Reidbury's Kitchen

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

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Spiced Bulghar Pilaf with Fish

Spiced Bulghar Pilaf with Fish

Spiced Bulghar Pilaf with Fish

I’m trying to be a bit healthier in my food options at the moment, and I took a look on the Good Food website for low-ish calorie dinner options with fish. There’s so many to choose from, but I narrowed the options down and Paul suggested he was in the mood to try Spiced Bulghar Pilaf with Fish. The ingredients list made this sound quite Middle Eastern and I expected the bulghar wheat to be full of flavour given the fish is not massively seasoned (just a bit of salt, pepper and lemon). Unfortunately I was disappointed with the end result. I kept tasting this as I cooked it, and realised early on that the flavour was mostly coming from the cumin seeds, but even then it was quite bland. Perhaps the rose harissa I used wasn’t as spicy as it should’ve been (although the jar was freshly opened, so I don’t know how true that is), or perhaps my expectations were too great, but overall I felt like it needed more heat. I added Ras el Hanout spice mix AND some chilli powder, along with more lemon but in the end I was still disappointed. Also, you cook the pilaf in a pan and then add the fish on top to cook through – as expected, the pilaf started to burn onto the bottom of the pan before the fish was cooked! Another challenge. But, Paul did like this dish so maybe I just personally didn’t get on with it…

KB rating 5/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Spiced Bulghar Pilaf with Fish (serves 4)


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (I personally thought this was too much)
  • 2 tbsp harissa (I added another tbsp in addition to the listed amount)
  • 200g bulghar wheat
  • 6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 700ml weak chicken stock (made with one stock cube)
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 4 firm white fish fillets
  • 4 thin lemon slices


Heat the oil in a lidded flameproof casserole dish. Tip in the onions and cook for 10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the carrots and cumin, and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir through the harissa, bulghar and apricots, pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 7 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir through until just wilted. Arrange the fish fillets on top, add a slice of lemon on each and season. Replace the lid and cook for 8 mins, keeping over a low-ish heat.

Turn heat to low and cook for 7-8 minutes more until the fish is cooked through and the bulghar is tender. Season with pepper and serve.


Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg

Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg, The Fast Diet Recipe Book

When my boyfriend was little he used to love what he called ‘yellow fish’ – smoked haddock. So when I was looking for a suitable 5:2 starve day recipe my eye was immediately drawn to Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg in The Fast Diet Recipe Book (buy the book here). It’s all classic flavours, very comforting and super quick to make. And it’s very low calorie too – bonus!

Not much else to say – other than, good luck on poaching eggs. Unless I use my silicone poaching pods, I cannot poach an egg. There, I’ve said it.

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

Calorie count: 211 per person

Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Poached Egg (serves 1)


  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 75g skinless smoked haddock fillet, undyed
  • 240ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche
  • Half a spring onion, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon


Wilt the spinach leaves in a little salted boiling water and drain well. Stir in a pinch of nutmeg and season.

Poach the fish for 10 minutes in milk (or microwave for 3 minutes in a covered dish). Meanwhile poach the egg.

Serve the fish and spinach topped with egg and creme fraiche mixed with spring onion and a squeeze of lemon.

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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)


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


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!

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Baked Tuna Nicoise

Baked Tuna Nicoise

Baked Tuna Nicoise

Another day, another Weight Watchers meal to try. I’m actually really enjoying researching suitable recipes to eat on this diet that don’t compromise on flavour. I’d like to think that any of the recipes I try would be ones I’d be happy trying even if I wasn’t point counting. And my Pinterest boards can really testify to the amount of research I’ve done. A particular highlight being the revelation that making no sugar jelly and adding loads of fruit is a 0 point dessert! And I love jelly – I’m a child of the 80s after all.

So the latest recipe I wanted to try was Baked Tuna NicoiseI am a big fan of fresh tuna, and this recipe also included potatoes which I’ve been craving! Total Pro Points per person – 8. The recipe is really straight forward and all done using one pan, which saves on the washing up too. The flavours are obviously a classic combination and they still work really well together in a baked dish. I actually thought the red onions were the star of the show here – they went really soft and seemed to soak up all the lemon and caper flavours. Definitely a winner.

KB rating 8.5/10. PR rating 7.5/10. Weight Watchers Pro Points: 8 per serving

Baked Tuna Nicoise (Serves 4)


  • 500g potatoes (Vivaldi or Charlotte ideally), scrubbed and cut into large chunks
  • 10 sprays of calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 150g green beans, trimmed
  • 12 black olives, pitted
  • 4 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 fresh tuna steaks, 150g each
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp capers in brine
  • Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 180C fan, 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6.

Put the potatoes in a roasting tray and spray with the cooking spray, tossing to coat. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 mins.

Add the red onion and green beans to the potatoes, stir well and bake for another 1o mins. Remove the pan from the oven.

Stir the potato mixture and add the olives and tomatoes. Arrange the tuna steaks on top. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and capers and then season.

Return to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Serve, scattered with plenty of chopped parsley.

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Pan Roast Cod with Chickpeas, Piquillo & Chorizo

Pan Roasted Cod with Chickpeas, Piquillo and Chorizo, Olive Magazine, April 2013

Pan Roasted Cod with Chickpeas, Piquillo and Chorizo, Olive Magazine, April 2013

So with Mother Nature still not making her mind up if it’s actually Spring or Winter my body doesn’t seem to know what type of food it’s after. But having seen this recipe in the the April 2013 edition of Olive Magazine it seemed to tick the right boxes. Add in the fact that Paul is pretty obsessed about anything involving chorizo and chickpeas and I knew I wouldn’t be far from a winner. The dish was really tasty, but I did forget to add the sugar at one point which would really have helped offset the vinegar! Oops. Also, the chickpeas don’t really get time to be cooked, so I’d probably change the recipe around a little to allow the chickpeas time to bathe in the sauce.

And prepare to use every pan you own… there has to be an easier way to cook this without using as much cookery paraphernalia as you’d find in an average John Lewis. I’m yet to find it…but I will!

The final thing I’d say is NO WAY would this serve 4 people. The fish, yes. The stew, hell no. There’s 200g of chickpeas in there. That’s half a tin – between 4 people. Pffff. Double up the sauce stuff if you want happy people around your table. If you want an eighth of a tin of chickpeas each, then go for your life. And never invite me round for dinner! ;o)

PR rating 8.5/10. KB rating 8.5/10

Pan Roast Cod with Chickpeas, Piquillo & Chorizo (Serves 4 allegedly, but it doesn’t. See above)


  • 4 sustainable cod fillets (skin on), approx 150g each
  • Sea salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, 2 finely sliced and 2 bruised
  • Olive oil
  • 230g jar piquillo peppers, drained and cut into strips
  • Sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 200g tin chickpeas, drained
  • 100g cooking chorizo, diced
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 80g black olives (it said nicoise olives. I didn’t really know what they were so went for bog standard black ones)
  • 2 sprigs lemon thyme
  • Butter
  • Spring onions, finely sliced to finish
  • Sourdough toast, to serve


Sprinkle the cod lightly with sea salt. Cook the sliced garlic gently in olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the piquillo peppers, then season with salt, pepper, a pinch of paprika and the sugar. Sweat gently for a couple of minutes (the pepper mixture, not you), add the vinegar, and boil until reduced by half. Stir in the chickpeas and remove from the heat.

Gently cook the chorizo in a little more olive oil in a separate pan for a few minutes until crisp, then scoop from the pan.

Pat dry the cod with kitchen paper then add to the chorizo pan, skin-side down. Add the sprigs of thyme, bruised garlic cloves and a large knob of butter. Keep cooking, basting the fish every so often with the frothy oil and butter. When the fish is almost done, remove two-thirds of the cooking fat, add back the crisp chorizo and olives, then warm through gently.

Quickly fry the cherry tomatoes in a pan (yes another one), with a drizzle of olive oil until starting to burst. Add to the chickpeas and heat everything through.

Take the cod from the frying pan and tip the chorizo/olive mix and cod resting juice into the chickpeas.

Serve the cod on top of the chickpea stew and serve with toasted sourdough, sprinkled with the sliced spring onions.

Get someone else to wash up.

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Fish Tacos with Pepper and Spring Onion Salsa (and Homemade Guacamole)

Fish Tacos with Pepper and Spring Onion Salsa and Homemade Guacamole, Rachel Allen

Fish Tacos with Pepper and Spring Onion Salsa and Homemade Guacamole, Rachel Allen

Another recipe that I’d added to the ‘to cook’ list from Rachel Allen’s Entertaining at Home book was this one – Fish Tacos with Pepper and Spring Onion Salsa. We also made her homemade guacamole to accompany the tacos. Now I absolutely love beef tacos, so I had high hopes for this lighter version using flaky white fish. And whilst each component was good, for some reason I just didn’t feel that all the flavours added up to a great dish. I think the taco shells weren’t the right vessel to combine the flavours – perhaps soft tortillas may have worked better for me from a texture standpoint. But even then I just feel like I wanted more of a zingy hit of flavour. Because the beef mince is usually cooked in a spice mix, the fish which is just seasoned with salt and pepper seemed to leave a flavour gap. So whilst I would eat this again, if I’m being honest I probably won’t cook this again in a hurry.

KB rating 6/10. PR rating 7/10.

Fish Tacos with Pepper and Spring Onion Salsa and Homemade Guacamole (serves 8)


  • 750g filleted round white fish (such as haddock, hake, cod etc) in small fillets or in one large piece
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 taco shells
  • 1 quantity of guacamole (see below)
  • 1 quantity of pepper and spring onion salsa (see below)
  • 250g creme fraiche

For the guacamole:

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and stoned
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Juice of half lime

For the pepper and spring onion salsa:

  • 2 yellow peppers (or 1 red and 1 yellow), finely sliced
  • 8 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 8 radishes, left unpeeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 180C (350F or Gas mark 4)

Put the fish in a roasting tin, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the fish piece or pieces, until the flesh is opaque all the way through.

Meanwhile, make the salsa and the guacamole. For the salsa, mix all the ingredients listed and season to taste with salt and pepper. For the guacamole, place the avocado flesh into a large bowl, adding the garlic, olive oil and coriander and mash together, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice. Make sure you cover the bowl with clingfilm to stop the mixture going brown before you serve.

A few minutes before the fish are cooked, place the taco shells in the oven to warm through, then bring to the table with bowls of the guacamole, salsa and creme fraiche. Cut or break up the fish into bite-sized chunks and place in a warmed serving bowl on the table.

Let everyone construct their tacos, their way!

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Thai-Style Steamed Fish

Thai-Style Steamed Fish, BBC Good Food

Thai-Style Steamed Fish, BBC Good Food

Now I’ve started going back to the gym again, I’ve wanted to dig out recipes that are healthy but tasty. And this recipe was one of the old favourites – Thai-Style Steamed FishAt less than 200 calories (excluding the rice), it’s so good for you but you really don’t feel like you’re missing out on a good dinner! Add in the fact that it only takes 25 minutes to do start to finish and it’s a really good mid-week dish. Whilst the recipe states trout fillets as the chosen fish, this will work equally well with most flaky fish. And there are so many other swap outs you could do – swap pak choi for any green veg (green beans, peas, asparagus spring to mind). Swap out the lime for lemon, or the soy sauce for hoisin  – the possibilities are all there depending on what you have sat in your cupboard.

The end result is soft, flaky fish with a really fragrant sauce. Serve with jasmine rice and you’re onto a winner. It’s also nice cold – but maybe it’s just me who thinks that.

And regarding the steaming technique – I have one of those three-tier steamers, which is one of the best purchases I’ve made. Given space is at a premium in the Reidbury Kitchen, it’s great as you can cook carbs in the water at the bottom, and then sit the fish or chicken on the layer above and then veg above that. But for this recipe, you could easily just get a regular pan of water, sit the fish parcel on a heatproof plate on top and then place a lid on top of the plate.

PR rating 9/10. KB rating 9/10. WW Points: 5 (if using trout and not including rice)

Thai-Style Steamed Fish (serves 2)


  • 2 trout fillets (or any other fish fillet of your choosing)
  • Small knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped (the recipe says ‘not bird’s eye’, although that’d work if that’s all you have)
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 baby pak choi, quartered (I can never find baby pak choi, so I just use one whopping one instead, still quartered)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce


Take a large square of foil and nestle the fish fillets side by side. Scatter over the ginger, garlic, chilli and lime zest. Then drizzle the lime juice over the top and scatter the pieces of pak choi around and on top of the fish. Pour the soy sauce over the pak choi and then loosely seal the foil to make a package – make sure you leave space at the top so that there’s room for the steam to circulate as the fish cooks.

Steam for 15 minutes – by this time the fish will be cooked and flaky, and a little sauce will have gathered at the bottom of the foil. Honestly, the trickiest part of the whole recipe is not spilling the sauce out of the foil when you’re pouring over the fish!

Serve with jasmine rice. Feel very healthy and smug.

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