Friday, 19 August 2011

Giles' featherblade stew

So here we are in Sussex. I am not especially touched by the number of you telling me to merrily enjoy my holiday and not to bother posting. So I might write a hugely long and boring thing (what's new?) to punish you all.

If only because I know next-eldest sister subscribes to this via email and what with three children under 5 I know she's got nothing better to do than read my old cack for 2,000 words.

Here she is:

(That's Kitty, rather than one of hers. Although hers are sweet, you should see them. You know next-eldest sister from previous posts such as "Ginger Cake" and "Aunty Hannah's Courgette Thing". Adrian Gill once talked to me for an entire starter course about how "pretty" her nose is. This is not the first time that's happened to me. So I think that's all you need to know about her.)

Kitty is entirely recovered, you'll be relieved to know. I paid a private GP £8,000 to come to my house and tell me that she needed antibiotics, because no NHS doctor in a million years will tell you anything needs antibiotics even if it is livid with bacteria. Anyway Dr Abelman gave me some amoxycillin without batting an eyelid and Kitty was on the mend within hours.

(And he ALSO, as those of you who follow me on Twitter will know, gave me painkiller suppositories for Kitty. A lifeline with an infant throat infection, which menas they won't swallow the wretched fucking Calpol. He gave me some Nurofen ones he found in Tel Aviv but I went straight out and bought 2 packs of paracetamol ones at £18 a throw. I would now launch into a very long thing about how completely insane it is that infant painkillers aren't available in suppository form wider and more cheaply in this country, but I fear I would bore you. Further. And also elicit awful tedious jokes about suppositories and the French, which I don't want to hear. I no longer think suppositories are remotely funny.)

Sussex is very nice. I chose the house on the basis that it has WiFi and a tumble drier. The only downer is that I think the woman who owns it used to interrogate people for the Stasi because the lighting concept is absolutely fucking terrible! 100 watt horrors shining right in your eyes or hideous energy savers. Brrr. 

The house is also close to Cowdray Park Farm shop, which is like Waitrose with only the top 5% of the poshest things available and you can buy things like REN skincare and really delicious takeaway quiche for £5. But in all seriousness, the butcher there is first-rate and my husband is practically hysterical with relief because although he claims to be all folksy and down to earth he is terrified of the dark English countryside where there is only a Spar and local boys tear around on dirt bikes. 

The weather has turned slightly and it is very sunny but really quite cold. My packing has let me down a bit,  although I have learned from past mistakes and now abide by these packing rules:

1 Do not pack things you never wear at home because you think you might wear them because you're away. You're away but you're still YOU.
2 Do not pack your shittiest clothes because you're away and so it doesn't matter
3 Allow for one very cold day
4 Allow for one very hot day
5 Allow for one very wet day
6 Pack your entire medicine cabinet
7 and the iPad

I did all that but I didn't quite pack enough warm clothes. I'm not one of those people who always anticipates being freezing and packs fleeces and UGG boots because I am not a sticky fashion person who is always cold because they are so THIN living as they do off handfuls of bombay mix and miso paste. But now I do miss my UGG boots. (Although they are not UGG boots, they are called Celt Boots and they are the most marvellous rip off and available here: I also miss my Crocs. Why didn't I bring them. I fucking love my Crocs. I won't hear a word against them.

Where was I? Oh yes, the butcher at Cowdray Park. The other day, in the third hour of some pretty heroic childcare, my husband made, while Kitty crashed around the kitchen in her walker, a stew from some featherblade, which is a kind of steak cut from the shoulder. I think. I'm never quite sure about cuts. Anyway the butcher said to cook it for 4 hours, which is the kind of instruction we like in this family, so that's what we did.

And it was terrific and very simple.

Giles's featherblade stew
for 2

2 featherblade steaks
1 medium white onion, quartered (which is just a normal onion, rather than a shallot or whatever)
1 carrot, halved
1 fennel bulb, quartered (leave this out if you don't like fennel)
1 kohlrabi, quartered (this tastes like turnip)
1 large strip of orange peel
1 strip of lemon peel
3 bay leaves
5 peppercorns
1 stick of rosemary
some stock - about 150ml
1 glass red wine

Preheat the oven to 150

1 Brown off the steaks in some veg oil for about 5 minutes until brown all over

2 Put in a pot with a lid with all the other ingredients

3 Cook in the oven for 4 hours with the lid on


  1. Your recipes always make my mouth water. Love stew but since it's 90 F. in LA today, I will have to wait a month or two before trying your recipe.

    And, I'm sure you've heard it said before but Kitty is one gorgeous baby. Glad she is well.


  2. That child has the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen! Warn Giles, Miss Kitty is going to be a heartbreaker. Oh, and the recipe sounds good too. Do you put pictures of Kitty on your blog to distract us from the recipes?

  3. I loved the blog. And the pic of Kitty on Giles' back. Hope you're having a nice holiday, and glad to hear Kitty's better. xx

  4. I am so with you on the MF antibiotics issue Drs seem to have. Just give me the amoxy. Now. Great post. We are off to Sussex soon. I will be packing my laptop and checking for Wifi too. x

  5. I cannot believe you wear crocs!! Kitty is gorge though. xx

  6. Nothing wrong with Crocs, especially if you have a dodgy back and/or knees - they cushion your joints from shock.

    So pleased to know that Kitty has fully recovered.

    I'm surprised that the steak has to cook for that long, usually it is a very tender cut.

  7. what's your twitter name??

  8. Are you watching Great British Bake Off? I've already decided who I want to see cry when they get booted off.

  9. Having seen that Good Life thingy that he did with Sue Perkins, I don't really know how he can claim to be folksy!

    But the stew looks good and your sister has a very pretty nose.

  10. Yes! I am wearing my Crocs right now! I started because of a tendon injury that made wearing shoes awful, but now they're just too damn comfortable. I wear them all the time unless it's raining, even in winter with socks. And I don't care that people laugh at me, I forget about what my feet look like because they're toasty and happy and not sore. I even wore them in the sea yesterday :D

    Lovely stew, can't wait for winter!

  11. I'm with you on the packing thing. But every year I go to Cornwall and every year I regret not taking my Uggs. This year I got it badly wrong though and took only one 'nice' dress, only to find that my younger, thinner, friend took the same dress (and she got it after I got mine, which makes her an utter bitch, even though I love her dearly) so I ended up having to wear jeans with a fancy top every bloody evening.
    So next year I'll make sure to pack two dresses (and my Uggs).

    Am thrilled as have come back from a fortnight away to find 3 new things to read! Beats XFactor for Saturday night entertainment for sure!