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Emma  loves cooking with the cheaper cuts of meat.  Her favourite is Jacob’s ladder or beef short ribs, known as plat de côtes de boeuf in France. Using cheaper cuts allow us a little decadence with other ingredients and we are in the middle of the Black Truffle season, also known as the Périgord truffle. Do not be put off by the €800+/kilo price tag at the market. A 12g truffle will cost you as little as 10€, enough for mash potato or rice for 8 people. At €1.25 per person it is very little money and changes a simple dish into a real treat for your palate.

Braised short ribs

Serves 4

2 tbs Vegetable oil

4 Short ribs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Large onion, finely chopped

2 Carrots, sliced

3 Sticks of celery, sliced

3 Garlic cloves, thickly sliced

Bottle of a good red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)

4 Thyme sprigs

Approx 300ml beef stock (a beef stock cube and water is fine)

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet or frying pan. Season the ribs with salt, add to the pan. Cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and crusty, about 15 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a shallow baking dish in a single layer.

Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add the wine and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour the hot marinade over the ribs and let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning the ribs once.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C). Transfer the ribs and marinade to a large casserole dish. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and cook in the lower third of the oven for 1½ hours, until the meat is tender but not falling apart. Uncover and braise for 45 minutes longer, turning the ribs once or twice, until the sauce is reduced by about half, and the meat is very tender.

Transfer the meat to a clean shallow baking dish. Strain the sauce into a heatproof container and skim as much fat off the top as is possible. Pour the sauce over the meat; there should be about 2 cups, and serve.

Restauranty Truffled Mash Potatoes

Serves 4

Maris Piper Potatoes*, approx 400-500g

Approx 150g double cream

Approx 75g salted butter

6g Fresh black truffle

Salt and pepper

Peel and cook the potatoes in boiling salted water and drain well.

For the best result: while still warm, chop and crush the potatoes through a potato ricer.

Now for the chefy bit! In a separate pan heat the cream and butter until the butter has melted and add enough of the warm liquid to the warm crushed potato, until you have your desired consistency.

Check the seasoning and transfer to a serving bowl.

Finely grate two-thirds of the fresh truffle onto the mash and mix well.

Grate the remaining third over the mash as a garnish and serve.

*Maris Piper potatoes are known as Safrane in France. The bag with the picture of mash is Maris Piper.


Black is the new Black

John explains how the on-going popularity of Argentinean Malbec has re-invigorated Cahors, the winemaking and birthplace of Malbec.

Many of Cahors vignerons are making a modern style Malbec that is fruit driven, clean and un-oaked, alongside their traditional oaked, big black fruit wines with sweet woody tanninsSome have turned to the past and are ageing the wines in large terracotta jars (also “un-Frenchly”), putting the varietal name Malbec on the wine label. These new “Black wines” go perfectly with slow cooked red meat and stews so are super for the colder months. Here are my favourites.

A must visit are the legendary neighbouring vineyards of Chateau de Cedre, and Clos Triguedina, Many vintages of big, traditional Cahors wine can be sampled. A perfect marriage of sweet fruit and tobacco oak, alongside modern innovated new French Malbecs, whites and rosés.

Clos Troteligotte,, produce six innovative reds, two whites and a rosé. My gourmet delight, Cuveé K-lys, is a deep garnet colour with powerful notes of cocoa and vanilla, a hint of wood, elderberry, sloe and prunes, finishing with a punchy Espelette pepper note.

Chateau Famey,, offers a full range of traditional and modern reds, whites and rosés. From their Signature Cuvée range I loved Cuvée S. Juicy; intense, dark cherry, crushed strawberry and plums with fresh black fruits and a wonderful fresh finish.

Bonne santé.

Emma and John have been in catering and hospitality for 30 years. Working with great chefs in some of the best restaurants, Emma is passionate about seasonal, fresh food and has a gutsy approach to enhancing simple flavours. John is a former UK Sommelier of the Year and winner of the Mondavi award for the best wine list in the world. He is an enthusiast for the little wine producers and seeks out unknown gems. Prior to acquiring Les Caulins, they ran their own restaurant, winning awards such as 50 best destination restaurants in the UK, Wine Pub of the year, British Cheeseboard of the Year, and Buckingham’s Best Restaurant for eight years.

Mulled wine

Emma and John Gilchrist

First published in the January/February 2019 issue of The Local Buzz