I was in the garden enjoying the sunshine and chatting with the Mother this week when she turns to me and says, “You’ll probably meet your next boyfriend in the supermarket, most people meet their partners in the supermarket.” I am not sure which alarmed me the most, the fact that this was clearly based on no actual statistics or scientific research (I would hope) or that my social life was apparently so dire she thought that the supermarket was my only hope. She did have a point though- I usually went to at least one supermarket everyday. Testing recipes usually requires a daily shop and there’s always some strange ingredient you can’t find, or forget to buy. I don’t think she had really thought through the logistics of this plan either. Namely because 95% of the time the Mother came to Morrison’s with me, we never spoke to anyone during our trips, apart from the butcher (he was well over 60 so don’t go getting any ideas) and it was almost always full of women or OAP’s. I was doomed.
Moving on, cooking for just one is one of the many benefits of being single. You can have whatever you want to eat whenever you want it without having to consider anyone else. Feel like a bowl of ice cream for dinner? Go for it, bacon sandwich? Why not, fish fingers and beans? Sure. In my experience men want a proper meal each night, and you can’t just fob them off with a sandwich for tea.
In fact I’d say some of my best recipes have been invented when I am just cooking to please myself, there’s much less risk too. If it doesn’t turn out as expected nobodies dinner is ruined and there is always the backup of toast. That is another great dinner for one. Toast. What a magical invention. I like to cut each slice into fingers and spread each one with a different topping. If you eat them without looking it’s like a toast lottery. Ok maybe the Mother is right, I need to work on the social life.
The ultimate treat when cooking just for one has got to be a nice piece of steak. You can afford to get a really great cut when it’s just you and why not. Eaten with chips, peppercorn sauce and a nice glass of wine it’s the perfect night in! I like my steak hardly cooked at all so I tend to go for a fillet. The best thing about this recipe is the sauce is made while the steak rests, so it’s really quick, and there’s no one there to nick your last chip! Give it a go next time you’re lucky enough to be home alone.
Steak, chips & peppercorn sauce
Serves 1 Takes about 45 minutes
1-2 baking potatoes, (depeding on hunger) skin lefto on & cut into chunky chips
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
pinch chilli flakes
salt and lots of fresh black pepper
knob butter and a splash of oil
1 steak of your choice
good splash brandy
175ml beef stock
2 tbsp extra thick double cream
watercress, to serve
1 Turn oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Cover chips in cold, salted water in a small pan and bring up to the boil. Turn off immediately and then drain and steam dry for a few minutes in a colander. Toss in a bowl with the oil, vinegar, chilli flakes and lots of salt and black pepper. Tip onto a baking parchment lined flat baking tray and spread out in a single layer. Cook for 30-40 minutes, turning half way though until really crispy and golden.
2 Meanwhile, take your steak out the fridge about 20 minutes before you cook it to come up to room temperature. Season it with salt and pepper. About 10 minutes before your chips are done heat the butter and oil in a pan, you want it nice and hot and the butter to be foaming. Cook the steak for about 2 minutes each side then brown around the edge too for about a minute for quite rare, adding an extra 30 seconds for medium and as long as you want for well done. Remove and rest in a warm place while you make the sauce.
3 Tip in the brandy and set alight to burn off some of the alcohol then add the stock and reduce by half. Finally stir in the cream and pepper with a little salt and stir until smooth. Plate up with a bit of watercress, should you wish, and eat.