Sunday, 30 December 2012

no-fuss evening

A little premature? Well, I've been thinking about tomorrow night's festivities and know how many people are stressing over plans/failed plans. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of NYE - like a lot of people, I hate how much pressure is put on to having an amazing night when in reality it usually just the same as any other night out, but overpriced. 

This year, we're not going out. We've spent the last few NYEs in Brighton with Rich's friends, but this year we just can't be bothered. Instead, we're going to a friends house for Mexican food and cocktails a'plenty. To me, this is the perfect way to spend NYE - with good friends, food and drinks!

Now, I know a lot of people are having people over to their place for a similar affair, and this presents us with the age-old dilemma; what to cook? Personally, I like to be fed when I go out - a few packets of Pringles and peanuts aint gonna cut it. 

Here are a few super easy ideas of things you can whip up with little effort, but for lots of people. You don't want to be faffing around with assembling perfect meals - whack it in a big dish, put it on the table with some tasty extras and you're off. Enjoy!

The easiest dish ever - chop it up, toss in some oil and bung it in the oven. Perfect served on small plates or bowls with chunks of crusty bread. Recipe here

Perfect for cold nights in! Serve with baby baked potatoes and a dollop of crème fraiche. Recipe here

Because everyone loves pasta! This is a little different - more veg, different types of cheese and a crusty breadcrumb topping. Serve with garlic ciabatta and shavings of parmesan. Recipe here.

These are just so simple, and tasty. You could also whip up a quick curry (here or here) which again you can make a big batch of and serve with rice and naan breads. 

And for pud...

No baking required, simply melt, mix and bung in the fridge. A favourite with friends and family! Recipe here

And finally, the queen of all puddings! This requires no baking, simply pop in the fridge to set overnight. Recipe here.

Hopefully this has inspired you, or at least put your mind at rest. Don't stress; cook or prepare these recipes in advance so you can enjoy the evening! 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

must reads

In the (little over a) year since I've been writing this blog, I've done fourteen bookworm features, and have read some pretty amazing books. I love to read most nights in bed to take my mind off a busy day (usually lesson planning/marking stress). Luckily Rich is a big reader too, he seems to fly through books so much faster than me... he read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) in just a few months, impressive! Between us we've amassed a good collection of books in our new flat (which we don't have room for) and look like a middle aged couple in bed, tucked up with our books and side lights on!

Anyway, I thought I'd run through the books I would say have been my favourite over the past year or so. I love getting a good book recommendation (just finished reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes on twitter recommendations!) so thought I would return the favour.

Here are my top ten books, read in the past year or so...

1. The Help - Kathryn Stockett. Probably one of my favourite books. Heart warming story, lovely characters and the film is a great representation of the novel! If you like this, you may also like The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (review here).

2. This Charming Man and Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes. Love Keyes' writing, she is so funny and true to life. Her novels always strike a chord with me, and these two are my favourites. Again, great characterisation and storylines - not sickly sweet happy ever after, but based on 'reality' with a funny undercurrent. Perfect.

3. One Day - David Nicholls. Such a great read. I also liked The Understudy by him. Again, humorous but with a serious storyline. 

4. Room - Emma Donoghue. Bit of a different one here; serious storyline about a girl who was kidnapped and gave birth to her kidnappers son whilst in captivity (review here).

5. We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver. Again, a very serious and deeply upsetting book, but extremely well written. Perhaps an interesting one to read in the wake of the Newtown school shootings (review here).

6. The Thread - Victoria Hislop. Incredibly interesting, so well explained and described. Such a great read, especially if you are interested in history, geography or want to view the Second World War from a perspective other than that of England or Germany. But ultimately, a story of love (review here).

7. Falling Leaves - Adeline Yen Mah. I read this as a child (and Chinese Cinderella), but re-read whilst on holiday this summer. Fantastic, and again historically interesting with a heart-wrenching storyline (review here). 

8. The Hunger Games Trilogy - Suzanne Collins. Loved the books, and loved the first film! Good storyline, and fairly good continuity over the three books. First book was my favourite, but still enjoyed the second and third (review here). 

9. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell. My all-time favourite film, and the book is a beast. Not easy going; it is solid but packed with amazing characters, incredible descriptions of America during the Civil War in the early 1860s, and above all a fantastic storyline. An absolute classic. 

10. Me Before You - Jojo Moyes. I finished this last night and absolutely loved it! Similar to Marian Keyes' novels in that it covers a serious issue but with an amusing and thoughtful undertone. I warmed to the characters in the first chapter; you really feel for all parties involved. Warning: you will cry like a baby!

Those are just some of my favourite reads, but it is so hard to limit it to ten! 

Next on my bookshelf are: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Sister by Rosamund Lupton and Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French.

On a slightly more negative note, what to avoid? I can't go without mentioning 50 Shades of Grey. I reviewed it here, but can safely say my year would have been no worse (if not better) if I'd not bothered reading them. If you've not yet... then don't. Mine are in a bag to take to my local charity shop!

That brings me on to my final point (promise!) - where do you buy your books from? A while ago I posted about buying my books from charity shops, and still am a firm supporter of The British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, but am worried about the future of our bookshops! Waterstones et al must be quaking in their books in the light of the rising popularity of e-books and Amazon selling paperbacks for next-to-nothing. I try to buy some books from actual book shops; particularly ones I want to keep on my bookshelf for life - classics, and books by my favourite authors. But, a £1.99 bargain is still too good to pass, especially when I'm on a budget!

What have been your favourite reads this year?
Recommendations more than welcome!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

captain pugwash

This recipe is just so easy, and so delicious. You may have noticed a pattern in that respect! I'm all for good food, but just don't have the time, patience or inclination to spend hours sweating over an intricate recipe.

You will need: for 4 people
300-400 grams of assorted fish
A hard boiled egg
2 tablespoons low fat crème fraiche
Cheddar cheese
Spinach (frozen or fresh)
Teaspoon dijon mustard
2 potatoes (for mash topping)

When I was in Sainsburys I found this pre-prepared fish pie mix - chunks of salmon, pollock and haddock for just over £3. You can of course use what ever fish you have at home, but I think this is such a good time saver. I often add a handful of frozen prawns to the mix too.

Mix together your fish, two tablespoons of low fat crème fraiche, a teaspoon of mustard, two defrosted spinach balls (or a handful of fresh wilted spinach), a sliced hard boiled egg and a small sprinkling of grated cheese. I also added a small handful of frozen sweetcorn; you could use peas instead. 

Spread the mashed potatoes (peel and cube 2 potatoes, boil until soft, mash with a small amount of milk, butter, salt and pepper) over the top of the mixture and top with a sprinkling of grated cheese. 

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180C, until the top is golden and crispy and the filling is bubbling. 

Serve with steamed green veg and enjoy!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

bookworm #14

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

After hearing good things about this book I bought it for Rich's Mum last Christmas... I then initiated my book borrowing rights and borrowed it right back! Cheeky? Probably. 

Anyway, this is a lovely story about a brother and sister, their relationship, lives and loves. From the off there are laugh-out-loud moments - the characters are funny, endearing and likeable - as well as parts which leave you deep in thought. Elly tells the story of her childhood in Essex, happier years in Cornwall with her family (and family additions!) and life in New York. It is one of those books where not much actually happens until about three quarters of the way through... but you don't realise. Its no bad thing; its a commentary on life, families and love. The story really develops towards the end of the book when Elly's family have to deal with a life-changing disaster; so well told, and hugely gripping. 

Would I recommend this? Yes! It's such a lovely read, you really warm to the characters as if they were your own family. The story lines are interesting, delivering shockers all the way through the novel. 

I'll leave you to discover why it is called 'When God was a Rabbit'!


Sunday, 9 December 2012

zingy chicken

My friend made this for me when I went to visit a couple of weekends ago, and I was impressed with how easy it was to prepare/cook, and how tasty it was. 

You can find Nigella's recipe here, but basically just chop up potatoes (I used a sweet potato too), an onion, some chorizo and throw in chicken thighs and a drizzle of oil to a baking dish, season with salt, pepper and herbs and cook in the oven for an hour. Nigella also uses an orange to give it some zing, but I didn't have any so left that bit out. 

So easy and so tasty! Perfect to serve when you have guests round as it means you can spend more time chatting and less time cooking - perfect. 


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

mamma mia

Now, this may seem like a bit of a bland recipe post, but I honestly think a good spaghetti bolognese recipe is a must. I have tried so many crappy bolognese dishes, but thanks to help from my lovely Mum and some trial and error, I think I've come up with the perfect recipe. 

You will need...
500g beef mince
Chopped tomatoes
Tomato puree
Garlic (/puree)
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine
Beef stock
Dijon mustard

Now this is very simple, you know the score... fry your onions, garlic and mince in a little oil. You may want to drain off any excess oil once browned. 

Once browned add the magic ingredients... red wine (a good glug), balsamic vinegar (a little glug), chopped tomatoes, large teaspoon of mustard, squirt of tomato puree, teaspoon of sugar and a beef stock cube. 

Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with spaghetti or pasta and a sprinkling of parmesan. 

To me, this is just the perfect bolognese. You could also add a little chopped bacon to give it an extra bit of oomph, or for Chilli Con Carne just add kidney beans and a generous sprinkling of chilli powder and paprika. 

Sometimes simple is best, no?

Friday, 23 November 2012

bookworm #13

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

I'd seen this book lying around my parents house for a while and showed no interest, I have to admit I judged it by its cover... not particularly inspiring. But after my Mum promising me it was a worthwhile read, I decided to give it a go. 

In a word... it's brilliant. Not only does it document the fascinating social and political history of Thessaloniki (Greece), including its involvement with WW2 and the Nazi occupation, but has a heart-warming story of love, friendship and family. The Thread tells the stories of Katerina and Dimitri; how their lives join together and the lives of their friends and families. The story moves quickly from moments of tragedy, to tales of happiness and love, all the time making us connect with the characters as if they were our own friends. 

I found this book a really easy read - although a large proportion of the book is factual and deals with some serious issues, it never felt too heavy or tiresome. Hislop has a way of describing places, people and events in huge detail without making it seem too educational. 

In short, I loved this book. Great storyline, characters and pace. 

Have you read The Thread, or any other novels by Hislop?

Monday, 5 November 2012

remember, remember

This has become one of my most well-loved recipes; something I learnt in my teens and have been cooking ever since. I picked this up from a kids recipe book and throughout the years have added to and adapted it... I can safely say it is one of the tastiest recipes I know. 

My parents and I used to make this every bonfire night and served it with crispy, buttery jacket potatoes. This year I've continued our little tradition and have prepared a big batch in anticipation of the fireworks tonight!

You will need...
Sausages (one pack)
Red pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin baked beans
1 tin butter beans
Dijon mustard
Paprika (smoked if possible)
Red wine

Start off by chopping your onion, pepper, bacon and sausages. You should use 3 or 4 slices of bacon, and a pack of sausages (5 or 6). If you can, try to get chilli sausages as these give it a really nice kick! If you want, you can take the skins off the sausages and roll the sausage meat into balls. Alternatively, you could buy sausage meat and roll it into balls. Or just chop up your sausages!

Fry all of the above with a little oil until the onions are softened and the sausages are starting to brown on the outside. You may want to drain off any excess oil after this if needs be. Sprinkle in paprika to taste and cook for a couple more minutes. If you use regular supermarket paprika you'll want to use a good sprinkling, however if you can get the good smoked paprika stuff you wont need to use as much. 

Then, add the baked beans, chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of mustard, a good glug of red wine and a teaspoon of sugar. You can use supermarket/value beans for this - you wont be able to tell they're not Heinz!

Once this starts to bubble, turn down to simmer and leave to cook for about 20 minutes with the lid on. Then, add the butter beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes. You can use any type of bean in fact (borlotti, cannellini, haricot, kidney etc) but I've found butter beans work best in this dish. 

Serve with oven-baked, crispy jacket potatoes with plenty of butter. 



Friday, 26 October 2012

do the impossible

One of my first recipe posts was a chicken and butternut squash curry, which I must say was pretty damn tasty. Since then I've had half a jar of balti paste left and have been trying to find something a little different to do with it. So I looked at the 'recipes' that were stuck to the lid of the balti paste and came across garlic chicken curry... sounds tasty! I tweaked the recipe a bit; and came up with this. The perfect Friday night meal - enjoy!

You will need...
500g diced chicken breast
Balti paste
1 red onion
1 tin chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
Tomato purée
Crème fraiche 
Chicken stock cube

Start by frying your chopped onion and garlic in a little oil - I used about five cloves. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened. 

Add approx 3 tablespoons of balti paste and cook with the onions and garlic for another 2 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, a squeeze of tomato purée and about 200ml of chicken stock. 

Add the chicken and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes with a lid on. Cooking the chicken like this (rather than frying with the onions) means it remains succulent and tasty. Once cooked, stir in two tablespoons of crème fraiche. 

Serve with basmati rice and mango chutney. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

bookworm #12

The Dinner by Herman Koch

I was given this book for my birthday last month and although vaguely recognising the front cover (and chuckling at the surname of the author, harhar) I had no clue what to expect. I definitely am swayed by 'what's in' when it comes to choosing books as I love figuring out my own stance after seeing the hype surrounding the latest 'best seller'. So for me, this was new territory. 

The plot of The Dinner is at first glance very basic; two average couples out for dinner in a rather swanky restaurant discussing their work, day to day lives and children. This is where the plot begins to thicken - these two couples are actually related (the two men are brothers) and their children have committed a horrific act. Not only this, but one of the men is running for Prime Minister. 

The Dinner looks at the story behind the families, how the boys came to doing what they did and the social implications of their actions. I have to admit, there were times when the book lacked a bit of oomph (you know what I mean, right?!) and felt a little like I was plodding on through, but overall I did enjoy the story. The book took something that on first impression seems quite mundane, to something interesting, slightly morbid and morally questionable. 

If you fancy reading something a little different (think We Need To Talk About Kevin) then I would definitely recommend this. Enjoy!


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

not ready for it

Now winter is well and truly on its way, I am starting to crave warm, homely meals. This is a very easy and simple recipe for a beef stew, which meets the bill perfectly  - sometimes simply really is best. Its the sort of thing you can throw together after work with minimum effort, but tastes amazing and definitely satisfies my craving for comfort food. You can substitute the beef for lamb if you prefer!

You will need:
Diced beef
1 Onion
Tsp dijon mustard
Garlic puree
Tomato puree
Red wine or beer
1 beef stock cubes

This makes enough for two people, or three smaller portions! I haven't put quantities of beef, bacon or mushrooms as this is really up to you. I used a 400g pack of diced beef, 2 large mushrooms and about 4 rashers of bacon. You can use as much or as little of these as you like, or as much as you have in your cupboards! 

Start by chopping an onion, your bacon and mushrooms and fry them off with a little oil in a casserole dish on a medium heat. Once the onion has browned and the bacon is cooked, add the beef (or lamb), cook until the meat is browned. 

Then, add a good glug (technical term) of red wine - use as much or as little as you like - and the mustard, garlic puree and tomato puree. Obviously you can use real garlic if you prefer (chop and fry with the bacon, onion and mushrooms) I just use puree as I'm lazy! You can use beer instead of wine if you prefer; my Mum often uses a bottle of ale. 

Stir it all together and cover with water, adding a beef stock cube if necessary - you may not need it. You don't want it to be overly salty! Bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer and put the lid on. You should leave the stew to simmer on a low heat for about an hour, until the stock has reduced. You still want some liquid however, but it should reduce to be thicker and less watery. 

Serve with mashed potato and steamed green veg. Enjoy!

Close your eyes and imagine yourself here...
all images from Pinterest

Sunday, 7 October 2012

bookworm #11

50 Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

Ok, so I know the whole world and his wife (or should I say the whole world and her fella, in some cases!) has read at least the first of the 50 Shades books, and I too gave in pretty quickly. I bought the first one to take on holiday with me back in July, and raced through it quite quickly. I was even gutted that I hadn't bought the second one, so as soon as I got home I put an order in to Amazon sharpish. I thought the second one was also pretty good, and although by this point the ridiculous and unrealistic sex scenes were starting to drag, I put in an order for the third book.

Now, let me just say what I thought about the books initially before I get on to the third. I was intrigued by the story behind Christian (Mr Grey himself) and why he had such control issues - I do love a good bit of psychological analysis of a character! I thought the story itself was fairly gripping, and wanted to find out more about both the characters and where the story was heading. As I said, the sexy bits started to get irritating for me after the first book. I mean, I think most people would agree with how unrealistic Anastasia turning into an overnight sex goddess was, and after a while I just skimmed through those scenes or skipped them entirely. Snooze. 

Now, the third book was billed to be the cherry on the top of the cake - filling in all the gaps and finally enlightening us as to why Christian was so f-ed up. For me, this book did not deliver. The 'revelations' were not as ground breaking as I expected and the little spin off action scenes seemed to have been added as an after thought, after the author realised the book had no substance. I really struggled to finish the book; it took me bloody ages and on several occasions I just went straight to bed without reading as I could not be bothered with it - very out of character for me! 

Overall, I thought these books started off pretty well but swiftly began to lose pace and substance. I hoped to enjoy them as I'd heard of parallels with the Twilight series (which I unashamedly love), and although you could argue there are similarities, these books were just verging on ridiculous. I finished the third thinking "really, is that it?". 

What did you think of the 50 Shades trilogy? 


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

bookworm #10

Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes

This is another book I read in Spain back in July (god that seems so long ago, sigh) but never got round to reviewing on here! 

I love Marian Keyes - apart from one recently I just could not get into (Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married - anyone else found the same?) - and cannot wait to get my hands on her latest offering. I'd been keeping my eye out for Sushi for Beginners in charity shops for ages but to no avail, until just a couple of weeks before my holiday when I found about 5 copies in my local village fete book stand! 

Anyway, what is this about? Sushi for beginners centres around three main characters with very different problems, and how their lives intertwine. Lisa is a hot-shot magazine editor who moves to Dublin to launch new 'Colleen' magazine; bitter that she has been demoted from her swanky job in London. She meets Ashling - her assistant - who has massive confidence issues and constantly compares herself to her gorgeous best friend Clodagh. Ashling embarks on a relationship with a stand up comic, while Clodagh has a breakdown about being in, what seems, the 'perfect marriage'. 

This story is full of twists and turns, happy and sad moments, laughs and tears - up there with my favourite Keyes books (Rachel's Holiday and This Charming Man). I love how Keyes makes you feel like you really know the characters, like they were your own friends... or enemies! I think my favourite character was Ashling - partly because she is a fellow waist-less wonder. And typical of Keyes stories, I even started to like Lisa towards the end! 

These books never fail to make me laugh out loud, and Sushi for Beginners did not disappoint. 

Have you read Sushi for Beginners? Did you enjoy it? Which was your favourite character?

Remember to enter my 500 follower giveaway here!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

fridge cake

This has got to be one of my favourite sweet treats... and my family's, friend's and boyfriend's. It is so easy to make and too easy to eat (the whole thing, in one go, oops). I call it fridge cake as there is no baking involved, simply leave it to set in the fridge, but I suppose it's not really a cake! It is sometimes called tiffin, and if you're feeling extra naughty, you can also add a layer of melted chocolate over the top. 

You will need:
4 oz plain chocolate
4 oz butter
4 oz raisins or sultanas
10 oz digestive biscuits
1 tin condensed milk

Note: this recipe is best made with plain chocolate; trust me, it wont taste bitter at all! Plain chocolate is not the same as dark chocolate however, so if you can't find plain then use milk chocolate. Or, if you are a fan of dark chocolate, I'm sure this would be lovely! I've used milk chocolate on this occasion as I couldn't find plain, which is why it is quite light in colour. I much prefer to use plain chocolate as not only does it taste nicer, but looks a nicer shade of brown!

Start off by melting the butter and chocolate in a pan on a low heat. Keep an eye on it, and don't put it on too high a heat or it will burn.  While this is doing its thing, crush your digestives. A good way to do this is in a large sandwich bag; do it up loosely with room to breathe, and hit on the outside gently with a rolling pin. Alternatively, break up digestives in a bowl with a rolling pin. In both cases, it's best doing it in stages so you can get the right sized pieces. 

You want the majority to be completely crushed and almost breadcrumb-like, but with about a quarter in larger pieces (as above). This give it a bit of bite! If you like your fridge cake even more crunchy, then you can use about 10 oz of digestives. 

Add the raisins to the crushed biscuits, and then the melted chocolate and condensed milk. Mix together!

Lay some greaseproof paper in a shallow dish, and then spoon the mixture in. No need to grease or oil! Flatten down with the back of a spoon and make sure it fills all the corners of the dish. 

This was for my birthday celebrations, so added some sprinkles over the top! You could also add marshmallows, glacé cherries or whatever floats your boat either on top or into the mixture. 

To finish, leave to set in the fridge overnight. If you can last that long! Once set, cut into squares of varying sizes (for varying appetites or levels of greed) and enjoy! 

Watch out, these wont last long!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

the ultimate

For me, carbonara is one of those tasty but naughty recipes that I never really get round to making. For starters, I never have cream in the fridge, and rarely parmesan. But after making my chicken leek and bacon pie earlier in the week, I had some cream left over - the perfect opportunity to whip up this recipe!

You will need...
Pancetta or bacon
1 onion
2 eggs (one whole egg and one yolk)
150ml single cream
1 Clove of garlic (or puree)

Contrary to popular belief, spaghetti carbonara is so simple to make! Just follow these easy steps, and keep a cool head...

To start, chop up the bacon, garlic and onion... I cheat and use frozen chopped onion - it saves so much time and effort! I also use garlic puree instead of the real deal, again its a pretty good cheat. I use a small squirt as its pretty strong! In terms of how much bacon (or pancetta if you like), I use about 4 or 5 rashers, but feel free to use as much as you like!

Cook until nice and crispy!

While the onion and bacon is cooking, mix together the cream, eggs and 25g (or so) parmesan. I use one whole egg, and then just one yolk - ditch the whites of one egg. Mix together in a jug and season with black pepper. 

Pop your spaghetti on to cook!

Once the bacon and onion mixture is cooked, take off the heat add to your cream mixture. Drain the spaghetti, and stir through the cream and bacon mixture (everything in together). There is no need to cook the spaghetti with the sauce - the heat of the cooked bacon and spaghetti and the heat of the pan will 'cook' the sauce enough. If you cook it, it will turn to a dry scrambled egg type affair!

Dish up into bowls and top with more parmesan. Serve with garlic bread!



Monday, 27 August 2012

as it comes

Now, to say that I am a steak connoisseur would be a lie, but I can say that I appreciate a good steak. For years, I had my steak cooked medium to medium rare... this all changed in Spain last month. Due to the language barrier and a very confused waitress, Rich and I were served some pretty rare veal steaks - we were a little hesitant at a) how rare they were and b) that they were veal; something I don't agree with.  But, I have to admit, they were bloody delicious. 

Since then, I have been craving a good steak back in the UK. When Rich went away for the weekend I had no plans for Saturday night, apart from a night in with the X Factor and Casualty (guilty pleasure) - a perfect evening to indulge myself with some overpriced meat!

I popped to the butchers and picked up a rather lovely looking sirloin steak for £6.95, then somehow managed to sweet talk the butcher down to a 5er, perfect! When I got home, I googled some tips on how to cook the 'perfect' steak - in the past I have tended to over cook  steak, but this time I was taking no chances. 

So, from my internet research, here are some top tips for cooking the perfect steak:

1. Buy the best you can afford - the best is sirloin, which should have been hung for 21 days+ by the butchers/supermarket
2. Look out for a steak which appears to be marbled - the 'marbling' is little veins of fat which add to the flavour
3. Take your steak out of the fridge and into room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking
4. Fry your steak in a thick-bottomed frying pan, non-stick if possible, so the outside can get nice and brown
5. Before cooking, rub olive oil, salt and pepper into the steak. You shouldn't need to add any other oil to the pan!
6. Make sure the pan is at the right temperature - you should be able to hold your hand over the pan without it feeling too hot, but if it just feels warm then turn up the heat. Your steak should sizzle when it hits the pan!
7. Don't cook more than two steaks in a pan at once. Any more than this, and the steaks will just stew rather than fry
8. Once cooked, leave the steak to rest on a hot plate for 5 minutes. This allows it to continue cooking and lets the juices flowww, improving the flavour and texture

what's going on with my wrist (or lack of) here?!

How long do you cook it for?
This is very open to interpretation and depends on the individual and how you like your steak cooked. Even the rare/medium rare/medium/well done distinction can depend on restaurant and chef, so it can be a bit of a minefield! As I say I like my steak pretty rare, so the above steak I cooked for 2.5 minutes on each side. If you like it more 'medium' then cook for between 3 and 4 minutes on each side, and if you prefer your steak more well done then about 5-6 minutes on each side. 

What about extras?
Personally, I am pretty traditional and like my steak with chips (I prefer to make my own chips or wedges but today I was feeling lazy!) and steamed veg; brocolli, asparagus and green beans. Alternatively, you could have it with sautéed potatoes, sweet potato wedges, roasted new potatoes, mash... the list is endless!  

In terms of sauces, again I like to keep it simple - either as it comes, or with some garlic butter. You can always cook it in the garlic butter to add to the flavour! I find sauces, especially béarnaise, just mask the flavour of the steak and can be a bit sickly. But again, in terms of options you've got loads - peppercorn, Diane, fried onions, gravy, stilton or blue cheese sauce...

For afters?! Well, I finished my meal off with rather delicious slice of treacle tart!

How do you like your steak? 
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