Reidbury's Kitchen

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


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An Absolute Winner – Pork Bun Cha!

Pork Bun Cha

Pork Bun Cha

There’s not much I can say about this recipe, other than the fact it is AWESOME! Take a look at the ratings Paul and I give this dish, and you’ll see what I mean! I looked online and found this recipe here.  I had no expectations of what this recipe would turn out like – all I knew is that it’s low calorie, low in fat and full of healthy green things. Given I’m trying to kick start myself to get ‘summer body ready’ (given the current weather, I’mn not sure why I’m bothering though), I just wanted something tasty. And goodness me is this tasty. It’s also the softest, tenderest pork I’ve ever cooked, and I’m notoriously bad at accidentally over-cooking pork. The way I’d describe this dish is a warm layered noodle salad. With a kickass sauce that’s packed full of flavour and heat. (Go easy when you pour it over at the end, otherwise you’ll set your face on fire). The bottom layer is cooked rice vermicelli noodles, middle layer is fresh veg and the top layer is the marinated pork. Top off with the fire sauce.

Given that I love Vietnamese and Thai food, I had practically all the ingredients in the cupboard anyway so strangely it’s quite a ‘cupboard staple’ recipe that I am certainly going to do again. The only thing to get is fresh mint and coriander. Finally, it’s worth noting that whilst this is a recipe for 2 people, there was a lot of sauce left over. I’m quite happy with that as I’ll no doubt use it up soon re-making this dish or a slight variation of it. But you may want to consider halving the sauce recipe if you don’t intend to use it up somehow.

Fresh, zingy and virtuous – what’s not to love?!

KB rating 10/10. PR rating 9.5/10

Pork Bun Cha (Serves 2)

Ingredients

For the pork:

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled of its woody outer leaves, then very finely chopped
  • 3 lime leaves, finely chopped (I only had dry ones which worked fine)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp groundnut oil
  • 200g pork fillet, cut into medallions and bashed out to form thin, flat discs

For the sauce (see comment above re: quantity):

  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (I went for Birds Eye Chilli)
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar
  • 100ml fish sauce

For the salad:

  • 100g thin rice noodles (I went for rice vermicelli)
  • 8 romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
  • Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 6 spring onions, cut into matchsticks
  • 12 large mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped

Method:

Place the lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic, turmeric, sugar and fish sauce into a mixing bowl and mix together. Rub the pork with the mixture and leave to marinade for 30 mins.

To make the sauce, combine the garlic, chilli and sugar in a mortar or food processor and pound to a fine paste. Add the lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce and 50 ml water and stir to blend.

Put the noodles in a bowl with boiling water to cover. Let stand until al dente – around 10 mins. Divide the noodles between 2 bowls. Mix the salad ingredients together (apart from the herbs) and top each bowl of noodles with salad.

Heat the oil in a griddle on high until it is almost smoking. Throw on the pork and grill for 3 mins or so until the meat has charred nicely and is just cooked through. Top each bowl with the pork.

Finish by topping each bowl with the herbs and serve with a few tablespoons of the sauce poured over. Leave the rest on the table for people to flavour to their taste.

Full recipe credit: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/tv-show/cook-yourself-thin-recipes/pork-bun-cha-recipe

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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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Ribs & Coleslaw – A Tasty Friday Night In

Chinese-Style Ribs with Coleslaw, Rachel Allen

Chinese-Style Ribs with Coleslaw, Rachel Allen

After a pretty busy week I couldn’t wait for Friday night to come! Whilst it’s not the coolest thing to admit, I just wanted to get home, cook something tasty and sit on the sofa watching Comic Relief! I recently got a new cookery book and I spent my lunch hour scouring through the pages like an addict! The new book is Rachel Allen’s ‘Entertaining at Home‘ and on first exploration it looks great . It focuses on entertaining for others, but without all the faff and pomp that some other chefs seem to place on feeding friends. There’s also something so geekily wonderful about a new recipe book – all the various possibilities and new flavour combinations. But perhaps more importantly for me, a new source of inspiration! Anyway, I wanted something that felt like a treat, but that wouldn’t take hours to prepare. So I opted for Chinese-Style Ribs with Coleslaw. 

I’ve never made ribs before, and this recipe particularly appealed to me as the ribs weren’t in a sticky sauce. Instead, this recipe was more about the flavour in the meat. The ribs don’t end up dry, they’re more glazed. I also made the homemade coleslaw which I actually expected to be a big waste of time. There are some things that are too much like hard work to make when you can buy good pre-made versions, and I fully expected the coleslaw to fit in this camp. But whilst I did end up adding too much salt, slightly spoiling the end result, I would definitely make this coleslaw again in the future. I also served with a jacket potato. Overall, this was a really good dish that I’d absolutely do again. The recipe serves 6-8 people, but I was only cooking for 2. I halved the amount of ribs (they’re great cold for leftovers!), but actually made the full quantity of spice mixture. I didn’t use it all, but definitely used more than half. I also made the full amount of coleslaw – there’s absolutely loads left, so I’ll be having cheese and coleslaw sandwiches for the next week.

Coleslaw: KB rating 8/10. PR rating 7.5/10

Ribs: KB rating 8/10. PR rating 8.5/10

Chinese-Style Ribs with Coleslaw (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

  • 2kg baby back ribs of pork
  • 6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced to serve

For the spice mixture:

  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp peeled and finely grated root ginger
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • Pinch of salt

For the coleslaw:

  • 400g white cabbage, quartered lengthways, core removed and leaves finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 200ml mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley
  • Salt & pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C.

In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the spice mixture. Arrange the ribs in a roasting tin in a single layer and rub the spice mixture all over. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until slightly crispy and a deep golden brown.

While the ribs are cooking, make the coleslaw. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the ribs from the oven, scatter with the spring onions and serve with the coleslaw (and, in my case, a jacket potato).


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Pork Steaks with Mushrooms and Rosemary

The Bury's!

The Bury’s!

I had such a lovely weekend with my parents and, after two consecutive dinners out, we decided to cook something at home on Saturday. Deciding what to cook was mainly limited to something that could be rustled up with ingredients on hand, and something that wasn’t too filling, so I decided to look in Gino D’Acampo’s book called The Italian Diet. I love the recipes in this book which are designed to be lower in calories but still full of flavour – there’s quite a lot of stuff out there proclaiming to do the same thing, but all Gino’s recipes have definitely delivered on both fronts. We went for Pork Steaks with Mushrooms and Rosemary which sounds far fancier in Italian – Bistecche di Maiale con Funghi e Rosmarino. Whilst pork can be a little dull sometimes, I thought the addition of the rosemary, orange juice and chilli would pep things up a little – and it did. We served this with crushed new potatoes, and some peas and lettuce (Mum’s recipe with butter and vermouth – yum!) and whilst the first mouthful felt a little disappointing, I think we all thought it was one of those dishes that was better the more you ate! So instead of the usual PR rating (he was out celebrating the birth of his nephew!), we have two special guest ratings – Mummy Bury and Daddy Bury!

MB rating 8/10. DB rating 8/10. KB rating 7/10

Pork Steaks with Mushrooms and Rosemary (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lean pork steaks (approx 120g each)
  • 250g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the pork for 2 minutes on each side until browned (I actually cooked my steaks for less as they were quite thin, and even then I’d say the pork was overcooked – so do less than you think!). Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and rosemary to the frying pan and fry for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle over the chilli and pour over the orange juice and vinegar. Bring to the boil. At this point return the pork steaks to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes to allow the meat to finish cooking, and the sauce to thicken. Turn the pork halfway though. Season with salt and serve immediately.


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A Bad Case of the Meatballs

I was really excited to try out my latest recipe (from Delicious Magazine, March 2013) – Sausage and Chickpea Meatballs with Feta. I had such high hopes for warming comfort food on a Sunday evening. But this meal elicited a lot of expletives in the Reidbury kitchen. I’m not really sure how much I’m to blame for the mess I ended up serving, or whether the recipe itself has a lot to answer for. But whilst the flavours of this dish still ended up being decent, the meatballs were an unmitigated disaster. They had absolutely no substance to them and just collapsed into some kind of puréed mess into the sauce. In fact they fought me every inch of the way. There’s no way I’d cook this again, but I do think experience taught me a few lessons that if I were to try this in the future:

  • My food processor is not the best and sort of over-processes the bottom half of the ingredients, whilst the top half remain untouched by the blades! So by the time all the ingredients (including the meat, feta and chickpeas) were properly blended, the meat was puréed rather than ‘mixed’
  • I would chill the meatballs for a lot longer than the stated 15 minutes
  • I would not use my Le Creuset buffet pan to fry the meatballs. The bloody things just stuck to the pan and then started to collapse. Non-stick is the way forward…
  • The recipe itself suggested that as an alternative to using a food processor to blend the ingredients, you can use a potato masher to ‘hand blend’. But then they also stated that you should use an egg to bind the meatballs with this method. There definitely needed to be some kind of binding ingredient even if you followed the food processor route.

So here’s the recipe for you  in case you can learn from my failings… Humph. (Notice there isn’t a picture of this dish. I couldn’t bear taking a photo)

KB rating 3/10. PR rating 5/10

Ingredients

  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 free-range pork sausages, skins removed
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 25g flatleaf parsley, chopped

Method

Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor with the sausagemeat, feta and garlic until just combined. Season with black pepper and a little salt, then shape into walnut-size balls. Chill in the fridge for 15 mins.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then brown the meatballs in batches until golden all over (or in my case, watch them stick to the pan and then disintegrate when you get within 2 yards of them). Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, then pour in the stock and bubble for 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and simmer for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Serve scattered with parsley. (I served with couscous, but this would be nice with pasta too)


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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!