Category Archives: Easy suppers

election night supper

mini burgers and oregano tomatoes

 

What to make when you are having old friends over to watch the election (and catch up on all the goss)? Tiny little burgers of course! So, so, so easy and very relaxed. I just used two 450g packs of organic ground beef mixed with a couple of whisked eggs then used my hands to shape them into tiny little patties. I experimented with embedding cubes of cheddar inside some of them,  which went down really well with  my four year old son, then fried each side for about three minutes each. For the adults, a bit later, I just put slices of cheese on top as soon as I’d flipped, and it melted perfectly. Carb-eaters can have buns (of course! never deprive the carb eaters if you don’t have to, is my rule of thumb.) I just ate ’em neat.

The asparagus is roasted for about 12 minutes, with olive oil salt and pepper. No par-boiling, even.

I just want to tell you about the roasted tomatoes that are centre stage of this picture. I started making them a few years ago when I was hankering after pizza and realised that a lot of that unique pizza deliciousness comes down to the oregano and tomatoes. These tomatoes are just cut in half, salted and peppered then sprinkled – quite generously – with dried oregano and a few slices of garlic, then olive oiled and cooked for about half an hour at 180 degrees. So simple and yet more delicious than seems viable for such a tiny amount of interference. Try it! They go amazingly well with white fish and on the side of halloumi and keep in the fridge for a few days at least. We all enjoyed them so much we almost forgot about the election. Almost.

simple lemon basil and garlic chicken supper

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The main appeal about this meal, when it was in the planning stages, was how super simple it is, because after a long weekend of doing not very much at all I was in a ‘can’t-really-be-fagged-to-cook’ mood. So I just put chopped chicken beasts into a roasting tray and applied a hastily conceived (based on what was in the fridge) marinade then left it in the fridge for a couple of hours while I went to Pilates. The plan was to griddle the chicken on the stove top, which would have been delicious, but as an experiment – borne mainly from laziness – I just shoved the whole tin of chicken, marinade and all, into the oven. And happily, despite the lazy roots, the results were really delicious and the chicken was noticeably tender (left to their own devices, chicken beasts can suffer from being dry, tough and boring but marinading really, really helps).

While it was in the oven and we were drinking Prosecco to say farewell to another Bank Holiday weekend nearly ended (sob!), I fried up some mushrooms in butter, then added spinach and also roasted some asparagus in oil salt and pepper for about 12 minutes on 180 degrees. Roasted asparagus, by the way, are this week’s big discovery: no par-boiling needed; uncommonly delicious. We ate it all with a dollop of my trusty home made mayo, and suddenly it didn’t seem like the end of the world any more that Bank Holiday was nearly over and real life, it was returnin’.

Lemon, basil and garlic chicken beasts

4 chicken beasts

olive oil

4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed

fresh basil, loosely chopped

juice of 1 large lemon (sieved)

Chop the beasts into chunks. Place the garlic, some liberal splashes of olive oil and the lemon juice  into the tin then arrange the chicken on top of it and stir. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for as long as you can but at least three hours. Take it out of the fridge half an hour before you cook it, to bring it up to room temperature. Then cook at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes, depending on the size of your chunks (I’m sure there’s no need to suggest this, but if in doubt, cut one in half before you eat to make sure there is no pinkness to be seen).

Suffolk seabass and Norfolk asparagus

Suffolk seabass Norfolk asparagus

I didn’t actually cook this meal but I ate it, and it was so glorious I just felt the need to share the glory. And the reason for the glory – although it was of course masterfully cooked (by Lady Nick, in Southwold, which is where we were) – is the simplicity of the ingredients, plus that they were all local: wild sea bass, caught on Saturday morning, eaten that night with a lemon, butter and caper sauce and Norfolk asparagus, first crop; plus delicious purple sprouting broccoli and a giant mushroom baked with garlic.

I have always been a bit spooked by the idea of cooking whole fish, partly because I’m wimpily freaked out by the head and tail, but Lady Nick de-mystified the process mainly by leading by example, but also informing me that it’s good to keep the head on because when the eyes go white it means it’s cooked (bit gross, but helpful). Also, I think it does taste better cooked whole than in fillets.

Now that asparagus is in season I strongly feel that we are all morally obliged to eat it every single night for the next six weeks, ideally with dollops of freshly made mustardy mayonnaise. But that is another story and another blog post. So, stand by for that. (I know: hold on to your hats!).

Oh yes and the other thing to mention is I just wrote  this guest mumsnet post  about the worry that people think you are making it all up when you have to declare that you are on a restricted diet. (I used to the the person doing the eye-rolling, which is how I know that this sometimes occurs). Does that resonate with you?

Whole roasted seabass

One whole sea bass, gutted cleaned and de-scaled

3 lemons

2 tablespoons capers

50-100 g of butter (depending on how many are eating)

Preheat oven to 180 fan/200 non-fan. Wash the sea bass inside and out, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Score across the fish and through the skin 4-5 times on each side, then put it on a large piece of oiled foil, big enough to wrap it up loosely. Season inside and out then stuff the inside with slices of 1 lemon, a tablespoon of capers and some chunks of butter. Rub the skin with a bit of olive oil and loosely wrap the parcel. Then bake for about 25 minutes depending on size (remembering the eyes-going-white rule). Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes before opening the parcel.

While it is resting, make the sauce by putting the butter in a pan with the zest of one lemon and the juice of 2, a table spoon of capers and salt and pepper. Melt and drizzle onto the fish, which you have cut off the bone into squares then serve with your veg of choice (as long as that includes asparagus).

Stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in proscuitto

chicken stuffed with artichoke basil and garlicchicken stuffed with artichoke basil and garlic 2

 

I have come to accept that I really really don’t like saying the word breast and, perhaps for that reason, chicken breasts are always known as ‘beasts’ in our house. But  beasts on their own can be a bit dull, dry and almost like a job-of-work to get through, I find. Stuffed beasts, however, open a doorway to an exciting new world of gorgeous beastliness. But I had forgotten the joy they can bring until the other night, when our supermarket delivery turned up without the legs’n’thighs I had ordered and chicken fillets instead. Since we were marooned in the middle of Suffolk, we had to make do.

As luck would have it, we also had some parma ham to wrap them in which is quite crucial to this concept, if you want to stuff each beast so full that the filling is bursting out and needs containing (just to clarify, that is exactly what you want to do).

And the good thing about these is that the filling can consist, pretty much, of whatever blitz-able stuff you happen to have in your fridge or cupboard. With this in mind I try always to have a jar of M&S artichokes, which have no added sugar, and which are good for this (as well as antipasti and salads). I have gone down the sun-dried tomatoes. basil and cheese route which works very well too.  I’m sure there are as-yet-undiscovered options and I will of course keep you posted.

You can serve these with whatever you like but a dollop of home-made mayo and a green salad with a really mustardy dressing is a pretty good bet.

Stuffed beasts (serves 2-4 depending on greed levels)

4 chicken breast fillets

parma ham (allow 2 pieces per fillet)

1/2 to 3/4 jar artichokes

large chunk cheddar or smoked cheddar or gruyere (to taste)

handful of mushrooms

2 spring onions

3 cloves garlic

Sorry to say that this really is so much easier If you have a food processor BUT I have done it by hand in the absence of one – it is just a bit more laborious.

Put the oven on to 200 and then put all the ingredients (bar the chicken and parma ham) into your food processor and blitz into a very fine paste.

Use a very sharp knife to cut a slit lengthways across each chicken fillet then scoop a couple of spoons of the filling inside. It will try to fall out but don’t let it! Then firmly bind  each stuffed fillet with two slices of parma ham wrapped side-by-side. It’s easiest to complete the whole process one-by-one.

Put a liberal splash of oil into a roasting pan then baste either side of each wrapped chicken in the oil and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your beasts.

Serve with whatever veg/salad/mayo combo floats your boat.

Easy spicy salmon supper

peppers pan frying and white beans cookingSicilian salmon, pan roasted peppers, white beans and salad 1

When Tom was a-wooin’ me; days which were happy indeed, he invited me around for supper to his flat in Camberwell and valiantly cooked a meal for me (without any of the bossy input that he would soon grow to know and love). I will never forget going into his kitchen for the first time, and looking round for clues about this person who I already knew I wanted to marry (although I was keeping that to myself for the time being).  I saw 7 cherry tomatoes lined up on the counter, beside a recipe that called for… ‘7 cherry tomatoes’. As it turned out, that was one of the biggest clues I could have been offered: extreme precision and a follower of recipes – to the letter. As it happens, I couldn’t be more different on both fronts – if a recipe calls for 7 tomatoes I generally double it, because the more is the merrier, right? – so I was at first slightly alarmed to be in the presence of such a law abiding recipe follower. However, after a life time of slap-dashery, I soon began to see the sense in following recipes – at least the first time I cook something.  And, more importantly, the second supper he cooked me – Sicilian salmon – was so simple, and yet so delicious, that it has become part of our family repertoire, to the point that if ever I ask Tom what we should cook for supper he will think for a moment and say….”Sicilians?”.  Every time we have it, a little part of me re-lives the glory days of Camberwell.  And it is this that we cooked last night.

Sicilian Salmon

4 fillets of salmon

drizzle or spray oil

1 lime

chilli flakes

paprika

Heat the oven to 200 degrees and put the salmon into a lightly oiled oven-proof dish. Cut the lime in half and squeeze liberally over the fillets of salmon (keep them huddled together while you are seasoning, for maximum and even coverage). Then drizzle or spray some oil – just a tiny bit, to avoid burning. Shake as many chilli flakes as you tend to care for, plus a liberal scattering of paprika, and salt and pepper. Then cook for about 10-15 minutes, until cooked – which is obviously a subjective concept. I, being an non-sophisticate,  prefer it to tend towards overdone, with slightly crispy edges, so if you are that way inclined, just leave your fillet in for a bit longer than the others.

We ate it with garlicky pan-fried romano peppers chopped and pan fried. And of course the mashed beans (that are still enjoying a bit of a moment in our house). And a crispy salad. The whole thing was ready in less than half an hour.

Pizza (yes you can)

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I’d heard tell that you could make pizza using cauliflower but, frankly, dismissed the idea out of hand: repulsive, obviously – right?

But then someone sent me a link to this recipe and, in a fit of New Year ‘Why not?’-ness I decided to try it. Because pizza is probably the best example of something you that you don’t even allow yourself to hanker after, after a while on a carb-free diet – because what’s the point? You will never, ever have pizza again, I used to tell myself on particularly dark days, looking woefully at Tom’s empty ‘lone wolf’ pizza delivery box. But it’s not true! I tried this; it was super-easy to make and took a total of about eleven and a half minutes to prepare and twenty minutes to cook. I used ready-made pasta sauce for the topping, plus ham and mushrooms that I happened to have in the fridge, which puts it into the category of a very quick, very easy, and also pleasingly fun supper.

And the other thing to mention is…you know that stuffed-to-the-brim feeling you get after eating a whole pizza? Like you yourself have morphed into a (slightly regretful) giant dough-ball? You just don’t get that when the base is made from cauliflower.

I served it with a zingy coleslaw made with carrot, spring onion, cabbage, and raw beetroot (which makes it quite beautiful to look at) and home-made mayo. And a green salad. Then we scoffed the lot! So, now we can eat pizza together, and Tom is a lone wolf no more. Hurrah!

 

1 handful cheese shredded or grated

1 tsp dried oregano

1 eggs beaten

1/2 tsp garlic crushed

1/2 tsp garlic salt (I didn’t have any so used celery salt)

1 handful mushrooms/ham or whatever toppings you like

1 ball mozzarella shredded (I used cheddar because I can’t have mozzarella)

1 cauliflower florets chopped into chunks

1 tbsp tomato sauce for pizzas (I found a jar of pasta sauce made by ‘Organico’ which is just tomato, basil, olive oil garlic i.e. no added sugar: a rarity!)

Rice the cauliflower in the food processor by pulsing until it looks like grain. Do not over-pulse or you will puree it. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater.

Put it into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes – without adding water. One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower (if you have left over you can store it in the fridge for a week).

Preheat the oven to 230C and spray a flat baking tray with non-stick cooking spray (I used quite a lot for fear of sticking).

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of cauliflower, the egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt and stir.

Transfer to the baking sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9” round. You can brush olive oil over the top of the mixture to help with browning (I didn’t).

Bake for 15 minutes and then remove and cool.

Add sauce, toppings and cheese to the crust. Place under a grill at a high heat just until the cheese is melted, about 3-4 minutes.

Dance a little jig of joy that you are actually about to eat PIZZA!

 

 

 

simple fish cake with pesto dressing

Fish cake with pesto dressing

 

This is a good example of the kind of thing that, when I started on the carb-free road, I just thought I’d have to live without – after all, how do you make a fishcake without potato, flour and breadcrumbs? But I love a fishcake, I do. And why should I live without them? Why!? So, the other day when I was looking at some left over white bean mash and wondering what to do with it, I thought I’d just see if I could cobble together a fish cake using beans instead of potato, and almond flour instead of flour. And although the end result wasn’t as ‘contained’ as a traditional one, it was completely delicious, and the almond flour fried itself into a beautiful golden crisp which (especially when you are coming from the stand point of there otherwise being no fish cakes) was entirely satisfactory. Next time I might blend in some parmesan with the almonds and see if that creates more of a ‘crust’. And I might add some black olives to the bean/tuna mix for a bit of texture. But in the meantime, this entirely and happily scratched the fish cake itch (that I didn’t even know was bothering me until this mini epiphany) and the whole venture only took about twelve minutes. I whizzed up a pesto dressing, which is very easy to do and which was a fine companion but mayonnaise would have been, too. Add a crispy green salad and Bob’s your uncle, and Fanny is your aunt (as they say in the States, apparently).

Fish cake 

Leftover bean mash or a can of white beans. I use haricot (because of being on the Specific Carbohydrate diet) but any would do.

Can of tuna

egg and almond flour

In a bowl blend the beans and tuna together. If you are using beans from the tin you might consider frying them up first with a bit of spring onion and garlic to add taste.  Use your hands to make ‘patties’ – I made traditional burger shapes but I know people who swear by a cylinder which makes it easier to get at every angle when you are frying them. Whisk up your egg and put it on a plate. Sprinkle the almond flour on another plate. Coat the fish cake thoroughly in egg and then dip it in almond flour so it is as covered as you can make it. Then lightly fry until the flour is golden and it’s heated through.

Pesto dressing

This is MEGA easy to make BUT only really really if you have a food processor, so sorry if you don’t have one; you may have to make do with mayo instead. And sorry my amounts are so imprecise but so much of it comes down to your own taste, so seize the power and be a bit experimental, remembering you can always add more (harder to take away).  Also, a really good thing to remember about pesto, if you are going to the faff of making it, is that it freezes really well, so you might want to make too much on purpose. Just a thought.

Bunch basil

parmesan (how much depends on how big your bunch of basil is: start with a few cubes then add more if you think you need it).

garlic (to taste – but remember you’ll be eating it raw so err on the side of caution)

pine nuts (a couple of tablespoons, but more if you are making lots)

extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper

Shove all the ingredients into the food processor. Start blitzing, while slowly adding olive oil until it’s the consistency you want. For a ‘dressing’ add more. For traditional pesto it’s a bit less.

The joy of…veg

The joy of...veg 1

Sometimes, on a Monday night in January, the doctor will order you to have a plate of vegetables for supper. The trick – as ever, well at least in my book – is to avoid worthiness at all costs, not least because ‘worthy’ so often goes hand in hand with feeling deprived.  This Monday night supper was made mainly from veg I had kicking around in the fridge – plus some sprouts that I actually left the house specifically to buy, which may sound queer, I grant you, BUT since I discovered the transformative powers of roasting sprouts, I have ushered them into my life with gusto, and you should too. The broccoli was just steamed, and you could leave it at that. I prefer, however, to chop it up with salt and pepper and some lovely, delicious butter (the hardest part of no toast and butter for six years? No butter!). The courgettes, I thinly sliced and fried with olive oil and garlic. And the squash is the closest things to potatoes that my life these days allows but is still delicious every time I eat it (which is to say, many times per month). I served it with haricoumous (like hummus, made with posh beans). Then to unite them all, I shaved some parmesan on top. A good example of a meal that is meat and carb free, but leaves you missing neither, not even for a nano-second. Just what the doctor ordered.

Roasted sprouts

Am I alone in being slightly bereft to find out that a couple of local supermarkets seem to have stopped selling sprouts just because Christmas is over? Probably. But just in case you are a sprout lover too, and have a lovely Turkish veg shop nearby, like I do, then here goes:

Sprouts (as many as you like), trimmed and cut in half

salt, pepper, oil

This is so simple, but roasting really does turn sprouts from being slightly punishing, into a pleasure. Just arrange the half sprouts in a roasting tin. Splash some oil and salt and pepper, using your hands to make sure each sprout has been anointed with oil. Roast at about 180 degrees for about 40 minutes. They are done when the outer layers are coming away and a bit char grilled and crispy, and the insides are soft, which probably removes at least half of any nutritional value – but half is better than none, right?

Pan fried courgettes

I know a lot of people object to the watery mealiness of courgettes, and I can see their point but this is a good way to take courgettes down a different path. I slice them as thinly as possible – if you have a grater with a slicing side, that’s probably the easiest way to do it. Then pan fry, with some garlic and oil, until they are super soft.

Courgettes (I allow one medium courgette per person as a side dish), thinly sliced.

salt, pepper, oil, garlic.

This is so simple it barely needs instructions: just bung the courgettes in a pan (I favour a wok saucepan) with some oil. After about five minutes add the garlic, either crushed or sliced (amount wise, very much to taste; I think I probably use more than the average punter) and pepper. Cook until the slices have sort of melted together – at least 20 minutes, sometimes more. Don’t salt until the end (to avoid creating too much liquid).

Spicy squash

I think I first had this, or something like this, at Bistroteque and then came home quite fixated upon trying it out myself. The chilli powder really adds another, caramelised, dimension to squash (something which  I had barely eaten, before following this diet, but which I have learned to really love). A note on chilli powders, however, which is that they seriously vary in power and this doesn’t taste as nice when the chilli powder is too strong. I have tried a few and the best is definitely Sainsbury’s mild chilli powder, which is so mild as to be barely chilli-ish at all, but which works exactly the magic you are after. The main obstacle with this is the preparation of the squash, which is a faff BUT I can’t emphasise enough the happiness and speed that results from the right peeler (Lakeland do the best squash peeler I have ever found, and it’s under a fiver: http://www.lakeland.co.uk/15805/Vegetable-Peeler)

One large squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into smallish chunks

oil, salt, pepper, mild chilli powder

Once you have chopped the squash, the work is over, and all you do is arrange it in a roasting tin, splash on some oil, salt and pepper and liberal shakes of mild chilli powder (if it is Sainburys; if it is another brand you almost certainly should be positively miserly). Roast for 45 mins to an hour at 180 degrees until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

 

 

Spicy New Year’s Day eggs (and Prosecco)

SPICY NEW YEARS EGGS AND PROSECCOSPICY NEW YEARS EGGS AND PROSECCO 2

 

Somehow, I woke up with a massive yen for something spicy on New Year’s Day. And eggs. And a bit of chilli zing was just what I needed after slight martini head (only slight, due to inevitable 7am wake up, obviously). So I made a spicy tomato sauce, which is one of those very-little-effort-to-a-high-yield-of-deliciousness dishes, and we cracked eggs into it; a sort of poor man’s version of huevos rancheros.

The secret to a good tomato sauce (I discovered when I did a cooking afternoon at the Cucina Caldesi a few years ago) is lashings – and I really do mean lashings; glugs more than you’d ever even consider normally – of extra virgin olive oil. Also, if you put your garlic cloves in whole – slightly crushed with the back of a knife – it flavours, without over powering. You can add your chilli to taste and, obviously, you don’t have to add eggs, but it’s a really great one pot supper if you do (and also stops you from asking, “But where is the pasta?”).

Tomato sauce (from Giancarlo Caldesi) 

Red onion, finely chopped

About 6 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and whole

1 chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

chilli flakes (if you like it really spicy)

2 tins of tomatoes

salt and pepper

200 ml warm veg stock or water

Fry the onion for about 5 minutes until it’s soft. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another minute making sure you don’t burn the garlic. Add the salt and pepper and tomatoes (bash them with a wooden spoon to break them up a bit) and then the stock (which makes sure that the sauce doesn’t catch on the pan and burn). Add the oil and turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes.

You can eat straight away but it also keeps for at least a week, so you can heat it up when you need it, and if you want to add eggs, wait until it’s hot; make a dip for each egg and put a lid on the top so they cook on top too (or you could put them under a grill if you are slightly phobic about uncooked albumen, as I am). I served it with grated cheese on top and a green salad but slightly wished I’d made some really limey guacamole too.

New year supper for two (and bub-bye FOMO)

NEW YEARS EVE SALMONNEW YEARS EVE STEAK

I’ve come to accept the fact that New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for me. But this year I heard of two things that I quite liked the sound of. The first is that in the run up to midnight on New Year’s Eve, you write down all the things from the preceding year that you didn’t much like and would like to say goodbye to on a piece of paper – which you then ceremoniously burn as a sort of declaration that it’s over and never coming back.  What the heck, it may be mumbo jumbo, but what have you got to lose? So. After toying with some habitual FOMO (by which I will be forever plagued, being the youngest of four children) – namely, should we be going out to a raucous party (who has raucous parties these days anyway?) or throwing a small dinner for 8-12), we decided to stay in and see the year in with a fire (for burning paper scraps); martinis, smoked fish and steak with béarnaise sauce. And after we ate that (the steak is only really to justify the béarnaise, I realised) at 11pm ish we wrote our unwanted happenings down (including FOMO, in my case) and burned them. And that is how we said goodbye to the old, and hello to 2015, which brings me to the other thing I heard about, which I like the sound  of. On the one hand it  may sound a bit like new-age crap, but on the other, it somehow tickles my fancy: over the next year, whenever something happens that you want to remember because it is so lovely, or joyful, or happy, or funny, write it down on a piece of paper, and put it in a jar, to be opened on New Year’s Eve 2015 (presumably before or after you have burned all the moments you want to forget or things will get in a bit of a tangle). Here is to a very happy 2015 – with many delicious snacks. Hurrah! 

Smoked salmon

Obviously, this is not really a recipe; more of a suggestion. We ordered posh smoked salmon from Able and Cole and, I have to say, the difference between that (smoky, and sort of matt compared to emulsion) and the supermarket stuff you can buy in bulk for about 2.95 (which can be greasy and tasteless) was remarkable. It is well worth having it four times less frequently and spending four times as much.  Also, I suggest serving it with a small ramekin of horseradish (The English Provender Co. make neat horseradish which you can mix with home-made mayo or yoghurt but I quite like it neat) and another of cornichons. I insist on serving salmon with toothpicks, due to a long-standing phobia of fishy light switches and fridge handles, the smell of which lingers for days after just a couple of careless fishy-fingered touches (shudder). Served with a martini this felt delicious and special – but not too filling.

Steak bearnaise (from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson)

After reading about meat farming it’s pretty obvious that, really, we’ve all got to become vegetarian. Until that happens, however, I resolve to try and eat organic meat that has been sustainably produced – just a lot less of it. So our steaks were organic Duchy ones. And Tom made the béarnaise, which consists of the following ingredients and an awful lot of whisking. This serves 4 but we made it all for the 2 of us and definitely ate more than half (Hello, festive layer. And woe!). We ate it with zesty green salad, white bean mash (of course) and spicy squash (also, of course).

1-2 shallots, chopped finely (to yield 1 tbs)

2 tbs fresh tarragon leaves, chopped, and their stalks, chopped roughly and bruised

1 tbs chervil, chopped

2 tbs wine or tarragon vinegar

2 tbs white wine

1 tsp peppercorns (preferably white), crushed or bruised

3 egg yolks

1 tbs water

200g soft unsalted butter, cut into 1cm dice

juice of 1/4 – 1/2 lemon

Put the shallots, tarragon stalks, 1 tablespoonful each of the chopped tarragon and chervil leaves, the vinegar, wine and peppercorns into a heavy-based saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Don’t move from the stove: this doesn’t take long. Equally you can use 4 tablespoonfuls of vinegar and omit the wine.

Press the reduced liquid through a sieve or tea strainer and leave to cool. Put egg yolks and water into a bowl. Set over a pan of water that has come to a simmer. Add the reduced and strained liquid and whisk well. Keep whisking as you add the butter, cube by cube until it is all absorbed. Taste, and season and add lemon juice as you wish. Treat it as hollandaise to keep it warm and avert curdling. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of fresh chopped tarragon as you’re about to serve it. Serve with steaks, fried in a hot pan for a short time, and green salad made bloody with the juices.