After my mother died, my father needed to fill the yawning chasm of the day that lay ahead. He often started to cook dinner as early as 6.00am. I usually woke to the smell of sauteeing garlic, onions and tomatoes and Baba stirring a big pot, perhaps Greek bean soup or braised osso bucco. A favourite was stifado, a beef stew with baby onions.

The recipe below is not how Baba would have made it. He was a plain cook and not one for marinades or fancy spices. In his version, he would have used brown onions and chucked everything in the pot, leaving out the cinnamon and allspice berries.

Kali orexi (bon appétit).

1kg beef (oyster blade) or similar
750g eschalots or small brown onions
700g bottle of tomato passata
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon allspice berries
250 ml red wine
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Cut the beef into chunks and place in a bowl with all the marinade ingredients. Cover and put in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Remove the meat from the bowl, reserving the marinade. Heat the oil and brown the beef (in batches if necessary). Peel the shallots and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the reserved marinade, passata and tomato paste. Season to taste, cover and cook over a low heat for 2 hours, or until the sauce has thickened and the beef is tender. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves. You can serve the stifado with mash, steamed rice or soft polenta.