For a stronger flavor, use more pepper, or to reduce the heat, scrape the crushed peppercorns from the steak before serving. You can use any tender cut of beef.

Serves 2
2 tablespoons peppercorns
2 steaks, about 2 cm/3/4 inch thick (3/4-1 lb/375-450g total)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, more for coating
1 tablespoon butter, diced
2-3 tablespoons Cognac (optional)
½ cup/125 ml crème fraîche

1. Put the peppercorns in a plastic bag, close tightly and pound with a rolling pin until they are coarsely or more finely crushed, as you prefer. Rub the steaks with oil, using your fingers. Spread the peppercorns on a plate and cover the steaks on both sides, pressing the peppercorns well into the meat, again using your hands. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours.

2. To cook the steaks: Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan, and when starting to smoke, add the butter and put in the steaks. Fry them over medium high heat, turning them once and allowing a total of 2-3 minutes for rare meat, a minute longer for medium done. After turning, sprinkle the steaks with a little salt.

3. If you would like to flambé the steaks when they are cooked, sprinkle them with the Cognac while still in the pan. Stand well back as they may light at once but if not use a match. When the flame dies, transfer the steaks to serving plates and keep warm. For the sauce: Add the cream to the skillet and simmer 1-2 minutes, stirring with a spoon to dissolve the brown pan juices. Taste, add more salt if needed, spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve at once.


Give potato chips their second frying just before cooking the steak, which should be done at the last minute.

1. Peel the potatoes, allowing one large or two medium potatoes per person. Cut the potatoes into 1-cm/1/2-inch sticks, discarding trimmings. Soak the potatoes in a bowl of cold water for 20-30 minutes to remove starch so the potatoes will be crisp when deep fried.

2. Heat a pan of deep fat or vegetable oil to 180ºC/350ºF in a deep fat fryer with a basket. Drain the potatoes, transfer to paper towels and dry them thoroughly. Dip the empty basket in the hot fat so the potatoes do not stick. Lift out the basket, add the potatoes and carefully lower into the fat, holding onto the handle of the basket so it can be lifted quickly if the fat bubbles high.

3. Fry the chips until the potatoes are tender when tested with the point of a knife, 5-7 minutes. For extra-crisp chips, when the potatoes are starting to brown, lift them out in the basket, propping it on the handles of the pan to drain, 1-2 minutes. Lower the basket back into the hot fat for 10-20 seconds until the chips are browned to your taste, then tip them onto a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to your taste and serve at once, very hot.