Reidbury's Kitchen

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


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Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper and Rosemary Crust and Guinness Onions

Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper & Rosemary Crust, Delicious Magazine January 2014

Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper & Rosemary Crust, Delicious Magazine January 2014

The other Sunday I wanted to do a proper roast dinner, and I tend to play it safe and do a roast chicken. I’d like to think that’s a speciality of mine. But I read this recipe in the January 2014 edition of Delicious Magazine for Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper and Rosemary Crust and Guinness Onions. The fact it was slow-roasted appealed to me and I thought that, despite this being quite a large cut of meat for 2 people, topside is quite a lean joint and it’d do for leftovers. Which it did! Brilliant on sandwiches, and brilliant as leftovers with the leftover Dauphinoise potatoes I made.

The beef itself was fantastic – probably the best beef dish I’ve ever cooked. And I will definitely be cooking the beef again. I bought a meat thermometer recently, and highly recommend getting one if you want to avoid the gamble of when to take the joint out of the oven. I also bought an oven thermometer (given an unfortunate incident with slow roast pulled pork that got incinerated – turns out the oven in this new house runs 30 degrees hotter than it says!). The reason I mention both of these things is not to show off. But to prove to you that I cooked everything to the right temperature. So you can imagine my disappointment that the onions were raw and practically inedible. I seriously cannot get my head around how they can possible cook and go ‘sticky’ as the recipe suggests at such a low, slow cooking temperature. And you can’t really turn the oven up, otherwise the beef will not cook correctly.

My advice – cook this beef immediately, but don’t bother with the onions if you’re going to follow the recipe verbatim below. I’m trying to think of way of perhaps pre-sauteeing the onions to send them on their way, before putting them under the beef joint and getting the lovely cooking juices to add to the Guinness and making a gravy.

Finally, we like our beef rare – hence the pinkness in the picture! But apparently topside is best served rare to medium-rare, and slow cooking will always keep it pink. Just a pointer, in case you like your meat well done (in which case, I am judging you)!

KB rating 9.5/10 PR rating 9.5/10 (based on the beef which is SO good, and not the onions)

 

Slow-Roast Beef with a Pepper & Rosemary Crust and Guinness Onions (serves 10)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg rolled British topside beef joint
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 4-6 red onions, cut into wedges (see comments above re: onions!)
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400ml Guinness
  • 300ml beef stock, hot

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Season the beef and rub it with oil, then put it in a roasting tin and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pound the pepper, salt, rosemary and olive oil in a pestle and mortar to a coarse paste.

Remove the beef from the tin, then coat it with the paste. Turn the oven down to 100C/80C fan/gas ¼. Put the onions, mushrooms, garlic cloves and bay leaves in a tin, then put the beef joint on a roasting rack on top. Pour the Guinness and half the stock into the tin, then return to the oven and cook for 1.5-2 hours, adding more stock if the vegetables look like they’re drying out (see above comments – the Guinness didn’t even heat up let alone evaporate! But I’m leaving this recipe exactly as listed so you can make your own choices, or in case I messed up somehow)!

Portion Slow-Roast BeefOnce the beef is cooked to your liking (a thermometer pushed into the middle should read around 55C for rare, 65C for medium), remove from the oven, transfer to a board and rest somewhere warm for 30 minutes wrapped loosely in foil. Strain the onion mixture from the tin. Keep the onions warm and pour the juices into a saucepan.

Heat the juices until bubbling. If you want more gravy, add the rest of the stock along with more Guinness if you fancy. Slice the meat thinly, then serve with the onions and a splash of gravy.


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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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Beef and Wild Mushroom Lasagne

Beef and Wild Mushroom Lasagne, Rachel Allen

Beef and Wild Mushroom Lasagne, Rachel Allen

I’m quite embarrassed to say that I’ve never cooked a lasagne before. I think it’s because I didn’t eat beef for a while and it just didn’t crop up on my radar. So, I wanted to redress the situation and I saw a lovely-sounding recipe in Rachel Allen’s book, Entertaining at Home for Beef and Wild Mushroom Lasagne. I don’t really like messing with a classic dish, but this combination of lasagne layers really appealed to me. It’s still quite traditional, with a great, meaty-tasting beef ragu. But it also has an additional layer in the middle of wild mushrooms in some béchamel sauce and it has a bacon layer. A BACON LAYER! And everything tastes better with bacon. Fact.

It’s not a dish that’s easy to rustle up mid week – in fact I felt like I spent all day Sunday in the kitchen – but I do think I would be able to make this much quicker next time around now I know what I’m doing. The one thing that took way longer than the recipe stated, and got my anger levels soaring, was the béchamel sauce. I wholly disagree with the delightful Rachel Allen here… she suggests boiling the milk and then adding the roux that you’ve made separately and whisking it in. This method did not work for me – it took over three times as much roux to get the bloody thing to thicken and I found it really hard to properly whisk it into the milk. By the time the sauce thickened, it had reduced further than I’d have liked, so I felt a bit stingy with the top layer on the lasagne!  When I make this again I will stick with the traditional way of making the sauce – making a roux first, and then slowly whisking in the milk. And my only other comment would be to keep it in the oven a bit longer, perhaps at a lower temperature, to make sure the pasta sheets are soft. These were, in part, al dente! I actually quite like that, but guess it’s not to everyone’s taste

Anyway, that said, the whole thing came together well at the end and it’s an absolute whopper of a lasagne. I’ll be happily eating this for weeks!

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 8.5/10.

Beef and Wild Mushroom Lasagne (serves an army. More specifically 8-10 people)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 800g minced beef
  • 150ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 400g mixed wild mushrooms, sliced (eg. enoki, chanterelles, ceps, shiitake, oyster…but good old button mushrooms would be a good backup if you can’t get more interesting ones)
  • 250g streaky bacon (about 12 rashers), cut into 2cm dice
  • 500g no-soak lasagne sheets (approx 30 sheets)
  • 25g Gruyere, grated
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel sauce

  • 1.2 litres (2 pints) milk
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf or 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 2-3 tbsp roux (made with 1.5 tbsp butter and 1.5 tbsp plain flour)
  • 225g Gruyere, grated
  • 2-3 tsp Dijon mustard

Lasagne or ovenproof dish about 30 x 25 x 5cm

Method

Pour the oil into a large saucepan on a medium heat, add the onions and cook for 5-8 minutes until softened but not browned. Then add in the beef, red wine and rosemary, cooking for a further 5 minutes. Stir occasionally until the meat starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Rinse the tomato tin with a little water and add to the tomatoes. Continue to cook on a medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened slightly.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan on a high heat and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 7-10 minutes, tossing regularly. When the mushrooms are cooked and turning golden, check the seasoning, then remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same frying pan still on a high heat, add a little oil and add the bacon. Fry until golden and crisp (note that the bacon will crisp up further as it cools). Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F or Gas mark 6), then make the béchamel sauce.

Pour the milk into another large saucepan, add the carrots and bay leaf or onion and place on a low heat to bring slowly up to the boil. Allow to gently simmer for 3-4 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse, then remove and discard the carrot and bay leaf or onion. Next bring the milk to the boil and whisk in the roux. Continue whisking for a minute or two (allegedly…see note above about this), whilst the mixture gently boils. The sauce should be thick but pourable.

Remove from the heat and, while the mixture is still hot, stir in the Gruyere and mustard, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place a quarter of the sauce in a bowl (this will be the lasagne topping), and stir the mushrooms into the remaining sauce.

To assemble your lasagne:

  1. Spread a little béchamel over the base of the dish to stop your pasta sticking to it
  2. Arrange a layer of lasagne sheets (approx 5 used per layer, but this depends on the size of your sheet and the size of your dish)
  3. Place half the bacon on top of the pasta sheets
  4. Add half of the meat on top of the bacon
  5. Add another layer of lasagne sheets
  6. Pour over all the mushroom mixture
  7. Add another layer of lasagne sheets
  8. Sprinkle over the rest of the bacon
  9. And then add the rest of the meat
  10. Top with another layer of lasagne sheets
  11. Add the remaining quarter of the béchamel sauce (make sure you don’t leave any pasta sheets uncovered here, otherwise they’ll go dry and hard)
  12. Scatter over the Gruyere and Parmesan cheese

Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling and the pasta is cooked. Buon appetito!


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Another Sofa Supper – Italian Meatball Melts

Italian Meatball Melts, Olive Magazine (Olive Magazine, April 2013)

Italian Meatball Melts,  (Olive Magazine, April 2013)

Yesterday Paul and I did our massive monthly food shop and, being a Project Manager, I tend to go about this trip like a military operation! I read through all my magazines and recipe books, coming up with a list of dishes to try that month. I then write out my shopping list. And then I write my list out again so it’s in aisle order…Paul tends to despair. Actually, I’d say that 90% of our arguments (and we don’t have many) take place within the four walls of a supermarket. It just powerfully highlights the differences between us – I turn into some kind of super-organised maniac, Paul runs off and hides by the biscuits.

Anyway, as I was flicking through this month’s Olive Magazine (April 2013) Paul happened to spot a recipe called Italian Meatball Melts and pretty much demanded we have it. Given we were having a relaxed weekend and watching the 6 Nations at home I thought it’d be a good Saturday Night Sofa Supper. It’s not something I would’ve chosen, but sometimes those are the best things to cook. Anyway, it was a great success. My only two complaints with the recipe were:

1. It said it’d take 30 minutes, but it took longer

2. There is no kitchen task more miserable than grating an onion

Having said that though, the recipe was well worth the effort and I served it with homemade potato wedges.

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 9/10 (apparently if I’d given him 2 melts then this would’ve been a 10…)

Italian Meatball Melts (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 300g total of minced beef & minced pork (using the two meats really does make the meatballs juicier)
  • Half a small onion, grated
  • Half a clove of garlic, crushed (the other half gets used in the sauce. See below)
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil, plus leaves to serve
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, halved and toasted
  • 2 handfuls rocket (or similar salad leaves) to serve

For the tomato sauce:

  • Half a clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 200g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method

Put the first five ingredients into a bowl. Season really heavily and mix together with your hands. Form into 8 meatballs. Fry in a large pan until browned all over.

To make the sauce, sizzle the sliced garlic in a little olive oil and then top in the chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes and sugar. Simmer until thickened.

Stir the meatballs into the sauce with the chopped basil and simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve, pile rocket and meatballs onto the ciabatta bottoms and top with a layer of grated mozzarella. Flash under a grill to melt the cheese then add a few more basil leaves, put the tops on and serve.


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Date Steak – Nigella’s Name, Not Mine!

Date Steak

Date Steak

I’m not going to lie – there’s going to be a LOT of posts about Nigella on this blog. But especially since I picked her Kitchen book back up recently to find the recipe for the Coffee and Walnut Cake I write about here. I forgot just how many recipes I want to try in that book, so I’m slowly working my way through a shortlist. Last week I made Date Steak again – I first cooked this last year, but completely forgot about it and how much Paul and I enjoyed eating it! It’s a really simple, tasty way of cooking steak and it always hits the spot. It’s a bit like a BBQ sauce, but that probably doesn’t do it justice! Regardless, carnivores will like this – Katie Promise!

KB rating 9/10. PR rating 8.5/10.

Date Steak (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (or sun-dried tomato paste)
  • 1 tbsp garlic oil
  • 2 sirloin steaks (approx 300g each)

Method

Put the sugar, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, redcurrant jelly, ginger and tomato puree into a small pan and whisk together over a gentle heat.

Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 mins until the sauce has thickened slightly. Take off the heat and set aside while you cook the steaks.

Either fry or griddle the steaks. I griddle, so rub the meat with oil before placing on a smoking hot griddle pan (if you’re frying, add the oil to a heavy-based pan and heat up, before adding the steak).

Cook the steaks for about 3 mins a side if you like your meat warmed through, but still rare. Obviously the exact time depends on the thickness of the steak and how cooked you like your steak – so use your brain and a finger to prod at the steak to check ‘cooked-throughness’ (this is a technical term).

Take the steaks off the heat and double wrap in foil. Let them rest for 5 mins.

Open the foil and add the juices that will have collected in the foil to the sauce. Whisk through to mix.

Put the steaks on two warmed plates, topping with the sauce.

I served with a jacket potato and green beans, but this steak and sauce will work with practically anything.


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Surf and Turf…And A Cake

A few recipes to include today, given my lack of blog updates for a while! First up, two steak dishes to compare.

The first steak recipe we cooked was Steak with Chimichurri from Olive Magazine, June 2011 (p.3 of the BBQ section). It’s a pretty straightforward recipe that works as well on a griddle pan as it would on a BBQ. Cook the steak for 2 minutes a side on a searing hot pan (with just a little olive oil rubbed over) and serve with the Chimichurri which incudes paprika, cumin, garlic, red onion, red wine vinegar and some coriander. All emulsified with olive oil. I did enjoy this dish but felt the chimichurri was a little powdery due to the cumin and paprika. I’d be interested in researching other chimichurri recipes to see if I can improve on this a little. But the sauce works really well with the steak and I served with home made wedges. KB rating 8/10. PR rating 8/10

Steak with Chimichurri. Olive Magazine, June 2011

The next steak recipe was the simply titled Spicy Fillet Steaks from Delicious Magazine, September 2011 (p.88). I don’t often eat fillet steak, preferring the flavour of rump, but decided to stick to the recipe and pushed the boat out on fillets! Again, the steak is cooked simply on a searing hot griddle pan (2 mins a side) and then left to rest for 10 minutes. During this 10 mins you create the sauce by using the same pan as you cooked the steaks and adding garlic, fennel seeds, sun-dried tomato paste and chilli. To turn these flavours into a sauce you add some balsamic vinegar, red wine and beef stock and allow to reduce. By this time your steaks have rested and you can add in their juices to the sauce. The recipe suggests serving with rocket – I’m still not keen on this, so I went for the old faithful. Yep, home made potato wedges! (Worth noting there was a gap of a couple of weeks between cooking these two recipes!). Somehow that sauce is greater than the sum of its parts – very fiery and rich and works amazingly well with the steak. I can see why fillet works well here as you get the texture of the cut, but the sauce packs in the flavour that is often lacking with fillet steak. Amazing, and one for the repertoire. KB rating 9/10. PR rating 9/10

Spicy Fillet Steaks. Delicious Magazine, September 2011

Up next was a recipe that Paul cooked for us, Spicy Chorizo Potatoes with Fried Eggs from the p.32 of the ‘£5 Supper for Two’ supplement with Olive Magazine, September 2011. The recipe only had 7 ingredients but it worked really well. Simply cook some potatoes in boiling water and drain, then fry in oil until golden. Remove from pan and add some onion and green chilli, before adding chorizo and paprika. Once cooked, add the potatoes back into the pan and serve with a fried egg on top. Great comfort food, stuff you’d often have in your fridge and very tasty. Nom nom nom. KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 8/10.

Spicy Chorizo Potatoes with Fried Eggs, Olive Magazine Supplement, September 2011

Another recipe Paul cooked recently was Linguine with Garlic, Prawns & Spinach from Gino D’Acampo’s ‘The Italian Diet’ (p. 104). A nice pasta supper with fresh flavours (lemon, parsley and cherry tomatoes) in addition to the ingredients in the recipe title. Very enjoyable but I found it strange that the recipe only used the zest from the lemon and no juice – think I’d add a bit of juice next time and increase the amount of spinach to give this recipe a bit more oomph! The prawns, however, were really juicy and full of flavour and were definitely the highlight. KB rating 7/10. PR rating 7/10.

Linguine with Garlic, Prawns and Spinach. Gino d'Acampo, 'The Italian Diet'

I cooked another recipe from Gino D’Acampo’s ‘The Italian Diet’ book recently too – Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce (p.150). You can’t beat butter, lemon and chicken as a flavour combination (my own roast chicken uses lots of butter and lemon – surprise, surprise, it’s Nigella who inspired me!) and it works really nicely in this recipe. Unfortunately I had a slight issue when making this dish – the first stage is to coat thin pieces of chicken in seasoned flour and fry in a pan before removing and keeping warm. You then proceed to make the sauce in the same pan by deglazing with some lemon juice and stock, and adding parsely and butter to create a creamy texture. However, the floured chicken was catching on the pan so there was a slightly burnt layer over the pan that, when I deglazed, made the sauce really, really bitter and burnt tasting. I tried to sieve but to no avail! So I effectively had to make a sauce from scratch which meant the chickeny bits from the pan that add so much flavour were lost. Boo! I’ll make this again but with a more careful eye! KB rating 7/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce. Gino d'Acampo, 'The Italian Diet'

Given I’ve been feeling unwell over the last week I decided to cook two things with a view to making me feel better! So first up was a simple soup – Summer Veg-Box Soup from Olive Magazine, June 2011 (p.44). Dead easy to make – fry spring onions and courgettes in oil (I upgraded to garlic oil to add further flavour). Add some orzo pasta before adding frozen peas, frozen broad beans and veg stock and allow the whole thing to bubble away. I got a bit carried away with adding extra orzo, so it turned out being less liquidy than it should, but that’s what I was after anyway. Serve in a mug with warm bread and I instantly started to feel better. Yum. KB rating 8/10.

Summer Veg-Box Soup. Olive Magazine, June 2011

And finally, what else can cheer you up when you’re feeling grotty? Tea and cake. It’s a winner, so I decided to make a Victoria Sponge from 101 Teatime Treats (p.10). I hadn’t made one before, but now I am the proud owner of 2 cake tins I felt it was time. I had a slight worry when the oven started to smell like scrambled eggs, but turns out I was being paranoid and the end result was very good indeed given it was my first attempt. Buttercream and strawberry jam, with a mug of tea, completed the treat. KB rating 8/10. PR rating 8.5/10

Victoria Sponge. 101 Teatime Treats