Thick steak

preparation time: 2 hours (for steak to come to room temperature)
cooking time: 12-20 minutes (depending on thickness and how you like your steak)
resting time: 6-10 minutes (depending on cooking time)

thick steak

The Ducasse slow-cook method produces what the man himself describes as “a beautifully tender steak with a richness that’s almost sweet”. Delicious as this sounds, the 1-hour preparation time nudges his steak into the category of things you’d hesitate to do for a regular weeknight dinner. Enter the Guardian’s Felicity Cloake, who combines elements of the Ducasse approach with the standard high heat approach to bring you a pretty near perfect steak you can pull off in about 20 minutes.

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Man o’ War

preparation time: 7 minutes
cooking time: none

A summery cocktail for the Kentucky Derby, lawn parties, barbeques and occasions beyond. One such occasion being the fact that this is the FIRST cocktail recipe on 54leacock… so head straight to your bar as you are reading this and shake one up to celebrate!

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Tea-leaf (marble) eggs

preparation time: 15 minutes
cooking time: at least 3 1/2 hours (1 1/2 hours active)
emergency contact: carol

tea-leaf (marble) eggs

There are few things as exciting as having a batch of tea-leaf eggs on hand, ready for duty at breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snack time. They keep well refrigerated, submerged in their cooking liquid, for a week or so. To serve from the fridge, fish out as many eggs as you desire and reheat gently on the stove with a few spoonfuls of the liquid.

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Amy’s all-purpose batter

Amy’s famous batter makes a light, loose and crispy coating for anything from eggplant and zucchini to soft-shelled crab and shrimp. Many have stood at the kitchen counter, watching her every movement, hanging on to every vague instruction and approximate measure, hoping to learn the secret; not a one has yet to succeed. Repeated pleas to commit this recipe to paper for generations to come have yielded no less than three versions with (thankfully) consistent ingredient lists but wildly varying proportions. Is this the definitive version? Probably not, but we’re getting close.

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Roasted shallot chutney

preparation time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 50 minutes
emergency contact: camille

This sweet and sour chutney, adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe, is simple to make and extremely versatile. The chutney can be served with roasted meats, fish, pasta dishes, or it can be tossed with some salad greens, cheese and toasted nuts for a light lunch. It’s also great as a sandwich condiment. What follows is more a formula than a recipe, so once you have the proportions down, you can go to town on variations. A nice late summer version swaps out the shallots for small tomatoes, the raspberry vinegar for sherry vinegar, the black mustard seeds for yellow ones, and the five-spice powder for a spoonful of herbes de Provence.

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Beef daube

preparation time: 30 minutes
cooking time: at least 2 1/2 hours
emergency contact: stéphane

The provençale contribution to the canon of beef stews. Unless you own a daubière, this recipe won’t technically produce a daube, but a Dutch oven or any other heavy ovenproof pot works just fine. This can be cooked and eaten on the same day, but is much better if it is left to cool overnight and reheated gently the next day. It’s not worth making a daube in quantities smaller than this; in fact, multiplying these quantities by 1.5 for a 6-serving pot is really much more sensible as it keeps well (and, like all stews, improves) over three or four days and can be frozen for a few months. If you’re not a fan of the texture of frozen-then-thawed carrots, just remove the carrot chunks first.

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Citrus-chile spaghetti squash

preparation time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 40 to 60 minutes (oven) or 15 to 20 minutes (microwave)
emergency contact: camille

Squash season is here! This recipe is faster and easier than the prep and cooking times suggest. Most of the hands-on work is done while the squash is cooking. When the squash comes out of the oven (or microwave), there’s nothing left to do but scrape out the strandy insides and toss them with the citrus-chile vinaigrette. You can serve this as a side, or you can beef it up to main course heartiness by adding slices of sausage, chunks of feta or cooked chickpeas.
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Breakfast banana bread

preparation time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 40-50 minutes


There is no shortage of excellent banana bread recipes out there. This one doesn’t necessarily improve on the banana bread experience, but it is a relatively healthy version that makes for a great breakfast-on-the-run option. It’s a one-bowl deal, which is good for lazy bakers. Plus, it’s crunchy (we have a few fans of crunch in the family).
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Bitter melon with beef in black bean sauce

preparation time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes
emergency contact: amy or arnold


Bitter melon is available at most Asian markets from spring through autumn. Choose melons that are firm, unblemished and 15 to 30 cm in length. Pale green melons with shallow grooves that are widely spaced are milder in flavour; deeply grooved, dark green ones are more intense (we like these).
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Tuthilltown Spirits

Hudson Rye

Tuthilltown Spirits is a small batch distiller in the Hudson Valley. Founded in 2003, it is the first producer (the first legal one, at least) of aged grain spirits in New York state since Prohibition. The distillery, nestled behind the old Tuthilltown Grist Mill (now a restaurant) in Gardiner, makes for a perfect day trip or weekend destination from New York. We enjoyed the tour, which takes visitors through the entire process from grain to whiskey, and were particularly impressed by the olfactory intensity of the fermentation room and the beauty of the copper stills. Other than a six-spigot filling apparatus, bottling is a pretty manual affair – corking, wax-sealing, inspection, and labelling are done by hand.
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