Valentine’s 2014: Double date

Saturday 15th

We had our friends Tor & Chris over for dinner on Saturday during Valentine’s weekend.

They brought round some antipasti for our appetisers. Tasty olives stuffed with almonds, olives with chili, sun dried tomatoes and goats cheese stuffed peppadews :-)

Olives stuffed with almonds, olives with chili,
sun dried tomatoes and goats cheese stuffed peppadews


Me and Leigh cooked a boeuf bourguignon, mash and steamed veg (green beans, sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn). I also baked some mini bread loaves to go with the meal. We use Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for this French beef stew and have cooked it several times. It takes a long time to make but is worth it. The boeuf bourguignon makes an impressive dinner party dish packed full of flavour. So delicious!



Boeuf bourguignon, mash and steamed veg
(green beans, sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn)
with homemade mini bread loaf

I have to say that this was one of the best meals we have ever cooked for people. Really chuffed with the whole meal! :-D

Gü Mango passion fruit cheesecakeGü Chocolate orange melting middle

I had planned on making a dessert but ran out of time, so it was Gü puds to the rescue! We had Gü Mango passion fruit cheesecakes and Chocolate orange melting middles. A nice and light way to end the meal.

Gin and Tonic with Rosemary and Lemon

Leigh was a good bar man / host as usual. One of his favourite drinks he made for people was a gin & tonic with rosemary and lemon.

We had such a lovely evening with Tor & Chris relaxing in front of the TV with plenty of drinks and good conversation!




3 or 4  beef cheeks, or shin of beef (about 1kg)
Olive oil
100g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
350g shallots, peeled and left whole
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small celery stick, finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
1 bouquet garni (1 thyme sprig, bay leaf and a few parsley stalks tied together)
1 tbsp tomato purée
750ml red wine
600ml veal or dark chicken stock


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C.
2. Brown the beef in a hot oven-proof casserole dish, in 1 tbsp oil.
Do this in batches, making sure each batch is really well browned.
If the meat sticks, leave it till it releases.
Remove the meat from the pan. add another 1 tbsp of oil
and brown the bacon followed by the vegetables.
Add the bouquet garni and cook for a minute or two.
3. Add the tomato purée and pour in the wine, bring to the boil
and boil hard for about 10 minutes to reduce a little.
4. Pour in the stock, add the meat back in and return to the boil.
5. Season nicely.
6. Then cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
7. Remove the meat. Cut the meat into big chunks.
8. Strain the liquid and return to the pan.
Keep the bacon and veg but discard the bouquet garni.
9. Boil to reduce to 250-300mls.
10. Slide the bacon and veg into the sauce, followed by the meat,
and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until piping hot.

- I like to add some extra carrots (chunks) to the stew. Chantenay carrots are good.
- I also use normal chicken stock, as can’t get hold of veal or dark chicken stock.
- I used the ready made bags of bouquet garni. I have made my own from scratch (as in recipe) before but find it very fiddly.
- These adjustments still work well with the recipe.