How about "dough well done with cow to cover", a bowl of "birdseed" or "put the lights out and cry"? Baffled? That's the slang used in American diners for buttered toast, cereal and liver and onions.

The colourful lingo and decor of diners, with its affordable, delicious food is celebrated by Jennifer Joyce in her new book Diner.

She says: "The British have fish and chip shops, the French bistros, and the Americans diners" and describes it as "pure comfort food." Here's a recipe.


Serves 4-6

Ingredients: 1kg braising steak, cut into 4cm chunks

1 bottle of beer

4 ancho chillies, stemmed and deseeded

6tbsp olive oil

2 large onions roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 400g tins whole, peeled plum tomatoes

75ml cider vinegar

60g brown sugar

1tbsp Spanish paprika (preferably pimenton)

1tbsp mild chilli powder

3tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

400g tin kidney, borlotti or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the beef in a medium bowl, pour the beer over and leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid and pat the beef dry with kitchen paper.

Toast the chillies for 30 seconds in a dry saute pan then pour boiling water over and soak for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and put in a food processor with the beer. Puree until fine and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the meat and sear in batches until evenly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining olive oil and saute the onions and garlic for five minutes. Put the meat back in the pan and pour the chilli mixture over.

Puree the tomatoes in the food processor and add to the pan. Add the cider vinegar, brown sugar, paprika, chilli powder and cumin and season.

Cook partially covered with a lid, for one hour over low heat or until the meat is very tender. Add the beans in the last five minutes of cooking to warm through. Serve in small bowls with a choice of accompaniments: cooked rice, chopped red onion, coriander crackers.