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Monday 22 November 2010

Shacklewell Nights

By Leluu
There is something happening to the London food scene and its fantastic! Obviously the supper club phenomenon has hit it and it’s changing the way we are interacting. Like how technology has changed the way we have interacted over the years – from snail mail to email to social networking. The way we are eating out has blossomed like a wild red rose.

Last weekend, we took some time off to spend with our foodie friends and support other ones who have their own ventures in supper clubbing.
As our dear, Vintage Macaroon is leaving to live in her native Australia, she booked a table to eat at Shacklewell Nights which is run by Claire Roberson from Green Onions who has teamed up with Jonathan Woolway to formulate ‘hidden dinning’- cross pop up in-between-restaurant-/supper-club events at a top floor warehouse in Dalston.
Wonderful Claire Roberson
We entered into a gorgeous environment of people mingling around chatting to each other as if it’s an actual event or a private party. Everybody comes with an open mind and a great willingness to integrate with other people. Only one or two years ago, integration was out of the question unless it’s a private party!

The atmosphere was brilliant; there was a bar, lovely waitresses, nice random furnishings (just my style), great lighting, nice cutlery and crockery – a welcoming and happy place that you’d want to spend an evening in.

I have gotten to know Claire a bit since we first came to her supper club (post here) -Green Onions. I just think that its amazing how she has done this, managed to fill the place out with 72 guests over and over. Claire is very entrepreneurial and we are all really looking forward to whatever she does.

LibbieLush, Vintage Macaroon and I were sat next to three very handsome boys – who had in fact been to our supper club before. Nikhil, Nick and Jamie who were also big fans of The London Foodie and didn’t realize he were sitting on our table too. They were best pleased – also to be introduced to Dr G too – they were clapping like penguins in their minds. We talked about why single, straight men do not really get together to go to these dinner events like girls do and congratulated them on being clever enough! It’s the best place to meet women – I tell you boys! Get your skates on!

To eat, we had:

Smoked Eel & Celeriac

Watercress, Braised Beef & Swede
Chocolate Terrine

Neal Yards Cheese Plate with Hackney Chutney
It all tasted really good, the idea of the sharing plates were great – doing this just brings us all closer together and breaks the boundaries of social conventions. However, I have a big appetite and should have asked for seconds. Instead, I got totally drunk on the boy’s port, their promo whisky and all of our red wine! Was not feeling too hot the next day! This is only happening because I am in my thirties! Got to get that dang time machine working!
£40 min donation per person

Thursday 18 November 2010

Recipe - Duck in Quince & Red Peppercorn Sauce w/ Cassoulet, Green Beans and Edamame in a Basil Emulsion

by @theferdie

We were invited to attend a fantastic Green & Blacks event this week with various prizes including a KitchenAid mixer, one piece of kit that I'd love to have so I didn't need to be asked twice here's what I made! (serves 4)

Micro Cassoulet
400g tin flagiolet beans (in juice)
3 medium red onions (finely chopped)
4 tbsp suet
2 large pinches oak smoked salt
2 small catalan sausage (a couple of slices french pave equally good)
285g jar of artichokes (sieved and chopped)
1 pack pancetta (125g?)
1 1/2 tsp orange blossom honey (a clear runny honey)
Basil leaf for garnish

Duck in Quince and Red Peppercorn Sauce
4 duck breasts
2 tsp red peppercorns
4 tbsp of brine (from the red pepper corns)
50ml water
16 blueberries (optional)

Green Beans and Edamame w/ Basil Emultion

300g green beans
150g edamame beans
1 chicken stock cube
2 large pinches maldon salt
2 egg yolks
40ml basil infused olive oil


1 medium frying pan
2 boiling pans
4 7cm (2.5 inch) ring molds
electric whisk (or hand whisk)
1 heavy or rubber based mixing bowl (so you can mix and pour without holding the bowl!)

The aim of the competition - 15:15 - was to prep and make a sweet or savoury course for one in under 15 minutes with a huge budget of less than 15GPB. I've changed this a little so that if you're following the recipe you won't be running around like a lunatic, even so it's shouldn't take much more than half an hour and it will feed four, simple to make and looks the part! Oh, and it doesn't taste too bad either!! He he! The recipe is pretty faithful to the way I cooked it, on the day. I totaled it up and it comes out at about 6.00GBP per head.

Pans at the ready and all the ingredients setup for each part of the plate. I start to group things together so I don't forget anything in the frenzy, all garnishy things on one side of the hob, all bits to be prepped and cooked on the other.

At this point I realise I am missing two eggs, and there's about 5 minutes before things kick off! Holy chickens what am I going to do, I ask about and no one is actually using any eggs let alone got any spare, I wonder over and ask Uyen and company if there's somewhere I can get eggs. "Oh they were on the table" pipes up Uyen! (And why didn't you mention that on the way out??? Grrrrr!) "Oh oh, there a little shop just outside!!" OK lets check that. I popped next door and inquired about eggs, they looked at me like I was mad as a hat. Time wa running out, about 3 minutes before start! No time to go John Lewis find the food dept, queue and get back. Thiiink! Aha, I cross the road pop into Pizza Express, straight to the open kitchen and explain to the chef that I was in a competition, and could I have two eggs? Fried or poached he exclaimed! Very helpful but no, raw. Raw, and whole! I need them to cook with. As soon as he realised what I was asking he gladly handed me two eggs, for which I thanked him kindly and hurried off to cook! You can see me gripping my eggy prize here!

Having just grouped my ingredients into each of the dishes components, I suddenly realise that there's countdown going on in the background "OK you have 15mins get ready 3, 2, 1, GO"

GO!? GO! Shiiiiiit!! OK here goes!! Aaaaaaaargh!!!
Plates into the oven to keep warm, ready for service. If you're following these instructions, I hadn't even considered a plate at this point! Err oops!

Add enough water (400ml) to cook the edamame and the beans to pot 1 and turn on to boil.

Take the pancetta and without doing anything to it (other than unwrapping it that is) put it in the frying pan on a medium heat. The aim is to brown this off it will be the topping of the cassoulet. The layered pieces of pancetta will present well and it's tasty hmm hmm!

Add the suet to pot 2 on a medium heat, then chop the rest of the cassoulet ingredients  except the beans and add them all to pot 2 as well. Chop up the artichokes and put them to one side in a tub ready to plate up.

Turn the pancetta in the frying pan, it should be brown by now.

Stir cassoulet ingredients - you want them to start to brown.

Don't let the pancetta burn!!! Check take it off if its ready and put it onto some kitchen towel to drain off the excess fat.

Skin the duck, discard the skin, and trim the duck into regular thickness oblongs, so they cook evenly.
Take the duck trimmings finely chop and add them to the other cassoulet ingredients in pot 2.

Stir until the duck bits have just cooked through - you don't want them crisp, but soft and tender. Add 2 healthy pinches of oak smoked sea salt and the flagiolet beans and their juices mixing everything well. Leave on a medium heat.

Pot 1 should be boiling by now, chop up the chicken stock and add it to the boiling water, stir until its dissolved and add the beans and edamame, set an alarm for 6 minutes. (5minutes if you like your beens crunchier)

Add the duck breasts to the frying pan that the pancetta's just come out of, and leave to cook.

Now get the basil emulsion going while the duck and the beans cook.
Put 2 egg yolks into the mixing bowl add a pinch of salt and whisk until light, then start adding a steady stream of the basil infused olive oil as you would to make mayonnaise but don't go as far as mayonnaise, keep going until you have a smooth glossy liquid, taste and season if needed.

Turn the duck breasts, ooh, aah, ooh aah, aah, ouch, yeah that's me fingers burning!  Sometime around here a timer will be going off in the background - shiit what's that, what's that? Ahah the beans in pot 2 are ready! Sieve and leave in the sieve sat on the pot to stay warm.

Take a ring mold and with a sharp pointed knife, using the ring mold as a guide cut 4 circles out of the sheet of pancetta. Keep these to top the cassoulet.

Wearing your oven mits take the plates out of the oven and set out on the counter. It's at this point that one of the helpers cleverly asked what I was going to plate up on? "Can I get you a plate?" "oo crap! err yes please!!" 

Put a ring mold on each plate and put about 1.5cm of cassoulet into the bottom of each, then add a layer of artichoke, dividing the mix between the 4 ring molds then another layer of cassoulet.

4 minutes, 4 minutes everyone!!!  Yikes still got the sauce to do and the duck to cut!!

Take the duck out and put it on a cutting board to rest. At this point I'm thinking, stay on target, stay on target, bloody hell what next?

Add the water to the frying pan to deglaze and then the brine (4 tbsp) from the peppercorns, then stir in the quince jelly until the liquid is smooth, add the pepper corns and turn down to a medium heat.

Next put the cut out circles of pancetta into the ring molds and press down to firm up the cassoulet. Using a honey dipper drip a thin layer of honey over the bacon of each mold. Honey dipper, what? Don't have time for that, finger! (clean finger!) Dip, drip, circular motion, coat, done! Pinch 4 shoot tips off the basil plant and garnish. 

Bloody hell! Err, err umm 2 minutes!!!! Ooooooh myyyy gooooood!!!

Take the green beans out of the sieve and plate, sprinkle the edamame beans around them and spoon on the basil emulsion, don't be mean!!

1 minute!! Craaaaaap. Crap!!  Put your finger in a tripod formation on the pancetta to hold the cassoulet in place and gently lift the ring mold off.

Slice the duck evenly and using a spatula (or the knife your cutting with!) plate the duck, spreading the slices evenly then dress with the quince and red peppercorn sauce, and surround with 4 blueberries. The blueberries are a nice compliment, even if they are a bit out of season. Time!!! That's it TIME!! Err blueberries? What blueberries, there aren't supposed to be any blueberries, I meant to do that, honest!

Stand there - rushing off the adrenaline - with a rather nice cocktail that's been handed to you! That will do nicely!! Glug hmmmm!

1st test, too many flavours! And a bad case of tuck your shirt in boy! Straighten that tie, do up your jacket! Comb your hair!

2nd test out of detention and generally smarter! And tastier!

Final version! What? Blueberries? No, there aren't supposed to be any blueberries. Honest!

Of course I wasn't the only one having fun! And I have to be honest this was easily one of the most fun foodie events I've ever been to! Hands down!

The other contributors & their contributions:

Meemalee: (Meemalees's Kitchen) WINNER WINNER but no chicken dinner
Shimeji Mushrooms, Salmon Roe, Mirin, & Shiso Leaf

Becci (Feed and Gastro): Crab Linguine - Lovely!
Sarah (Food for Think): Oreo Cheese Cake : )
Jack (Food for Thinks): Scallops w/ Green Pesto and Capers
Luiz (The London Foodie): Grilled Quails w/ Pistachio and Rose Petals
Laura (Feast on Scraps): Fillet Steak w/ Coriander and Coconut Rice
Kavita (Kavey Eats): Kavey Chutney w/ Selection of Croûte au Fromage

Jennifer (Chocolate Ecstasy Tours): Chocolate and Raspberries Mille Feuille
Uyens also posted more about everyone at the event here
As I was saying one of the most fun events I've been to, nice one Gail for organising this for Green and Blacks Chocolate. 
But what was it all in aid of I hear you ask? Well the head of taste Micah Carr-Hill (choc tips from him) at Green and Blacks is looking for an assistant a job you can apply for here. The event served to get the word out to the foodie community and test run the application process at the same time, which I understand will also involve cooking and taste tests but with rather less stringent time restrictions.  
We also had a very interesting talk from Matthew Stokes from Frutarom who kindly brought some pure bottled pongs for our delectation, from vanilla to cheesy feet, along with a little theory of smell! 
When sampling the taste chemical one should start as far above the product as ten inches while agitating said product. The reason being that this is where you'll fine the light notes. Start making sense Fernandez I'm hearing.... well a flavour is made up a lot of different flavour molecules, more than 400 in the case of chocolate around 150 for carrots etc etc. The smaller that molecule is, the more volatile it is and therefore the more likely it is to evaporate and be at the tip of your nose fastest. These are the lighter notes!! The base notes will be larger molecules that require more energy to evaporate. In essence, what you're doing as you near you nose to the glass is a kin to open air fractional distillation! Well blow me down with a feather I never thought of it like that. So each smell has a particular molecular signature that can be synthetically reconstructed, which one of Frutarom functions. Fascinating stuff. 
To test out our new knowledge, and taste buds and our built in gas chromatography kit (noses) we were mixed 2 cocktails by Johann et al from Drinks Fusion
There was also a ganache test, which was to assess which ingredients were in a white chocolate and dark chocolate ganache, I think these were which tea, these were rather subtle and I think even trying these with a clean palette at the beginning of the evening they would still have been a struggle to identify! I got the vanilla but only because you could see the seeds in the white chocolate. 
One last thing: Goodie box! Goodie box! Nobody went away empty handed, everybody was given a great goodie box with a taste testing kit in it, loads of Chocolate and a bottle of wine hurrah!!
Needless to say I think a great time was had by all!

Monday 8 November 2010

Cured Serrano Ham w/ Champagne Poached Pears

by ferdie

This little one is one of the most talked about dishes that we did for our Action Against Hunger with Unearthed event, it's something I made myself for lunch with left overs from a picnic. On the first run I kind of overdid it with the watercress. In fact I only used watercress as the base! Waaaaay too much! A quick adjustment 2:1 lambs lettuce to watercress, drizzle over a little olive oil and pear juice, lovely! Dress with serrano ham and poached pears.
Poached Pears.....hmmm!
Lambs Lettuce and Watercress Salad w/ Serrano Ham and Poached Pears. Very healthy.

You can find the whole 7 course menu we served here.

Big Hugs Ferdie

Friday 5 November 2010

Hairy Bikers Pilot With The Fernandez

By Leluu
Photography/ Copyright Alfie Hitchcock 2010
Photography/ Copyright Alfie Hitchcock 2010
Photography/ Copyright Alfie Hitchcock 2010
Photography/ Copyright Alfie Hitchcock 2010
We did a pilot for The Hairy Bikers Cook Off at the BBC a few weeks back. Here was the post and Simon cooked paella (recipe here). We were The Fernandez Family.

It was great fun. Now that the series has started to air, we can publish the photos. It was such a great day out and being in the studio for the first time in our lives. It was really wonderful to see how everyone worked as a team, how everyone had a job to do and worked so hard and to be under all those lights - how extraordinary!

Simon had to make a paella in 30 minutes and his mum Susan and I helped him. It didn't look like anything would cook but it did and boy - it was the best paella I have ever tasted - I'm not kidding - the Fernandez - knows how to make paella! And we won that challenge. Yay!

Although, sadly, we didn't win any of the other challenges like make pasta in 4 minutes and things like that... : ) but we didn't care - it was just such a great experience.

Thank you Hairy Bikers. Thank You BBC. Thank you Ben Walton, Ingrid O'Reilly & Neil Strawson

How To Book / Attend

How To Book / Attend
Fancy getting stuck in? Click on the image above and to see how : ) . . . hope to see you soon.

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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