Reidbury's Kitchen

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


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Béarnaise Sauce

Whilst I’m on the topic of sauces for steak, I thought I’d give a homemade Béarnaise sauce a go. It’s my absolute favourite sauce with steak but I’ve always bought this rather than try and make it myself. I have to be honest – it was not smooth sailing. The first batch split. The second batch also split! But by this point I had no time to try again, so did a bit of googling and found a few methods of how to rescue a split Béarnaise. One worked! So whilst it was a very stressful kitchen experience, I’ve learnt a few valuable lessons. I recommend having your pan of water barely simmering – too much heat and it’s game over. It just needs to warm the bowl up enough to allow the butter to melt.

I would argue it is worth making your own Béarnaise – it does taste fantastic, and I reckon with a bit of practice it won’t be too much of a faff.

So the recipe is below, and then the rescue remedy that worked for me in case you have the same issue!

KB rating 7.5/10. PR 8/10

Béarnaise Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 15g tarragon, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

Put a quarter of the tarragon into a small saucepan with the shallots, peppercorns, vinegar and water. Bring to a bubble and then reduce until the liquid is 1 tbsp worth.

Heat a medium saucepan with 5cm water until simmering. Put egg yolks in a bowl sat over the water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water), strain the vinegar mix into the yolks and whisk lightly to combine.

Whisk in the butter, cube by cube. Only add the next cube of butter when the previous one has melted fully into the sauce. Keep an eye on your water temperature, do not let the mixture split. Keep going until the sauce is thick and glossy. When the last of the butter goes in, add the remaining tarragon. Serve immediately if possible, although this will rest for 30 minutes off the heat but still over the hot water.

How to rescue a split bearnaise sauce!

There’s a few options. The first is to take off the heat, set the bowl in about an inch of cold water, add 1 tbsp of cold water to the mix, and whisk rapidly.

If that doesn’t work (and it didn’t for me), try Plan C…

Take the mixture off the heat and set on an angle to allow the oily mixture to be drained off the egg mix (make sure you retain BOTH bits!). In a fresh bowl add 2 tbsp of water. Then add the egg mix 1 tbsp at a time, whisking rapidly to create a smooth mix. Once all the egg mix is incorporate, start adding the drained off oil, one tbsp at a time – each time making sure the mix is fully incorporated before adding the next batch. If you had any butter still to add (and I did, mine split around the halfway point!), start adding again as before, and put the bowl back on top of the simmering water. But be even more aware of temperature – keep it warm enough to melt the butter and no more.

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Tomato Tarragon Dressing – A Sauce for Steak

Tomato Tarragon Dressing, Gordon Ramsey Healthy Appetite

Tomato Tarragon Dressing, Gordon Ramsey Healthy Appetite

Reidbury Kitchen is a big lover of steaks, and there’s a couple of classic sauces that are part of my repertoire that go really well with a nice chargrilled cut of beef. This one is from Gordon Ramsey’s book ‘Healthy Appetite‘ and is part of a recipe he does with a beef roast. Given there’s only two of us in our house it’s often easier to just do steaks, so bear in mind that this recipe makes enough for 6. I often half it and there’s still enough left over. And I would argue ‘Dressing’ isn’t the best description for this. It’s more like a salsa. I serve this with a chargrilled fillet steak, homemade chips and some kind of green salad.

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

Tomato Tarragon Dressing (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 500g ripe plum tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Few dashes of Tabasco
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • Large handful each of tarragon and flat leaf parsley

Method:

Cut each tomato in half and squeeze out the seeds. Finely chop the place and place in a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the herbs, and mix well.

Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 20 minutes, or until ready to 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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Some Recent Restaurant Experiences (And Some Fab Festival Food)

Well it’s been a while since I updated this blog, so lots to talk about. But in this entry I’m going to focus on a number of great restaurants I’ve been to over the last couple of weeks. I’ll start with Bocca di Lupo, an Italian restaurant nestled on a side street in Soho. I was really surprised how small the restaurant was, which added greatly to the atmosphere. The menu is a great combination of sharing food and full dishes. Pretty much anything on the menu comes in two portion sizes, which is great if you want to sample as much of their food as possible. The menu also changes daily. Particular highlights for me were the Courgette Flowers with Mozzarella and Anchovy and the Sea Bream Carpaccio which we shared. As an anchovy cynic I was a bit unsure about the Courgette Flowers dish, but thank God someone else gave it a whirl – the flavour in such a small mouthful was surprising! Paul had Roast Suckling Pig & Grapes as his main which was fantastic although a massive portion. I had the Saltimbocca alla Romana which was a brave choice for me. Very enjoyable but think I’d try something else next time! Desserts were also a triumph, and I’d be interested in going to their shop across the road, Gelupo, for gelato at some point.

Another restaurant we went to over the last few weeks was our tried and tested Thai local, Thai Room, located in Bow Wharf. What looks a bit like a portakabin from the outside is actually a lovely, cosy restaurant that serves some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten. Part of the fun of eating in a great local restaurant is ordering the usual faves! It’s a bit like digging out your favourite jumper when summer starts turning to autumn – comfortable and cosy! We ordered Drunken Beef, Crispy Trout with Three-Flavoured Sauce, Green Curry with Chicken and Pad Thai. All fantastic as usual.  

I was lucky enough to eat in two of my absolute London favourites over the last few weeks. Whilst they sit at extreme ends of the ‘Price Per Head’ scale, I get such huge enjoyment from eating at both of these places – Gaucho and Mien Tay. I do get pretty giddy at any excuse to eat at either and often know what I’m going to order from the moment I find out we’re going!

First up was Mien Tay which, in my humble opinion, is the best Vietnamese on the Kingsland Road. Not only is the food phenomenally good, it’s cheap AND it’s BYO with no corkage fee. I literally couldn’t ask for more! I went with a group of work friends so we didn’t necessarily all share dishes (which I think is the best way to eat at Mien Tay) but I did manage to get some of the classics onto the table. The Crispy Sea Bream with Lemongrass and Chilli was great but, if anything, slightly drier than previous times I’ve ordered it. The Quail with Honey and Spices was as good as ever and I think garnered a few converts! Perhaps the best dish this time was the Beef Wrapped in Rice Paper which I’m sure few people order because the name belies the flavours involved! All in all a great meal – all washed down with some good red wine at Off License prices. Perfection.

This week Paul and I went to my other ‘treat’ restaurant – Gaucho. This time we went to the one in Canary Wharf, and felt very extravagant by going on a Tuesday! This was the first time we’d gone back to a Gaucho since going to Hawksmoor (Seven Dials location), so I was interested in seeing how they compare. Hawksmoor was fantastic and I’m a bit of a cocktail obsessive, so their cocktail menu won me over right from the start. Add in Oysters with Sausage as a starter and I’m pretty much in heaven. Could Gaucho, part of a chain, still deliver? Erm, YES. Definitely YES. We had a brilliant time. We decided to forego the starters and skip straight to the steak – I had my usual 300g Rump whilst Paul went a little off piste and went for a 300g Fillet. Both were unbelievable good – great flavour, cooked to perfection and with a Bearnaise sauce on the side I was a happy bunny. We followed this up with some cheese – I always enjoy it when the waiter shows the cheese selection and the strategic decision to avoid starters was well made! Shame they don’t do Malbec chutney anymore though – it’s now two types of  paste. A Malbec paste and a Torrontes paste – both lovely, but that chutney was special!

Finally, Paul and I went to the Big Chill Festival a few weeks ago. Not only was I concerned about the toilets, the crowd and the weather, I was also worried about the food options (in no way am I the sort of person to take a camping stove and watch some pasta boil for 3 hours). Turns out there was no need to worry about anything, especially the food! We both ate like Kings with a huge range of options.It is a truly global affair as I enjoyed food from France (Boulangere Potatoes with Sausage), India (Vegetarian Thali), Lebanon (Mezze), America (Potato Wedges!), Britain (Pie, Mash, Peas and Gravy) and North Africa (Spicy Fish Bourek – a type of filo parcel). Add in Paul’s choices from Jamaica (Goat Curry), Thailand (Green Curry) and Greece (Harissa Chicken Wrap) and we covered a hell of a lot of the globe!

And special mention to some fantastic drinks at the festival too – firstly, the Cider Bus! No matter what the weather, they had an option that just seemed to work perfectly. In the rain, their hot spicy cider warms you up. When it’s overcast their medium cider hit the spot. And when it was glorious sunshine their Orchard Mist(basically a ‘Somerset Pimms; with cider brandy, lemonade, mint and raspberries) refreshes. God bless the apple.

The Cider Bus, The Big Chill Festival 2011

And an unexpected boozy treat came from the Grand Marnier tent of all things. My experience of Grand Marnier to date is either marinated oranges, done by my Mum as a dessert, or as part of a Crepe Suzette. Turns out if you mix Grand Marnier, Elderflower Cordial and Soda Water and serve in a jug with oranges, lemons and strawberries you get a Grand Espirit. Or in other words, a little taste of summer heaven. Mmmmmm.

The Grand Espirit, Big Chill Festival 2011