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Friday 26 April 2013

Recipe / Experiment: Orange Powder

It's always fun to try new techniques, sometimes it's a disaster and you learn a great deal, sometimes it's a disaster and it takes 3 more attempts to get even close to the desired result - (bread was a good example of this one for me) and some, like this one, are nice and easy, and it's simple enough to get the desired taste.

ingredients (makes ~70g)
for the orange powder

300g sugar
50ml water
6 oranges (zest only)

Add zest to syrup Reduce 20mins Pour out onto silicone
Spread out Dehydrate in oven 50C Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes!

Zest oranges - therein lies the trick! The important thing is to get as little pith (the white bit between the orange flesh and the outer skin) as possible. You could use a zester, but you lose half of the zest. A micro plane the best way to go - quite expensive. Or a speed peeler and a bit of practice!

The orange on the left is attempt 1, the orange on the right is after about 4 oranges. It's important to use the sharp edge of the peeler almost like a knife. That is, moving it sideways almost like a knife, instead of using it like a peeler.

Once you have acquired your zest, add a 5mm depth of water to your pot, then pour the sugar in the middle. Once all the sugar has turned translucent - as in it has fully adsorbed the water - give it a little stir until the sugar has dissolved in the water and add the zest. Leave it to simmer for 15-20 mins. Turn the heat off and let it cool a little. Turn it out once it's cold enough to handle, break it up and distribute it evenly on a silpat or some baking paper.

Bake it for 60 - 90mins at 50C - the aim is to remove all the water from the zest and sugar.

At this point you'd be forgiven for thinking 'crunchy nut cornflakes!!' - because they look so alike!!

Next step is to pop the crystallised sugar zest into a spice mill and turn it into powder

Next make an OJ out of the oranges and time to start powdering everything to see what kind of cracking pairing I can come up with for the banquet!



This dehydration technique can be used on all manner of things.

Right time to start dusting everything with orange powder - dust, dust, dust . . . . .    : )

Sunday 21 April 2013

Recipe - Classic: Steak / Beef and Onion Pie (or Oxtail & Prune Pie w/ Red Cabbage)

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

OK I'm going to have a rant for a moment. Something I've often been presented with when ordering a pie is some kind of china bowl or ramekin with a bit of pastry almost hovering on top, as if they had been combined by accident, having nothing to do with each other. It's as if a bowl of stew was being stalked by a bit of pastry that always wanted to be a pie but somehow never made the grade. As far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't have a pastry bottom it isn't a pie! (Ahem . . . . . with the small exception of my Christmas left over turkey pie!! That doesn't count - it's Christmas and it's left overs!!)

Anyway rant over . . . . .  and thoughts turn to PIE! Can't beat a good pie! Even better if it's got a bottom!! Not a soggy bottom, mind you, we can't be doing with that!!


ingredients (makes 2 pies)
for the oxtail & prune pureé filling

2.5kg oxtail
750g (10) med onions (peeled & cut into 6ths)

100ml extra virgin olive oil
20g thyme (bouquet garni)
8 cloves garlic (cut into 1/4s lengthways)
750ml red wine
20 prunes (pitted)

3L chicken stock
plain flour for dusting
cinnamon powder

for the pie case
2x 375g puff pastry (want to make your own? here's how)

1 egg (beaten)
splash milk

for the red cabbage & beetroot
600g red cabbage (sliced)
2 beetroots (peeled, then 1 cm cubes)
300ml water
600ml tawny port
50g salted butter (small cubes)

special equipment
rubber gloves for beetroot
stick blender
2x 23cm loose bottomed tin (circular)

oxtail & prune pureé filling
Trim all the excess fat off the larger pieces of oxtail.
Season and coat the oxtail in flour and fry off in a pan until golden brown, then add to the boiling pot.
Oxtail usually comes held together with a piece of butcher's string.
You can use this to make a bouquet garni with the thyme: take the thyme, fold it in half, tie it with the string and add it to the pot.
Add the onions, prunes, red wine, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and pour in enough chicken stock to cover the meat by 1cm.
Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer, leaving the lid off.
Top up with chicken stock occasionally to keep the water level above the meat.

The oxtail should be ready after about 2.5 hours. When it is, remove it with a slotted spoon into a tray and pick the meat off the bone, it should fall away with very little effort.

Remove the bouquet garni and dispose of it. Pass the stock through a sieve and return it to the pot, reduce until it is a thick sauce.
Once reduced, return the contents of the sieve and the picked oxtail to the sauce. Mix it together. That's the pie filling ready.

pie casing

Rub the pie tin with a little oil or butter so the pastry doesn't stick to it.
Line the tin with pastry - this is the base - then using a brush, paint the pastry with beaten egg. This water proofs your base so when you fill it you don't end up with a soggy bottom - no body want a soggy bottom! Now you could cover the pastry with oven proof paper and fill it with dry beans and blind bake it. or you can, as you can see from the pics, chuck it directly into
the oven and bake it as is. 200C for 15mins. 15 minutes is enough to seal the pastry with egg and almost completely cook it.

Once the base is out of the oven, fill it with the (hot) spectacularly tasty filling. Add a splash of milk to the beaten egg and whisk it in, then brush around the edges of the pastry - so the top sticks to it. Place the pastry top on and trim it with a pair of scissors.

Throw it back into the oven 200C for 20mins.

red cabbage & beetroot in port reduction

Add the cabbage and the water to a pot with a lid and bring to the boil.
After 3 mins add the beetroot cubes and replace the lid.

After 2 mins more remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate until there is almost none left.
In a separate small pot (without a lid) bring
the port to the boil and reduce by 3/4 to 150ml.

what could go wrong? (TIPS)
My reduction burnt! TIP: Watch anything you are reducing like a hawk. To begin with, it will seem like it will never reduce, but the more it reduces the faster it goes, and it will evaporate completely and burn if you don't keep an eye on it in the final stages!

I burnt my kitchen down! TIP: When reducing alcoholic liquids, be careful. Always keep the lid at hand so that if they catch fire, you can simply put the lid on to put it out. (or let it burn off carefully!)

to serve
Turn out the pie! Easy way to do this is to put the loose bottomed tin onto a tuna tin (better be line caught and not blue fin tuna!) and gently push down the rim of the tin revealing the fabulous pie . . . chef bursts into song with pride, and does a quick victory dance!! Cut up and serve immediately with some cabbage and beetroot!

thinking ahead
You can make the cabbage in the afternoon, and reheat it in minutes when you need it.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Recipe - Classic: Brussels Paté (Liver Paté)

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Over the years I've learnt a lot by simply watching others (chefs or not) experiment or create something they've
done a million times! This one I picked up from my mum. I remember thinking, when I found out how this is made, "Is that it? Wow how simple! Wow I didn't realise how much butter is in that!!" But it couldn't be simpler. 

Brussels paté is made from pork liver often with brandy, in this recipe I use chicken liver, some madeira and butter. Truly delicious!!

ingredients (make 800g-1kg)
for the paté
450g      chicken liver
200ml  madeira
750g butter (clarified)
10g  thyme leaves (bruised)
olive oil for frying

for the garnish
small branch of thyme

apparatus / equipment

food processor

Put butter on to clarify, include the thyme leaves: Cut the butter into chunks and melt in a pan with the thyme. As soon as it bubbles turn off the heat and leave for 20-30 mins so the flavour of the thyme infuses into the butter. Use salted butter as then no further seasoning is required.

Cook the liver on a gentle heat. The aim is to cook the liver evenly throughout, no crispy outer surface. This will give an even texture once it's blended - no tough bits, no pink bits!! (mit cuit - just cooked)

Put the cooked liver into a food processor.
If the butter has set warm it a little until it's liquid, skim off any scum from the surface and remove, any thyme twigs. Pour 2/3 of the clarified butter (the fat floating on top) into the food processor leaving the white liquid at the bottom in the pan.
Run the motor until you have a smooth paste. That's the paté made!! : )

Pour it into ramekins and make the surface flat. Seal the paté with the remaining clarified butter, by pouring a thin layer over the top of the paté, and leave it to set. Consume at will!!

thinking ahead
This will keep in the fridge for a week if it's sealed. For months in the freezer.

to serve
Bust out some French stick, (toasting optional) some cornichons (little green pickled cucumbers), mayo, tomatoes, a little cucumber. Give everyone a glass of madeira and let them help themselves. Really nice home made paté for about 20mins, if that, of actual effort!

This recipe is a great base to create all sorts of variations. For example: Adding parsley, and caramelised onion at the blending stage and then mixing it with (cooked) chicken thighs or mushrooms - fabulous, and makes a great starter.

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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