Reidbury's Kitchen

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

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Thai Chicken with Basil and Chillies – Old School Style!

Thai Chicken with Basil & Chillies

Thai Chicken with Basil & Chillies

Whilst I was at home over Easter I had my obligatory hour or so looking at all of Momma Bury’s cookbooks. She’s got hundreds and whilst my Dad might not fully understand why she keeps ‘needing’ to acquire more, I can’t help but agree with her! Cookbooks sit on the shelf, full of possibility, and sometimes they are like little historical artefacts that take you back in time and remind you of your previous food phases. And as I was flicking through the bookshelves  I saw a book that took me right back to my youth – it’s a dated looking book called Home from Work Suppers by Sara Buenfield and if you want to see the retro cover it’s available here. I remember my Mum re-finding her love of cooking and I’m sure it was around the time she bought this book. There’s actually some lovely recipes in there, but the one I remember being a favourite when I was around 15 was Thai Chicken with Basil and Chillies. It was slightly ahead of it’s time – nowadays there’s huge volumes dedicated to every type of Asian cuisine, but this recipe still had to describe what fish sauce is, and how to substitute it if you can’t get hold of it. Now I LOVE Thai food, and so does Paul, so I wanted to see if this recipe would live up to my memory, especially given the ingredients that are now so prevalent in even the smallest of supermarkets (galangal, palm sugar and the like). 

Now, whilst I wouldn’t say this recipe is the best to try if you want to turn your hand to an authentic Thai stirfry, it is a really tasty stirfry that’s quick to make and easy to eat. And it’s one that I’ll cook again. Paul liked it which was important, but I loved it as it took me right back to the kitchen in Bolton where I’d help Mum with the preparation and Dad would dig out the wok!

KB rating 8.75/10. PR rating 8.25/10. (He said it would’ve been higher if I’d added more chilli)

Thai Chicken with Basil and Chillies (serves 2)


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 fresh green chillies (I used 2, and whilst it might have been the strength of my particular chillies, I felt it needed a bigger heat kick)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 90g sugar snap peas or mangetouts
  • 4 spring onions
  • 7g fresh basil
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar


First prepare all the ingredients, as there’s not much cooking time. Slice the chicken into bite-sized strips. Chop the garlic, seed and finely chop the chillies and roughly chop the red pepper. Top and tail the sugar snaps or mangetouts. Chop the spring onion at a slight angle to make fine shreds. Shred the basil.

Mix the cornflour with the fish sauce until smooth.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat until very hot and then toss in the chicken, garlic, chillies and stir fry for 2 minutes until the chicken changes colour.

Add the red pepper, sugarsnaps/mangetouts, spring onions, ground coriander and sugar and stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Stir the cornflour mixture before pouring over the chicken and vegetables, stirring constantly until the juices thicken.

Throw in the basil and remove from the heat. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

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Jerk Chicken with Rice & Peas

I’m not sure why, but I always get some smug satisfaction when I have meat that’s marinating in the fridge. Something to do with me being organised enough to have prepared something a whole 24 hours before I plan on cooking it! One of my favourite marinaded meals is Jerk Chicken. Now, I have no idea how authentic this recipe is and can’t remember where I found it, but apparently the history of this dish is very varied and there’s a lot of flexibility on the exact spice blend anyway. But it is said there’s one rule for Jerk seasoning – don’t skimp on spices, even if you choose to reduce the heat. In my world, anything that tastes and smells as good as this is a winner!

And whilst you don’t have to marinate overnight, you should definitely marinate for 4 hours minimum.

Serve with Rice and Peas and add a little sunshine to your plate during these grey, winter months!

Jerk Chicken 


  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers (heat is pretty important here, but reduce if needed)
  • 3 spring onions, diced
  • 1  large white onion, diced
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground thyme
  • 1.5 tsp ground sage
  • 0.75 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 0.75 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.75 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 60ml dark rum
  • 175ml white vinegar
  • 120ml orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1kg chicken pieces – skin on, bone-in thighs and drumsticks give the best flavour


Put all the ingredients, apart from the chicken, into a blender and blitz until smooth.

Put the chicken into a large freezer bag and pour over the marinade. It’s helpful to place the freezer bag into a bowl to stop any leakage, and then leave in the fridge for anywhere between 4 and 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C and put the chicken skin side up on a roasting tray. Roast until cooked through (about 45 mins) turning over once halfway through the process.

Rice & Peas


  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300ml long grain rice (measure in a measuring jug, as weight doesn’t really work with this absorption method)
  • 400ml water
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbps fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh coriander, to garnish


Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until translucent.

Add the rice, stir well and add the water and coconut milk. Bring to the boil.

Add the kidney beans and thyme, simmer, and cover, for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Season with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve garnished with the coriander.

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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

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Pretty much pasta…

A few meals cooked this week, of which a couple are Reidbury’s tried and tested favourites! In addition to the recipes that follow I should admit to a takeaway curry (featuring my new obsession – paneer cheese in ‘Mottor Paneer’ form. Paneer cheese with peas – shouldn’t work but somehow it really does) and one night of 5 types of cheese and a good bottle of red…First up this week in the genuine cooking stakes – Sicilian Sausage Pasta from Delicious Magazine, July 2011 (p.34). A relatively simple pasta recipe that I hadn’t tried before. It works well as a ‘I’ve just got in from work, don’t want to reduce myself to a takeaway…what can I conjure up myself’ recipe. It uses sausage meat (easily squeezed from their cases), tomatoes, lemon, chilli, creme fraiche and Parmesan to create a fresh pasta sauce. Enjoyable but it felt a little thin on the ground with regards to taste – I think i’d up the chilli quota next time. Good meal to create when you’re a bit tired and uninterested. KB rating 6.5/10. PR rating 7/10.

Sicilian Sausage Pasta. Delicious Magazine, July 2011

Next up was a Reidbury favourite, Pasta with Sausages, Mustard and Caramelised Onions from Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’  (p.12o). This has been cooked numerous times in the Reidbury kitchen and we often have a chorizo ring in the fridge for this very purpose. There’s something amazing about the chorizo oil that works so well with onions, mustard and pasta and it’s a nice feel good recipe as it’s so simple but tasty. Easy to knock up in about 15 minutes and not too much chopping if you’re feeling lazy. The recipe advocates the use of wholegrain pasta which I actually prefer – but Paul is harder to convince! KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Pasta with Sausage, Mustard and Caramelised Onions. Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’

Last recipe this week was another Reidbury favourite. Definitely in our top 3 homecooked meals at the moment – Harissa Chicken Kebabs with Spring Fattoush and Couscous, from Olive Magazine, April 2011 (p.66). There’s something about this recipe that means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The harissa chicken is straighforward enough – chunks of chicken breast marinated in harissa and olive oil. But somehow grilling this on skewers makes the chicken really flavourful and moist. The spring fattoush incorporates cucumber, radish, lettuce, spring onions, mint and toasted pitta bread with a simple dressing of garlic, oil, sumac and lemon juice. Served with simple couscous and the whole meal is amazing! KB rating 9/10. PR rating 9/10.

Harissa Chicken Kebabs with Spring Fattoush. Olive Magazine, April 2011

Finally Paul and I went to Su Sazzagoni in Victoria Park for dinner on Friday. I really enjoyed the honest, Sardinian ambience and menu and particularly enjoyed the Spritz aperitif (currently one of my favourite drinks – either dry white wine or prosecco with Aperol and sparkling water – usually served with lots of ice and slice of orange). Out of 4 dishes (2 starters and 2 mains) only one really stood out – Paul’s simple-sounding starter of pasta with sausage. I did enjoy both of my dishes but felt a little disappointed – the seafood skewer didn’t have enough flavour and the prawns were mushy. My main of tuna was lovely but the bland salad didn’t offer enough contrast. I would go back again but I’d stick to their pasta and pizza rather than the grilled seafood as I’d been advised previously.

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Who is Tim Dobson?

Another busy week, but more due to long hours at work than for fun reasons unfortunately! Paul and I went to watch Bridesmaids mid-week though and had a lovely meal at Wagamama beforehand. Their Raw Salad starter is one of my favourite dishes from a High-End Chain and I get ridiculously virtuous cravings for it now and then – it definitely hit the spot!

Our other non home-cooked treat this week was a huge plate of Fish and Chips! After getting absolutely drenched watching the British Open golf on Saturday and spending 2 hours getting home we wanted some comfort food. Nothing ever beats fish and chips with mushy peas, along with a huge cuppa! Mmmm!

On to the meals cooked this week. First up was Tim Dobson’s Prawn Pasta from Olive Magazine, August 2011 (p.11) – no idea who Tim Dobson is, but his pasta was pretty good! It’s a very simple pasta recipe but very tasty, particularly as I don’t normally go for creamy sauces. The prawns were the best component – I cooked them in garlic oil first (as the recipe requested cooked, peeled prawns and I only raw, frozen ones) and they then get marinated in lime juice before being added back into the pasta with cream, spinach and Parmesan. KB rating 7/10. PR rating 7/10

Tim Dobson's Prawn Pasta. Olive Magazine, August 2011

Finally this week I made Chicken Saltimbocca with Green Beans and Shallots from Olive Magazine, August 2011 (p.52). Not sure how authentic this recipe is for Saltimbocca but it was definitely good. It involves flattening chicken thighs before adding sage leaves and wrapping them in Parma Ham, then sauteeing in butter and finishing them off in the oven. This was served with green beans and a simple shallot sauce (with a white wine and stock reduction). I also served this with crushed new potatoes. I liked the recipe but would probably alter things a little – Paul suggested that the sauce would be better served on top of the chicken rather than through the green beans and I agree. I also think chicken breast would work better than chicken thighs here – I love chicken thighs but in this recipe I’d have preferred the texture of white meat instead. KB rating 7/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Chicken Saltimbocca with Green Beans and Shallots. Olive Magazine, August 2011


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Meatballs, Stir-Frys and Roasts

Well this week I’ve cooked a lot less than usual – Paul and I were only at home together one weekday this week due to various plans (including me watching Take That – screeeeeam!). However, I cooked two meals worth noting.

The first was Pork, Lemon and Herb Meatballs with Orzo Sald from Olive Magazine, August 2011 (p.50). We’ve had some hit and miss meatball recipes over the last year but this one was an absolute winner! Really simple recipe but somehow it tasted way better than the sum of its parts – in the meatballs just pork mince, red onion, lemon and parsley with LOTS of seasoning. It’s served with an orzo and rocket salad (though I omitted the rocket and just had the orzo with red onions, lemon and oil) and a herbed yoghurt. I made a huge batch of the meatballs and they lasted us for 2 huge portioned meals! Really light, simple recipe and one that I’d definitely do again. KB rating: 9/10. PR rating 8/10.

Next was Sticky Ginger and Chilli Chicken from Delicious Magazine, August 2011 (p.29). Despite some good marinade ingredients, including soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger and ketjap manis (I love the fact I have this in my cupboard, and it takes little encouragement for me to find a recipe to use it up!), this stir fry didn’t really meet the ‘sticky’ brief in the recipe title. I’m not sure if my wok isn’t good enough, but I had the oil heating for ages to ensure it was smoking hot, but somehow this seemed to steam and the sauce was barely noticeable. No sticky coating on the chicken which I wanted. Good flavours, but I think my own stir fry recipe is better! KB rating 6/10. PR rating 6/10

That’s all for this week – hopefully I’ll get a chance to try out some more recipes next week!