Monday, 28 June 2010

Like A House On Fire

They say that what goes up, must come down. There is a black and there is white, Ying and Yang and all that. There is no one that believes this more than me. After a turbulent ride from the age of 29 – 32, I believe my bad luck years are over. (My Japanese friend, Nobuko, says that her natives believe this is the age women endure most bad luck in a lifetime – I hope that this is right!)

At 33, with Simon we are having the greatest time of our lives, with windows and doors appearing in every direction – all we have to do is open them, with our own hands and look forward to many great things.
Yet again, we had the most amazing supper clubs last weekend and we are astounded that we can still feel so happy about doing them after 9 months of solid work! And a lot of fun too!

Menu
-Pea Soup With Ham
-Figs w/ Goats Cheese & Prosciutto
-Tortilla & Tomate Picante w/ Courgette, Cucumber & Feta Salsa
-Deep Fried Lotus With Carrot & Chicken Salad & Prawn Crackers
-Banh Cuon With Cured Ham & Pork Belly
-Tuna Sashimi & Chips
-Beef Pho
-Coconut Sorbet W/ Cointreau
 (Figs w/ Goats Cheese & Prosciutto)

Via Adrian Bevan at Visit Britain (who looks after journalists from all over the world when it comes to food in the UK), Luiz Hara -The London Foodie bought over Annabelle White, New Zealand’s answer to Delia Smith. Annabelle is Author of 10 cookbooks, has a popular TV and radio cook show. It was slightly terrifying.

I spoke to her at some length at the beginning and at the end of the night, she was so lovely. She came in pretty happy but when she left, she was really really happy. She enjoyed herself so much and she kept asking me how I made the Pho – of which I have directed her to here and here. Must repost this with updates.
 (Banh Cuon With Cured Ham & Pork Belly)

Annabelle told me what gives her so much satisfaction is writing recipes so that other people can try to make your recipe at home themselves. She says how thrilled she gets when people stop her on the street to tell her how they made one of her recipes and how it made them so happy to feed their families and loved ones, a great dish.

I told Annabelle that I need more experience with writing recipes (I hardly follow them myself) because its very precise and I have not really had time to test a recipe with measurements before. Simon is better at recipes. I cook instinctively.

She said a great thing, that food needs to be shared. It doesn’t matter if someone can not make it taste as well as you can, but it’s the act of other people cooking what you have shared with them is the most important thing. Food is for sharing.

We totally agree. I will be doing my next pot of Pho with scientific precision so that Annabelle can share it with Kiwis!! Yay!
Not only was Thursday night’s guests were spectacular and Luiz stayed chatting with us, he said, we keep ‘outdoing ourselves’ as we were polishing off all the left over wine on tables.  (Someone opened a bottle and didn’t even touch it – thanks guys!!!)

On Friday, we were expecting Tim Hayward! OMG – he is the Editor of our favourite publication: Fire & Knives and he wanted to record a show for BBC Radio 4 for The Food Programme about Supper Clubs. He should have already been to the fantastic Civet Cat Supper Club in Newington Green and the famous - The Underground Restaurant in Kilburn for the show and we were the last stop. Now that is terrifying!!
Tim & Dan Saladino (the producer) mingled with 24 other guests. The garden swapped with strangers meeting strangers and becoming friends. It was extraordinary to see how people simply chat willingly to other people in a small place because it is allowed and accepted in this space, this supper club.

How often are we packed full to the brim like cattle and sheep on the tube and we only look at the smallest available space to avoid even the blink of eye contact.
To us, this idea of bringing people together is just as important as making the best tasting food we can to our ability. It is such a high to see people get on like a house on fire!

Tim, one of my favourite writers, is as lovely, charming, charismatic as I imagined him to be and he was interviewing us. What the-...

Tim and Dan asked us very sophisticated questions. I like those as we always get asked the same questions. One interesting one, was about supper clubs and what they mean to us – is it a performance art?

To us, creating and continuing to have strangers come into our home to be fed is a lot like a two way affair. We feed our guests, but they also feed us in more ways than food, in which a lot of our guests form many colours on a blank canvas we once started with 9 months ago.

The Food Programme on Supper Clubs will be on Radio 4 on Sunday 4th July 2010 from 12:30 pm. 

Listen to Podcast here 
In picture above: Most people have gone home, but sometimes, a few brilliant people stay behind and talk to us. Its fantastic- the best part of the day! We are tipsy and we are having very funny conversations. We are all either ourselves or we are someone else, it doesn't matter because we can be as we are, as we want, and we all become friends.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Hairy Bikers - Wants You!

We love watching cookery programmes on TV. What better – midweek, eating your dinner with the telly on. Whether it’s a bit of Sophie Dahl’s dreamy indulgence, to Jamie Oliver’s travels and missions to Gordon Ramsey’s four letter words – they are so much fun and inspirational – eat food, watch food, talk food, think food, see food!

We get some great dinner guests from all walks of life and some from the BBC approached us to write a blog post on The Hairy Bikers as they are looking for contestants to take part in their new show about being ‘Britain’s Best Cooking Family.’ It reminded us of their shows – ‘Mum Knows Best’.
Mums do definitely know best. Mums are awesome – they introduced us to the foods we love and they continue to make our best, our favourite and our most loved dish. My mother helps me so much with Vietnamese cuisine as does Simon’s mum advise him on many Spanish and British favourites. She is the actual secret to Simon’s amazing chips! Simon's mum loves The Hairy Bikers!

What we love about the Hairy Bikers is that they are no nonsense cooking – they make stuff and its about the taste and how enjoyable it is to cook and to eat. They are not about restaurants and presentation – they are down to earth and appeal to the vast majority of people who aren’t passionate foodies like some of us are and encourage people to enjoy food.

There isn’t anything pretty about them – but there is something massively appealing and warm about Simon King and David Myers that is so instinctive and humane.

You can apply to be in their next show here
or email hairybikersfamilyfood@bbc.co.uk

We will be cooking up some of their recipes very soon (we haven’t got much time of late)– and hope that they get to reveal some great secrets passed on from mums and mums of mums and their mums. (or dads).

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Summer Rolls

Uyen and I went to Vietnam - on a food odyessy. We were food hunting, sampling everything we could lay our mits on! We had a day of markets: buying fruits - some crazy ones I had never come across, steamed coconut rice buns, varieties of different meats barbecued on sticks - causing the air to linger of lemongrass and sweet honey. The smoke raged our appetites and make our eyes open wide.

We munched away, dissected, nibbled, sucked and generally investigated the offerings of the street stalls, drinking - sugar cane juice. And then there, it was - the discovery of the summer rolls! Different from any that I had tasted in any Vietnamese restaurants in London.

Vietnamese summer rolls vary greatly, most of the time the street bought ones are generally loosely wrapped with a small amount of pork and herbs and sometimes an extra rice paper to fill the roll. The ones we picked up this particular day, sold by a lovely woman, were nice in a couple of ways - they had crunchy bits inside them and lashings of fresh mint leaf, soooo refreshing!

This experience has definitely become a huge  influence in the creation of our own summer rolls that we regularly serve at supper clubs. They are relatively easy to make and roll (with a little practice). It helps if you have a rolling mat, especially if you're making them as packed as we do!!

So here goes…

the ingredients:


rice paper - the larger ones of 22cm
coriander omelette - cut into thin slices
lettuce leaves
roast pork belly - thinly sliced
shredded pork skin - bought dry, then soaked in cold water for 2 hours
bbq pork (char siu)
mint leaves
king prawns - place them first at the bottom so that they are visible when wrapped

and for the added crunch factor, we also add in some of our chopped up woven spring rolls!!

Here is the recipe for Spring Rolls.


Time to roll these babies! And quite frankly getting all the ingredients together in one place is more work than rolling them!!!!

Method
Dip rice paper in warm water, wet on both sides and drain of excess on side of tray.
Lay it out flat on a rolling mat - if you're going for a more relaxed Vietnamese street style summer roll you really don't need a rolling mat - and do not delay in loading it with goodies!
Fold the outside edges in so they are parallel, or point in very slightly to the centre at the top. Then fold the closest edge to you in to the centre.
Pop the rolling mat over the top and roll away until sealed.
It should look like this:
Note the first 3 always look a little rough around the edges; until you get your eye in!! ; )






















Tip: If your rice paper is sticking to your mat and ruining everything! Soak your mat and rub it with vegetable oil to seal it. This happens when a mat is new.















Practice make perfect!!!!





One of the great things about summer rolls is that you can vary the ingredients as you like, (Uyen tells me they would kill you in Vietnam if they saw you changing their perfectly balanced combination - but no see, no know) - you can make them super low fat, I made my self some for lunch. As you can see, I didn't have a rolling mat handy but who cares! These had lettuce, tomato, coriander, crisped parma ham (no oil used) spring onions, poached salmon, pickled ginger and mint hmmm! (Especially good out of the fridge) If you're taking them to work for packed lunch make sure they're in an air tight container otherwise you'll be able to knock people out with them they'll have gone so hard!! Airtight!! Sx

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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 bookings@ferdiesfoodlab.co.uk and I'll put up a post about it!!

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