flour and milk, adding the crumbled Roquefort cheese at the end.

Here is the whole ensemble, plated up:

I had made the dessert well in advance because I wanted the pears to be chilled. This is my method:
Peel the pears (two small ones each), poach them for about half an hour or until tender, in a pan containing water and white wine (in a ratio of 2:1), half a stick of cinnamon and two cloves. When cooked, remove the pears and reduce the liquor by boiling it hard until it goes down to about a quarter of its original volume.
Jane is diabetic, so I didn't add any sugar, but sugar would be a good addition if you wanted the reduction to be syrupy. Finally, the pears and their liquor were put in the fridge to cool.

Afterthought: a spoonful of Creme Fraiche or Mascarpone might have been nice with the pears...

So that's it folks. With a bit of sympathetic consultancy from Jane, I'm beginning to broaden my culinary repertoire - and doing something that I enjoy just as much as gardening!


  1. Delicious post, reading your post has made me feel extremely hungry so I'm just off to prepare this evenings tea.

  2. I wonder whether we'll have any celeriac to cook with next year!

  3. I'd come for dinner at your place!!!

    I personally like to poach the pears in red wine (undiluted, but then all the alcohol will evaporate during the poaching), either sweetened and flavoured with vanilla seedsm reduced to a syrup and served with crème fraîche or unsweetened but still reduced to a thick liquid and served with sweetened crème fraîche.

  4. That looks absolutely delicious!

  5. Looks lovely, I've just sown some celeriac, fingers crossed for a bumper harvest.

  6. I like the look of the gratin - delicious. I never did get into the British thing of smothering perfectly good brassicas with cheese. I kind of get cauliflower cheese but broccoli? Not so sure.... Actually I do like cauliflower and parmesan as a combination, so perhaps brassicas and cheese are OK...just....provided the cheese isn't blue of course. Its funny how we all have our own preferences isn't it?

  7. Oh My God. I'm lying in bed. It's 23:40 and I'm now STARVING!!! This is my perfect meal. Those creamy potatoes. Oh heaven!! I may need to get up and have a midnight feast. He he!

  8. I like the idea of cooking the pears in white wine they look all gorgeous and golden in that photo...

  9. Mmmm, look at those pears! I'm drooling.

  10. It all looks good Mark, in particular the pears! Now I have to go forage up some brekfast!

  11. Looks very tasty!

    The pears look amazing!!


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