Beef pear with trumpet of the death mushrooms

Poire with trompettes

My butcher usually keeps two special cuts aside when he gets a new carcass — the poire and the merlan — and I have the right of first refusal. I hardy ever refuse.

These are very fine cuts, one is oblong and looks like a fish (merlan being a whiting) and the poire looks like a big pear. They come from near the topside, in English butchery terms. For French butchers, they are near the tranche. It is lean and delicate meat and not so well known because there is just about a pound of it on an entire cow.

Beef and oyster pie with ginger

Beef and oyster pie is an old English recipe that stems from the times that oysters were so plentiful that they were cheap enough for the poor to eat. Beef was not cheap but the meat used was not a prime cut. Many recipes use a pint of British ale in the broth.

Beef and oyster sauce is a common dish in Asia, and almost always there is garlic and ginger in the preparation. That became my inspiration.

Read more

Beef and chervil soup with pasta

This is a very pleasant and nutritious soup for when you are trying to lose weight after spending some nice holidays. I found some interesting beef shank at the supermarket – my butcher’s is closed for a few weeks – and started by making a beef broth. The next day I removed the (little) fat from the stock and added vegetables, chervil and pasta. The chervil gives it a nice anise-like flavour.

Read more

A rice dish with eggplant, beef and raisins

A long time ago, I left my parents house to study at university in the big city of Amsterdam. My mother gave me a book of recipes as I had already showed signs that I would not be eating pizzas and French fries all the time but actually do some cooking.

In my first student room – a rented room with a family in the Bijlmermeer high-rise area – I built a two-burner bottle-gas kitchen around the sink, using the hot plate of the coffee maker to slowly cook rice. That recipe book from 1981 is still in my collection and one of the dishes I made from it was called Turkish stuffed aubergines (eggplant), that used ground lamb or mutton meat.

Read more

Beef and barley soup with an Asian touch

It is Monday and the butcher’s is closed because they open on Sunday morning. Go figure.
I had abandoned buying meat at the supermarket because it is better from the butcher and, surprisingly, often even cheaper. However, when I saw a kilo of beef at the supermarket at 5 euros, with the mention “Limousin” for the provenance, I fell for the offer.
At first I thought I would make a stew, but the weather was too warm for that (and that explained perhaps the discount price as the central meat buying department had misjudged the weather). I opted for a beef soup and bought some organic vegetables.

Read more

My French oxtail soup

Here we have a culinary and national identity conundrum. Let’s start by saying that oxtail soup is a hearty winter dish using relatively cheap ingredients. Personally, I always associate oxtail soup with England, so my French version replaced the porto with a Banyuls and added some root vegetables that do not enter in the original recipe. But what is the original recipe?

Read more

Pasta with meat sauce

Sometimes you want something simple and pasta with meat sauce is a kind of comfort food for colder days. I do not like to buy pasta sauce in tins or jars and I did not want to go into the trouble of making a real Bolognese sauce because with the bacon (and mushrooms) it adds up to a rather filling and a bit fat sauce. Bologna, a nice town in a great part of Italy, is not for nothing called La Grassa (the fat one).

Read more

Mirepoix beef stew

Mirepoix is a city in the southwest of France, in the Ariège region. It is also the name given to a certain style of finely chopping vegetables and herbs to go into a soup or stew.

I have an old aunt living near that city and when I visit her I usually cook a dish she can keep in her freezer and use for several dinners. We went there this weekend and because it is getting colder I made a beef stew with seasonal vegetables.

Read more