Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London


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Classic Cottage Pie

Classic Cottage Pie

Classic Cottage Pie

Sometimes when life is stressful and getting you down, you need to find food comfort. And whilst this isn’t something I really grew up eating, it’s something I cook when I, or my boyfriend, need comfort on a plate. I have no idea where I got this recipe, and I do tend to vary the quantities of the flavourings depending on my mood. But it is always a wonderful meal to dig into. I always serve it with peas, and I always have french mustard as a condiment, whilst Paul goes back to his childhood and has ketchup! He’s also been known to indulge in a Cottage Pie Sandwich too…!

KB rating 8/10. PR rating 8/10

Classic Cottage Pie (serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 675g minced beef (I tend to use 750g as that’s the standard large pack size!)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 12 drops Worcestershire sauce (I love this flavour, so feel free to add less…or more!)
  • 10 drops Tabasco (again, I like the hit and sometimes add a lot more than this)
  • Blob of marmite (my secret ingredient – it adds oomph not marmitey flavour)
  • 175ml red wine
  • 300ml beef stock
  • Black pepper
  • 1.4kg potatoes
  • 50ml milk
  • Cheddar (grated) – enough to sprinkle over the top
  • Parmesan (grated) – enough to sprinkle over the top

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, carrots and celery, stirring over a brisk heat but don’t allow the veg to burn.

After 5 mins add the garlic and soften everything together.

Increase the heat, add the mince and stir until browned.

Stir in the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, marmite, wine and stock. Season and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Boil the potatoes until soft and mash with milk.

Put the meat mixture in a gratin dish, cover with mash and then top with the mixture of cheese. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes.

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Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart

Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart

Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart

Picture the scene – a cold, rainy, wintery Sunday in the East End of London. A boyfriend sat cold and miserable in the flat. And me, sat on the sofa in my PJs flicking absentmindedly through a magazine. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spy a Waitrose recipe card that’s been sat on the coffee table for a while. And as soon as I see that, I KNOW I have to make it! Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart – it became an obsession and what a lovely way to finish the weekend! So, having sent the boyfriend out to do the weekly shop (not sure how I managed that!), I plodded over to the kitchen!

This recipe is one of the most simple pastry dishes I’ve ever made, and it is definitely going to become a staple ‘go to’ Autumn/Winter dessert. The end result is definitely Rustic, as mentioned in the title. But all the better for it! An open topped pie with a light, crumbly, hazelnutty pastry, filled with the classic combo of apples, pears, cinnamon, sugar and sultanas. No faff with making pastry lids, just fold up the sides of the pastry to form a buffer against the fruit falling out. Bosh!

KB rating 8.5/10 PR rating 8.5/10

Rustic Pear and Bramley Apple Tart (serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 225g plain flour
  • 140g butter, chilled and diced
  • 3 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 pears, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • 50g sultanas (I ended up using more)
  • 60g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or clear honey

Method:

Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the flour, butter and caster sugar and whizz until all the butter is blended well. Add the egg and whizz again to form a firm dough – if the mixture seems dry add 1 tbsp of chilled water. Shape into a ball and chill for at least 10 mins (I reckon 30 mins minimum otherwise it’s hard to roll out).

Preheat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4). In a large bowl, toss together the pears, apples, sultanas, brown sugar, cinnamon and cornflour.

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to a circle about 35cm diameter. Transfer to a baking tray (I cheated, and rolled out the dough on the baking parchment as it was very crumbly and I was nervous about the transfer)!

Spoon the fruit mixture onto the centre of the pastry, leaving a 4cm border all the way around. You can pile quite high (though I still had a bit of filling that didn’t fit into the pastry disc). Fold up the edges to form sides, and then brush the pastry with milk.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is tender and very juicy. Drizzle with the maple syrup or honey. Slice and serve warm (or at room temperature) with clotted cream or custard.

Get under a blanket, grab a brew and settle back on the sofa!


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Gammon Steaks with Creamy Parsley Sauce and Root-Veg Mash

Gammon with Creamy Parsley Sauce and Root Veg Mash, Delicious Magazine February 2010

Gammon with Creamy Parsley Sauce and Root Veg Mash, Delicious Magazine February 2010

The British weather continues to tease – going from “quite warm for this time of year”, to full on freezing, windy and grey “ooh, maybe we should put the heating on”. And it’s causing me problems – the first being that I never seem to be appropriately attired, and the second being that I’m never that sure what I want to eat. But the other day I was absolutely dead set on something – gammon. And not a posh gammon joint. I wanted gammon steaks! I really think gammon steaks are very underrated – they’re cheap, quick to cook and tasty! It’s just like a massive slice of bacon, and that can only be a good thing. I dug through some back issues of Delicious Magazine and found something that sounded perfect, Gammon Steaks with Creamy Parsley Sauce and Root-Veg Mash. It definitely hit the right spot as it was warming, cosy comfort food that was simple to cook but delicious to eat. I’d highly recommend!

KB rating 9/10. PR rating 8/10.

Gammon Steaks with Creamy Parsley Sauce and Root-Veg Mash (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 400ml whole milk
  • 6 fresh flatleaf parsley stalks, plus 1 handful leaves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 large shallot, halved
  • 1 small swede, cut into chunks
  • 500g floury potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 40g mature cheddar, finely grated
  • 30g butter, plus a knob for frying
  • 20g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 gammon steaks

Method:

In a small pan, bring 350ml of the milk, with the parsley stalks, bay leaf, peppercorns and shallot, just to the boil. Set aside for 15 minutes to infuse, then discard the solids.

Meanwhile, put the swede in a pan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then add the potato and cook for a further 15 minutes, until tender. Drain.

Mash the root vegetables with a masher. Warm the remaining milk and half the mustard in a pan on the hob, then fold into the mash with the cheese. Season and keep warm.

To finish the sauce, melt the butter in a small pan, add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Off the heat, slowly stir in the infused milk and remaining mustard until smooth. Return to the heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until thick. Add the parsley leaves and season.

Heat the oil and a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the gammon for 3 minutes on each side. Serve with the mash and sauce.


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Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Apple and Cinnamon Cake, Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes

Apple and Cinnamon Cake, Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes

I’ve had a bit of a baking flurry recently – something about the season turning from summer to autumn I think that means it’s time to have a spot of tea and cake! And I’ve been inspired by the Master – Mary Berry. Her book Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes (available here), has so many things I want to try. But one that appealed more than most was her Apple and Cinnamon Cake – I think those flavours are classic, but I was also intrigued as the cake has an apple layer running through the middle.

This cake was pretty easy to do, and the results were good. I think I’d turn the oven a bit lower next time and cook for slightly longer, as the outside was a bit too well done for my liking. But the soft apple inside keeps this cake lovely and moist. And Mary’s suggestion of serving this warm with clotted cream was spot on – God, this was good!

KB rating 8/10. PR rating 7/10.

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Ingredients:

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100g chopped walnutes
  • 100g sultanas
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 level tsp baking powder
  • 400g cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon

To finish (I didn’t actually bother with this)

  • Light muscovado sugar, for sprinkling
  • Extra chopped walnuts, for sprinkling
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin.

Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, chopped walnuts, sultanas, flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat for about 2 minutes until thoroughly blended.

Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin then spread the grated apple and ground cinnamon in an even layer on top. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over the top, level the surface and then sprinkle generously with light muscovado sugar and walnuts.

Bake for 1.25 – 1.5 hours or until the cake is well risen and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve.


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Lo-Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Another starve day, another recipe from The Fast Diet Recipe book. And the more recipes I try from this book (available to buy here), the more impressed I am. And thankfully the 5:2 diet is starting to show results now – not really on the scales, but definitely on my waist line. I found some old jeans last week that I put on in a rush that fit perfectly – and all day I actually thought they were my ‘fat’ jeans. Turns out they are the ones I bought when I lost weight last year and have been a little snug since…until now! So there you are, a little ‘win’ in the Reidbury Kitchen!

So the recipe is Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero and all I can comment on is the end taste…because, for once, I didn’t cook. The boy did! And he did so without causing himself, or anyone else, any damage which suggests that the recipe was relatively straightforward. Anyway, the taste – oooooh it was good! There’s something about meatballs that feels like a treat, and not diet food anyway. But this recipe was  full of flavour and really didn’t feel like a skinny option in any way. And I didn’t even miss the carbs – the cavolo nero was hearty enough that it worked nicely as a substitute.

I would definitely recommend using cavolo nero if you can find it (rather than another cabbagey type thing) because the texture and flavour are both quite robust and blend well with the sauce. But if you cant get it, then cabbage or kale would work OK.

I’m actually planning on doing this recipe again – even if it’s not a starve day!

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Calorie Count: 264 per person

Lo Lo Meatballs with Cavolo Nero (serves 2)

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 200g lean pork mince (or turkey mince)
  • Half a medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for spraying

For the tomato sauce:

  • Oil for spraying
  • Half a medium red onion, chopped
  • Half a garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 50g fresh tomatoes, skinned and deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 200ml water
  • Chilli flakes, to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

For the cavolo nero:

  • 200g cavolo nero, steamed
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Sea salt

Method:

Place the mince in the bowl with the onion, garlic, carrot, oregano, egg and salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into 12 small meatballs.

Spray a large pan with oil and fry over a medium heat until gently browned (around 4 mins) and set aside.

For the sauce, spray the same pan with oil and fry the onion until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes (tinned and fresh), puree, sugar and water along with the chilli flakes and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Simmer til reduced and glossy.

Add the meatballs and oregano, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with the steamed cavolo nero, dressed with a light squeeze of lemon and a scatter of flaked sea salt.


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Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping

Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping, Delicious Magazine November 2012

Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping, Delicious Magazine November 2012

The good thing about the 5:2 diet is that it’s still doable if you enjoy cooking and food. Although I’m spotting a pattern – on my non-starve days I tend to crave carbs AND cheese. And given that the weather has taken a strong autumnal turn, I’m craving comfort food too. So I went back through a few old food magazines and found Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping in the November 2012 edition of Delicious Magazine.

The recipe itself is really simple – but, as with all fish pies, there are three stages to the dish which can take a bit of time. The first stage is the mashed potato that’s flavoured with Parmesan and Cheddar. The second stage is the fish filling itself which is various fish types (I used cod, smoked cod and salmon), prawns, onions and garlic. And the final stage is the sauce which is a white sauce base but with wine, Parmesan and herbs added.

I also tried a new thing with this recipe – using a piping bag to pipe the top layer of mashed potato. Now I have no idea if I’m a particularly bad piper, but I found the use of the silicone bag I bought was almost impossible. Because the silicone stretches, I found that the nozzle kept squeezing out of the bag! Hugely frustrating and I’m still finding random bits of potato almost 24 hours later. Thankfully the Katie vs Potato battle was worth the effort – having the piping let’s the potato ‘catch’ in the oven so there’s a bit more texture.

KB rating 9/10. PR rating 8.5/10

Fish Pie with Cheesy Mash Topping (serves 6)

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 600g mixed fish fillet (eg haddock, salmon, pollock etc), skin removed and cut into 2-3cm cubes
  • 200g peeled, raw king prawns

For the sauce:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 350ml whole milk
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • Handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Handful of dill, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half

For the cheesy mash topping:

  • 1.2kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 50g unsalted butter, plus extra to bake
  • 120ml milk, plus extra if needed
  • 25g grated Parmesan
  • 50g mature cheddar, grated

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas mark 4. For the mash, put the potatoes into a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and pour over cold salted water to cover. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes until soft. Drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, milk, parmesan and half the cheddar. Mash thoroughly until smooth and creamy. Taste and season. Add a little more milk if you like your mash really smooth and creamy. Set aside and allow to cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes to soften. Add the fish and prawns to the pan along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Fish Pie serving

For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. When melted, add the flour and whisk to combine, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk and continue whisking to form a smooth paste. Add the wine, whisking well, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes or so until thickened. Stir in the parsley, dill, parmesan and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season. Pour the sauce over the fish and stir to coat thoroughly.

Fill a large, deep, ovenproof 2 litre pie dish with the filling. Put most of the mash into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5-2cm star nozzle, then spread the remaining mash over the fish in a thin layer to create a lid. Pipe potato stars over the entire pie top (and, in my case, over the counter, yourself and loved ones). Alternatively cover the whole pie in the mash and fluff up the top with a fork. Dot the top of the pie with a few knobs of butter and the remaining cheddar.

Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until crisp and golden brown. If you wish, put the pie under a hot grill to get the top really crisp and crunchy. Serve with something green – watercress or, in my case, peas!