The Musette: Sunday lunch pie

My beloved husband loves a roast Sunday lunch, particularly beef, but it’s kinda difficult doing a roast meal for one. Inevitably, I end up with lots of leftovers!

Depending on what roast meat is left over, I frequently make cottage (beef) pie, shepherd’s (lamb) pie, chicken pot pie, cassoulet (pork and/or lamb and duck) but he really enjoys my puff-pastry topped Sunday lunch pie which is a clever mash up using roast dinner leftovers all bundled into one flaky pie, a super easy and comforting meal.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 450g leftover roast beef, diced into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • Leftover potatoes, diced
  • Leftover carrot, diced
  • Leftover greens, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp horseradish sauce or Dijon mustard
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) gravy or beef stock
  • 3 tbsp red wine or port
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten


1.Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (skillet) and cook the onion and any uncooked vegetables with the thyme and garlic until the onion is translucent. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Simmer until well-reduced and sticky.

2. Add the stock, bring to a simmer, reduce by half, then stir through the remaining cooked vegetables, horseradish/mustard and the beef. The filling should be moist but not swimming in liquid. Season, remove from the heat and cool completely.

3. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/(390F/fan 360F)/gas 6. Either divide the filling between 4 individual pie dishes or use one deep one. Cut the pastry sheet to fit the pie dish(es) and lay it on top, tucking in and crimping the edges. Use any trimmings to cut out letters or shapes for the tops. Bush well with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.This recipe can easily be adapted for whatever you do have left-over. Don’t be afraid to use things like stuffing, cauliflower cheese or Yorkshire puddings in the mix. Think of it as a fry up in pastry.

2. For example, if you haven’t got any left-over vegetables, just blanch a few potatoes until tender, top with 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped parsnips, some oil and seasoning, then roast in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.

3. If you don’t have much meat left, don’t be afraid to bulk it out with some pulses, such as green or black lentils.


The Musette: vegan baked orzo

Friends recently invited us to dinner at a restaurant in nearby Monte Carlo which is run by a friend of theirs. I would describe the food as modern Mediterranean with an emphasis on wonderfully fresh seafood – our kind of restaurant.

We had the chef’s choice which seemed to involve one of everything on the menu. It was delicious but way too much food. Unfortunately doggie bags are so not the thing in Monte Carlo! One of the final dishes (served as a side dish) was delicious baked orzo which prompted my beloved to remind me that I hadn’t made one for him for some time.

Orzo (rice shaped pasta) is incredibly useful as it cooks quickly and is good both hot and cold. I often use it in a shrimp and lemon pasta salad – perfect for picnics. However, here’s my baked version which I whipped up hot for lunch and then we ate it again cold the following day. Both versions were equally delicious.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists as a main, 6 as a side)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • half yellow onion, diced
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 80g (1 cup) kale, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 175g (1 cup) uncooked orzo
  • 500g (1lb) cherry tomatoes and courgette (zucchini), chopped
  • 200g (1 cup) cooked haricot beans or chickpeas
  • 600ml (2 1/2 cups) vegetable stock or water
  • (vegan) feta cheese, fresh lemon and parsley to serve


1.Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F/325°F fan).

2. In a large oven-safe pan (skillet), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and salt. Saute for 10 minutes or until soft, then add garlic, red pepper, red pepper flakes and tomatoes.

3. Saute for another approx. 10 minutes, then add courgettes and kale. Cook until the kale is wilted.

4. Add the orzo, beans or chickpeas and stock. Bring to a simmer before popping in the oven.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the orzo is al dente. Don’t overcook it as it’ll continue to cook and absorb any stock/sauce in the pan once you take it out of the oven.

6. Finish by crumbling feta over the top, dusting with some fresh parsley, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and some extra virgin olive oil – enjoy.

7. It’ll keep happily in the fridge for a couple of days. Reheat or allow to come to room temperature if eating cold.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.You can play around with the ingredients just so long as you maintain the proportion of liquid to dried pasta. For example, in the winter months I might make this with a tin/jar of tomatoes bolstered with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and just 480-500ml (2 cups) of stock.

2. Feel free to replace the kale with another green, such as spinach.

3. You can substitute the chickpeas or beans with meat or seafood for a non-vegan version.

4. I serve it cold the following day on a bed of rocket with the same toppings though I’ll often add pomegranate seeds, rather than lemon, and a touch of chopped mint with the parsley.


The Musette: courgette fritters

I’ve made courgette fritters for years, initially using a recipe from that domestic goddess Nigella Lawson. However, I’ve shifted to making them less dairy laden and more acceptable to a wider range of regimes.

The word fritter usually conjures up something deep-fried, fat-laden, and overall heavy but these easy courgette (zucchini) fritters are testament that lighter ones are possible. Grated courgette joins forces with onion, flour, eggs, and grated Parmesan cheese to make low calorie, delicious little green pancakes that can be a light vegetarian meal, meze or side dish to a Mediterranean-style meal.

Fritters should be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. If there’s one thing I loathe it’s soggy fritters, they are a big no-no. The only way to avoid sogginess is to wring out the excess liquid from the courgettes.  Grate, salt, leave in the colander for 10 minutes, then wring out. I know this can be a painful process but there’s really no way around it. In addition to removing the excess water, I like to add a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese to the batter. It both amps up the umami flavor and increases the crisp factor. I also like to use baking powder, which I believe helps enormously in making lighter fritters. You can leave it out, but do try it, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Ingredients (Makes about 12 small or 6 medium fritters)

  • 2 medium courgettes (or 4 small), coarsely grated
  • 11/2 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten or 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water
  • ½ cup all purpose flour (or GF flour or almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast)
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil or mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 fat clove confit garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1. Place grated courgette (zucchini) in a colander, add 1 teaspoon of salt, toss and set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Wrap grated courgettes in a clean dish towel/kitchen paper/cheesecloth, squeezing and wringing all the moisture you can out of them. This step helps the fritters brown better, even when using less oil. It also keeps them from turning soggy and falling apart in the pan.

3. Place squeezed courgette in a bowl and add all the other ingredients, including remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and ground black pepper. Mix until well combined. The batter should be dropping consistency.

3. Heat two tablespoons of olive in a frying pan (skillet) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop two scant tablespoons of zucchini mixture onto the pan, press them flat with the help of a spatula and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

4. Make only a few fritters at a time, do not crown the pan, so that the oil temperature doesn’t drop. Drain briefly on paper towels to soak up any excess grease and keep warm.

5. Serve with Greek yogurt, plant-based yoghurt or sour cream, and sprinkle with finely chopped scallions if you like. We eat them with my chilli and tomato jam.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. You can, of course, make fritters from a variety of vegetables. Experiment to your heart’s content once you’ve mastered the basics.

2. Feel free to add a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs. I like freshly chopped basil or mint and lemon zest with courgettes but parsley would work too with maybe some chopped capers.

3. You need a batter that’s of dropping consistencey. If it’s too wet add a bit more flour. If it’s too dry add some water a teaspoon at a time.

4. I rarely use raw garlic as it’s too strong a flavour. I always keep a jar of confit garlic (home-made) in the fridge for use in my cooking.


The Musette: Aloo Gobi

This hearty cauliflower and potato curry is probably the most common and basic vegetable curry you will find anywhere in India. Originally from the Punjab, it’s a firm favourite across the Indian sub-continent and Pakistan. Cheap, filling and generally vegan, it’s a recipe everyone needs in their curry repertoire. But one of the disadvantages of its universal appeal is that there is no such thing as a universal recipe.Yes, there are as many recipes as there are Indians!

This is my vegan take on Atul Kochhar’s recipe from Simple Indian. I don’t generally make amendments to recipes from Michelin starred chefs, but I’m sure he won’t mind.

Ingredients (enough for 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 large cauliflower, split into florets
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • 2 tsp black onion seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250ml (1 cup) passata
  • 5 -10 tbsp filtered water
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala


1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 (400°F/350°F fan),   put potatoes and cauliflower florets on a baking tray, spritz with a little vegetable oil and bake in oven until cooked and a little charred round the edges, approx. 40 minutes.

2. After 30 minutes, heat finely chopped onion in 1 tsp vegetable oil in a deep frying pan (skillet) until transluscent. Do not allow it to colour. Then add onion seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamon pods and bay leaves. Cook for a minute or two until the spices start to crackle.

3. Add the passata, water, chilli powder, salt and tumeric to the pan stirring well and now add the cauliflower and potato which should be almost but not quite cooked. Gently cook through for 5-10 minutes until you can easily pierce with a fork.

4. Taste sauce to check seasoning, add coriander and garam masala and serve with rice or an Indian flat bread.

5. Or, like me, omit final seasoning, leave to cool, put in the fridge overnight and heat up the following day before adding coriander and garam masala.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Cut the florets slightly bigger than the potatoes so they cook in roughly the same time as the potatoes, rather than overcooking and disintegrating before the potatoes are done.

2. You can, of course, serve this as a main dish, or as a side. Typically, I’ll serve it with a “wetter” dish such as dhal and either boiled basmati rice or some roti and some hot and spicy pickles.

The Musette: Basque chicken

This casserole is yet another of my meal-in-a-pot recipes that you can cook the night before you need it and re-heat on your return from a ride, or it can happily bubble away in a slow oven while you’re out cycling. Again, you’ll find numerous iterations of the recipe and I would encourage you to add more of what you like and leave out what you don’t! It’s a dish I cook all year round but tend to vary the accompaniments depending on the season. This weekend I’ll be serving it up for my beloved with a crisp green salad and a hunk of crusty baguette.

My version of Basque chicken (image: Sheree)

Ingredients (serves four hungry cyclists)

  • Approx 1kg (2.2lbs) fresh organic chicken chopped into eight (ask your butcher to do this)
  • 200g (8oz) spicy chorizo sausage, skinned and cubed
  • 2 sobressade  – spicy uncooked – sausage (approx. 150g/6oz) skinned and cubed
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 250ml (1 cup) of dry white wine or sherry
  • 1 fresh or dried bouquet garni
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) jar skinned red bell peppers, drained and cut into strips
  • 2 x 400g (14oz) cans cannellini or haricot beans or chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika


1. Pre-heat the oven to 140ºC /120ºC fan/gas mark 1 (275ºF/225ºF fan). Place a large frying pan on the hob over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it’s warm, add the chorizo and sobressade. Cook over moderate heat until it starts to give up its glorious rust-coloured oil. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, but not browned. Then add the minced garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage mix into an ovenproof casserole dish.

Hot and spicy! (image: Sheree)

2. Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper and add to the frying pan, cook over a moderately high heat, turning until well browned, approximately 15 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and add to the cooked sausage mix.

Nicely browned (image: Sheree)

3. Drain off any excess fat and deglaze the pan with the white wine/sherry. Let it bubble away for around five minutes to burn off the alcohol.

4. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, beans, tomato paste and paprika to the frying pan and cook for five minutes or so.

5. Add the bouquet garni to the casserole along with the tomato, pepper and bean mixture and stir gently to combine.

6. To prevent the casserole from drying out, cover the contents with a circle of crushed, damp greaseproof (parchment) paper (cartouche) and pop on the casserole lid or tin foil. Slide it into the oven and leave to cook while you’re out riding. This will cook happily from 2-4 hours in a cool oven without drying out.

Ready for the oven (image: Sheree)

7. On your return, remove the casserole dish from the oven and leave to stand with the lid still on while you’re having your shower.

8. Discard the bouquet garni and serve with a green salad or another green vegetable on the side and, if you must, some crusty bread or a baked potato. It all depends on how much energy you’ve expended on your morning ride!

Lunch is served (image: Sheree)

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Don’t forget to taste and season as you cook. Unseasoned food is bland and you use less salt and pepper if you season at the start and during the cooking process, rather than at the end.

2. This dish can be cooked the day before, left overnight in the fridge and then reheated the following day. This also makes it easier to remove any excess fat which will harden on the surface.

3. The recipe works equally well made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Again, you can used tinned or cook from dried the day before.

4. As this is cooking rather than baking, feel free to play around with the ingredients. To make the dish go further I might add 100g (4oz) diced pancetta and 10-12 frozen or tinned artichoke hearts.

5. Only cook with wine you’d be happy to drink.

6. Go easy on the rosemary in the bouquet garni as an excess tends to give the beans a soapy flavour. I use a mixture of bay leaves, thyme and a little rosemary.

7. I serve the finished dish with some small pickled spicy green peppers called piparras which I picked up in the Basque country.

The Musette: pork paradise

This recipe is one of my own invention which borrows elements from Bigos, the Polish national dish, and Choucroute, the Alsatian classic. All three recipes use copious amounts of sauerkraut and pork to provide hearty warming fare for the winter months. It’s another of my one-pot dishes which I typically cook in advance and reheat upon my return from riding my bike or which will happily bubble away in the oven on a low heat while I’m out.

It must be said that the quality of the two main ingredients –  pork and sauerkraut – are key to the success of the dish. I use an Alsatian sauerkraut that’s been mellowed in goose fat and Riesling wine. If you can only find the tinned variety can I suggest that you wash it in a sieve to remove the obviously vinegary taste and cook slowly on the top of the stove over a low heat with some chopped onion, apples, a splash of white wine and, if you like, a tablespoon of duck or goose fat. You’ll then be good to go. I cannot stress enough that this is such a simple yet tasty dish.

Ingredients (serves six hungry cyclists)

  • 2 kg (4 lb) sauerkraut
  • 1 kg (2 lb) pork mix
  • 250ml (1 cup) eau de vie (optional)


1. Boil the sausages in some water to degrease them. Then skin and chop them into bite-sized pieces along with the cooked pork loin and garlic sausage. The piece of ham centre stage (photo above) is the end of a parma ham and it’s added to the dish purely as a flavour enhancer.

2. Put half the sauerkraut into an ovenproof lidded dish (dutch oven), pile in the pork and cover with the remaining half and add a cup of alcohol or just water.

3. Cover the dish with a dampened circle of greaseproof (parchment) paper, pop on the lid and put into a pre-heated oven at 160°C /140°C fan/gas mark 3 (320°F/275°F fan) to cook for as long as you like, but not less than four hours.

4. Serve with some slices of rye bread and a green salad or leave to cool overnight, skim off any excess fat and reheat in a low oven once you’ve gotten back from your ride.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. I find that the dish doesn’t need any more seasoning although you could always add a tablespoon of caraway seeds and one of juniper berries to dial up the German vibe. Alternatively, a tablespoon of fennel seeds and a couple of bay leaves will add a nice mellow note.

2. Frankly any mix of pork will be fine but try to have a blend of lean meats with flavourful sausages.

3. If you want to add cubes of bacon, pancetta or belly pork can I suggest that you cook these beforehand to render down the fat and crisp up the meat before adding it to the mix.

4. Like many of these types of one-pot dishes, I do find it tastes better re-heated the following day.

The Musette: Tuscan feast Part I

We often go shopping in nearby Italy, particularly during the winter months and, as you know, Italians love nothing better than getting family and friends together over the dinner table. So I’m going to be preparing a veritable Tuscan feast over the next two weekends. This week it’s the main course, while next Saturday’s Musette will have the recipes for the starters and dessert.

There are lots of designer outlet shops in Tuscany but I rarely bother to check them out. Instead I prefer shopping for food and wine. One of my all-time favourite butchers is situated in the town square of Greve in Chianti, it’s the Antica Macelleria Falorni which has stood in the same place since 1729. I have been known to spend over an hour just looking and inhaling the wonderful aromas in this family-run establishment. It looks small but it’s a deceptively large shop.

The Italians love – nay, revere – pork so it’s appropriate that the main course is my Tuscan slow-roasted pork which will cook happily while I’m out cycling.

Ingredients (serves four hungry cyclists)

  • 2.5kg (4lbs) piece boneless pork belly (skin on)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 4 fat garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups (500ml) dry white wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt


1. In order to get really crispy pork crackling you need to ensure that the skin is dry. I will typically wipe it dry with paper kitchen towel and leave the pork overnight uncovered, skin side up, in the fridge. But if you don’t have time to spare, pour a kettle of boiling water over the skin and then blot dry.

2. Prepare the marinade by placing all the other ingredients, except the wine and just 2 tbsp of the oil, in a small blender or pestle and mortar. Add 1 tsp of salt and ½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper, and pound or blend to a runny paste.

3. Turn the pork over and place skin side down on some cling film (plastic wrap), massage the marinade into the pork flesh, cover with cling film and marinade for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.

4. Take the pork out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Score the skin with a very sharp knife. Don’t cut too deeply – you basically want to just score through the rind and not too deeply into the layer of fat below. This will allow much of the belly fat to render out during the cooking process leaving meltingly tender and moist meat.

5. Remove the cling film, place skin side up on a rack over a large roasting pan. Rub the now dry skin with a tbsp of olive oil and a tsp of sea salt.

6. Pour about 250ml (1 cup) of water into the bottom of the roasting pan – just enough to cover the pan, but not enough to touch the roast. This is to prevent the stuff that drips off the pork from burning to the bottom of the pan.

7. Roast in a slow preheated oven 150°C /130°C fan/gas mark 2 (300°F/275°F fan) for about 3 to 3½ hours, adding more water to the pan if it dries out.

8. You know it’s ready when the rind is translucent and brittle and the fat is golden, crispy and completely puffed up. If your belly looks like this then you’ll have the most tender, succulent meat topped with nice crispy crackling.

9. Oven temperatures do vary, so if the pork doesn’t look like that yet, just turn up the temperature to 200°C/gas mark 6  (400°F) and flash-roast for an additional ½-hour, or until it’s done.

10. Remove from the oven, put the meat on a chopping board, cover with aluminium foil and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before slicing – if you can keep your hands off it, that is.

11. While the pork’s resting, make the jus. Discard all but 2 tbsp of fat from pan, retaining all the juices, place the pan over medium heat and stir in wine to deglaze, strain and add a knob of butter for a silky shine and keep warm.

12. Thickly slice the pork and serve with vegetables of your choice and the jus.

Sheree’s handy hints

1. I’m not a ‘gravy’ fan but feel free to add sliced onions to the roasting pan for the last hour or so and once you’ve deglazed the pan, per step 11 above, add 250ml (1 cup) of chicken or ham stock (preferably home-made) and some roux (1 tbsp flour mixed with 1 tbsp soft butter), stirring to combine well and allow to thicken. Strain and keep warm.

2. I like to serve this dish with oven-roasted fennel served with a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese and, if I’m feeding lots of boys, some oven-roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes.

The Musette: beef casserole

With the nights starting to draw in and the mercury dipping, thoughts turn to warming recipes. This is another of my one-pot recipes which happily cooks while I’m out cycling or watching live bike racing. If I’ve the time and/or inclination, I might marinade the beef beforehand in the red wine but I find it works just as well without.

You may notice an absence of herbs and spices in the picture of ingredients. That’s because it’s another dish where I would encourage you to use what you have in your cupboard – experiment.

I’m going to ‘fess up. The bottle of wine has a screw top. You may be shocked since I always say “cook only with wine you’d be prepared to drink”. This was a very acceptable red wine – for drinking and cooking – I found in my local branch of Lidl for €2.19 a bottle. There, my secret’s out. I am not, and never will be, a wine connoisseur.

Ingredients (serves two cyclists)

  • 1 beef cheek cubed (approx 400g/14oz of meat)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil or beef dripping
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 small turnips, finely chopped
  • 12 small carrots peeled and left whole
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 6 anchovy fillets preserved in oil
  • 500ml (2 cups) of red wine
  • 500ml (2 cups) of beef stock (home-made, tinned or cubed)
  • 1 bouquet garni (fresh or dried)


1. Mix together in a sealable plastic bag the flour, paprika, salt, pepper and dried thyme. Add the beef chunks, seal the bag and shake to coat. This helps to seal the beef and thicken the sauce slightly while it cooks.

2. Heat your fat of choice in an ovenproof casserole (dutch oven) or saucepan on the stove on a medium-high heat. When the fat is hot add the beef in a single layer. Do not crowd the pan. If necessary cook in several batches. You want to sear the meat to lock in flavour, not boil it!

3. Brown the meat on all sides. It should take around ten minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put aside.

4. Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook until the celery softens and the onion is translucent – 10-15 minutes. Add the cubed turnip and whole carrots, the crushed garlic and the anchovies. Don’t turn your nose up at the anchovies, they impart a delicious taste and no one will know they were even there. It’ll be our secret! Break the anchovies up with a wooden spoon, stirring until they melt.

5. Add the bouquet garni, red wine and the beef stock, bring the mixture up to a simmer; add the beef and any juices. Cover the ingredients with a damp, scrunched-up piece of greaseproof (cartouche) – which prevents the dish from drying out – add the lid and pop into a pre-heated slow oven on 140°C/120°C fan/gas mark 1 (275°F/250°F fan) and leave to gently cook for anything up to eight hours.

6. Remove from the oven, fish out the bouquet garni, stir, check the seasoning and serve with your side dish of choice. I served mine with mashed celeriac because it cooks quickly. But equally, you could use mashed or baked potatoes to mop up the delicious winey juices.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. This is a very forgiving recipe. As I said above you can use lots of different ingredients with the beef. Just think about things which go well together. You can make the dish go further with the addition of more vegetables. Anything you add to the casserole which is finely chopped tends to mush down into the sauce while large pieces of vegetables soften but remain whole. For example, I might fry pancetta lardons with finely chopped leeks rather than onions, add a packet of frozen button onions to the casserole and a handful of whole button mushrooms. Instead of whole small carrots, I might use parsnips, cut into finger-sized pieces. Or even add small whole potatoes still in their (cleaned) skins.

2. If you use a more gelatinous cut of beef say, the blade (shoulder), I would advise marinading the meat for 12 hours beforehand in the wine.

3. If you don’t use anchovies, add 1 tbsp of soy sauce or more salt. I sometimes add a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

4. You can remove the meat, whiz up the sauce with a hand-held blender and serve it as that Niçois classic daube with small meat-filled ravioli. Personally I find this too heavy but have happily served it with gnocchi or panisse, a sort of Niçois polenta but made with chick pea flour. I make these up in batches, in a square cake tin and freeze the excess.


  • 1 litre (4 cups) of water
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • ¾ tsp of sea salt
  • 285g (2¼ cups) finely ground chick pea (garbanzo) flour


1. Lightly oil a 23cm (9 inch) square cake tin and line with cling film (plastic wrap).

2. Bring the water, oil and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan. Don’t let it boil!

3. Whisk in the sieved chick pea flour and continue whisking, to avoid lumps, until it thickens – about three minutes.

4. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to stir until the mixture becomes very thick. This generally takes around ten minutes and helps you work up a bit more of an appetite.

5. Pile the mixture into the oiled and lined baking tin, smoothing the surface with a pallet knife and leave it to cool.

6. Once cold, tip out onto a chopping board and cut into servings. These can be the size of fat chips or even larger. In Nice they’re shaped a bit like flying saucers because they pour the mixture into saucers to set. They’ll keep for a week in the fridge but I generally freeze any excess for up to three months.

7. Use enough olive oil to coat the pieces and put them into a medium hot oven at 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 (400°F/350°F fan) on a shallow baking tray for 30 minutes to brown, turning them over after 15.

8. Alternatively, you can shallow fry them in a frying pan of hot olive oil until they’re crisp and nicely browned, approximately five minutes on either side. Drain on kitchen paper before serving.

9. They also make rather nice pre-dinner nibbles if cooked in bite-sized pieces and served warm, on cocktails sticks, with plenty of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

The Musette: sticky, spicy beef ribs

When my friend’s sons come to stay with me I do literally kill the fatted calf and ply them with their favourite foods but then the way to most men’s hearts, whatever their ages, is via their stomachs. Of course, the boys have high expectations because their mother is an excellent cook.

They both love beef so home-made hamburgers, côte du boeuf (roast ribs of beef), tafelspitz (Austrian boiled sirloin of beef) and lasagne Bolognese are all popular but their favourite is my sticky, spicy beef ribs adapted from a recipe for BBQ beef ribs by Michelin two-starred chef Tom Kerridge.

I live in an apartment where BBQs are forbidden, largely because of the fire risk but, while I accept that the deep smokey flavour in the original recipe is missing from these ribs, they are still finger-lickin’ delicious. The dish takes three days to prepare but each stage involves very little actual work on the part of the cook.

Ingredients (serves two teenage boys with hollow legs)

Spice rub:

  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp  ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dried origano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 x 500g (2lb total) short ribs of beef on the bone


  • 60g/7oz pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 85g/9oz jar onion relish
  • 150ml (⅔ cup) Guinness beer or similar
  • 1 tbsp hot English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 100ml (½ cup) cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar


1. Stir together all of the dry spices and herbs and rub them all over the ribs of beef. Place the beef into a large plastic bag and cover with any remaining mix. Store in the fridge overnight.

2. To make the glaze, place the chopped dates and onion relish into a bowl. Bring the beer up to the boil in a saucepan and pour it onto the dates and onions. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to cool to room temperature.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the remaining glaze ingredients.

4. When the date and onion mixture has cooled, blend the mixture until smooth and pour it into the rest of the glaze.

5. Take the ribs out of the fridge, wash off the spice rub and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place them into a large casserole dish (Dutch oven), pour over the glaze, cover with a scrunched up damp piece of greaseproof paper (cartouche) and cover with a lid or aluminium foil.

6. Put the casserole into a preheated oven at 150°C /130°C fan/gas mark 2 (300°F/275°F fan) and cook very slowly for four to five hours, or until the beef is very tender and has almost fallen off the bones. The house will smell wonderful!

7. When the beef is cooked, remove the casserole from the oven and leave to cool at room temperature. When cool, place in the fridge to chill overnight. When it’s cold the fat will have set on the top and can easily be removed. It can sit happily in the fridge for several days until you’re ready to finish the dish.

8. When you’re ready to reheat, place the lidded casserole dish back into a pre-heated oven at 120°C/100°C fan/gas mark 1 (300°F/275°F fan) and allow the ribs to warm through for two to three hours, preferably while you’re out riding.

9. Remove from the oven, if necessary, place over a low heat on the hob and slowly reduce the glaze with the beef still in the pan, basting the ribs every 10 minutes. When the glaze is reduced and coats the beef, remove them from the pan and serve with oven-baked potatoes and home-made coleslaw or whatever else takes your fancy!

Sheree’s handy hints

1. My version of this recipe differs from the original because when I first made it I didn’t have all the specified ingredients. I generally don’t tamper – well not much anyway – with recipes from Michelin-starred chefs. However the end result was truly scrummy and so I’ve continued to make them this way by popular demand of the men in my life.

2. However, I would urge you to experiment and find the combination of ingredients which best suits your tastes.

3. If you can use a BBQ, then steps eight and nine should be done on it, rather than in the oven and on the hob.

The Musette: Bosh mezze cake

A crowd coming round on a Monday night? I raided the cupboards and fridge and had all the ingredients for this recipe to hand which I followed to the letter. It was very tasty – nothing left over – but I thought it could be improved upon. So the second time I made it I did improve it, but also learnt a few important lessons!

Ingredients (feeds 8 hungry cyclists)

  • 2 large aubergines (eggplants) cut into round discs
  • 2 fat courgettes (zucchini) cut into round slices
  • 1 small jar grilled artichokes, drained
  • portion Hummus (recipe here)
  • portion Moutabal (recipe here)
  • portion Tapenade (recipe below)
  • 1 flat bread (cut to the size of the cake tin)
  • handful finely chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • portion 100g (1/2 cup) basmati rice (cooked & cooled) or portion mujadara (recipe here)
  • tomato chilli jam (recipe here)
  • portion falafel mix (recipe here)


  • 200g (4 cups) whole black olives, preferably niçoise or kalamata
  • 3 tbsp capers, well rinsed if packed in salt
  • 2 anchovies, well rinsed if packed in salt, roughly chopped
  • 1 fat clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp organic lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Method (for tapenade)

1. Remove the stones from the olives with a pitter or a sharp knife. Put in a food processor with the capers, anchovies, garlic and thyme, and whizz to a rough puree. Squeeze in the lemon juice and, with the motor still running, add the oil.

2. Alternatively, pound the garlic, anchovies, capers and thyme together in a pestle and mortar until smooth, followed by the olives, leaving these slightly more chunky, then gradually add the oil and lemon juice, pounding between pours.

3. Taste, and add pepper and more lemon juice if necessary.

Method for Mezze Cake

1. Put all the falafel ingredients into a food processor, blend to a thick paste and put to one side.

2. Cook the rice or mujadara and leave to cool.

3. With a sharp knife, cut the flat bread to the shape of your cake tin.

4. Cut the aubergine (egg plant) and courgette (zucchini) into to 1cm thick slices and griddle on both sides of each slice until they’re cooked through. I just brush them with olive oil on both sides.

5. Place the flatbread in the base of the cake tin.

6. Carefully and creatively layer each ingredient to build the cake (it’s your cake, add what you want, when you want or see video in link below for guidance! Make sure the top layer is the falafel mixture). I started as per the video with hummus dribbled with chilli jam as per photo above, then added layers of vegetables covered with tapenade and moutabal with my mudjara rice layer in-between.

7. Bake the cake at 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan) for 30 minutes until golden on top. Take the cake out of the oven and leave for 10 minutes or so before decorating with a further layer of hummus and some more griddled vegetables (I found that this step isn’t strictly necessary) before slicing and serving.

8. Serve with chopped coriander (cilantro) more chilli jam or whatever else you’d like.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Feel free to replace any of the home-made components with shop bought ones or indeed replace anything you don’t like with something you do.

2. The first time I made this in a square rather than round tin and it kept its shape so much better.

3. Remember to press all the layers together tightly before adding the falafel layer. The second time I made it I left the mixture as falafel balls. It loooked smarter, didn’t require topping with further hummus but it was a big mistake as the falafel top layer helps the cake keep its shape and makes it easier to cut.

4. As it’s a mezze cake, I generally serve it with some refreshing tabouleh which is heavy on the parsley and mint.

5. The following day, the cold left overs make a delicious wrap.