Reidbury's Kitchen

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

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Roast Duck Legs and Lentils with Red Wine

Roast Duck Legs & Lentils with Red Wine, Rachel Allen

Roast Duck Legs & Lentils with Red Wine, Rachel Allen

Well given the Easter break, I retreated up North to spend time with my parents. And, naturally, reverted back to sous chef in the Bury kitchen! Add to the fact that I’ve been unwell for the last couple of weeks too, there’s been a bit of a lull in my cooking of late. But one of the dishes I cooked a few weeks ago was Roast Duck Legs and Lentils with Red Wine from Rachel Allen’s Entertaining at Home. I tend not to cook duck at home, but I really wanted to try these lentils and the duck was part of the same deal. I’m really glad I gave it a go, as it proved just how easy it is to cook roast duck. And the lentils were fantastic – they were even great cold the next day for a leftovers lunch! The end result was greater than the sum of its parts really. Very tasty, and nice on a cold evening. Yes, I know it’s spring, but no-one seems to have told Mother Nature yet…

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

Roast Duck Legs served with Lentils with Red Wine (serves 2, but with leftover lentils)


For the Duck:

  • 2 duck legs
  • Salt and pepper

For the Lentils:

  • 250g Puy lentils, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 100ml red wine
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped chervil or flat leaf parsley (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200C (400F, Gas Mark 4)

Place the duck legs skin side up in a small roasting tin, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 1 hour, or until the skin is rich golden brown and the meat comes away from the bone easily.

Meanwhile make the lentils. Place the lentils in a saucepan and add about twice the volume of cold water. Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then drain the lentils and set aside.

Whilst the lentils are being pre-boiled, pour the olive oil in a large saucepan on a low-medium heat. Then add the carrot, onion, celery and garlic. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes until very soft.

Add the lentils and red wine, turn the heat up to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the wine has evaporated. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Season to taste and serve straight away. Although you can reheat to serve if needed. Decorate with herbs if using.

Serve with the duck.

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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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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)


  • 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


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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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)


  • 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


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).