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Friday 20 December 2013

Experiment - Recipe: Pork Scratching Spirals

I was watching Great British Menu last year and one of the chefs presented a spiral pork scratching, and at the time I was doing a fair amount of experimentation with pork belly so it kinda got me thinking about how he'd managed it.

check out this fine hand crafted chopping board made by @olliebutcher81! 
Get in touch with him or me if you want one - available in oak!

After a little thought this is what I came up with . . . trust me it's lush and if you want your pork belly to have sticky bits you can!!

ingredients (makes porky snacks for 10)

for the pork spiral scratchings
1 side of pork belly skin
1L chicken stock
5g rosemary 
5g thyme
4 cloves garlic (whole)

pork spiral scratchings
Coat the bottom of your baking tray with a touch of vegetable oil.
Sprinkle a baking tray with the aromats and lay the pork over the top, skin side up.
Pour in the chicken stock and lightly salt the skin and cover with a lid or tin foil.

Slow roast at 150C for 3hours checking occasionally to make sure that there is still liquid in the bottom of the tray.
Top up with water if it the tray has gone dry.
Once ready let the pork skin cool down until it's cool enough to handle.
Place it skin side down and roll it into a long sausage shape, then wrap it tightly in cling film and put it in the fridge to set.

Leave it to set for for at least 2 hours preferably over night.
Unwrap it and slice it up, the thicker the slice the stickier the centre will be.
Heat a heavy based pan and add the disks of porky goodness without and oil.
Once the skin has crisped up turn them once and crisp the other side, then remove to some kitchen towel to drain off any excess fat. Season them and serve at will! 

thinking ahead
Once rolled into a ballotine and cling 
wrapped or vac packed the pork belly will easily last for a month in he fridge, it can be sliced when needed and prepared in minutes!! Perfect accompaniment to a beer.

Or you can fry of the scratching and keep them in an air tight container to keep them crisp.

Friday 8 November 2013

Book Launch - Cook Like a Man - for Movember

Mo is slang for moustache, and in the month of November Mo brothers and sistas spend the month raising awareness about issues of mens health for the month of Movember. 

COOK LIKE A MAN cookbook!! featuring Simon Fernandez (err . . me) of ferdiesfoodlab! (amongst others)

Much more eloquently put by Ray Winston with some beautiful snooker shots by Jimmy White here!

And on the Movember web site here!

Sunday lunch followed
shortly after! : ) 
For the past 3 years Movember have got together with all manner of very creative chefs (one of whom I'm privileged to be) to make an annual Movember bulletin with a tonne of helpful advice and recipes and written with a great deal of humour.

This year Movember have teamed up with Macmillan, who sponsored the endeavour to create a cook book from all the past contributions. Resulting in a fabulously broad - dare I say spectacular cook book filled with all sorts of recipes and a written with a great deal of whit!

For the launch party chefs made their creations from the book and we all had a fabulous chow down, along with some music and a couple of drinks.  It's a real corker so I suggest you get a copy and have a Movember feast of your own!!

The book is available in all good book stores including Waterstones and Amazon and you can get the hardback delivered to your door for as little as £6 of for you Kindle for less than £4.50, and don't forget proceeds go to the Movember charity! 

You can get a copy for less than a pint of Hoegaarden! It's a no brainer

A bit about the book:
The book is split into sections on: soups and salads, starters, BBQ's, meat, gastronomic TRAILBLAZERS, poultry and game, fish, desserts, and my favourite; sauces, chutneys and jams! So there's all sorts to try out!

Seriously if you had to choose between a pint / glass of wine less one evening or a rocking cookbook? Simple choice!

Just to give you an idea (an excerpt):
"The 'perfect' dinner party brings to mind magical evening of social grandeur. The the impeccably dressed host meeting guests at the door, champagne and canapes on arrival, seamless courses of Michelin star worthy haute cuisine, and conversation so significant that it actually means something. Rubbish. This book is for Mo Bros and Mo Sistas and they, more than anyone, understand that any home-cooked meal shared with friends makes for a great night." which a statement I whole heartedly agree with!

Mo Chefs - posing!!
Chefs in the book (order of apearance):
Dave Bone, Richard Robinson, Sam Wilson, Deon Jansen, Brad Stoward, Fred Smith, Andy Waugh & Rauride Elmslie, Giles Clark, David Johnson, Luca & Guglielmo D'Alfonso, Duncan Maguire, Risto Mikkola, Ant Power, Wolf Conyngham, Mark and Connor Bereen, Oisin Davis, Simon Fernandez, Mark Bereen & Ciaran McGonagle, David Cuspinera, Eduard Prades, Joan Ramon Galindo, Evan Doyle, John Tremayne, Ivan Varian, Troy McGuire, Nick Butler, James Lyon-Shaw, Martin Dorey

Mo bro's at the launch party!! Great work!!

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin w/ Preserved Lemon & Plum Stuffing for Halloween (Vegetarian)

Well after all the care, attention and surprises the time has come to harvest the unidentified gourd / pumpkin / squash thing maybe a  Baby Bear? or a Sugar Pie? pumpkin. Not sure! If you can identify it please comment!!! It made a very nice vegetarian dinner served with cherry tomatoes and lightly poached fine green beans. The lemon oil, honey and cherry tomatoes produce a gorgeous sauce during the roasting process, very nice! 

: ) Enjoy!

ingredients (serves 4 as a side or starter)

for the pumkin
1 small pumpkin 
1/3  large red onion (sliced into quarters lengthways)
4 tbsp stuffing & plum jam mix
1 salted lemon (cut into 8 slices)
4 tbsp olive oil (from salted lemons)
2 tbsp honey (loosened w/ 2tbsp water)
12 cherry tomatoes

method (170C / 45mins)
Quarter the squash and scoop out the seeds.
Place the squash skin side down in a roasting tin.  Put one tsp plum jam and a tbsp of stuffing in the first quarter,
then place an onion segment and 2 slices of salted lemon on top of that. Repeat for each of the remaining quarters.
Dress each quarter with the loosened honey and then the lemon infused extra virgin olive oil from the salted lemons.
Add the cherry tomatoes and and season with salt an pepper.
Pop it into the oven for 15mins then remove it, cover the base of the roasting tin with about 1cm of water an return it to the oven for another 30 minutes or until nicely roasted.
Add the green beens to a pot of salted boiling for about 5mins. Then drain them and dress them with a little vinegar and olive oil. Serve immediately with the pumpkin.

I reckon this would work pretty well with squash or even sweet potato instead of pumpkin!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Recipe: Sweet Potato Tortilla (Spanish Omelette)

The first time I remember making this was for some friends, and my new flatmates, my flat mates didn't know what to expect, and I didn't really have any idea what they liked so I decided to makes tapas. Tapas are a great option when you're unsure what folk like because they can pick and choose what they like. I'll never forget my flatmate's boyfriend's face when he tried this recipe. First he munched then fairly quickly a huge grin of approval appeared on his face, followed by nodding and hmmmm-ing!! Then he went in for seconds with the best "happy days" expression I have ever seen!! That's always very rewarding! This recipe has been on the menu for the last 5 years, and none has ever come back! 

So here it is for you to try . . . .  in both video format, and written!

In this picture we served it with Oyster Mushrooms Noissette and pea shoots!

ingredients (serves 6 - starter / tapa)
for the tortilla
400g sweet potato
400g onions (150-200g / med-large onion)
3-4 eggs
veg oil for frying

apparatus / equipment
deep fat fryer (optional)
frying pan
plate for turning

Add enough oil to a frying pan to shallow fry the vegetables.
Peel the sweet potato and cut it into slices the thickness of a chip.
Peel onions and cut them into 1cm dice, than add both to the oil and fry gently until the sweet potatoes are soft.
Remove with a slotted spoon and put on kitchen towel to remove the excess fat.
Crack all the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until the yolks are mixed in.
Add the fried veggies to the eggs. Season with salt and a touch of pepper and mix thoroughly.
Remove the oil from the pan leaving a thin coat. 
Add the potato mixture to the pan and fry it gently until it's almost cooked all the way through, then turn it out onto the plate. 
Add a touch of oil to the pan and return the tortilla to the pan uncooked side down to finish it off.

NB If using a deep fat fryer, deep fry onions and potatoes for 6-8m @ 140C, or until the sweet potatoes are soft, then drain.

thinking ahead
The tortilla can be made in the afternoon and reheated under the grill (or a microwave) or eaten at room temperature!!

what could go wrong? (notes)
My tortilla is stuck to the pan, and it's fallen to bits when I try and get it out!!
Well, best advice is use a good non stick pan! 
Failing that make sure that the oil is hot when you put the mix into the pan.
Draw the tortilla mix from the edge to the centre bringing the cooed mix to the centre and replacing it with raw mix.
Jiggle the pan each time you do this to stop it sticking to the bottom - took me years to work that out!!

to serve
Turn out onto a clean plate and cut into even slices to the delight of the kids, the vegetarians, basically anyone who likes food!!
We serve it with a spicy fried tomato sauce and some aioli!

Some folk don't like onions! They can be left out to make a simple sweet potato tortilla (omelette)

Enjoy!! : )

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Quick Reference: Rice, Quinoa, Couscous, Sugar Stages, Sushi...

I'm often needing to look up conversions for temperature or ratios, little handy things that I can't remember so I've compiled a personal reference of the ones I find most useful! So I've gone through all my recipes and spec sheets and started compiling a quick reference guide, this is the first draft . . . . it can also be found on the quick reference tab!

Oven Temperature Chart - Centigrade - Farenheit
Gas Mark Conversion Table

Fahrenheit Celcius Gas Mark ~°C
212°F 100°C - 100°C
230°F 110°C 1/4 110°C
250°F 120°C 1/2 120°C
275°F 135°C 1 135°C
300°F 149°C 2 150°C
325°F 162°C 3 160°C
350°F 176°C 4 175°C
375°F 190°C 5 190°C
400°F 204°C 6 205°C
425°F 218°C 7 220°C
450°F 232°C 8 230°C
475°F 246°C 9 245°C
500°F 260°C 10 260°C

Meat Doneness Temperatures - How well done is my steak / joint? 

bleu rare med-rare medium med-well well
Beef 45°C 50°C 55°C 60°C 65°C 70°C
Rose Veal - - 55°C 60°C 65°C 70°C
Venison 45°C 50°C 55°C 60°C 65°C 70°C
Duck - - 55°C 60°C 65°C 70°C
Lamb - 50°C 55°C 60°C 65°C 70°C
Pork - - - 60-65°C 65-70°C 72°C
Poultry breast - - - - - 72°C
Poultry thigh - - - - - 77°C

The simplest way to tell how well done a steak or a chicken breast is to press it with your finger. The more it resists your prod, the more cooked it is. If it feels pretty solid it's cooked through. A rare steak shouldn't offer much more resistance than a raw steak!

More here!

Rice / Grain vs Liquid - Ratios for Cooking

Ratio(D:W) Dry Weight (D) Water / Juice (W) Vinegar Sugar Salt Cooked(g)
(grainular finish)
1:1.25 250g ~315g - - 2g -
Couscous 1:1.25 250g ~315g - - 2g -
Barley Couscous 1:1.75 250g ~440g - - 2g -
Rice Jasmin 1:1.6 250g 400g - - 2g -
Rice Sticky 1:1 250g 250g - - 2g -
Rice Long 1:1.7 250g 425g - - 2g -
Rice Basmati 1:1.7 250g 400g - - 2g -
Rice Arborio 1:1.65 250g 375g - - 2g 570g
Rice Paella 1:1.5 250g 375g - - 2g -
Rice Sushi White Harder 1:1.25 250g ~315g 50g 25g 1.5g ~625g
Rice Sushi White Softer 1:1.35 250g ~340g 50g 25g 1.5g ~625g
Rice Sushi Brown H (Genmai) 1:1.7 250g 425g 38g 19g 1g -
Rice Sushi Brown S (Genmai) 1:1.9 250g 475g 38g 19g 1g -
Rice Black 1:2 250g 500g -
2g -
Rice Pudding 1:6 250g 3L (milk) - 250g 3g -
Quinoa 1:2 (vol) 250g - - - - -
(smooth finish)
1:6 250g 3L (milk) - 250g 1g -
Polenta (to add) - 250g - - - - -

Note: the vinegar in sushi rice isn't included in the ratio since it's added after cooking the rice.

Rice Quantities for Different Sushi Types
Format Name Pieces Nori Rice
Half Size Roll Hosomaki-zushi 6 1/2 75g
Full Size Roll Futomaki-zushi 6-8 1 150g
Inside Out Roll Uramaki-zushi 6 1/2 125g
Battleship Gunkan 
1 2x13cm
Topped Rice Nigiri-zushi 1 - 25g
Tofu Pouch Inari-zushi 1 - 50g
Cones Temaki-zushi 1 1/2 or 1/4 30g/15g

Nori sheets measure 19x20cm (7.5x8 inch)
NB: For half size cut across the length, leaving 2x 19x10 (instead of 20x9.5cm)

When handling rice, have a bowl of handling liquid - a mix of 50/50 water/sushi vinegar at hand:
  • This will keep your hands from getting covered in rice - messy business!!
  • It also has an anti bacterial effect - very important when handling rice.

Rice Cooker Table - Generic

Rice in cups Rice in g Water Lev + rice Serves ~Cook time Final Weight
2 300g 2 cup mark 3-4 42 min 750g
4 600g 4 cup mark 5-6 46 min 1.5kg
6 900g 6 cup mark 8-10 50 min 2.25kg
8 1200g 8 cup mark 13-14 55 min 3kg
10 1500g 10 cup mark 16-18 60 min 3.75kg

Sugar Cooking Stages - Candy Making & Jam - 
Sugar Work
Black Caramel - - 205°C
Dark Caramel - - 188-190°C
Spun Sugar - - 180-182°C
Caramel 174°C - 170°C
Hard Crack 154°C 150°C 149-154°C
Soft Crack 138°C 134°C 132-143°C
Hard Ball 122°C 125°C 121-130°C
Firm Ball - - 118-121°C
Soft Ball 116°C 116-118°C 113-116°C
Jam 104°C - -
Sterilise 82-85°C - -

Thermo LCB McGee

When we make paraline sugar spears, we take the caramel up to 170°C then it drop to 150-155°C before dipping the nut in the caramel and hanging it.

Stock Syrup Viscosity / Thickness

Light 250g sugar 500g water
Medium 250g sugar 250g water
Heavy 250g sugar 225g water

More to come . . .
Find this page on tab here!

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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