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Thursday 31 May 2012

London Supper Club: ferdiesfoodlab this month! Highly recommend!

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Well it's been a crazy busy month as usual, if I'm not hosting, cooking or experimenting I'm tapping away at my computer.

In this post,a fabulous post from Mummy, Mrs, Minä, birthday party
and, Movember Action!

Constructive criticism always welcome, it's how you grow. Praise? . . . .  ahem . . err yeah!!

Obviously it's not all been private parties, and the social banquet has been exploding as usual into a smorgasbord of people, flavours, colours, wines (Mr Drink & Eat) and beers (Kieran is Beerin) conversation and laughter, and the odd squeal of excitement (I kid you not!).

It's always nice to chat to our guests at the end of the night and this night was no exception, I especially remember Michelle the inquisitor ; ) (and I 'm talking 1 million questions a second - I had to concentrate and take deep breaths) and the very dry not to mention sardonic Andy and the very beautiful mystery blogger and hubster! It's nicer still when said mystery blogger Mummy, Mrs, Minä says this about the evening:

"We spent a lovely Saturday night out with our friends Michelle and Andy at Ferdie’s Food Lab  at Toynbee Hall in Shoreditch. This was the first supper club for me and the hubby: up til now he has been a little dubious about the concept of dinner served in somebody’s front room. Evening was fab, met some lovely new people and more importantly, the food was delicious. Highly recommend!"

(you can see full post here)

I think it's the "Highly recommend!" bit I like!!  Thank you very much for your post! : )

So, all in all, it's been a pretty busy month. There have been other gruelling elements to this month but I'll leave those for another post . . . . . .

Next banquet is on Fri 8th June and promises to be rather good!!!

If you fancy coming along just send an email with you details!! Here's how . . . .

The table awaits!

Birthday Party!!! I love a good party!

The private parties at ferdiesfoodlab are just as good as the social banquets, and, even though all of the group have one connection in common, there's still lots of room for catching up and "getting to know you!" This fabulous birthday was no exception, as I found out while I socially hopped about the room. Folks had come from all over the country leaving their cares (of both types) in the care of others, some staying with friends, others booking the weekend in plush hotels, but all coming to the banquet!!

Here are some of the comments left by Jean and Jamie's friends:
"Writing this as the birthday boy/man/whatever,
I had a truly splendid time - the atmosphere of this fine and noble establishment is most convivial, and the food - oh the food! Heavenly . . .
Superlatively friendly and unobtrusive service also.  Credit all round.
I think you'll find it's my party!! (Thank you very much a hu huh!!)

"Loved! the Yum Salaad, <--- + all the stuff - the tomatoey thing etc
We loved the food and had fun!"

Seating - Quick bit of reconnaissance at the fire place.

"You're amazing, whenever I called it was all so easy, never a problem such delight, and a change!!
Thanks, Jean"

Our crack team caught a wee banquetee being smuggled in!!!

"Thanks Simon,
The food was very tasty and the portion size was great . . the Yum Salaad took us by surprise, it was a great mix of flavours.
The ribeye was cooked to PERFECTION (Aussies like it rare) thanks for giving us a wonderful meal!"

The roast ribeye of beef - BURNT!!! - NO, just dusted in liquorice!

Rare - maybe rest 5 mins more next time . . .
"Fanstastic food + evening! My nearly 6 month old who hasn't been weened yet had his first non-milk food - polished off the grapefruit/basil thing - which I loved too. Salad, fudge + ganache + clear tomato juice - GORGEOUS!! Perfect roasts too. Jolly good show Ferdie - have liked you on Facebook and by golly I like your food in real life too!!!

Got to keep up my strength - the wee banquetee went for a shot! (of grapefruit and basil granita yogurt)

Thanks Jean for very smooth organisation and thanks for just being helpful in general! I hope you all had a really great time!! Simon (ferdie)

Is that a Freddie Mercury frame on the table? Bring it on!! (not provided by ferdiesfoodlab . . a consideration for the future tho!)

Rumour's got around, why haven't we got one on our table!!???
Things are getting lively!
Uh oh, busted, papping the guests!! And (oh no! horror!) forced to join in!


Movember (@MovemberUK on twitter)
What's occurring? Well I was asked if I could contribute to this year's Movember cookbook, and seeing as I'm a bloke, and not only is it a GREAT excuse to grow a moustache, but it's also a great cause and I love cooking and designing recipes, it seemed like a no brainer. Movember charity: The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.

You can find out more from their web site here and there's a face book page too LIKE it here! If you're in the mood for liking, don't forget to LIKE ferdiesfoodlab too : )

So the conversation with Paula at Movember got me thinking "what recipes shall I do?". If you want to know how to make anything I cooked for my old supper club, the Pea Soup for example has already been requested by 4 people!! I'll be putting up a gallery soon! Watch this space!
Purple cabbage & black olive salad - colourful and tasty! Mum's salads are so good!
Home made sausage rolls will always WIN!! not that healthy : ( tho
Duck breast and baked potato . . with an orange and thyme sauce! I'm on my knees!
Lamb belly cartouch! Slow braise and served with skinned broad beans!

Simple, tasty, healthy - roast mackerel with lemon, potatoes and chicken stock - mum's know best!!

Experiment with edible flowers, beetroot & smoked salmon! Aye!

Snowburst Nectarines Pancakes with Grapefruit and Basil Syrup

Possibly make choose some healthier recipies! . . . . . hmmm . . .

And I've been practicing my moustache looks Zoolander stylee!

Blue Steel - eat you heart out Zoolander!
Magnum - I know! It's a heart stopper isn't it? I was practising it in a shop window and this young woman behind me keeled over! Quick bit of CPR and she was fine!

Next banquet is on Fri 8th June and promises to be rather good!!!

If you fancy coming along just send an email with you details!! Here's how . . . .

Friday 18 May 2012

Ski series - Recipe: Crispy Chicken Skins, garnished w/ Nasturtiums and Cress Shoots

This tasty little number is something that one of the chefs I was living with in Verbier rattled off at me while we were sat on the balcony of our digs. In fairness I changed it a little to make it look nicer : )

amuse bouche - crispy chicken skins with cress shoots

Sounded nice so I gave it a try. Works for cured meats and sausages, pancetta, Parma ham, bacon, chorizo, pave etc. A honey coating works well with the bacons, and depending on what you're serving, they make a really tasty garnish or amuse bouche. Adjust the cooking time and temperature if you have thicker slice - longer and lower!

balcony view from our digs in verbier

for the crispy chicken skins (serves 4 as an amuse)
skin of 1 chicken
1/2 thumb of ginger
1tbsp cajun seasoning (optional)
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp honey
squeeze of lime juice
dash of fish sauce

2 heavy baking trays that fit into each other
2 sheets baking parchment

crispy chicken skins (200C / 20mins)
Trim off any really large bits of fat, then boil the skin for 10mins with the sliced ginger until the skin is cooked.
Pre-heat oven to 200C
Line the first tray with a baking sheet. Spray - for more even coat - with oil.
Cut the skins in to manageable pieces. Large as you like!
Mix cajun seasoning, corn flour then add the skins until all the coating is stuck to them.
Lay out the skins flat on the baking sheet and cover with another baking sheet, then place the second baking tray on top, press everything down flat and place in the oven top shelf for 20mins.

If you don't have heavy baking trays, fill the top one with blind bake ceramics to weigh it down.

Mix the honey, lime and fish sauce thoroughly for the dressing.
Check the skins after 20 mins, they should be golden and crispy, if not, give them another 5mins!
Once ready pat down with kitchen towel, dress immediately then serve.

Monday 7 May 2012

Recipe: Never Mind the Bollocks

Photography Fredrik Solstad (unless otherwise stated)

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
cuisine is an act of love . . .

Well, the last three weeks have been a bit of a nightmare, thus the lack of posts. The first of the three saw me resurrecting a software project I had been working on when I started Fernandez and Leluu, I didn't want to see a project I'd put so much work into die so I thought I'd put together "a guide", basically, architecture documents for the software I'd written, for the guys who said they'd take it over. I sat down to "rehydrate" the software process, i.e. read my notes, get my head around where I was with the design and update the docs for folk to run with. It would only take a day or so. (honest) Crap! I'd forgotten how much code there was, larger crap, crap no.2 my notebook decided to die, hard disc and DVD drive failure, . . . . . arse biscuits! I'll post a recipe on those later, a recipe that matures in the mail! I won't bore you with the details but needless to say it wasted a lot of my time that week. Got it all together just in time to make sure the supper club went without a hitch, in fact, the comments and feedback were really very good. It was held at Toynbee Hall: Here's what folks said.

I didn't really have time to breathe after that since I'd offered to help with another event. Anyway the following 8 days turned out to be rather more gruelling than I imagined. I'm not a complainer I get on and get things done! (I have to admit I can get a bit distracted by blue sky thinking) but when you have 40-50 people waiting for dinner in the banqueting hall there' isn't a lot of opportunity for that. (It's already been done!)

I have to be frank though - this week's events have left me feeling more than a little "I told you so" than I'm comfortable with, and the result is I've slept very little this bank holiday weekend. Partly because I had so much to do and partly because I've been so mindful about the future.

It was only last night I realised I had an extra day this weekend to get things done. I think this morning some part of me just thought "fuck it, I think it's time to re-assess, have a look over the last 9 months (squeeeeze -  puff puff - hooo hooo - sweat puff hoo - screeee . . . pop . . . . whuar whuar whuar - it's a boy! ) Where did that come from???"

So I thought I'd look through this year's not yet finished posts (all in various stages of disarray - and morcilla is coming next I promise @donalde @finandflounder @brunofrenchbake) and I came across the photos taken by Fredrik Solstad  who'd come along to one of the banquets that I'd been meaning to write up . . .  much better than I could take - obviously - and I think captured the mood quite well!

Reflecting . . .

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
cracking evening - it's always the guests who complete the atmosphere - electric

ingredients (serves: as many socially-minded, tolerant people as will fit in the room!)

for the kitchen (maybe FoH too)
1 KP / solicitor (with a sense of humour - Bernard CAB)
1 writer & graduate chef (Jen's great blog here: Hungry Tiger Thirsty Dragon)
1 writer (Iranian "humour saucier"  - Sabrina Ghayour)
1 writer / pastry chef (Susan's buzzing blog here: Susan Eats London)
1 superb photographer (Fredrik Solstad)
1 cracking journalist (Nilas Johnsen)
1 well planned menu (ahem err, me)
1 ferdie (to prop up the front door, yip that was me too!)

for the banqueting hall
2 FoH / trainee chef
40 guests (all in - as it a happens - a great mood)
Some tunes (chosen by the guests - always uber varied!)
Nice table decor, place settings etc.

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
there's 40 people right behind me waiting for the 1st course! it's all totally under control! honest! : )

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
seconds later getting that steak out for the 1st course

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
assembly: sabrina, jen, me and bernard keeping the whole place spotless - trooper

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
a light fillet of beef and roast baby pepper starter with rosemary infused crusty bread

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
champagne vanilla and pear married w/ serrano and a little punch of water cress

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
cut here, here & here. be gentle accurate and fast susan! puff of deep sea essence emanates from the crab pot

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
steamed using white wine, succulent, sweet, style and substance served w/ jus of blended oysters king crab & samphire 

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
i'm going in for the crab, it doesn't look so bad you know! ; )

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
patience and time - hours later

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
this is the perfect roast potato - we never let them leave the lab - for our guests only! - there's a potato detector on the exit
ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
passion fruit sorbet, white choclit & whiskey sauce w/ banana tatin

for the garnish
A jolly good mood from everyone,
1 chef wandering the banquet hall to find out what peoples favourites were.

what could go wrong?
Now there's a question!! There's always a snag list on the whiteboard!
Bit by bit it's been getting smaller, and the balance between snags and missing stock has been getting smaller!

Needless to say, if I let lots of small setback get on top of me - a couple of weeks back some idiot drops a stone onto my windscreen as I drive under an underpass at 70(ahem)mph - the car's got a problem with the electrics so when it rains the windows and the sunroof open and it won't start! - just read a post on another web site that's a rehash of one of my own [I guess copying is the greatest form of flattery] - mindless trolling etc etc etc . . . .

Ah well . . . . Never Mind the Bollocks!!! 

I'll leave you with a question, I was wandering around a historic castle recently and I noticed a piece of chewing gum stuck to one of the pieces of artwork. I couldn't believe my eyes! Some people are simply without any moral fibre whatsoever! Nothing really surprises me anymore and I wonder if I'm just getting a little jaded!? As I ambled about the magnificent building I wondered how someone could possibly justify such an act. "That man offered me £50, mum" said this 8 year old behind me. Now I don't think the two incidents were associated, but imagine they were:

Is being offer £50 justification enough to stick chewing gum to a piece of 200 year old art, or someone's skirt or anything at all?

? ? ?

He was a bit too big for my domestic oven so I did him in two halves . . . This one's one of my menu development snaps I'll post more later . . .

ferdiesfoodlab at Toynbee Hall
COMING SOON - roast suckling pig -  i think I'll put it on for new year with the alaskan king crab!

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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