Monday, 14 February 2011

Recipe: Scallops and Oyster Mushroom in Cava w/ Crunchy Potatoes - Celebrating the Potato

This isn't a roastie it's a fondant (melts in the mouth) potato : )

WIth all these fad diets sweeping the nation many of which remove the lovely carb element from the menu it would seem that everyone  has turned their back on the humble potato!!! In retaliation Jean Christophe Novelli has set up a competition to celebrate the potato. So I spent a little time today looking into this and blimey it's a versatile beasty indeed!

The potato is a fantastic vehicle for flavour and a great conveyor of slow release energy, and it's prepared in soooo many ways I couldn't cover them all in detail here, but I'm going to try at least skim over them.

There are a few things that have a bearing on the outcome of a culinary potato adventure. These might seem obvious but how the potato is cut has a huge effect: it alters the crunchiness, how quickly it cooks and has an impact on texture. Of course, another element that's very important to take in to account is the type of potato, and whether it has a waxy or floury flesh. This also affects the texture and in turn what the potato should be used for. Incidentally, there's a great list of potato qualities here (loads of potato varieties!), but in general use floury types for baked, mash and roasties, and waxier varieties for boiled, fried, and salads.

Quick comment on roasties….
What would life be without these nuggets of beauty? I can't remember the number of Sundays that I've sat down with family or friends for a fab roast dinner and a couple of pints or a glass of wine. What a brilliant combo. The problem is you get a rubbish roastie - waiting for hours in a baking tray hoping it might retain it's glory - as often as you get a good one! Sad times!

There's no excuse. Make sure your potato is cooked (boiled), then roughly mix with fat, (I use olive oil but goose fat is popular) salt and  pepper. Put them into a hot oiled baking tray so they sizzle when they hit the tray. Put 'em in at 180C and turn only when the bottoms are crunchy!! Wait till the new bottom is crunchy! Job done.

Scallops and Oyster Mushroom in Cava w/ Crunchy Potatoes
INGREDIENTS
6 scallops
200g mixed mushrooms including oyster (chopped)
150ml cava
25g butter
6 cloves of garlic
6 olives (quartered)
5 medium potatoes floury (peeled and chopped)
little oregano or thyme
15g parsley.

METHOD
Cook the garlic on a low heat in olive oil until completely soft.
Boil potatoes and then cut them up, or vice versa!
. . . and smash them . . .
. . . then sit them in a heavy based pan on a medium heat and leave to brown . . .
In another pan add the butter, heat until brown then add the mushrooms sweat them off.
Once they've lost most of their water add the cava.
Make sure you turn the potatoes so they brown on both sides.
At this point the scallops can be added to the potatoes.
And if you're feeling a bit naughty add a little cream! Tut tut!!


Once the scallops are done, add the mushrooms, olives and herbs. Mix and serve.
I was feeling virtuous so I added leaks cooked in chicken stock.

You can also celebrate the potato with these inexpensive and very tasty recipes:
-   Arroz al Horno (Baked Rice)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Recipe: Churros with Chilli & Orange Infused Chocolate Dip (and Chocolate Spread!!)

by ferdie, in partnership with Unearthed for Agtion Against Hunger

Churros are one of those fantastic foods that is filled with so many memories for me. You can find churros all over Spain and I have happy memories of them from all ages. My first memories of churros were on holiday visiting gran who was always so delighted to see us would make the dunking chocolate and biscuits for break fast and if we were really lucky we'd get churros yeay!

In August, traditionally the holiday month in Spain - although it's spread to July too - all the villages in the area have fiestas. Each village has it's fiesta on a different dates, which is cool because it means you can go to neighbouring villages a wooing the girls ; ) or depending on how old we were setting fire crackers off just behind them to hear them squeal, he he!

Our village had a massive band!


It would start with a procession, quite a religious affair, and would end up in the main square by the disused - except for at fiesta time - school building. At fiesta there would be games for the kids during the day and in the evening a giant cazuela (a cauldron) of chocolate sauce was brewed up to be served with churros at 7pm to the delight of all the kids and adults and crones, and hairy old men of the village. You know a guy has seen a a lot of years go by when you look over and you notice that somehow - god only knows how - he's got chocolate sauce on his ferociously overgrown nostril hair.

The second day the school hall is used as a bar and banqueting hall where everyone goes have a few wines or beers and each others company and great sides of slow roast lamb, a local speciality from neighbouring village. There aren't words to describe the kind of smile that just the smell of this stuff would bring to my face, to everyones! I'm going on a secret mission to find out how this is reared and cooked! But that is another story!

Years later a little more grown up I'd visit Madrid to see my cousins, I remember one year them surprising we with a visit to Las Ventas, the bull ring in Madrid, thankfully for an evening of entertainment that put the rather impressive building to much better use that it's intended purpose: and ACDC concert! Thunder! Needless to say churros were consumed on the way home…..

And my most recent memory at our Unearthed event getting some fantastic smiles and moans of delight from our guests.

Any way I'll stop rambling, here it is:

Churros with Chilli & Orange Infused Chocolate Dip (Serves 6)

INGREDIENTS
For the Batter
200g plain flour
1/4 tsp of salt
80g unsalted butter
120ml water
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
veg oil (for frying - at least 1.5 inches deep)

For the hot chocolate Sauce
125g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) plus extra for grating
300ml double cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 red chilli
zest 2 oranges

For the sugar coating
100g caster sugar for dusting
2 tsp ground cinnamon
piping bag & star nozzle

METHOD
For the Chocolate Sauce
Put everything but the chocolate into a pot and bring it to the boil, CAREFUL it doesn't boil over it makes a lot of mess!!
Simmer for 10mins allow the flavours to infuse into the cream and milk.
Break the chocolate into small pieces.
Sieve the mixture and remove from the heat, then add the chocolate pieces, and stir until the chocolate has melted forming beautiful chocolate sauce, my ran used to make this for my brother and me for breakfast when we went to visit her tiny mountain village Barahona in central Spain



For the Churros
Do the Churros in two halves - too much to do in one go!!
Put the flour into a bowl, mix in the baking powder and make well in the middle
Melt the butter in the water - don't boil just let it melt and cool a little
put the eggs and water into the well and mix in carefully until you have a smooth paste
put into piping bags and put in the fridge for half and hour, let the baking powder do it's work - makes them lighter!

Heat a pan to full heat or a fryer to 180C.
Hold the piping bag in one hand and the scissors in the other - if you dip the scissors in the oil it stops the churros sticking to them - and snip equal length churros into the oil. Take them out and place on kitchen towel to dry the oil off.

Tip 1: If you're making a lot (when we make it we use a kilo of plain flour) mix in 2 batches half ingredients in each.

Tip 2: When mixing by hand make a well in the flour and gradually mix in the the flour this will stop lumps forming in your batter.

Tip 3: When zesting the orange use a zester (as in picture) or a microplane, they are a lot better at getting into the peel with a lot less effort and rewarding you with a lot more zest.

Tip 4: Take care not to squeeze too hard if you're using disposable (recyclable) piping bags because you might find a massive bloaty churro following your piping nozzle right into the fryer! Creating a bit fat doughnut with a beak, resembling some kind on munchable jurassic treat.

Tip 5: If there's leftover dip, or you've "accidentally" made too much pour it into a jam jar and let it set over night then seal it with an air tight lid, it makes great chocolate spread.

We did these in partnership with Unearthed for Agtion Against Hunger

Churros w/ Chillie & Orange Infused Chocolate Sauce
Unfortunately unearthed don't sell these so you'll have to have a go yourselves!! You can find the whole 7 course menu we served here.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Win A Seat At Our Exclusive Dinner Party In Aid Of The Jamie Oliver Foundation

By Leluu
Yesterday, we found out that we are in 5th place for the Best Food Blogger of 2010 as voted by people to Quadrille on Twitter. How fantastic is that? We are ever so chuffed! We absolutely love cook books in any shape or form and Quadrille publish many of our heroes such as Janet Street Porter, Mark Hix, Antonio Carluccio & Simon Hopkinson among many greats. So as you can imagine, we are thrilled!.
And we've got more good news for everyone as well! We've teamed up with Yell.com for an amazing supper club event in aid of The Jamie Oliver Foundation and we are really pleased to announce that you can win a fantastic meal at our supper club on Tuesday 1st March 2011.

Yell have set up a reviews site, you can let others know what you think of the meal you had at Fifteen to Pizza Express and every time you review a place, Yell donates 25p to a list of charities you can chose from including The Jamie Oliver Foundation. For this event only, they will be donating 50p to the foundation.

How "flipping" cool is that - I think Moss from The IT Crowd would be very happy indeed! Not only will you be telling everyone about how great a place is (or maybe to avoid it), you get Yell donating to The Jamie Oliver Foundation for writing as little as 140 characters!

We are huge fans of Jamie Oliver himself. In the last 10 years, we've followed Jamie through his cooking to all his great political achievements and movements in food knowledge. The man is a hero! I love that his passion never ends and how he has this charitable foundation for the importance of awareness of food and nutrition and how that impacts everyone's lives as well as children and vulnerable groups.
We met Jamie a few months ago and became even bigger fans. He is just such a great bloke - very charismatic but also down to earth and humble - much like how we see him on TV.

To enter the competition, go to Trusted Places's blog here - all the instructions are there, when you select The Jamie Oliver Foundation and review something, you are entered into the competition and we will get to pick the best written, quirky and funny review. You will then win a dinner at our supper club.

Unfortunately, Jamie will not be there himself as he's probably trying to change the way Americans are eating at that time but there will be Naked Wines - a great independent wine maker - almost on tap - 'cept it'll be pouring from bottles! Prosecco from Follador, it’s been around since 1750’s and very prestigious in Italy, but only just launched in the UK.

For food, Fin & Flounder have sponsored some sustainable fish for a couple of dishes and Habour & Jones will be supplying us with ingredients as they already do so for Fifteen. Simon will be making some great food - you heard he is good, well, I tell you - the guy can really cook well and he is getting one of Jamie's apprentices from Fifteen to help out too. Sold? Go and enter. You can sweet tooth us by commenting here too.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Recipe: Ensaladilla Rusa (Russian Salad / Salad Olivier)

by ferdie, in partnership with Unearthed for Action Against Hunger

This is one of the staples of tapas houses all over the Iberian peninsula and into France!! What I find though is that it's rare that you get served a good one. In fact, the number of places that serve truly appalling potato salad is a bit depressing. Usually substandard ingredients with little variety, thin mayonnaise and undercooked potatoes - so disappointing because this is truly one of the kings of comfort foods. I often get a portion before ordering anything else to gauge if the rest of the tapas will be up to par. I do get excited if it's a good one cos when this is made with love it's fantastic and there's a good chance the other tapas have been made with love too : )

Ensaladilla Rusa by wiki accounts was first created in 1860 by Lucien Olivier of the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow. Me thinks the original - which apparently used venison and cray fish amongst other things - has gone through a few Chinese whispers to reach it's current incarnation.

Whenever we went to visit my grandparents in their remote little mountain village for a big old family reunion, this dish would always make it onto the feast menu. Usually in the first or second round served with fresh French stick! That aside, this is how my auntie showed me how to make it, with some small adjustments of my own.

Ingredients (makes 12 large portions or 24 small)
2.5kg  Maris Piper potatoes  (cut into 1-2cm cubes and boiled)
400g   tinned peas  (drained)
400g   tinned artichokes or from deli counter  (drained and diced)
4         carrots  (diced and boiled)
6         spring onions  (sliced - small rings)
18       boiled quails eggs peeled  (6 garnish) or 6 medium eggs hard boiled
24       garlic and chilli flavoured olives  (pitted and sliced)
6         pickled picante peppers  (finely chopped)
3         whole roast peppers  (coarsely chopped - keep 1/2 for garnish)
4         gherkins  (chopped)
750g   mayo  (150g for garnish)
100g   cured tuna  (for garnish optional - or anchovies)

I did this one so that it was vegetarian friendly (simply don't garnish with tuna or anchovy) but more often than not tuna is added to the mix, as are prawns, which I prefer. In fact a friend who was eating with us that night said it was perfect but was rather upset about the lack of prawns! Can't please everyone although this one come close.

Method
Prepare the ingredients as per the ingredients list. The important thing is to use tinned peas, not fresh or frozen, as they contribute to the texture of the mix, use fresh boiled carrots, and raw spring onions finely chopped into small rings.

If you've got the time to roast peppers then that's great but the ones that come in glass jars do a nice job too. You can also do the peppers in a heavy based pan with a lid and some extra virgin olive oil on a medium heat the way my mum does them, turn up the heat just at the end to blacken those sweet little babies off.

But the most important thing is how you cut and cook the potatoes. The secret to a good potato salad is not just nicely cooked small(ish) potato but also the gloop that binds the whole ensemble together and no! that gloop isn't just mayonnaise. It's juice and flavour from the peppers and other ingredients mixed with light mashed mayo potato hmmm : )

Question is how do you get that and it's very simple. Firstly don't cut the potatoes up larger than 2cm, 1cm - 2cm is perfect. Smaller than  that and you're potatoes will quickly turn to mush. Larger than 2cm and you end up with bits of potatoes too large to eat and the balance of potato to lovely gloop is too potatoey. Put the potatoes into the water and add salt. When the water starts to boil, set your timer for 7 minutes, when it goes off they should be perfect. But check them with a knife to be sure, I usually check them at 6 minutes just in case. Then drain them in a colander for a couple of minutes. At this point you need to fluff the potatoes. Once drained pour them back into the pot, season with salt and pepper, get a large fork, and roughly stir up the potatoes until they're kinda fluffy around the edges.

Put the eggs you're going to use as garnish aside, then roughly chop up (or grate) the remaining eggs and add them along with the rest of ingredients that aren't to be used as garnish to the potatoes and mix all together until it's evenly mixed. Check for seasoning and adjust as required.

We garnished our with cured tuna, quails egg and piquant pepper.

This is a version we did in partnership with Unearthed for Action Against Hunger
The course was Pork Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce w/ Ensaladilla Rusa
We used Unearthed pork meatballs and garnished the salad manzanilla olives and sun dried tomatoes and prosciutto. You can find the whole 8 course menu we served here.

As you can see you can present this in all sorts of ways only limited by you imagination!!

Of course if you're a Spaniard or a foodie there's a good chance you'll want to make the mayo yourself so here's how!

Tips: You can cook the potatoes with a stock cube for added flavour, this works well if you're doing a really simple potato salad, with, for example just the green part of spring onions. Which is ultra quick and quite tasty.

When you put love into you're food people will notice!!!!

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

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