Today we have some recipes that I think of as ‘eating out at home’. They are ideal for a celebration, or just for a very enjoyable night in. Cowboy rib eye is the perfect steak for sharing. It is big, thick, full of flavour and takes a little longer to cook than other steaks. The wild mushroom butter is a little bit different. Mushrooms are still in season and this butter will keep for a month. I love it with grilled meat or pasta.

For something different, you could try this sea bass recipe which has a real Spanish flavour and is very easy to prepare. Sea bass cooks quickly, so cooking it this way keeps the fish moist. The cassoulet is lovely, with the smoky chorizo giving it taste and texture.

If you are going to spoil yourself on this night in, then these rich chocolate pots (served with or without the shortbread) are ideal. You can make them ahead of time. Make sure your chocolate is high in cocoa solids. For added flavour, I like using Coole Swan (a local Cavan liqueur), but you could use orange zest instead.

Happy cooking,


Cowboy rib-eye with wild mushroom butter

Serves 2

1 x 600g (1lb 5oz) cowboy steak,

1 bone thick

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, skin on

Handful of fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

Chunky chips, to serve

For the wild mushroom butter:

1 tbsp olive oil

50g (2oz) mixed wild mushrooms (cep, chanterelle, shiitake and oyster), roughly chopped

1 shallot, finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp Madeira

1 tbsp cream

1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ tsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp white truffle oil (optional)

100g (4oz) butter, diced and softened

Sea salt and freshly ground

Black pepper

1 To make the wild mushroom butter, heat the olive oil in a pan and add the mushrooms, shallot and garlic.

2 Cook gently for five minutes, until cooked through and tender but not coloured.

3 Stir in the Madeira, cream and herbs and cook for a further three minutes, until the liquid has completely reduced and evaporated.

4 Season to taste and stir in the white truffle oil to taste, if using. Leave to cool completely.

5 Place the butter and cooked wild mushroom mixture in a food processor and purée until smooth. Using a spatula, scrape the butter out onto a square of non-stick baking paper and roll into a cylinder about 2.5cm (1in) thick, twisting the ends to secure. Chill for at least two hours, until hardened, or up to 24 hours is fine.

Cooking the steak:

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).

2 Put the steak on a plate and rub with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Leave to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3 Heat a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan until it’s searingly hot.

4 Add the steak to the pan along with the oil from the plate, the garlic cloves, thyme and bay leaf.

5 Sear for three minutes on one side, until well browned, basting with the oil and herbs.

6 Carefully tip out the oil, add the remaining two tablespoons of fresh oil to the pan and sear the second side of the steak in the same way.

7 Using a tongs, quickly brown the steak around the edges, then transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, turning it over halfway through.

This timing is for a medium steak, so if you prefer yours more well done, then give it an extra five minutes on each side.

8 Remove the steak from the pan and sit it on a rack set over a roasting tin.

9 Remove the flavoured butter from the fridge and remove the paper wrapper, then cut into slices.

10 Arrange the slices of wild mushroom butter on top of the resting steak and set aside for 15–20 minutes.

This gives the steak time to relax and the wild mushroom butter to melt.

11 Carve the cowboy steak at the table and arrange on plates, spooning over some of the melted wild mushroom butter. Have a separate dish of the chunky oven chips to hand around for everyone to enjoy.

Sea Bass with Chorizo Cassoulet

Serves 4

4 x 150g (5oz) sea bass fillets, pin bones removed and scaled

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp softened butter

For the chorizo cassoulet:

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

100g (4oz) raw chorizo, skinned and diced

150ml (¼ pint) vegetable stock

400g (14oz) can mixed beans, drained and rinsed (such as haricot, cannellini, borlotti and black-eyed beans)

1 tbsp softened butter

2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp snipped fresh chives

Sea salt and freshly ground blackpepper

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).

2 Heat one tablespoon of the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat.

3 Add the chorizo and sauté for 2–3 minutes, until sizzling. Remove the chorizo and drain on kitchen paper.

4 To prepare the sea bass, score the skin in thin parallel lines using a very sharp knife and season the flesh side lightly, then cut each fillet in half on the diagonal.

5 Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add the oil and butter.

6 Once the butter stops sizzling, add the sea bass, skin side down, and cook gently for 4–5 minutes to get the skin crispy. Carefully turn over and cook for 2–3 minutes to brown lightly.

7 Pour the stock into a pan along with the cooked chorizo and the mixed beans and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, until warmed through.

8 Season to taste, then whisk in the butter and stir in the parsley and chives. Spoon some chorizo cassoulet in the centre of each warmed plate and arrange the sea bass on top, skin side up.

Chocolate pots with shortbread

Serves 6

450ml (¾ pint) cream

75g (3oz) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g (9oz) plain chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids), broken into squares

3 tbsp Coole Swan Liqueur

1 large egg, beaten

Small pinch of sea salt

For the shortbread:

40g (1½oz) icing sugar,

plus extra for dusting

250g (9oz) butter, softened

175g (6oz) plain flour

50g (2oz) cornflour

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

To decorate:

Whipped cream

Grated plain chocolate

1 To make the shortbread, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the butter, then beat together with an electric beater until just combined.

2 Sift the plain flour and cornflour into a separate bowl.

3 Add the vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture, then tip in the sifted flour and cornflour with the pinch of salt. Mix to form a smooth dough. 4 Mould and shape into a log that’s just over 5cm (2in) thick, then wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or overnight is fine) to firm up.

5 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

6 Cut the dough into slices 1cm (½in) thick, then cut into shapes with a 5cm (2in) cutter with a fluted edge. Re-roll the excess dough and repeat. Place on the lined baking sheets. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden brown.

7 Cool on a wire rack, then dust with icing sugar. These will keep for up to two days in an airtight container.

Chocolate pots:

1 To make the chocolate pots, pour the cream into a small pan and add the sugar and vanilla extract.

2 Warm gently for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, but do not allow to boil.

3 Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and the mixture is very smooth, then whisk in the Coole Swan with the beaten egg and salt until well combined.

4 Pour the chocolate mixture into teacups or small ramekins, gently tapping until the tops are smooth.

5 Cover loosely with foil or cling film, then leave somewhere cold (not the fridge) for four hours, until set. Alternatively, chill overnight and allow the pots to come back to room temperature before serving.

6 To serve, put the teacups or ramekins onto saucers, decorate with some whipped cream and grated chocolate and serve with the shortbread on the side.

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