French Onion Soup
• 25g butter
• 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 level tbsp plain flour
• 600ml chicken stock, hot
• 50g (approx) grated Mull cheddar
Heat the butter in a pan, add the onion and stir. Then cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. This cooks the onions; now you want to brown them. Increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about ten minutes, stirring often, until the onions turn golden brown.
Add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, then stir in the hot stock. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes, then season to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve piping hot.
Steak and celeriac gratin
A good accompaniment is a green salad dressed with olive oil and Dijon mustard.
• 1 medium-size celeriac (about 700g)
• lemon juice
• 250ml double cream
• 15g freshly grated parmesan
• 15g butter, diced
• 1 tbsp sunflower oil
• 2 steaks (rib-eye or sirloin)
For the gratin, cut the celeriac into quarters and then cut off the skin and woody base. Working quickly, cut it into very thin slices, then tip into a bowl. Toss in a little lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Place half of this in a buttered gratin dish (22cm in diameter), then season generously with salt and pepper. Tip in the remaining slices and slowly pour over the cream, ensuring that all the slices are covered.
Sprinkle over the parmesan and dot with the butter. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated oven (200°C/400°F/gas 6) for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes, until tender, bubbling and golden brown.
Heat a heavy frying pan until it is hot. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan and, once smoking, put in the steaks and cook for two to three minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking. Do not touch them until the first two minutes is up, then turn.
Serve the steaks on warmed plates topped with the gratin, and with salad on the side.
Pain perdu with apples
• 2 crisp eating apples, unpeeled, cored and thickly sliced
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
• 50ml milk
• 1 large egg
• 2 tsp golden caster sugar (plus extra for dusting)
• 2 thick slices of quality white bread
• crème fraîche, to serve
Melt a good-sized knob of butter in a saucepan and add the apple slices, maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook over a medium-low heat for ten to 15 minutes, or until the apples are just tender.
In a wide bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and sugar, and then dip the bread in it to soak. Heat another knob of butter in a frying pan, then add the bread and fry until golden brown - about three minutes on each side.
Sprinkle the bread with sugar and divide between two bowls. Top with the apples and pan juices, then serve with crème fraîche.