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Monday 27 August 2012

Seafood Night II (Son of Seafood)

The best place to start is with the best quality ingredients you can get!!

Super fresh rianbow trout - we had a half spare, I had it as sashimi with some citrus soy, melt in your mouth!

Still moving when I picked them up! Packed 'em in ice, and back to the lab!!

Octopus, curling from the heat of the pot, cooked with red pepper corns, sherry vinegar, and a fair amount of salt!

I always get a bit of stage fright when we do a virtually completely new menu, and I'm learning that an extra pair of hands in the kitchen is no bad thing, because without exception something will always take longer than you think!! Especially if you've tweaked it to improve it!! Got to be very careful with last minute tweaking!!

Last weekend we had the usual lovely mix of people, including Vic and her hen party, that was organised by the lovely Sarah!!
(BTW: Thanks for all your fantastic comments on the night, guys, and I hope you have a lovely day on the day!)

They put in a request for a seafood menu, and since they gave me 3 months notice I thought I'd oblige!! Here's what we made for Vic and the rest of our guests:

~ MENU ~

Devonshire Crab & Palm Heart Salad w/ 
Breakfast Soldier Croutons,
served w/ Garlic (Turkish) Bread & Palm Heart Sauce.

Flores del Mar
(Hot and Cold Seafood Salad w/ Octopus, Orange, Paprika, Squid & Whitebait & Borage)

White Fish Ceviche & Edamame

Basil Infused Grapefruit Amuse (V)

Stargazy Pie & Chips 

Gutted we didn't get a shot of the dish, with Langoustine claws popping out!!! Will have to make it again, and make sure we get the shot!!!


Orange and Vanilla Pannacotta, w/ Butter Pastry Biscuits & Balsamic Pearls
Topped w/ Cointreau Strawberries

Black Olive Ganache (V),  Salted Lemon Fudge (V)

At the end of each evening, if people want to leave a comment they can!!! Here's what folk said:

Merto & Michelle

Thank you for the lovely evening.
Haven't been at a supperclub for
a while & realised why i really
liked it in the first place.
                           Amazing pie!!
Merto & Michelle

Food was amazing! The amuse bouche was so refreshing, the way the basil develops on the palette is simply divine!

Interesting food.
Very well cooked + tasted great.
Great relaxed atmoshphere aswell

AMAZEBALLZ! - ferdie: massively excited writing!! ; )
Beautiful food, presentation.
Thanks Sarah

"The octopus was AMAZING the best octopus I've ever had", Vic


I must thank Danielle of the New Zealand Tourist Board, for being really helpful at the end of the night, and great to sit and chat away to with a glass of wine once we'd cleaned the kitchen down and tidied the main hall!! Very engaging! Hell, otherwise Sarah wouldn't have got in and we might have got to bed at 1AM instead of 5AM!!!!! Aye caramba!!

Mental note would love to return to Queenstown in the winter instead of the summer like last time!!! Sigh . . .

Was a cracker . . . .

Big hugs from ferdie!!!

Monday 20 August 2012

(Successful) Experiment - Recipe: Seared Duck Breast - Baked Potato Fraiche - Juniper & Cranberry Cabbage

Duck is such a great ingredient, my first memory of actually going out and getting a duck to cook with, I think it was my 2nd year at university, it was after an extraordinarily long revision session, my friend and I were both exhausted and twitching for a fag and a pint. Now there ain't many places open at 4AM that will serve you, and we got to thinking 'What the hell we were going to do!?' After a fair amount of head scratching, we kind of gave up on the idea and decided that a plan for Sunday lunch should be forged, and that is where the idea for roast duck came from. Canny mind me mates got, because he suggested that we could get a duck at that very moment from the New Smithfield Market (we were in Manchester), and, what's more, there was a very good chance that there would be a bar there where we could get a pint! So off we went, needless to say we got our beer, a game of pool and our duck - including giblets and head (still attached) and feathers!!!! More than we bargained for . . . .  more about that in another post!!!

Anyway this recipe is something a little different, and takes less than 30minutes to cook . . . . result!!

ingredients (serves 2)
for the duck & creme fraiche sauce
2 duck breasts
2 tbsp creme fraiche

for the baked potato

2 medium potatoes
20g touch of butter (softened)

for the juniper & cranberry cabbage
1/2 tsp juniper berries (crushed)
1 orange (juice & zest)
1/3 savoy cabbage (1cm strips)
1 tbsp cranberry jelly
1 clove of garlic (crushed)

for the garnish
a little parsley

heavy based pan for searing!

Get your mis en place in place! (Prep the ingredients, and have 'em all to hand!)
Turn the oven on 230C / G8 / 450F.
Put the cast iron pan on the gas!
Slice the duck skin across the width every 5mm.
You don't need oil for duck breast it has enough fat of its own! Salt the skin and put in the pan skin side down!
Medium high heat until the fat has rendered off and the skin is crispy and golden! Should be about 10 -15mins
While the duck's on, fork the potatoes all over so they release steam and put them in the microwave full blast for 5 mins.
Put the oj, juniper berries and cranberry jelly into a pan and leave to simmer.
Put the cabbage on to steam for 5mins.
Once the microwave pings take the potatoes out, put them onto a tray and give them a quick brush of butter, and dust with salt flakes. Then put them into the oven for 5 mins.
By now the skin on the duck should be golden, turn it over and brown the meat side. Take it out when it's done to your taste, and put it to rest on a warn plate.
You can tell how cooked it is by pressing on the breast with your finger or a wooden spoon the same way as you would a piece of steak. [link to real or fake how to cook steak]
Add about 100ml of water to the pan to deglaze it, and then add the creme fraiche, mix until smooth.
Drain the cabbage and mix it with the juniper sauce.

to serve

Pour the jus released from the duck into the creme fraiche sauce, and mix in.
Cut a cross in the top of the potato and add the remaining butter and the creme fraiche sauce.
Place the cabbage on the plate.
Cut the duck into slices and plate, garnish the potato with a little parsley.

Less than 30  minutes for the lot, and I have to come clean: the cabbage - the most experimental part - of this recipe was one of me mums concoctions! Very good it is too!               

I love microwaved baked potatoes, they always remind me of staying at me grans and watchin' Woody Allen films! (aged 8!) "Sleeper" is one that I'll never forget, possibly where I got my crush on Diane Keaton!

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Real or Fake? . . . and How to cook a steak!

Technique: Cooking Steak

Before I say anything don't forget it's our 1st Birthday Party on the 31st Aug, let us know if you fancy joining the party!! back to the post . . . check the photo below!!

Hereford is well know for its cattle - 'bos taurus' to the scientifically minded - the Hereford breed originating in Herefordshire in 1742!

Recent traditions (this century) would have farmers bring their livestock into the centre of Hereford on a Wednesday (market day) to sell their livestock. I remember the market as a busy, noisy place with a host of animal noises and the constant background rhythm of the auctioneer rattling off unintelligible numbers, seemingly without pause for breath. (which might explain why the auctioneer always had a bright red, verging on purple, face!)  There was also, as one might expect, a wide variety of food places, fishmongers, and, of course butchers, I loved it!

It transpires that there used to be a china shop on the High St in Hereford which was only a few hundred yards from the old cattle market. I remember going to the market to see the animals as a young child - I'm telling you when you're 3ft tall a fully grown hairy tusked pig is terrifying! With slobber hanging off its tusks these bristly beasties can let loose a blood curdling cry, I'm avoiding saying 'squeal' because that really doesn't do it justice!! Anyway, I digress. It turns out that every now and then a bull would get loose and hot hoof it up Blackfriars St. and along Widemarsh St. to the centre of town!! Some how, I just can't imagine the 1970's Herefordians legging it down the street like a frenzied Pamplonan! More likely to get a raised eyebrow from one of the farmers eating a bag of chips! Just to prove a point here's a photograph of one of the escapee bulls posing in said china shop!!!

I love this photo, it's so Monty Pythonesque, what a fantastic expression our would be Graham Chapman has on his face. (I swear it's him!! Open the link in a different window and compare!!!!)

So, the question is:  Is the bull real, or a fake?? Leave your comments at the bottom I'd love to know what you think!!

Well, with such a worthy beef heritage it would be criminal not to know how to cook a steak!! Here's how!! : )

ingredients (serves 1)
for the steak
1 ribeye steak (or whichever cut you prefer)
extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

for the sauce/garnish
extra virgin olive oil or single cream

Leave steak out so that it's at room temperature, warmer still if possible, better up to 35C.

When picking your steak, look for steak that's well marbled, that is, has thin flecks of fat running through the meat. These will render as the steak is cooked, enriching the flavour of the meat! My favourite cuts are hanger steak and rib eye, and if I'm honest I wouldn't turn my nose up at a bone-in, fore rib either!! (for pay day anyway!!)

Get you pan hot so that it would be smoking if it had oil in it, season and oil the steak and put it in the pan.

Once you have a nice golden crust formed, turn the steak and cook the other side. Once it's ready remove it from the pan and put on a warm plate to rest.

Deglaze the pan with a touch of water (100ml) or white wine and once half has evaporated add a tbsp of extra virgin olive or single cream, add the juice from your rested steak, mix and pour this cracking sauce over it!!

Serve immediately!!

wait a minute, how do I know when it's ready?
Couple of options here, you can probe it with a temp probe: 45C for rare, 55C for medium  and 65C for well done!
You can give it a prod and see how cooked it is by how much the meat resists, this comes with experience but a good guide is to compare how it feels with how the base of your thumb feels when
your thumb is touching the tip of one of your fingers:

 If you want your steak closer to medium-well than medium, turn it more often and cook on a lower heat!

schools of thought on oiling!
1. Oil & season your steak, not your pan:
    Advantage: creates less smoke
    Disadvantage: Can't flambé, less satisfactory deglaze

2. Oil your pan and season your steak:
    Advantage: You can flambé your steak to add a nice smoked flavour, better sauce
    Disadvantage: Turn your extractor on because it's a smoky old business!! ; )


knackered! err . .  I mean well done

I did the blue rare a touch over on the right hand side!! Pay attention!!

You need to be cooking with gas to flambé!!
thinking ahead
Don't forget, cook the steak last!! Once it's rested you want it on the table ready to eat as soon as possible!!
So get those chips, or baps (bread rolls), or salad, or whatever you're having with it (see suggestions below) ready ahead of time!!

what could go wrong?
I like my steak rare, but if I cook it so it comes out rare it's always cold by the time I sit down to eat it!! Bring it up to room temperature before you cook it. If you cook it straight from the fridge the centre will almost certainly be cold, and the thicker the steak the worse the problem! I pre-heat my grill, then turn it off, then put the steaks in there to warm up a little more before I cook them. Also, don't forget to serve on hot plates - obvious, I know, but also essential!

I set my hair on fire flambéing my steak!! Stick to school of thought 1!

Interesting read "Why you should have your steak rare" by Dr Quincy, with whom I wholeheartedly agree!

now that looks like a real bull
You can see the reflection in the eye! But I don't think this is the same bull, it doesn't have the studs in the nose band for a start!! But the nose on that first bull does look real!!!

Steaks that will happily be cooked like this: Rump, Sirloin, Fillet, Hanger(recommend medium-rare), Forerib, Ribeye amongst others!

Hanger Steak - Medium Rare

Marbled forerib

Flash Seared Fillet Steak w/ Roast Baby Peppers & White Tomato Emultion

Sunday 5 August 2012

Low Down from Hoxton FM and Janan Loves!

Well, hell's bells, the last 3 months has ranged emotionally form the sublime to the ridiculous, from relief to utter consternation and, frankly, disbelief!! Sometimes you just have to "Stand facing the sun, and all the shadows will fall behind you!" as a good friend, John, once said to me, the irony at the time is that we were living in Manchester - not exactly known for its sun! 

Now that's what I call sunshine!!! . . .   : )
Having said that, that's exactly what ferdiesfoodlab is all about: making your own sun! Good company, good food and drink and new people to talk to and engage with!!

A few banquets have gone by since I last wrote about one; this particular night I had 8 members of my family coming from Spain to the banquet they're all excellent cooks - so no pressure there then! As well as that, we had the lovely Janan Jay from Hoxton FM and the Londonist, and another returning group of friends, Steve you know who you are!! Another returning couple, Piedad and Howell James (Howell's a standup comedian check him out here!!) who's Spanish practice was very well received by the Spanish contingent!!!

Ribeye being seared ready for the oven!! People say some very nice things about our roast ribeye - served with white tomato emulsion and liquorice salt!

When you have returning guests and a new menu, and folk coming to interview your guests to find out what they think, you kinda want to get things right!! On top of that, I knew that some of the Spanish contingent's flight had been delayed. Stay calm, just do your thing, I thought! I went into the main hall, welcomed our guests and let them know we'd be starting 10 minutes late. A quick meet and greet, and then I seated everyone in the main banquet hall next door. Let the banquet begin!! Did I mention my mum and brother and his girlfriend were also in attendance! No pressure!!

That day we had Claudia from the White Room Supper Club helping us out as well as the hardcore: 

Me doing cheesy photo pose - what's Ollie seen??? Ronald on camera!
Ollie, Joy and Ronald. I grabbed Claudia and we popped out back for a welcome fresh breeze and a cig! Having walked the menu, we went back into the kitchen and were flat out until the end of the night . . .

It was a pretty good one, the late contingent arrived only a few minutes after we started, and after that I was much more relaxed!!

Janan's a lovely person and you can hear two of the interviews she did about ferdiesfoodlab on one of her radio shows on Hoxton FM HERE!

This show kicks off with I Need A Dollar (tell me about it!!) By Aloe Blacc and follows with loads of cracking music in my humble opinion!! And some great interviews : )

Here are a few excerpts form the first interview with Siobhan Frost of Slanted Mansion.

"I'd heard about supper clubs while I was in New York"

About ferdiesfoodlab, aye : ) -  "It's been wonderful!! It's just the perfect combination of good food, but amazing atmosphere, it's very relaxed and friendly, you don't feel very formal about anything but the food's AWESOME!!"

"I definitely do more! Love it!
Definitely worth checking out!
Everything has been perfect!
Recommend to everybody!!"

All I can say is thanks so much for your comments, Siobhan!! I am so glad you had such a good time : ) and you are most welcome to come back! (or not - there are quite a few really good supper clubs out there!) I'd love to know how we compare - yiiiikes!

Comment from folks from the evening:

"To achieve excellence / perfection an 8 o'clock start would be desirable.
Other than that, as before
EXCELLENT ! the MEAT was fan . . . . f…cking fantastic!!
My compliments to the chef !! . . . and your helpers
The dessert: de muerte!! OK
(Trans: The dessert: to die for!! OK)

Really enjoyed the tortilla, thought the popcorn dessert could have come with a waffery side although the cookies were lovely and buttery. Overall a brilliant meal + evening
Brialliant review + inventive food.
(What about a waffer thin mint? Monsieur? ferdie)

The olive ganache was excellent!

Thanks for  a wonderful
  evening =)
The food was superb.

Fantastics food overall, loved the salad, and the sweet potato was great in the tortilla.
Liquorice for the beef was stunning!!
Overall a cracking meal and much respect for it!
Dan  . . . .- - - ^ ^ ^
PS the tomato consome? was amazing!
(? - YES it's a consomme - some might call it an essence!! ; ) - ferdie )

LOVED the chorizo salad the food was fabulous, even dessert which has never been my favourite!
Thanks for a fab evening

Cambodian Chorizo Salad - a foodlab signature

I think your food IS amazing!
YUMMY! Watcha. xxx

Nat & Warwick
PS:- invisible tomato was lovely + invisible

What can I say? I'm blown away - it's always so nice to get such great feedback.

Thanks so much!!
ferdie XX

You can tell it's been a nice vibe when people don't want to leave and this night was no exception! I love it when I get a chance to socialise at the end of the evening, so long as the kitchen is cleaned down, then I can relax and enjoy people's company. A little piano, a sing-song, and a glass of wine - result!!

You know you wanna come folks!!! When ever you like!!! Ronald : )

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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