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at the London Cooking Project based in Battersea.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Experiment - Recipe: Pearl Barley with Mushrooms & Aubergine (Vegetarian)

I tried this with and without mint and coriander as an experiment. Wow, the fresh herbs add a light and fragrant touch to the dish and balance it nicely - they make such a difference!!

I love this dish. The barley gives it bite. It’s packed with earthy goodness from the mushrooms, nuts and aubergine, and balanced with apricot, mint and coriander! A cracking flavour profile.

ingredients (serves 4)
for the pearl barley
250g pearl barley (+500ml water / veg stock)
250g chestnut mushrooms (cut into 1/4’s)
200g onion (1 large, sliced)

6 dried apricots (medium dice)
3 sprigs thyme (picked)
200ml apple juice

1 large aubergine (large dice)
couple pinches paprika salt (50/50 smoked paprika / salt)
olive oil

25g toasted sunflower & pumpkin seeds (you’ll need some butter for toasting) (link 720)
5g coriander (chopped)
5g mint (chopped)
2 spring onion (sliced into rings)
1 tbsp apple chutney (optional)

for the garnish
1 spring onion (sliced into rings)
5g chives (chopped)

Cook pearl barley 2:1 by weight - up to 3:1 if you like it softer and with residue liquid. I use a rice cooker for this. If you’re doing it in a sauce pan, use a nonstick pan, bring to the boil then reduce to simmer with a lid on the pan, cook until all the water is absorbed and the grain is soft but still has bite.

Cook each of the ingredients separately, putting them aside until needed. (I use takeaway boxes, they stack well and take up very little space when stored!)

Put the dried apricots and apple juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil then set to simmer for 10mins until they’ve softened. 
Turn off the heat and add the fresh thyme leaves, put aside to infuse until needed.

Brush the mushrooms to remove any soil, then take the stalks off, and quarter them lengthways.
Cook the mushroom stalks w/ the onions in a little oil until the onions have started to brown. Don’t forget to season them. 

Combine all the ingredients except the nuts, spring onions, chives, mint and coriander and heat up in a large pan.

Then add the nuts, spring onions, chives, mint and coriander and mix through.

to serve
Serve in a serving bowl or in the pan, dressed with the spring onion, chives and a sprig of thyme.

It’s quite nice with a poached egg and garlic bread!

If you like things spicy, add a finely chopped scotch bonnet and serve with coriander and mint greek yoghurt. (season the yoghurt with salt and lime juice) 

I had it with a pork shoulder chop done in a pimientos de padron and white wine sauce with garlic bread. That, methinks, will be another post!! : )

Or use it as the stuffing for a deboned leg of lamb!! Think I'd probably replace the mint and coriander for 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, coriander, garam masala, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. And bump up (as in double or triple) the amount of dried fruit and nuts. And add cranberries for a touch of acidity!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Recipe: Crispy Chicken & Red Vegetable Curry w/ Cardamom Rice

For me the sign of a good curry is when you can taste the individual flavours of all the components, and the marriage of all those flavours and textures brings a party to your mouth! (not sure why I’m thinking “Bing Bang Theory Bollywood dance” take on that party but I am) Anyway to get that individuality coming through it’s best to cook a few items separately at the start and then combine them together at the end!

This recipe has come along considerably since it was on the menu in 2010, the chicken for example is done separately so it remains crispy and succulent. It makes a great combo with the vegetable red curry!

ingredients (serves 6)
for the chicken
1 chicken (spatchcocked)
paprika (to dust)
flaked salt

for the red curry
1/2 butternut squash or 2 small sweet potato (1/2 inch dice)
1 red pepper (large dice)
1 onion (large dice)
5 chestnut mushrooms (quartered)
1 medium aubergine (large dice)
130g red curry paste (recipe here - less if it’s shop bought)
20g ginger (sliced)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
5 kaffir lime leaves (bruised)
400g light coconut milk
50ml fish sauce
1 lime (juiced)
450ml chicken stock

for the rice (6)
540g long grain rice
900g water
75g butter / ghee
18 cardamom pods (crushed, but not broken apart)
30 curry leaves
4g salt

for the garnish
thai basil

rice cooker

Peel the butternut squash and dice it int 1/3 inch chunks. Same with the sweet potato, peel it if you like, I prefer the skin on! Place onto a lightly oiled baking tray. 

Spatchcock the chicken, rub a little oil onto the skin and dust with salt & paprika. The oil will help them stick. Place it on top of the veg skin side up. Place into a preheated oven at 230C / 40m.
(If you’re only making the vegetable red curry set oven to 200C and coat the sweet potato w/ oil and salt.)

Put the rice ingredients into a rice cooker / sauce pan and set to cook.

Brown the mushrooms and aubergine and set aside. Char the onion a little on a griddle if you have one then cook the onion red pepper, garlic and ginger until the pepper has softened. Add the red curry paste mushrooms and aubergine and mix until coated evenly. (the chicken should be coming out about now, or soon!)

Add the coconut milk slowly so it sizzles and lifts the flavours off the bottom of the pan. 
Add the lime leaves and leave to simmer. (20 minutes max from this point)

Remove the chicken from the oven, lift the chicken off the veggies and put the it on a chopping board to rest. Remove the veggies and add them to the curry. Deglaze the baking tray on the stove with 200ml of white wine and add the jus to the curry too.

Mix well and serve immediately! B O O M !!

thinking ahead
Can make this curry in the afternoon, and reheat for dinner! (It also freezes well). The chicken should be timed for dinner for it to be both juicy and crispy!

cooking order notes:
start - 8.22PM

* spatchcock chicken & cut sweet potato > oven
* put rice on to cook (don’t forget to turn the rice cooker on!)
* cut mushroom and aubergine > stove lightly sizzling
* make the paste
* make the veg curry
* chicken out naan in
* finish the sweet potato 
* cut chicken 
* finish & season curry, naan out & serve!

L U S H !

10.22PM - come on!! In my defence that included photography!!

I reckon an hour and twenty minutes for curry from scratch!!

to serve
Serve with naan of your choice, cardamom rice and dress with coriander, thai basil, chilli and a lime.

How To Book / Attend

How To Book / Attend
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More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes
If there's something you've tried at ferdiesfoodlab or a technique you want to know about drop us a line at and I'll put up a post about it!!


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