If you are a man who loves to cook, or are married to a man whose Nirvana is the kitchen, then food writer and blogger Simon Cave’s ‘Manly Food’ cookbook is a must-buy gift for Father’s Day. Fortunately, I don’t have to drop my wife unsubtle hints about what to get me for June 20 – because the kind folks at publishers Quadrille have sent me a copy for review purposes.
My first thoughts were, ‘Manly? You don’t get more manly than Reluctant Housedad’s Recipe Shed – the home of magnificently masculine inspiration for meaty feasts, slow cooked joints and quick-as-a-flash fry-ups.’
But as Simon’s tome landed with a satisfyingly heavy thump on my doormat, I knew I’d met my match. If this was a culinary arm-wrestling contest, Mr Cave would win hands-down.
‘Manly Food’ does, as they say in the adverts, exactly what it says on the
tin cover. In fact, it does exactly what it says on the sleeve notes, as follows: ‘A book of savoury, strong and masculine flavours, Manly Food is a feast of high-quality recipes and expert instruction, designed to appeal to the tastes and interests of men.’
There are around 200 recipes, broken down into 18 chapters, such as, ‘Pure Meat’, ‘Wild & Foraged’, ‘Chilli & Spice’, ‘Fast Food’, ‘TV Dinners’ and ‘Breakfasts & Hangovers’.
So far, I’ve selected 10 that I’m going to cook over the next few weeks, but I’ll be cooking a whole lot more as the months pass, because if there was Recipe Shed chart for cookbooks, then Manly Food has just shot straight in at Number One.
But before I share Simon Cave’s recipe for Peppered Steak with you, let us first ascertain what Manly Food is, with Simon’s simple multiple-choice test:
• A Manly steak is:
(a) A medallion of beef fillet on a bed of subtle cream tarragon emulsion.
(b) A burnt and bloody side of cow.
• Manly dessert is:
(a) A cupcake.
(b) A hunk of cheese.
• A Manly cocktail is:
(a) Fruit and cream-based with lots of different colours and an umbrella.
(b) Tastes mostly of alcohol, and is bitter, sour or salty, or a combination of all three.
I think we know the answer is (b) right? RIGHT?
As Simon says: ‘Want to explore your manly side? Saddle up, pilgrim.’
Here’s Simon’s recipe for Peppered Steak, as adapted and cooked by me…
2-4 sirloin steaks, about 3 cm thick (these beauties are grass-fed Argentinian, sourced from Pampas Plains)
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
Crushed black peppercorns, to taste
50g butter, chilled and diced
120ml dry white wine
100ml good quality veal or beef stock
1 tbsp double cream (optional)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 120C/Gas 1/2 and put a serving dish in to warm.
2. Brush the steaks with a little of the oil and dredge them in the crushed peppercorns. Push the peppercorns down well so that they stick. Season well with salt all over.
3. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and add a couple of pieces of butter once it is hot. When the butter foams, add the steaks, cook for about 4-5 mins on each side for medium. Transfer to the warmed serving dish. Cover with aluminium foil.
4. Pour the white wine into the pan and bring it to the boil. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any sediment, and reduce by half. Add the stock and reduce over a medium heat until the sauce becomes syrupy. Stir in the remaining chilled, diced bitter.
5. If you want a creamy sauce, add the cream now. If you want the mustard too, stir in at this point.
6. Transfer the steaks to a chopping board and carve into thick slices. Transfer to plates and pour over the unctuous sauce.
7. Serve with my famous thrice-cooked chips and a grilled Portobello mushroom, stuffed with Stilton cheese.
• ‘Manly Food’ by Simon Cave is out now, price £25, though probably cheaper on Amazon.