I'm Sorry Grand Mère, But The Sale Anglaise Only Had Pickled Onions

Thursday 24/3/2005

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Diary and Notes



My old French grandmother, Helene (see 7/11/2005) is moaning from beyond her grave again today. She's been haunting me all night because I have been destroying her favourite recipes, and this one is even named after her. I don't think she'll ever forgive me.

It's all about ingredients you see, and the fact that I use what's available, but she just doesn't understand. She finds it hard to believe that the English only have two varieties of onions in the shops (she claims there were at least 10 in her local market when she was alive, but I think she's exagerrating) and I tried to explain to her that baby onions are only available in early autumn when the English use them for pickling (something she finds absolutely abhorent).

She's also not happy because the dish I was supposed to be cooking was entrecôte a la grand mère (rib of beef) but I - being a poor person - had to make do with whatever was in the freezer, which turned out to be some thin slices of topside I had put away for a rainy day (I hoard portions of meat like Mr. Scrooge and his pennies).

So today's dinner is a bit of a reworking of a French classic (which I actually found in my Petit Larousse de la Cuisine) and it was a mighty fine dinner I can say. As I indicated above, the baby onions that I was supposed to use to make glacé onions were not available so I used some pickled silverskin onions instead. These were really good, sweet on the outside and just a little sharpness when I bit into them - possibly better than fresh onions would have been.

Today's dinner was another tasty success and my nosh-blog becomes less of a challenge and more of a joy every day.

Cake Blog

Coffee Choux Bun - From Shaugh's Bakery. Not bad at all - stuffed to the rafters with cream, just how it should be.


  • Boeuf a la Grand Mère
  • Rosemary Crisps
  • Carrots


    Boeuf a la Grand Mère
    150g Beef (Topside\Top rump etc.)
    Splash Olive Oil
    100ml Beef Stock
    Lemon Juice
    8 Silverskin Onions
    Tbsp Sugar
    1 Rasher Bacon
    4 Mushrooms
    50ml Red Wine
    Flat Leaf Parsley
    Salt & Pepper
    Rosemary Crisps
    3 Medium Potatoes
    1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
    Olive Oil
    Salt & Pepper


  • First prepare the glacé onions. Soak the pickled silverskin onions in water for 10 minutes and give them a really good rinse (to remove excess vinegar). Place in a pan with the sugar and a little water (just enough to dissolve the sugar) then turn the heat on low and keep shaking the pan as the sugar caramelises on the onions. When they are sticky and brown, remove them from the pan and let them cool.
  • Prepare the sauce: Chop the bacon into small lardons and fry in a little oil. Add the chopped mushrooms, a squirt of lemon juice, the stock and the wine. Bubble away until it reduces to about 1/2 (a rich mushroom demi-glace).
  • The beef wants to be cooked very quickly to avoid it being chewy. Slice the beef very thinly and fry quickly in a dry pan on both sides. After about 1 min per side, add the (still hot) flavoured demi-glace and the glacé onions. It should only be cooked for a further 30 seconds or so. Season, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
  • Potatoes: Peel the potatoes and slice them very thinly. Wash to remove excess starch and lay on a roasting tin. Drizzle a little olive oil on each and a pinch of rosemary and bake, turning every now and again, until good and crispy. Season and eat while they are still crispy and hot.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for a single person